Sunday, March 29, 2015

Little Madness

Maybe all it takes is to give yourself over to the thing, the madness, and to quit whining about it.  Become the train wreck in progress.  I don't know.  But I feel great this morning even though my life patterns have changed, when I sleep, when I wake.  And maybe it is no more than the weather.  There has been a weekend reprieve from the humid heat that came too early this year.  We are back to a lovely spring that is full of chirping birds and crisp mornings and lovely, lovely light. 

Or maybe it is simply that I got my phone back.  I drove to "that" side of town yesterday where I was told my phone was being held for me.  I loved going there, an abandoned mall that had been converted to an indoor bazaar if you will, a flea market with everything you could imagine crammed together in disorganized spaces.  There were cheap ropas, baggy shorts that come mid calf, shoes, watches, phones.  I was the only white guy there, but otherwise it was a good ethnic mix, just people growing up as I did, trying to get by on little and still have something in their lives.  You can drive a shitty car and have a gold chain.  I have plenty of relatives like this.  It is not strange to me, and I have no problem with the concept.  My republican friends. . . well, I think they would say, "See!  Why are they wasting their money on a fucking gold chain?  That's where your tax dollars are going!"  Maybe so.  That doesn't bother me.  What bothers me is how difficult it is to live with little.  I know the despair of kids growing up who see the images on television of that other life, the one across town where you never go because it is like a foreign country.  Nope.  I know. 

So one guy decided to go to the foreign country and take my phone.  Now that pisses me off. 

There was no directory inside the mall.  It was just long, broken rows of stalls.  I stopped at one and asked for Min Ho's phone shop.  I was told to go through the stall with the men's clothes.  It didn't make sense to me, so I ended up wandering around for a bit trying to find the place that bought cell phones.  I'd forgotten how big people are.  This group was much bigger than the average crowd, taller, thicker, more bad ass.  I felt diminutive, really, half sized.  Here were big Mexicans trying to see some pants that were hanging high above them.  A fellow with a hooked stick was pulling them down the way the barkers do prizes at the fair.  The Mexicans had serious looks on their faces, embarrassed, maybe.  They were not the kind, I supposed, who spent their Saturdays shopping for clothes.  Where were the little Mexicans and the little Asians?  They weren't here.  These were men working hard in an America where they could eat and grow, not limited to vegetables and corn and rice and the occasional egg or chicken. 

Eventually, I went back to the place I was directed to go, and cutting through the stall I found a counter with a big Asian fellow sitting down to his lunch. 

"Hi," I said.  "I'm looking for Min Ho." 

He put down his bowl and stood up formally.  "I'm Min Ho," he said.  He was a big guy with thick muscles and broad shoulders, perhaps Korean, I thought, a young guy maybe in his early thirties.  Not what I was expecting at all.  I extended my hand and told him my name.

"I think you are holding an iPhone for me." 

He was very polite as he told me the story.  A fellow came in to sell him the phone, and when he turned it on, the message came across the screen that this phone had been lost and to call the number I had typed in. 

"I gave him five dollars and told him to get the fuck out of here.  Then I called my buddy, the policeman who called you." 

I thought about that for a second.  It wouldn't be good for him to have people arrested.  I understood that.  So he had given the guy enough money to cover the cost of his gas driving to where I work and back.  He handed me the phone. 

Crazy, right?  I wasn't in a hurry to leave, so I walked around and began to think about making photographs.  How much would it cost me to rent a space and set up a photo studio where people could come and get good photos for free?  I would take pictures for them.  Gold teeth and chains, tattoos, crazy hair and wife beater shirts.  I was visualizing it all in black and white film.  It would be something, I thought.  Just life and a chance to show off, to "represent."  And I. . . I could relearn a lot of things I've forgotten. 

I took today's picture with a Leica film camera in the studio.  Not digital.  Tri-X negative film.  Developed.  Scanned.  It takes a long time.  What do you think?  Is it worth it?  Does it look different from a digital image I might have made black and white with computer programs?  There are a lot of them that are good.  But shooting with film is a little like walking on the wire.  You could shoot all night and not know that something was going wrong. 

I don't know.  I'm trying it out.  I will begin taking film cameras out in the street.  I found a bag of about one hundred rolls of various old films that are probably half ruined, most of it color.  I will shoot it for fun to see how it comes out.  The dyes will be shifted, I'm sure, and exposures will be off. There may be streaks.  Oh, it might be fun. 

And sometimes, if you give yourself over to the madness and let yourself go. . . .

Tonight the last season of "Mad Men" begins.  I didn't think I'd care.  It has been too long.  But surprisingly. . . I do.  Little things, if you know what I mean. 


  1. Yes, it looks different, this photo looks fantastic, the sharpness, contrast, tones...

    Great idea that studio, do it!

    Around here, if your car gets stolen, for example, and the doors weren't locked, you get a fine, too, for giving a thief the chance to steal.
    Since the occasion makes the thief, as we say...


  2. Thanks. I will be doing b&w in the studio and beyond. Film is fun. Tell your friends.

    In the old days here, we used to just shoot thieves. It really cut down on crime. But that was in the old days. We don't shoot them any more. We give them a new car.


  3. It cut down in crime? Not the way I see it, people who shoot people are criminals by definition in my book.
    Unless, maybe, it was self defense. And then still... people with guns in their house are criminals, too...

    You have all the luxury and you are surprised your fellow Americans who have NOTHING try to take it from you.
    And you aren't even happy with what you have, you do nothing but complaining and saying you need even more! MORE MORE MORE...

    Fucking capitalist, they take a little thing from you and immediately you start sounding like the dumb hillbilly you really still are...