Saturday, December 7, 2019

Happy Holidays

Today I will begin to celebrate "The Holiday Season."  I know I'm late, but it is better than missing it altogether.  Half a mile away on the Boulevard of my own little hometown, the Christmas Parade is cueing up.  Queuing?  And do they still call it "The Christmas Parade"?  I know that Santa is the last float, so surely. . . . But you never know about such things anymore.  The old world is being replaced rapidly.  Beer sales are down.  Hard cider sales are taking their place.  For the first time in American history, the name Mohamed is in the top ten baby names.  Could be why alcohol sales are slumping.

Now, I should quit that.

Ili and I wandered through the lighting of the Boulevard last night in one of the city's first Christmas celebrations.  We were in search of a bar where they used to serve delicious Sazeracs.  We searched only to find that the bar was gone.  Oy.  But we were "among the throng" so to speak, a crowd that did not seem to include many locals as our little town has become a sort of Disney-lite for those with Google Maps.  This used to be a cool town.  When you walked down the Boulevard, you knew almost everyone.  You saw your friends.  If you didn't, you'd ask, "Where's Joe?"  But now it is as if the cruise ship recently docked.  They wouldn't feel comfortable if they weren't a herd, of course.  But they trampled the town and now I can't even find a Sazerac bar.

We bought a bottle of expensive scotch and came home to watch the new season of "Mrs. Maisel."  I feared it would not be as good as the last two seasons, but it really starts off well.  And now we will begin watching the holiday classics.  You know, "Bad Santa," etc.

Ili gave me an early gift last night.  When I came home from the factory, there was a brand new gas grill on the deck.  We haven't been able to get one because we don't have a truck, but her sister came to visit her yesterday, and she came in a pickup, so Ili had a great idea.  It is a great grill.  Last night I fixed steak and asparagus and little potatoes on it while we listened to Pandora's "Hipster Holidays."

We both have headaches this morning.  That's how we know the holidays have arrived.  I imagine the remaining two weeks will be a series of them.  Sophistication has a price.

Ho, ho, ho!  Away we go!

Friday, December 6, 2019



Sitting in a hipster coffee shop.  It is crowded in the late afternoon, everyone on computers working on something.  I'm a freak.  Like them.  Why would we come here to work on something rather than do it from the comfort at our own homes?  The coffee?  In my case, I had to get out of the house.  When I am not working, I am housebound, it seems.  A houseboy, maybe.  I have no rhythm, no schedule.  I have not transitioned from factory supervisor to working artist yet.  Ha!  That is a joke.  When I had to work every day, I could think clearly about what I would do when I wasn't working.  I forget what I thought, now.  Nothing is clear.  There are always chains that bind.  

I just talked to my secretary.  They did the last interview for my replacement today.  The decision will be made in a few days.  The last nail in the coffin.  People are sad which is nice.  Things will not be the same when I leave, they say, and they are right.  I've never stayed within the boundaries.  When I enter a room, there is an expectation.  I have a certain grin, a tell, I guess.  My friend C.C. always said that they talked about thinking outside the box, but they spent all their time trying to put him back into one.  Then. . . someone would come along and turn the crank and the little Jack in the Box song would play, and sooner or later. . . . 

He's been gone from the factory for awhile.  Every day it grows more corporate.  Sooner or later, they would overwhelm me and kill me, I'm sure.  I'm sad for those I leave, though.  Very.  

I've had about all I can take of the hipster coffee bar now.  I feel the fool for being here.  Somewhat.  Not so much, maybe.  No more than anywhere else, perhaps.  


Thursday, December 5, 2019


Jesus.  I say that a lot now.  Why is that?  Why am I trading upon that image?

Tonight an attorney explained to me how hard it was to be an attorney.  I was told that I was not up to the stress of that because I was lazy.  There are no lazy attorneys? I asked.  But I did not write my dissertation, so I can only carry that argument so far.  I'm O.K., but ultimately, I'm a failure.

Fair enough, I guess.

Life threw me a curveball, but you either overcome that or you don't.  I didn't.

Too bad, too.  I was really good at it.  But now, where is the proof?

And I thought I was at the stage of life where I wouldn't need to worry about that any more.

All failures will come back to haunt you.  The successes?  I don't know.  Are they ever greater than the failures?

Whatever the answer, it is nothing that you can ever tell the kids.  You can, but it won't make any difference.

I should say that I did not complete the dissertation.  I did write some of it.

The fact that I am lazy doesn't help my argument, though.

I want to say things to the attorney, but what can you say?  It is all supposition and opinion.  Maybe I could tell her that.

She wouldn't agree.

