Sunday, July 2, 2023

Totally Unremarkable

I was at an art gallery in Gotham yesterday.  Story to follow. . . maybe.  I don't feel much like writing today.  However. . . I had looked through the main gallery on the first floor and saw a sign that said there were more works upstairs.  It may have said "art."  Depends on your definition, I guess.  As I walked to the stairwell, I saw through a window looking out onto the parking lot a big guy in a cowboy hat posing at the back of a car.  I watched him for a second.  He seemed to be motioning to someone in the distance.  When he noticed me, I started up the stairs, but I turned around and came back to the window.  I had my Leica Monochrom mounted with a 35mm lens.  I pulled it out of my bag and held it up for him to see.  He grinned, so I fired off a shot, but he was too far away for the 35mm lens.  


I turned around and climbed the stairs to see the rest of the exhibits.  I was dismayed a bit when I saw what I felt was inferior photography with asking prices from six to eight hundred dollars.  I imagined the room full of my big prints.  

When I left the gallery, I stepped around back of the building to see if the big fellow was still there.  He was.  I approached him with my camera.  He was a friendly guy.  He said he was a photographer.  He gave me his instagram address.  Then I snapped off a couple quick frames. 

These are totally UNREMARKABLE photographs but for one thing: I haven't even tried such a thing for years.  It was a rush.  Indeed, that is why I had gone to Gotham.  But O.K.  Let me back up.  

I got up yesterday morning feeling as though I had not slept at all.  I was going to take a long walk after reading and writing, but I didn't.  I went back to bed, and when I woke up once more, it was nearly noon.  I was hungry and decided to make lunch, a veggie burger and some soup.  I sat down at the dining room table with my computer and looked up flights to Vegas.  Cheap. . . under $200/round trip.  I looked up hotel rooms.  Cheap. . . under $100/night.  I looked up the driving time from Vegas to Sedona--4.5 hours.  Then I Googled "Burlesque shows in my own hometown."  There were several.  I thought it might be a good idea to try to photograph one of them before I went to Vegas.  There are a bunch of technical details to work out like iso and shutter speed, etc.  It is going to be strange lighting, spotlights and darkness.  A practice run would be good.  So I tried to contact one of the bigger venues to see if it would be possible to come in with a camera.  I had no luck, though, in reaching them.  

It was two.  I decided that I needed to see how far I could walk in the big city with cameras.  I loaded up a bag and headed out.  Two of the three burlesque venues downtown were within a few blocks of one another.  I would try to get my nerve up and talk to someone in person.  

I went to each, and each was closed until later in the day.  Yay. . . I mean drats!

I strolled around town.  I felt odd, shaky.  I was limping.  I was slow.  How far could I go on my bum knee?  People seemed to be moving much faster than I, not just walking speed but in general.  I realized I have become awkward with so much isolation.  Sure, I go out with friends, but it is not the same as being in a crowd alone.  I told myself I needn't take pictures.  I could just walk around and kind of get used to it.  I walked into another gallery.  It was once a very good photo gallery that represented some very big photographers, but they closed down their most beautiful gallery in an old movie theater and only have three small galleries on the ground floor of a residential building now.  The show that was hanging was a mixed bag.  I looked at the photography that was there.  20"x24" framed prints for $1,500 and up.  I swear to God, my blood was boiling.  


I continued my stroll.  I saw myself reflected in the windows that I passed.  It made me very sad.  But this was good, I told myself.  This is what I need to do every day, get out, walk around, explore, move with the crowd.  Expose myself.  Figure it out.  

I couldn't sleep last night for the pain in my knee.  I can barely straighten it this morning.  I will try, however, to go out in the throng and see how much I can walk.  I will have to make a decision about surgery.  I thought I could out muscle this thing, but maybe I just can't.  

I should go to the beach and get golden brown.  It doesn't take me long.  I can limp around with a big old belly and feel terrible.  But, you know. . . in a crowd.  

That's more than I thought I would write today.  The writing is as good as the photos.  The photos are worse than unremarkable.  I feel nothing but a general ennui or worse today.  Dismay.  I live too much in my head these days.  Too many scraps of paper and old film.  Memories.  Others have made this a long, celebratory weekend.  Many I know are out of town.  I feel small, constrained, at the mercy of an ill-begotten fate.  I need to snap out of it.  The alternative is what Raymond Chandler referred to as The Big Sleep. 

I have a roll of film to develop.  I will go and do that.  Maybe it will make me feel better.  Probably not, but there is the slightest of chances.  

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