Friday, March 17, 2023

A Dandy Fool

I have a lot of enviable photo gear.  "Photo gear"?  Are you shitting me?  Did I just use that phrase?  

Yea, I did.  On purpose.  Look at this bag.  It an "enviable piece of gear," the fops might say, or if they were worse, they might call it "kit."  This is an expensive Billingham bag made in England.  It is the kind of thing I get sucked into because is looks "vintage."  I mean, it does look like something from an old Banana Republic catalog before they were a retail clothing store.  Later, it might have been sold by J. Peterman.  There is a certain kind of photographer who might want this bag.  I thought it might be nice.  

In my weak defense, I didn't buy it.  Enough said about that.  I didn't buy it, but I wanted it, I guess, the way I wanted the Fedora.  And the two things would look well put walking through an international airport, I guess, a man in an expensive Fedora carrying his expensive Billingham camera bag that surely held a Leica M.  Just like something in an old Ghurka poster.  

Yea, yea. . . fuck you. . . that's mine, too.  It's big.  I liked it.  And I still like it.  But, you know. . . I'm embarrassed by it, too.  See that bag in the gentleman's hand.  Oh. . . I have that.  It was made by Bison, an Italian leather company.  The leather feels like butter.  I think my very expensive girlfriend bought it for me in Florence.  I think so, because there were only two Bison shops in the U.S.--NYC and SF.  I had other things, too.  A pen fetish.  Fountain pens.  One year, overlapping girlfriends bought me two very nice ones, a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck and a Waterman something or other.  Have you ever used fountain pens?  They are shit.  I also had many pens to dip into ink wells.  Oh, yes. . . those came from Italy as well.  Beautiful things. Have you ever tried to write with those?  Thank god, I never had a quill pen.  

I could go on.  Ridiculous expensive shit.  

That Billingham bag is almost useless unless you are hoping to have it stolen.  

As the song goes. . . "What the Fuck Was I Thinking?"

Subsequently, I began reading Luc Sante's "Low Life" the other day.  In his preface, he drills nostalgia.  That is nothing new, of course.  Nostalgia is easily dismissed in art and literature.  I know all this,  I studied for years and years.  Still. . . I fly in the face of intellect.  


And listen to me.  If I wanted to, if I took the time, I could make the photo of the Billingham bag look just like the Ghurka poster.  Trust me.  

Oh, before I leave it alone, I always wanted a camel hair trench coat like the one in the poster.  True that.  

Shit.  And porters.  

But the most practical photo bags I have are the cheapest.  They are made of synthetics and are lightweight and rugged.  They are less than ugly.  Or more, whichever way the scale goes.  They are padded and provide much better protection.  

Gear is meant to be utilized not paraded.  

To wit: I have no idea what photography is any longer.  It all seems stupid now.  Everything is off-limits or has been done to death.  And all the attempts at "the new" look like David Byrne's performance at the Oscars.  Silly hideousness.  

I may just begin photographing the world with my plastic Holga camera again.  

Can you imagine waking up one day and realizing that you are Jimmy Kimmel?  You'd jump out of bed and run to the bathroom mirror in terror to see if it was true!

Maybe that's what it is like, these trappings of the bourgeoisie.  

But then again. . . what isn't?  You'd better take a good, hard look at your own affectations before you go guffawing at mine.  As Howard Stern might have once said, "Yea, I'm an idiot. Let's talk about you." 

The blunders of a lifetime.  

Hell, even Paris Hilton has done some stupid things.  Ha!

Still, that Meisterstuck is a marvel of modern design.  As is the Leica camera.  They are as nicely conceived as anything extant.  They are pleasures to view, pleasures to hold.  There is really no need to own either of them in terms of function any longer.  I use cheap gel pens to write with now, and any modern camera is more useful than a Leica M.  

Oh, hell. . . I could go on.  But I'm not always the goof.  

The VP for Patagonia Marketing was at my house a long time ago, back when I was married.  My friends owned a major outdoor company and my wife was their chief buyer, so when the fellow was in town, we entertained him.  I knew their local rep, but I had never met him before.  After dinner, everyone came back to the house for drinks and casual conversation.  The VP began talking about diversity.  He touted Patagonia on this issue.  It was, you know, the liberal thing to do, and there was hardly a more liberal corporation than Patagonia.  Being the type of fellow I am, I picked up a Patagonia catalog off the table and began paging through.  I was being very deliberate.  Then I stopped and turned the catalog to him.  

"All I see in here are white people.  Where's the diversity?  Let me guess.  I'll bet they are in the warehouse."

Oh, that was a real party stopper.  But, you know. . . look what I accomplished!

You can call me an aware fop if nothing else.  

"Oh, look daddy. . . isn't that dandy diverse!"

That's right.  We've evolved since the old "hoods in the woods" days.  

That ex went on to greater heights.  She now owns a clothing store that is a must for the Racket Club Crowd.  And the expensive girlfriend now designs jewelry for the Oscars.  

You want to hear the end of the joke?  They are now friends.  Oh. . . what a tangled web. . . . 

Don't judge me.  I know how you are about your various ethnic restaurants and your African doodads.  

At least none of us goes to Disney.  

Today is St. Patrick's Day, another nostalgic nothing.  It isn't even a real day.  We'll dine on corned beef and cabbage as tribute to the potato eaters for whom that was a special meal.  And we'll drink Guinness, by God.  

There is no end to it, is there?

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