Ili and I watched "The Irishman."  All I could think of was Trump.  They were all playing Trump.  I don't have much else to say about the movie but that the criticism of the digital recreations that made the younger versions of the actors was a failure.  They still looked and moved like they were ninety.  But it is necessary to watch it.  As they say, "You must."  Not in one sitting, of course.  But you will hardly be able to go to dinner with friends if you don't.

Who, however, goes to dinner with friends any more?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

What Would It Be Like?

There is a kind of guy you don't see around much unless you run in his circles.  I mean you could.  You probably do.  I live in a neighborhood that has them, but I hardly ever see them myself.  You are going to think this is a put down, but I don't mean it to be.  I just want to bring attention to the thing.

I saw one the other day in a new, enormous house that was just built up the street.  Big and modern.  They are tearing down all the old houses and putting up the big, new things.  I don't dislike them.  They are often nicer than what was there before.  I am amazed at the money, though.  I couldn't afford the electric and lawn maintenance on the places.  But that is not relevant to this post.

The man himself had that business haircut that was inspired by the military, not quite as severe, just a little softer, but sharp and shaped all the same.  And he had the uniform, a polo shirt tucked into a belted pair of khaki shorts, a pair of casual leather shoes worn sock-less.  His movements were quick and aggressive as he moved about his open garage.  "There," I thought, "is a man to be reckoned with.  He doesn't have time to dilly-dally."

Living where I do, I've known them.  Never chummy, just peripherally.  Friends of friends sort of thing.  You don't see them because they don't hang out in public.  They may go into the public, as one must, but only to professional sporting events to which they have season tickets.  They don't eat where you and I eat.  They are members of the racket and the country club.  You will see their wives more often, with friends, wives of that ilk, but the men themselves are out making politics or money.  You can find them with their families at Hilton Head or on Cumberland Island at the Greyfield Inn.

I, my friends, have been a dilly-dallier.  You could often see me in public.  Hell, just a few days ago you could have found me walking the bad streets of this fair city.  I think of these things now.  Everybody else has money.  I don't mean normal money.  Real money.  Meanwhile, all my accounts are running dry.  I'm about to become a ward of the state, more or less.  My house is small, my car is old.

What would it be like to have done otherwise?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Restricted Area

Here was the real surprise of the day, though (Saturday, my camera safari day).  Coming home, I saw a giant manger scene on top of a hill surrounded by barbed wire.  The place was an encampment of some sort.  There were no signs, but there were a lot of Hummers and camo cloth up there behind a big fence.  I was afraid to get too close, to tell you the truth.  I didn't know what might happen if I climbed that hill any farther.  Here is what the signs say in the corner of the picture.

It was a "restricted area."  I like that.  But I took to the "Danger" part of the sign.  The image of the birth of Jesus behind barbed wire, though, was too hard to resist.  I had to turn around and go back to take the picture.

It turned cold here in the night.  I have become a true southerner.  I do not like the cold.  I like the cool fine enough, but even when it reaches the upper 40s, I'm through with it.  My blood is thin as water.

I started cleaning out my office yesterday.  It will be a monumental task, mostly because I will have to make decisions.  I should simply throw everything away and forget about it.  What would I do with "memorabilia"?  Forty some years of presents, knick-knacks, things I've looked at five days a week.  There are things I will bring home, and those will be burden enough.  Maybe I will "gift" things as a cruel departing joke.  Whatever, yesterday was difficult.  I will have to harden my emotions against nostalgia and say goodbye to it all.

Goodbyes can be hard.

Monday, December 2, 2019

13 Ways to Kill a Mockingbird

My Saturday was not all countryside and landscape.  Earlier in the day, I walked around Little Saigon or Viet-town or whatever the locals call it and shot up the place, so to speak.  I had gone to the photo store to buy some film, and on my way out, I saw this chair.  I was using my flash and wanted to see how it would turn out.  It truth, this picture is from a week before, but I went back and shot the same chair again.  It is in the alleyway next to a Vietnamese restaurant.  I guess the workers come out and use it on their cigarette breaks.  For some reason, however, one of them did not like me photographing the chair no matter how much I smiled.  I thought it must be a special chair, magical, perhaps.  No, I didn't think that.  I thought that they, like almost everyone else these days, did not like for me to be taking photographs in public.  I'm sure they thought I should ask permission to photograph the chair.  So a man stepped in to block my shot.  I liked that.  It made a better picture.

Maybe.  After this photo, I spent about an hour and a half walking around taking pictures with my film camera and a flash.  As I've already reported, however, I didn't load the film right and so I had no pictures to show.  So Saturday, I went back and did a do over.  I photographed the chair.

Rather like "13 Ways to Kill a Mockingbird" or whatever the poem is called (link).

