Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A New Camera. A New Attitude?

The weather here has become what it should be and what brings a billion people to the state this time of year, much to the chubby-inducing pleasure of the greedhead tourist industry.  But I'll step back a bit.  

You see, I am a sunshine junky.  As a mopey romantic and emotional depressive (I looked it up), cloudy weather puts me in a low, sad funk.  But man, when the sun is shining and the skies are clear, there is little that can bring me down.  And so, when the morning broke bright and clear, I became a different person.  I mean, after all the gloomy weather of this fall and winter, I felt more than fine.  And then. . . a cherry on top.  My new Fuji medium format camera and lens was arriving a day early.  It would be here with the mailman.  Holy smokes, yes!  Ay caramba!

It was early, but I had been out of bed since just before five, so I dressed to go to the gym.  It is habit.  I have, of a sudden, quit enjoying it.  Indeed, it has become a burden.  So, I says to myself, I says. . . "go light."  I say that every day, but then. . . habits are difficult to break, and I do what I always and forever have done--beat the hell out of my body.  

There is nothing more tedious and boring than hearing someone talk about their workouts or their diets or their sobriety.  Yea, yea. . . I have, despite my awareness, been tedious and boring on these topics, so let me leave it with this.  I wanted something to take on the road, something easy but efficient.  I do not want to spend my days in gyms.  I want to be in plain air, walking, looking, eating and drinking and talking to strangers.  

Tennessee was in the gym when I got there.  He'd  come back early from his trip to the mountains.  He would be leaving at week's end for a ten day sailing trip through the islands with some Billionaire Boys Club buddies.  "Below Decks" style.  And there was the shock jock who had been at the Rolex races with Brad Pitt that weekend which had tongues wagging.  The boy with the McLaren was still vacationing on the beach with his buddy a couple hours to the south.  

I wasn't looking to talk.  I needed to get the workout over with and get out the door.  

Such things are impossible.  

Club Y, however, has massive windows that open out to the world, and the world looked lovely.  

"I don't want to do this anymore," I told Tennessee.  "I've done it too long.  I've done enough."

"No, man. . . c'mon.  Do your daily hundreds." 

That is what he does, a hundred pushups, bicep curls, and air squats.  That is not all, but there is always that.  

"Nope," I said.  "Fuck this.  I'm going to go lie by the pool for half an hour.  I'm done."

The day was cool, but lying in a chair near deck level, the air was still and the sun was warm.  Fuck yea, I thought, this is better.  And as I lay there, my mind wandered, by association, to all the days I had spent in southern parts, lying oceanside or poolside in Palm Beach, Miami, Key West.  Oh. . . I was not Quasimodo then, and there was always the dangerous pleasure of a tryst or a romance, but, I thought, I can at least still have the air and the sun and food and drink.  And, I thought, "I must go."

I was walking above the ground when I left the gym and headed home.  

Pulling into my neighborhood, I saw the mail truck.  In minutes, I thought, I will have a new camera.  I decided to make lunch and wait.  Tuna salad.  I opened a can of wild caught and put it in a bowl.  Olive oil mayonnaise and. . . and. . . shit!  I was out of sweet relish.  O.K.  I'd just use honey.  Shit, piss. . .  I was out of honey, too.  What to do?  I remembered I had a bottle of simple syrup.  Surely that would work.  I could put in some diced almonds to give it some texture, too, but, of course, I was out.  I had the good crackers, though, so that would have to do.  

While I ate, I began looking up hotel prices.  I was ready to leave town, jut pack a bag and go.  Then. . . holy smokes. . . I was hit with sticker shock.  All my old haunts had blown up.  A night at the Breakers started at $1,200.  Plus $67/night parking.  I've stayed at the Breakers forever.  My last trip there, a few years ago, was marvelous.  It was expensive, I remember, but nothing like that.  I checked another hotel I had stayed in before, the Brazilian Court.  Holy shit. . . what?!?!?!  It was $2,300/night.  

Plus parking.  

I changed my search for Key West.  More sticker shock.  What happened while I was gone?  Everything had changed.  I'd spent my adult life taking off whenever I felt low and depressed to fix my mood.  Now. . . WTF?  Where do people get the money?

