I swear, I like these toy camera Holga pictures about as much as anything I shoot. There are no controls other than an approximate focussing tab that moves the lens back and forth. There are no exposure controls. You just put film in it on a sunny day and "click." Sure. It is just a crapshoot, but who doesn't like to gamble from time to time. The camera is everything that the large format cameras are not. It is cheap, light, and simple. As the old folk poem goes,
Carnation milk is the best in the land.
Here I sit with a can in my hand.
No tits to pull, no hay to pitch,
You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.
For depression era farm kids who had worked hard their whole lives to produce things, Wonder Bread and the like were near miracles.
Now, like all spoiled brats, I am trying to make things difficult again. Should I use that precious word "artisanal"?
I spent half of yesterday afternoon on a FaceTime call with Q trying to help him load his 1950s Russian knockoff of a Hasselblad. The Germans and the Swedes had a penchant for making things as precise and difficult as they could. The Russians were not as precise in their knockoffs, but they were every bit as complex.
Later that day, Q said he thinks he shot a roll of film. Not sure yet.
There is, of course, the phone cam. What the hell are any of us with complicated cameras thinking?
I was lazy yesterday. I did nothing. Absolute nothing. I told myself I should, and I actually got in the car and drove through Gotham looking for a protest march. . . or anything. But it was that typical hot and hazy southern afternoon and people were pretty absent from the streets. I made a big loop and was back home within the hour.
Later I went over and berated my mother. I didn't mean to. It just happened. I guess I'm simply a shameful little shit.
Or maybe something else.
I came home and made some cod for dinner all the while thinking I'd rather just go to Burger King. All this cooking, all this cleaning, all this. . . . I just want to punch a hole in the son of a bitch.
I took dinner to the deck to eat with the cat who had shown up to be fed. She hung around when she was done. She has taken to jumping up on top of my covered grill to perch. The other night, she kept looking at the fence and then took a leap up to it.
"Now what, cat?"
From there she climbed the large viburnum and got onto the neighbors roof. WTF? I didn't know this cat could manage any of this.
But last night, she just rested on top of the grill for a very long time.
I went in when the mosquitoes arrived. I poured a glass of wine and read. But something was eating at me. I needed to go out, I thought. I needed to see the world. I'm just sitting in my house dying.
So I went to the closet and put on some jeans I haven't worn in at least two and a half years. That and a black t-shirt. A quick check in the mirror. Really quick. I didn't want to look too hard. When was the last time I went out to a bar alone? Not since Covid. It had to be before I met Ili, back when I had the studio. Jesus. . . eight years? I wasn't even a blond then. But I wasn't fat, either. Whatever. I put myself into "historic mode" and walked to the car.
The cat was still lying on the grill. Odd. She never stays around so long after eating.
"See you later, cat. I'll be back."
I drove to a place the "boys" at the gym keep touting.
"It's really laid back. You'd like it. It's casual and there are a lot of hippie girls who hang out there."
When I walked up, there were two bouncers blocking the door. That didn't seem very laid back to me. The big Black man looked me up and down without smiling. It kind of pissed me off, so I threw my arms out and asked, "am I good?" more aggressively than I intended. He laughed and put his hand on my shoulder.
"Yea man, your good," he laughed.
The bar was much bigger than I had anticipated. I'd been there decades ago when it was another place, an art bar, but it was only half this size. Apparently they had gotten the adjoining space and knocked out a wall. The bar was a big U. Just as I walked up, two fellows were leaving. I took a seat. It was loud. Really loud. I had to lean toward the bartender to hear.
"An Old Fashioned," I said. It wasn't very good.
I have to say, the crowd was pretty evenly split between women and men, but it was made up of the lesser hoi-poloi, I thought, a crowd consisting of fives and sixes, a crowd where a seven looks like a nine. There were the usual gym boys with their short tight sleeves exaggerating their repetition made muscles. There were the fay hipster boys of a certain ilk. The women were youngish, beyond their college years which never happened, or beyond the four years they spent at the junior college getting an A.A. degrees. The best of them were plumpish, not yet having gone over to fat, collagen still holding, if straining. God, I thought, I don't want to hear what they are saying.
A fellow in a black button up shirt and black pants asked if the empty stool beside me was taken. I shook my head. He leaned to the barkeep and ordered something I couldn't identify when it came. It had olives in clear fluid, but it wasn't in a martini glass.
"Cheers," he said bumping my glass in a toast. "What are you drinking?"
I was trapped. I guess it is better to be talking to someone at a hopping bar in order not to look like a loser or a mass murderer, but I can still manage on my own. My new friend, however, was very chatty. He told me he was in the hospitality business. Royalty and famous people didn't impress him, he said. He had waited on many of them, and. . . you know. . . they piss just like he does. That was a new one to me. Then he went on to tell me boring story after boring story of the people who he had met. George Carlin. He was head over heels for Carlin. That story creeped forward toward a blank nothingness in excruciating detail. He was going out with a girl who wanted to bring her friend with her. When they went to pick her up, it was "a million dollar house at the country club." A man came down the stairs in his robe and slippers.
"Robe and slippers!!! He asked me who I was and I introduced myself thinking that I knew him from somewhere. It was his daughter we were picking up. He asked if we would be drinking. His daughter was twenty-two. Then it hit me. THIS was Dan Akroyd. I was going to be chauffeuring Dan Akroyd's daughter around that night."
Oh. . . I just want to give you a sense of the marvelous I experienced.
Next up was Stephen King. His brother was an architect who designed a house on one of the keys in Sarasota. Someone bought the house from the people he designed it for, and they said that the new owner wanted to meet with him and make some renovations. The didn't tell him that it was STEPHEN KING!"
Turns out he is a fanboy for King. I got to hear about it in savage detail.
All the while, I was smiling and nodding and thinking, "I'm sure to get Covid." As I glanced around the bar, my heart sank. I never liked places like this. I must look like somebody searching for his granddaughter, I thought.
When my drink was gone, so was I. I nodded to my new friend and hobbled to the door.
When I got home, the cat was gone. Of course.
I prefer small, intimate places. The place the "boys" had suggested was not that. I had wasted a foolish hour.
But one good thing came out of the night, something I could be excited about. I know I can wear those jeans alright. It is good to have a standard alternative to my hippie pants. You know, the costume makes the man.
I should get out early with my big cameras and make some pictures. I have two series in mind--"American Pastimes" and "American Worker." All large format, strained formal poses. I can see it clearly. Making it, however, takes big ovaries, or, depending on gender. . . . There is an empty lot in Gotham that has a wall that would make a marvelous background. Yesterday driving by, I thought to set up my camera and wait for some willing prospect to come by.
"Hey, you. . . would you let me take your picture?"
That's why I eschewed "balls." Mine become a bowtie when I think about it. I'm sure once I get started, though. . . .
The day is young and long. I don't want to sit inside my house and rot. I have to get out among the living. Those hideous creatures. They will be out brunching en masse, sucking up mimosas and Bloody Marys and eating shrimps and sausages and eggs Benedict and croissants.
See? You see?
God. . . I feel shaky this morning. I probably caught Covid. God, please. . . spare me the Covid. I've learned my lesson. I won't go among your most marvelous creations again. I swear. I'll keep to myself. I'll read. I'll make pictures. I'll write. Just give me strength.
Oy. . . the brutes. . . the brutes. . . .