I'll show the rest of the walk around another time.  Today. . . I must report to the factory.  It is getting harder all the time.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Out "There"

Jesus, it's December 1st!  Suddenly Christmas is upon us.  Some of us.  I don't want to disrespect those who don't celebrate that holiday.  I guess it is suddenly upon me and my ilk.  How many Christmas movies will I watch?  How many Hipster Christmas songs will I hear?  I have made Ili wait to do any Christmas things.  Now, of course, I must pay.

With Ili out of town, I did go back to the countryside to make some photos.  One never sees the same things second time 'round, though, as I think I predicted.  But it was a beautiful day, and I drove around trying to get lost only to find myself on the same roads again and again.  There are not so many ways to get lost in the country, I guess.  There just aren't that many roads.

I didn't take many photographs, so I shouldn't use them all up in one post, but also took these photos on my 2.25x2.25 Mamiya 6 film camera, so there is a good chance you will see them again, and that is almost like getting two-for-one, so I'll go ahead and use them all and set the mood.  You can see what I've been saying about the air and the light and the sky here lately.  It has just been magnificent. You can also tell by the light and the shadows that I was shooting these late in the afternoon.  I thought I was brave going down backroads that seemed spooky to an old hippie city boy, parking the car and getting out in flip-flops to walk through the briars and the bramble (neither of which were there, but I don't know what to call the thick, heavy southern vegetation I was walking through) trying to avoid getting bitten by a rattlesnake (of which there are plenty).  Mostly, though, I was afraid of the meth head cracker boys who might be riding around in their pickup trucks looking for some fun.  I've had that experience before.

This is the new life, I hope, driving around the country making pictures, talking to people and telling stories.  Yesterday I realized how much room for improvement I have.  Like almost all.  It is a thing that must be done and practiced, not thought or talked about in offices and living rooms.  First thing is that you must get out.  Second thing is that you must stop the car.  The third thing is that you must hear and see.  After that, you begin to think about the art of telling.

I only spoke to one fellow in my travels yesterday.  Again, I thought I was brave when I got out and asked the p-nut guy if I could photograph his cart.  He looked at me as if I had two heads, of course, but he said, "Sure."  I said a few more things like, "The light is great," to which he did not respond.  I'll need to brush up on my redneck a lot, and my cracker, too.  It is not just the words, of course, but the way one moves, the expressions on the face, and the vocal tones and inflections.  I looked and sounded like what I was.

But it was fine and it was fun.  I need to get out there quickly, though, for they are putting major highways through, tearing up what was lovely and beautiful in the name of progress.  There is no stopping it.  That is the one thing I have learned certainly in my life.  There is once in a blue moon a chance to slow it down, but you can never stop it.  The Greedheads will always win, always have their way.  I have friends who bought a huge ranch with a beautiful spring on it because it was close to where they are putting the highway.  Cha--$$$$--Ching.  They will wait, but eventually. . . . They aren't conservationists.

But I will be a city photographer, too, and a suburban one.  I don't have much time, as I said, to make some Christmas photos.  That is a whole thing in itself.  Santas and elves and pretty maids all in a row.  You know?  Who knows.  Maybe it won't happen at all.  Maybe I'm just talking about it sitting in a living room.

We shall see.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Chickens, Goats, and Zip Lines

Ili has gone to the beach to visit her family.  We spent the day with them yesterday at Santa's Tree Farm.  There were her parents, four sisters, two husbands, and two nephews.  And me.  I went as the support team.  Her parents were going to cut down a tree for Christmas.  As far as you could see, there were trees in the field trimmed to the traditional Christmas tree shape.  Of course, you didn't have to cut your own tree.  There were plenty of beauties already cut.  The place was big and was a combination tree farm, petting zoo, and flea market with zip lines and plenty of other thrills for the kids.  This was opening day.  It was crowded.

While everyone fed the goats and pigs and sheep and donkeys who pretended to love them, I kept my hands in my pockets.  I don't need to pet a chicken.  I was happy just watching the show.  Well. . . happy-ish.  Nobody seemed to be too joyful.  This place was way out in a rural county, and everyone there looked to be related.  There was a definite mindset.  Fortunately, I wasn't wearing my Obama T-shirt.  I knew these people.  They were southern versions of my relatives.  Don't take that as a put-down.  I just know where they are coming from.

But like I said, no one was smiling.  It was that sort of grim fun people have when they are doing what they are supposed to do.  To do otherwise would be wrong.  Like I said, it wasn't joyful.

Afterwards, Ili wanted to go to Gritville to have pizza with her sisters and kids.  Fine with me.  It was her day, I said.

And that was dinner.  I feel like a pizza boy today.  I've been to the gym and I've lain in the sun, and now I'm eating left over turkey and dressing and drinking a beer hoping I won't have salmonella tonight.

It is noon, and I have the rest of the day to myself.  I have the cameras ready, but it is difficult, this catch-as-catch-can approach.  I didn't take any photos yesterday, but I swore to go back to that rural countryside and do so.  I even thought about doing it today, but I know how that goes.  You never see the things you saw the day before.  They shrivel up like mushrooms.  I will wait to make that trip again so that I am not looking through expecting eyes.