I decided to take a soak and brood.  I thought about the rich gymroids and how the state belonged to their lot, now.  I was an old broke-assed white hillbilly nigger Quasimodo sonofabitch.  I remembered the passage Travis had sent me earlier from the book of travels my dead ex-friend Brando had written.  I had never read it as it came out after he robbed me.  The passage concerned one of my first mountain climbing trips with him to Mexico's Popcatepetl.  In part, it read:

A few months later, four of us came back and reached the top of Popcatepetl.  Returning cold and hungry, we were too tired to go downstairs to the restaurant below our rooms in the village.  Pulling C.S.'s handy sleeping bag over me, I could not resist the bar of white chocolate by his bunk.  Just as I was becoming engrossed in the plot of his paperback, he came through the door, looked around and said, "I'm glad I didn't bring my girlfriend."

That was accurate.  My god, though, that had been a long time ago before the travel glut had begun.  We could go anywhere for a nickel or a dime without much preparation.  "Adventure Travel" was just becoming a "thing."  We had gotten there ahead of the curve.  

Now Brando was dead and I a shut-in and every place I once went was now overrun by. . . whatever.  

I would find a way to go.  

Just as I finished dressing after my shower, there was a knock at the door.  It was the mailman with my package.  He needed a signature.  

"Oh, man. . . the tracking didn't say 'signature required.'  I'm glad I was here."

With trepidation, I opened the box.  The camera looked like new.  I fitted the lens and put in a battery.  I pointed the lens through the window and snapped a photo.  

There was no memory card.  I went on a search and found one.  

I took a few pictures then put on an adapter that came a day earlier that fitted my Leica R lenses to the camera.  Manual focus.  Telephoto.  How would it look?  But something was wrong.  The viewfinder was blacked out.  Piss shit fuck goddamn.  I went to the computer and Googled "GFX setup."  The menu on this camera is encyclopedic.  It was going to take me a day or two to get through it.  But I found a video that explained the problem.  I followed along and in a few minutes I had an image in the viewfinder.  I walked the yard. 

Easy.  But I hadn't figured out how to set up my iso preferences yet.  Low iso, 135mm lens, blurry cats. . . .

My fears were subsiding somewhat.  The camera was as advertised.  Everything, as far as I could tell, ws working as it should.  But now it was time to visit my mother.  I grabbed the camera and got in the car.  I shot pictures at every red light.  I took the camera into my mother's house and took some low light photos of her.  I took it later to the grocery store as the sun was going down.  Driving home, I stopped at the lake and took the photo at the top of the page.  I was a shutterbug.  

When I got home, I didn't feel like cooking, so I heated up some Amy's Organic Macaroni and Cheese and mixed it with petite peas, garlic, and tuna.  I poured a zero beer.  I turned on the television to some camera porn.  And when dinner was done, I took the camera's memory card to the computer and opened the images I had taken.  Holy moly--I'd never seen files like these before.  I took some into Lightroom and worked them up with some of  Fuji's film simulations.  I did little else.  They were amazing.  This was a new challenge.  What could I do with them?  How could I give them "a look"?  How could I make them "mine"? 

I knew it would take me a lot of experimenting and time, but. . . oo-la-la.  This would be fun. 

Texts came in.  I had hired a fellow once who wrote for the N.Y. Times, the Post, Variety and Interview.  But as print dried up, he was looking for work.  He teaches now, but he has been taken on as a writer/editor for a slick publisher of big art books.  He was in town, he said.  "Let's get together." 

And then. . . a text from a kid I had hired to be a tech in the digital cinema department.  He had a fishing show on one of the reality t.v. channels, but when he finished his film degree, he moved to L.A. and started working out there.  He was in town, he said.  "Let's get together."

The Girl Who Kinda texted me a photo of a hotel room.  "I'm out of town," she said.  What to make of that?  

But something, it seemed, was in the air.  Things could get interesting again.  Life was picking up.  

I want to take this camera on a road trip.  I'd have my Leica's, too.  Each of the cameras have a different functions and would serve different situations.  I still had to figure all that out, but I would, I was certain.  All I needed was. . . 

. .  . some BBC.  I had to get my chutzpah back.  Maybe some mojo, too?  

But I have lingered here too long this morning.  It is another perfect day, and I must get out in it.  I'll leave you with this, a song from my past, some time ago but not so far away.  It came up on my music feed yesterday while I was in the midst of longing for adventure and daring.  


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