Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Adventure and Daring!

I'm up at five.  I wanted to write.  Gush, really.  I was manic yesterday from start to finish.  Now I'm tongue tied.  I've probably crashed like a crackhead after a big night on the town.  I've most likely used up all the endorphins in my brain yesterday and now I'm flat as a pancake.  This is not the photo that started "it" or finished "it."  I just like it.  

"What is it?  Film?  The colors are cool, but they seem off.  But I like it."

"Not film.  Let me explain."

"Nah. . . I gotta go.  But, you know. . . maybe another time. . . . "

But I'm gonna.  

The maids were coming yesterday and my house was a mess.  I had opened boxes spilling wrapping bubbles, wads of paper and piles of paper shreds all over the house.  Recent purchases.  Lots of them.  A new expensive-ish medium format digital camera, lenses, lens adapters, a new (used) scanner. . . .  And then there was the usual mess that seemed much worse than was normal.  I've been otherwise engaged, I guess.  

I started with the boxes.  I was keeping them to use when I shipped the Leicas I need to sell.  But it is hard and my heart broke as I put body caps on the cameras, wrapped them, and got them ready for sale.  And when I was done, I began going through all the lenses.  Many lenses.  Cameras and lenses everywhere, really.  I looked at some that sat on the bookcase.  I was looking for lens caps when I came across something I didn't remember ever buying.  It was a $20 plastic lens that fit my Canon DSLR.  If I DID buy it, it had to be over a decade ago, and I'm sure I had never used it.  Surely.  Curious, I went to the closet and pulled the camera off the high shelf.  The battery still had juice.  I took off the big telephoto lens that was on it and mounted the tiny plastic lens.  I looked through the viewfinder.  It was dark and dim.  I could barely make out an image.  I took a photo.  

Holy shit!  Dear God!  

I took another. 

I was sold!!!  I stepped out into the light.  

Yes, yes, yes. . . I was all in.  All.  I went back inside, hands trembling, and put the camera down.  I had to get the house ready.  I still had the gym.  I hadn't eaten yet.  

I made a decision.  When the house was done, I put on some clothes.  It was a chilly day.  I wore "double denim," shirt and jeans.  I put on some walking shoes, an old but good pair of low-top Chucks.  I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.  

Everything was interesting now.  I swear.  I shot out the window of the car.  I drove to the camera store, parked, and walked around.  Bam. Bam. Bam.  It didn't matter what, curbs, signs, people--it all looked good to me.  

Walking back to the car, I saw two girls.  As I was waiting to cross the busy highway, they were walking toward me.  I shot from the hip.  They stopped and waited beside me.  They, too, were crossing to the parking lot.  We went together.  When we got to the cars, they stopped so one could photograph the other.  I put my camera to my eye.  

"I have to take this picture."

They smiled.  

"What kind of camera is that?"

They came over to look.  I explained about the lens.  I showed them the photo on the screen of the camera.  

"Oh, wow. . . that's cool!"

"Right?  I'm goofy over it right now."

"Do you work here?" one asked nodding to the photo shop.  

"Oh. . . no."

They posed for another photo.  I had no idea how these would look when I got them home though.  I can't focus the lens, can't really see the image I am shooting.  The lens has markings on the plastic barrel--one head, two heads, a bunch of people, a mountain.  It is a toy, really.  You can only guess focus. 

"Do you want me to send them to you?"


One of the girls pulled up her phone.  I gave her my number.  

"Just text, 'Give me my pictures, dude.'"

I was jacked when I got into my car and headed to the next spot on the outskirts of Gotham.  The park.  The lake.  The famous fountain.  I walked the long trail 'round popping off pictures like firecrackers.  It cost nothing.  It wasn't film.  It just looked like it.  

When I got back to the car, it was past mid-afternoon.  I hadn't eaten, and I had emptied my tank in the adrenaline fueled mania.  I drove toward home, shooting out the window at every red-light.  

I decided to stop at the Cafe Strange.  If that tall girl was working, I was going to take her photo.  I was.  When she had seen me a couple days before, she was smiling and waving like mad.  And hell, man. . . I was feeling good, cool and productive.  And the icing--double denim!

As it turned out, she was at the counter when I walked in.  Nobody was in line.  She smiled and said hello.  Then she asked me about my camera.  She asked me something strange, really.  

"Where do you get your camera serviced?  Do you go to Kiwi?"

"I have a lot of weird cameras that I take to Mike.  Do you know Mike?"

"Yea. . . he comes in here sometimes."

O.K.  O.K.  O.K.  

"Do people photograph you a lot?"

Dumb.  Really dumb.  That's it?  That's what you got?

"No. . . they used to.  I mean, I used to do some modeling when I was younger."

"I'll bet," I said, then I said something I don't remember.  Things get foggy here, but I know I put the camera to my eye and that she straightened up and looked into the lens.  The inside of the cafe was dark, so I pushed up the iso speed and took her photo.  I know I did because I have it.  I took one.  Just one.  But one.  

I showed her the screen image on the back of the camera.  

"Oh, wow. . . look at the contrast."

"Do you want me to send it to you."

"Sure," she smiled.  

"Here. . . take my number."

She handed me a pad and pen.

"Just put it in your phone."

She handed her phone to me.

"What's your name," she asked.  