But what, then?  I don't know.  I truly don't.  After this lunch and beer, I am thinking I would like a nap.  but the day is gorgeous, the light brilliant, the brights like diamonds, the shadows deep.  Perhaps it is too much for me.  Perhaps I am just afraid to fail.

Maybe so.  But the nap sounds too appealing.  An hour, that is all.  Then I'll get up and find my way.

Look at me, all lost and shit.  WTF?  WTF?

Friday, November 29, 2019


Black Friday.  Time to spend, time to save.  What a remarkable marketing tool.  I don't really care.  It just kind of went with my photo.  I've never bought anything on Black Friday.  I'm not a real shopper.

Thanksgiving day was beautiful, probably the most beautiful in my lifetime.  The weather, I mean.  We ate our Whole Foods dinner al fresco.  It was also the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had.  I'm not kidding.  Whole Foods knocked it out of the park.  I wonder where in what large vats they make it?  Do they truck it in?  I will feel a fool if they do.  Maybe it was simply like eating at McDonalds for the first time. "This is great!  How do they do it?"

I hope not.

The evening, however, went south.  No happiness is ever permanent.

Today will certainly be more brilliant light and more wonderful air.  I am anxious to go into it.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Longest Day

I've never experienced a day like yesterday.  The day was interminable.  Now I'll admit I ate half a cookie the night before, and it sent me into a spin.  Half.  Jesus, I have a friend who eats four cookies a night.  Every night. But I have a different kind of brain chemistry, I guess.  It gave me a splitting headache all night long.  In the morning, wobbly, I knew I would have to go to the gym and work myself into shape or else be sitting on the couch all the live-long day.  So very early, I went without expectations.  And sure enough, I had a wonderful workout.  I was strong for a cripple, getting stronger, anyway.

When I got home, it was time to plant.  Ili and I had gone to a gigantic nursery the day before, one that covers about a mile in every direction.  It was fun, and we bought for a decent price all the things we wanted.  Now it was time to get everything into the ground.  The big plants were no problem.  Dig a hole, water it, and drop them in.  But I had also bought a couple palates of dwarf mondo grass, so I was bending over and digging endless holes for little sprigs.  But we worked straight through until it was all put in.  Then it was time to shower, make lunch, and sit on the deck admiring our handiwork while we ate.

It was noon.

We decided to go downtown and buy some glassware we badly needed.  We were down in several areas and decided to buy what might be hardier glass from Williams and Sonoma.  Downtown was packed with holiday shoppers and everything was festive.  The day was bright, the sky was blue, and the air was cool and dry.  We wandered around and got what we came for plus a bonus--coupe glasses.  Oh how we love a coupe glass.  The day before, we were at our favorite cocktail bar having a much desired daiquiri that was served in one.  I said, "We love anything served in a coupe glass," and the barman said, "It's funny.  Some guys don't want their Manhattans served in them.  They'll say, 'put that in a whiskey glass."  I think they are silly, of course.  The coupe is lovely in every way.  It was the original champagne glass and is a wonderful glass for the martini, and legend has it that it was designed after Marie Antoinette's breast.  Well, now. . . .

After buying our glassware, we went to the other side of town to shop for Thanksgiving Day treats and to get the makings for the evening dinner.

When we got home, it was two.

We decided to take a nap, but a phone call interrupted our plans.  At 2:45, we decided to go to the art museum at the Country Club College campus.  It was a fairly impressive exhibit of African American painters.  We wandered through the galleries, took a brief walk, and came home.

The clock seemingly hadn't budged.

We went to the liquor store to get some champagne, rum, and other elixirs we needed for cocktails the next day on the deck.

When we got home, the clock had moved backwards.  It was, without a doubt, the longest day of the decade.

We moved some things in the yard, watered the garden, then decided to get the drill and put the seat cushions that Ili had just upholstered onto the chairs.  It was more difficult than we anticipated, but after some time, the seats were all attached, the chairs looking spectacular.  They were in the garage.  Ili decided to move them into the house.

Hours had seemingly passed.  It was quarter 'til four.  WTF?

No matter. We could wait no longer.  It was time to make our first champagne cocktails.  We got out the cocktail book, got the sugar cubes, the Angostura, and popped the cork on the champagne.

Two minutes 'til four.

We went to the deck, sat down, and made a toast.  Oh, my.  We were in love with the champagne cocktail served in beautiful coupe glasses.  Time passed slowly, but not so the cocktails.

We were cooking dinner in the dancing light of day's end.  The day had been slow and watery, the sunlight sparkling.  We'd stepped into a time warp somehow.

After dinner, we watched "White Christmas."  Neither of us could believe we had never seen it.

I wouldn't recommend it.

And so, today, we will not slave over the stove.  We have ordered our dinner from Whole Foods.  Ili, mom, and me, and anyone who wants to stop by for a drink and/or some food.  It is all very casual.  Little pomp.  No circumstance.

You have a happy Thanksgiving, too.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


I hate to get too relaxed.  As soon as I do, someone sucker punches me.  Boom!  All the joy and relaxation gone.  There is something in the world that does not love my happiness.

The world is closing in.

I keep getting into arguments over identity politics.  I should keep my mouth shut because it doesn't really matter what I say.  It is like trying to stop an ocean tide or a lava flow.  I'm always wrong because I don't believe in Truth.  That is where the whole mess begins.  The truth is what people think and feel about their experiences in life.  And I give in to that.  If a person tells me her life has been miserable because of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, I won't argue.  But when a person begins to opine or theorize about the lives of others, many others that they have never known, the door is opened for debate because we just entered the world of supposition and opinion.  Of course there are popular cultural theories that have been canonized, but that is what they are.  Canons have been displaced before.

Again, it gets me nowhere to disagree.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?  Or two, or ten, or more.  Is this one a story of despair or hope?  False dichotomy, right?


I bid on a camera and lenses and backs and viewfinders yesterday. .  . and lost.  Good.  I've lost my freakin' mind.  I am trying to break the bank just before retirement.

The identity politics argument was not THE sucker punch, by the way.

Went to a nursery yesterday.  Bought more plants.  Planting is on the agenda today.

And a nap.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Giving In

Took this from the window of a trolley on a cold Detroit City Day.  I like Detroit, but I would be tempted to shoot heroin, too, if I lived in the midwest.  Bleak, man. Bleak.

Should I use up all my photos here?  It is not like they are great.  Just stuff I shot.  That's the way I feel now when I look at them.

I gave in tonight and agreed to some Christmas.  I put on Pandora's "Hipster Holidays."  Instant nostalgia for a few years ago.  Try it.  It will put you in a mood.  I want a no-pressure holiday without worry.  Cocktails.  Food.  Friends and family.  Gift-free, so to speak.

This picture freaks me out a bit.  See the woman's face in the store window?  I don't know where that is coming from.  It may be a reflection from inside the train.  I just don't know.

I am off for the next six days.  Thanksgiving at my house.  Drinks in the late morning/early afternoon if you want to come.  Outside.  Then dinner.

The next day is a Xmas tree farm with Ili's family.

But I want to make pictures.  I want to shoot and shoot and shoot.

Just got a call back from the framers.  The small Chatham print--22"x24"--will cost between $700 and $900 based upon which of the two frames I choose.  Remember yesterday's rant about people who are too cheap to frame things properly?  Holy shit.  I still have two 45" prints to frame.

Looks like I'll be making frames out of sticks.

Monday, November 25, 2019


Sometimes a thing just surprises you.  This came from my film roll, just something I snapped walking around Detroit.  I'd forgotten all about it.  It looks like an illustration for a story in the N.Y. Times.

Not that you would hang it on your wall.

Speaking of which, I was drinking the night I found out Russel Chatham had died, and I bought four of his lithographs.  I am lucky.  I apparently bid on many more.  This weekend, I took one down to see about framing it.  Oh, I am not through spending money on them yet.  This is why a lot of people don't put art on their walls.  To frame a picture correctly costs a lot of money.  So they go to Michael's or some other craft store, buy a cheap frame that is big enough and they are done.  Not me.  I have to spend all the money I have.  I'm a sucker for a good frame job, see.

It is nice.  I am replacing a lot of the art on my walls that has been there for years.  A good shake up, I'd say.

Sunrise.  Good coffee, some sweet roll.  The birds at the feeders, the caterpillars at the milkweed, the feral cat at the food dish.  All the new plants from the weekend of planting look like they are thriving.

The holidays are here.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

And This Was Nature

"I quickly leafed through the opus, underlining the more amusing phrases in pencil: 'The strategic level consists in the realization of a system of global information promulgated by the integration of diversified heterogeneous sub-systems. 'Or indeed: 'It appears urgent to validate a canonic relational model within an organizational dynamic leading in the medium term to a database-oriented object'" (Houellebecq).

That's how life seems, sometimes.  To me.  What a wonderful observation.

"The fourth Ministry representative is a kind of caricature of the rural socialist. He wears boots and a parka, as if he was just back from a field trip; he has a thick beard and smokes a pipe; I wouldn’t like to be his son."

"Here was, as I’ve mentioned, a happy man; that said, I don’t envy him his happiness."
Yes, my friend mused, we know such people, all bureaucrat, no substance.  