I told her and asked hers.  I didn't understand her.  "What?"  I repeated what I thought she said.  She told me a third time.  

"Oh. . . O.K." 

I was famished, and I was feeling adventurous.  "Look at me out in the world," I thought. . . and ordered the nachos and a glass of wine.  I have sworn many times over that I would never eat food those dirty little hipsters made in that filthy kitchen.  But now. . . well. . . time and circumstance, as they say. 

Skip ahead.  The nachos sucked.  The wine was barely mediocre.  The music was some 80s punk band screaming.  For a long time.  And yet. . . it didn't bring me down.  Nope.  I was out.  

And about.  

A girl sat at the table in front of me talking to a young boy.  When she stood up, my stomach kind of fell.  She wore funky jeans that fell low on her hips, the tiny black string of her underwear pulled in an arch above her hipbone.  She wore a bandoleer belt with long-tipped bullets and a midriff white shirt.  I fairly gasped.  I grit my teeth.  I wanted oh so wanted beyond wanting to take a photo of her hip.  I sat and watched her putting her things together three feet away.  She was in no hurry.  It was taking awhile.  I had a long time to look and think.  But I couldn't.  It was killing me, but I couldn't.  Goddam shit piss fuck.  It just would have been too. . . something. . . to ask.  

"Hey, kid. . . can I take a picture of your hip?  Yea. . . seriously. . . I'm a great artist, you'll see."

I'll regret not taking that picture for the rest of my life.  

It was time to see my mother.  I took my camera with me when I got out of the car.  I wasn't done, not by a long shot.  I was still jazzed even though I was certain the nachos were going to poison me.  We talked, I took photos, and then it was time to go.  

"I don't know if I'll eat dinner after eating those nachos so late," I told her.  I just wanted to get home now and throw those files into the computer.  I wanted to see if I was right.  

But there was a fly in the ointment.  The maids were just getting to my house as I did, as the sun was setting.  I was pissed.  

"Lamine, we've talked about this.  You keep coming later and later.  You told me this wouldn't happen again." 

I was mad, but I didn't want to be.  I went into factory supervisor mode.  Years of practice.  I was good at it.  

"I'm sorry.  We are short a girl. . . ."

I made a Campari and soda, lit a cheroot, and went to the deck.  I had a long, torturous wait until I could dump my photo files into the computer and see if. . . if I was right.  

Campari gone, the wind picking up and the temperature falling, I went back in and poured a scotch.  I sat on the deck and waited, but it got too cold.  I sat in the car.  

And still. . . I was an adventurer.  Adventurers are not bothered by inconvenience.  Inconvenience is just a way of life.  

A bit over an hour later, the maids were packed up and gone.  I went straight to the computer and slid the card into the card reader.  

Holy smokes, Columbus. . . Toledo. . . Ohio. . . I was right!  

I collapsed.  There were a lot of pictures.  There were a lot of pictures that I liked.  It would take awhile.  I still had a lot of experimenting to do.  I had ideas.  I knew things.  But each picture would need something different.  I got up for another scotch.  How funny, I thought.  I spend thousands of dollars chasing cameras and lenses, and then I fall in love with a $20 lens on an old digital camera.  But of course.  That's the way of things.  Had I not been robbed, had I not spent the money replacing cameras and then deciding to buy the medium format camera, I never would have found that cheap plastic lens.  It's just the way dharma works.  

I pulled up an image.  I worked on it.  I did things.  Then I did more.  There are an infinite number of choices.  It is hard to choose.  I worked the image up in different ways, deciding this, then that, then another tweak. . . so many ways to go.  But they were all good, all good choices.  I tried another.  Then another.  I was getting the work flow down.  Muscle memory.  But things change with each image.  Tweak.  Tweak.  

It was nine.  All I had consumed that day was a pot of coffee, some nachos, and a glass of wine.  I needed to eat something.  I remembered that I had bought a pack of 97% fat free hot dogs.  Kosher, too.  You can't believe how good they are, and they won't clog your heart.  You know what makes them so darn good?  Just like all hot dogs--salt!  Yea, they were not the best things to eat, but it was late and I was an adventurer.  Did I tell you?  I had put some hot dog buns in the freezer. . . when?  Maybe Memorial Day.  Maybe the 4th of July.  I put two in the microwave and set it to defrost.  I threw two dogs in the skillet.  Catsup.  Mustard.  Sweet relish.  I opened a beer, sat down, and turned on the television.  I'd need to stay up later than usual to let the hot dogs settle.  Good God, what a day.  I put on some modern day travel adventure guys videos on YouTube.  A South African fellow was in the jungles at the intersection of Peru, Columbia, and Brazil.  He was mentioning river towns I knew from my travels there decades ago.  I watched a Brit travel through Pakistan.  Why are Brits and diaspora Brits so fucking tough?  There is something wrong with them, I think.  But then again, I'm a fair Anglophile, always fascinated by the Empire and all that.  Bagpipes, gin and tonics, and an outpost club and bar wherever they went.  

I would go back to Cuba, I thought.  Or maybe Mexico.  I would go anywhere.  

It was very late when I went to bed.  

I will do more today.  I am going to put the lens on a film camera and see what happens.  It is going to be another perfect day.  I'll do a walkabout.  But I think I will eat more sensibly.  And first I will go to the gym.  

You know. . . like any good adventurer.  

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