But that is often what life seems to consist of when you get the stuffing knocked out of you.  I"m trying, folks, to live a meaningful life, but Jesus Christ, it seems to all come up empty most of the time.  That old mouthful of nickels, that awful feeling.  

I got up, walked downtown to a French bakery, had a crepe Montmartre,  a mimosa, an eclair.  Shared.  Then walked through the Farmer's Market and bought fresh vegetables.  Went to the nursery and got some more milkweed for the Monarchs.  About eleven caterpillars are eating their way through the present crop.  Put up more bird feeders and fresh seed.  Went back and bought dwarf mondo grass and other plants for the garden.  Cooked tortellini, smothered it in shallots, herbs, and olive oil for a quick meal.  

But, as Yeats predicted, the center will not hold.  

"I spotted a strange graffito in the Sèvres-Babylon métro station: ‘God wanted there to be inequality, not injustice’, the inscription said. I mused on who the person so well informed about God’s designs might be."

Oh, I think we all know what God's design is.  As Boyle has said so many times, "And this was nature."

Friday, November 22, 2019

A Different Time

One day between 1974 and 1975, apparently, I walked around with my camera and took pictures of people in their cars.  Why?  I guess I was trying something.  It didn't work, whatever, but I still want to post them because they are old and they are mine.  If you look carefully at the first image, you'll see that the girl in the passenger's seat is photographing me back.  Everyone lThose were different times.

I wonder where that picture of me is now?

I visited one of the satellite factories a couple days ago where I used to spend two days a week.  People all know I'm leaving the firm, so I got to experience a sort of hero's welcome.  I made a nice impression, I guess.  I think it is because no matter what they were getting chastised for, they could always say, "Yea. . . but C.S.!"  I set the standard for "acceptable" behavior there, I think.

More than one person asked me, "What are you going to do?  Have you made plans?"

"No," I'd answer, "I've never make plans.  Sort of my M.O."

"What about your photography?"

"Yea," I told one woman, "I'll make photographs, and I'll have the time to try to get them shown, but, you know, it is making them for me that matters.  None of us knows if our stuff is any good or not, but we think it is and we enjoy making it and we put it up on the refrigerator with pride.  That's sort of it."

The "sort of," is right.  It is torture if you hope to be any good at all.  It is best to give up on that.  

I don't really remember making these photographs.  I know I never showed any of them.  They had no currency.  That's the right word.  They are only interesting now because they are older.  I wonder about the people in these photos now.  What were their lives like?  What happened to them?  

Things don't change so much, though, do they.  The old ones, they don't look so happy.  It must be something programed into the genes.  Maybe we all end up like Grumpy Grandpa Bernie Sanders.  

Maybe.  If we're lucky.  

I'm writing this from the hipster coffee house in the middle of the afternoon.  They are playing music that reminds me of my life, that sad, longing, spare, acoustic stuff that has always pulled so hard at my longings and my melancholic heartstrings.  Mandolin Orange, I'm sure.  They just about fuck me up every time.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Hey Boomer

Here's one of the Detroit photos from the roll of film I opened without rewinding.  You can see the light leaks at the top of the frame.  It's a shame.  There are some pretty good shots that were ruined.


The weather here continues to be stunning.  The light is almost too bright.  You cannot look at a reflection without getting burned spots on your retina where the visual purple gets depleted.  You can look that up.  It is a vestige of a memory from my zoology courses.

I have begun reading "Whatever" by Michel Houellebecq.  I sent around some quotes last night to friends who are in disbelief that I have never read (nor heard) of him before.  Here is how the novel almost begins.

Friday evening I was invited to a party at a colleague from work’s house. There were thirty-odd of us, all middle management aged between twenty-five and forty. At a certain moment some stupid bitch started removing her clothes. She took off her T-shirt, then her bra, then her skirt, and as she did she pulled the most incredible faces. She twirled around in her skimpy panties for a few seconds more and then, not knowing what else to do, began getting dressed again. She’s a girl, what’s more, who doesn’t sleep with anyone. Which only underlines the absurdity of her behaviour. After my fourth vodka I started feeling pretty groggy and had to go and stretch out on a pile of cushions behind the couch. A bit later two girls came and sat down on this same couch. Nothing beautiful about this pair, the frumps of the department in fact. They’re going to have dinner together and they read books about the development of language in children, that kind of thing. They got straight down to discussing the day’s big news, all about how one of the girls on the staff had come to work in a really mini miniskirt that barely covered her ass. And what did they make of it all? They thought it was great. Their silhouettes came out as bizarrely enlarged Chinese shadows on the wall above me. Their voices appeared to come from on high, a bit like the Holy Ghost’s. I wasn’t doing at all well, that much was clear. They went on trotting out the platitudes for a good fifteen minutes. How she had the perfect right to dress as she wished, how this had nothing to do with wanting to seduce the men, how it was just to be comfortable, to feel good about herself, etc. The last dismaying dregs of the collapse of feminism. At a certain moment I even uttered the words aloud: ‘the last dismaying dregs of the collapse of feminism.’ But they didn’t hear me. Me too, I’d clocked this girl. It was difficult not to. Come to that even the head of department had a hard-on. I fell asleep before the end of the discussion, but had a horrible dream. The two frumps were arm-in-arm in the corridor that bisects the department, and they were kicking out their legs and singing at the top of their voices: 
If I go around bare-assed
It isn’t to seduce you!
If I show my hairy legs
It’s because I want to!
He's a cynic, I see.  I will probably enjoy the writing more than I thought.  He is probably the sort that gets a kick out of the health benefits of aging.  Ha!

I love the woke generation.  They have changed my mind about many things.  This is not one of them.

Some of the quotes from the article are. . . well. . . .
“I don’t think, any longer, that it’s enough to say, ‘Oh well, that’s the way they did it back then,’ ” he said.
“He was an arrogant, overrated, patronizing pedophile, to be very blunt,” she said. If his paintings were photographs, they would be “way more scandalous,” and “we wouldn’t have been accepting of the images,” she added.
“What’s left to say about Gauguin,” she added, “is for us to bring out all the dirty stuff.

Wait until they dig up some dirt on Norman Rockwell.  Wait.  Hasn't that already been done?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Mouth Full of Nickels

Have you heard of Michel Houellebecq?  I feel like a fool.  Never heard of him until yesterday when I read this book review (link).   I will have to give him a go.  I'll probably start with "Platform," one of his earlier works though some others are supposed to be his best.  I'm afraid, though, that he will put me in the mood I get from reading Camus or Beckett, a nothingness bordering on despair.  Why would I want to go there?

For art's sake.

I'll end up feeling the way this photograph looks.

But I kind of do right now, anyway.  Sort of like sucking on a mouthful of nickels.

There are things in life that don't want you to be happy.  Maybe a book by Houellebecq will make me feel better.  If not better, then at least as if traveling with a companion.

The weather here, though, would make you happy.  Yesterday's and today's.  The sun is out and the light is brilliant.  Highs in the mid-seventies, lows in the mid-fifties.  But if you don't live here, don't come.  There are too many people here already.

O.K.  Today is a factory day.  I must prepare myself for what is already becoming alien and more loathsome to me--a job.  I've been taking more days off than I work, and I can already tell I won't miss working.  If I can turn my attentions to what I want, I should be more than fine.  For almost all of us, making things, no matter how paltry, is pleasurable.  We can't see our own work with an objective or truthful eye, and the illusion of what we perceive sustains us.  Right?  Eugene O'Neil knew that it is our illusions that sustain us.  Even for Mr. Houellebecq, I presume.  Making those books counters the despair that he otherwise could feel.

Perhaps.  At least.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

I Should Have Made More

I am writing this a couple days before it will post due to Chatham's death.  Ili is out of town, so I have been sitting and moping and scanning and working on old things, drinking whiskey and eating hardly at all, seriously excited and wanting to post everything I have all at once.

But I know better now.  I won't.

Doesn't this look like an Eggleston to you?  Maybe not, but it does to me.  My photo prof surely was showing us Eggleston's work.  This was the first color work I did, and it was only at his request.  I have two rolls.  Now, I wish I had much, much more.

This was my kitchen in 1978.  You'll see more of the apartment in the future.  I remember it as being the coolest place in the universe.  The pictures show me something else.  But it was the '70s.  Everyone lived with this shit.

Damn, I used to be able to frame the world.

I'll try to do it again.

I'll run out of these too soon.  I want to go back and make more.

Don't we all.

Monday, November 18, 2019


I'll tell you what--if Ili lets me work at this, you won't be able to keep up with my production.  It will be like the old days.  She's been out of town for four days now, and I've been working straight through trying to organize the mess of images I have.  I play music, cut and sleeve negatives, make proof sheets in Photoshop, and make a few quick adjustments to a few images to text around.  I've moved things from the house to the garage where I am setting up my work station if I can get the tenant to get rid of all her junk.  And. . . I've been shooting images as well.  I've thought photography for four days now.  And I really haven't even begun working on my images.  See this one?  It is from the late '70s in old Gritville.  I have only done a perfunctory job of working on it.  It needs dodging and burning to make it more dramatic, but I haven't had the time.  Dramatic photos don't just happen.  They must be tweaked unless you are using your phone apps which tweak them for you.  And don't get me wrong, those are plenty fun.

Just a minute and I'll run this image through an app to show you.

There we go.  And that was pretty damn quick.

I am glad I got the 36" flat file cabinets, but I have many images that are just a bit too large to fit.  I went on Craigslist and found two 50" flat files for sale.  I will buy them, I think, if they aren't too large to move.  The fellow selling them says he has a forklift to get them into the truck.  Truck?  What truck?  I would have to rent one.  And maybe that is what I will have to do.  He only wants $300 for both of them.

I won three auctions on eBay for Chatham prints.  They were each a good price, but the three of them have added up. And I forgot about the cost of framing them.  I have to remember not to do anything on the computer when I've been drinking.

It has been a good weekend, though, and I am full of inspiration for making images and words.

Again. . . if I am allowed the time.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Hours for Nothing

I'm trying to write this from a coffeehouse.  Bad idea.  It sucks all to shit.  But I've been fucking up all day, anyway, so this is just another fuck up in a sequence of fuck ups.

I had some film left to shoot on the ends of two rolls, one on the Leica, one on the Xpan, so I thought I'd go out on this cool and cloudy day and finish them up.  I drove slow, and when I saw something of interest, I made myself stop and get out.  At first, I wouldn't stop saying it wasn't so good anyway or that I'd get that picture on the way back.  Finally, having had enough of my bullshit, I turned around, got out, and made some pictures.  Cool.  Easy-peasy.  I did that all the way down the highway, stopping, parking, getting out with cameras, shooting.  On the Leica, I was shooting with a flash hoping to get some of the effects I had in 1978.  Should work, I thought.  I got to the photo store with a few more frames to shoot, so I decided to walk around the block.  I saw a fellow in a red and white exotic sports car with the top down, and I ran toward the stop light hoping I could get a shot.  "Sure," he said, and I bent down with my 28mm lens and the flash, and Bingo, it was bound to be a classic.

It was the last frame, so I walked up the block to find an easy place to change the film.  I was excited. . . so excited that I took the bottom plate off before I'd rewound the film.

"Are you fucking shitting me!!!  Oh, fuck me!  Fuck me!"

I'd made a rookie mistake.

Let it go, buddy, you can't do anything about it now.  Let it go.

So I breathed for a minute and then pulled out a roll of color film I wanted to try.  But I couldn't load it.  Huffing and puffing and juggling the camera and the film and the camera bottom, I struggled.  Finally, it looked like the film had fed through, so I tried to put the bottom plate back on.  But it wouldn't go.  And it wouldn't go.  And it wouldn't go.

A fellow in a truck sitting in the parking lot next to me started yelling to me out his window.  He was jabbering about cameras and the camera store. . . I don't know.

"You shooting film?"


"Looks like you're having trouble."

"Does it?  A little."

No matter what I did, I couldn't get the bottom plate back on.  Jesus Christ, and the idiot just kept rattling on.

"Can you hear this?"

He turned up his radio so that the little speaker in the dash sounded like a washing machine on spin.  He was grinning big, bouncing his head up and down, I assumed, to the beat of the music.

"You know this song?"

"I can't really hear it."

He started singing the words to some '80s rock.  He was grinning like a maniac.  I was beginning to sweat.  What the fuck?

Finally, a woman walked up.

""Here comes the wife," he said with emphasis.

"Well, there goes all the fun."

She turned and gave me a quick look.  Then, without a goodbye, the truck pulled out into the highway and was gone.

The bottom plate slipped on without any problem.  I don't know what I did, but since I had the film in, I thought I'd walk around and shoot it up and take it in with the other film.

For an hour, an hour and a half, I walked around Viet Town, past faded buildings and through vacant lots, shooting pictures that excited me.  Surely these were masterpieces.

When the roll was done, I headed back to the photo store.  At the car, I went to rewind the film.  There didn't seem to be much tension, and pretty soon, there was none at all.  Really?  Really?

"Fuck me!  Fuuuuuck me!"

I was pretty sure the film had not advanced.

Inside, I explained to the new photo processor who was just learning about me that I didn't think two of the rolls were going to come out.  I pulled out my Xpan to take the film out and immediately drew a crowd.

"Sure," I said.  "Everybody wants one."

I decided to buy some more film since I'd had so much fun so far.  $64.00.  Before processing.  Why would I shoot digital?

Now, I sit with hipsters and losers drinking my cappuccino because I thought I would be a loser to simply go home.  I spent the entire day there yesterday.  Somehow, my self-esteem was at stake.  But here I am on a computer drinking an expensive coffee like all the others feeling like an idiot.

Now I will go home and get back to scanning old negatives.  I am learning how to scan better with the new software, learning how to control the colors and get rid of the color cast I picked up on the first roll.  Scanning is a long, boring process, then there is the post-processing, and then there is the image.  Sometimes, it is pleasing.

It has been a pathetic day, and yet, I feel O.K.  I got out and shot film even if there is nothing to show in the end.  I've sharpened my senses, and I made masterpieces, even if nobody will ever see them.