Monday, November 17, 2008

Thankful... (11/17/08)

* * *

Today I am thankful for...

... the clear... bright... golden awesomeness of the late-autumn-morning Sun, shining upon ME...

... two gloved hands (each smaller than my own) holding my gloved hands - as we walk toward the school bus and the morning cold catches our breath and carries it away...

... the rush of warmth upon the opening of the door of home...

... and hearing the love of my life singing in the shower.


Today I am thankful for...

... rainy Saturday trips to Manhattan...

... the click of Mr Conductor's hole punch meeting tickets...

... the two-tone chime of train doors closing...

... a near "empty" Grand Central Terminal...

... a single MetroCard shared by a half-dozen people...

... near "empty" subway cars...

... really long lines outside of museums...

... Museum Membership...

... getting to skip said "really long line"...

... waving a card to get in to see van Gogh...

... van Gogh...

... Vincent van Gogh...

... speaking to ME.

... "The Sower"...

... "The Potato Eaters"...

(and being able to find the faint "Vincent" signature... hidden on the back of the chair to the left)

... "The Poet"...

... "The Night Café"...

... "Gauguin's Chair"...

... "The Starry Night Over The Rhône"...

... "STARRY NIGHT"...

... all there... for me...

... all there for us...

... ours for a few hours.


Today I am thankful for...

... women in subway stations, talking to the air and enjoying the conversation...

... emerging from the Subway again... to find the Sun...

... another "Recession Special" at Gray's Papaya...

... wandering over to Dojo's West for lunch...

... the happiness of Chicken Yakimeshi... Hommus... and Guacamole...

... watching my children spin "The Cube" in the East Village...

... The MUD Truck...

... finding a new thumb ring on St Mark's...

... Jimmy Webb STILL walking around Trash & Vaudeville like he's on speed...

... (and STILL looking like C.C. DeVille - after all these years)...

... Pommes Frites being on Second Ave...

... "Love Saves The Day" still being the best store ever...

... Enchantments' new location being just down the road from the old one...

... the intense heat of wandering through 18 miles of books at The Strand...

... finding a copy of "The Creative Process" for only 48¢...

... Gothic stores...

... coffee in Greek paper cups...

... the return of the rain...

... dinner at Scotty's...

... guys who annoyingly drop names of famous poets as if they know them...

... the Chrysler building stretching toward the foggy night sky...

... getting to Grand Central just in time to catch the train home...

... my iPod playing Miles Davis as we pull away from Manhattan...

... the warmth of friendship...

... of wonderful days spent with wonderful people...

... of Lenny hugs...

... and Police State conversations...

... of silly Kristin faces when she realizes I've stolen her soul via my camera... again...

... and "British Pinkies" putting holes in Chuck Taylors...

... of the happiness of being with "family".


Today I am thankful for...

... silly things.

... for the Colts beating the Texans...
... the Steelers beating the Chargers...
... the Giants beating the Ravens...
... and the Cowboys beating the Redskins.

... for Jimmie Johnson making NASCAR history...

... for the NASCAR season being over (meaning that for the rest of the NFL season I don't have to do the "two TV" thing to watch both at the same time).


Today I am thankful for...

... Candlewood Camera Club...

... camaraderie...

... assignments...

... testing myself.


Today I am thankful for...

... Full Moons...

... Dedicants taking the next step...

... drums calling in the night...

... sharing bread with chosen siblings...

... Circles of Love.


Today I am thankful for...

... FINALLY being able to let go...

... and say "goodbye"...

(six months after).


Today I am thankful for...

... Philip Glass' "Itaipu" carrying me off into dreamland...


Today I am thankful for...

... dreams...

... possibilities...

... and miles upon miles of road stretching before me.

* * *

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thankful... (11/03/08)

* * *

Today I am thankful for...

... the warmth of that first cup of coffee in the morning.

... the chill of the air when I throw back the covers.

... the creaks... squeaks... cracks... moans... and groans of that first real stretch of the day.

... the smile that the second cup of coffee brings.

... the chime of my Mac, when it starts up for the day.

... bowls of hot oatmeal with drizzles of pure maple syrup - on cold autumn mornings.

... the sounds of my Barred Owl calling in the night...

... and our murder of Crows... calling throughout the day.

... busy squirrels on my roof... making more noise than any of the neighbors ever could.

... strong gusts of wind pushing against the walls of the house... causing creaks and squeaks and moans and groans.

... gray days leading into dark afternoons.

... (the "quiet" of such moments).

... a small fridge full of apples and 35mm film.

... my cameras and tripod next to me... ready to go.

... 4GB compact flash cards being too small... (and thus the need for more of them).

... hundreds of photos waiting for processing in CDPP and Photoshop CS3.

... Colony Pizza on Myrtle Ave in Stamford.

... "Stinger" pizzas.

... seeing my dad for the first time in over a year.

... spending a night with a couple dozen drag-queens.

... old Golden Retrievers next to two-and-a-half month old Golden Retrievers.

... "not drinking" (it has been eight months now).

... cravings for Guinness.

... the Colts beating the Patriots.

... "House" being on every night.

... the third cup of coffee of the day.

... the writings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

... clean bedrooms.

... messy bedrooms.

... very messy bedrooms.

... missing gloves.

... this past Halloween having been Holly's and my 12th anniversary together.

... (12 amazing years).

... The Cure's new album finally being released.

... Moleskine journals.

... knowing that Election Day is tomorrow.

... knowing that in less than two weeks I'll be in NYC visiting van Gogh and Míro at the MoMA.

... Thanksgiving being just a few weeks away.

... Christmas being next month.

... "2008" drawing to a close.

... thoughts of the future.

... ideas for photo projects.

... plans to go to art school in NY - 15 years late (Hey... better 'late' than 'never').

... plans to expand...

... to grow...

... to prosper...

... in everything.

... Love.

... My family.

... My friends.

... My Self.

* * *

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Owls and Mice and Shivers in the Driveway

* * *

There's a Barred Owl somewhere out there... keeping me awake at night... calling...

"Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?"

... over and over and over again...
... night after night after night.

(Apparently I'm the only one in the house who hears it.)

And so I lay there...
night after night after night...
eyes open in the dark...
gazing at the window...
wondering what it means.

(Perhaps it's a message from Her...
... calling me back?

Perhaps it's a message from Him...
... calling me out?

Perhaps it's just an owl...
... being annoying...
... keeping me awake at night.)


So I close my eyes... and try to force sleep.

(And sleep eventually comes...
... rather hard...
... and only moments before waking.)


And in the morning I find half of a dead mouse in the driveway...
... and the confusion returns.

I close my eyes... and I hear it's call again...

"Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?"

Again, I wonder... "What does it mean?"

So I stand there in the cold...
... surrounded by the morning frost...
... gazing at the mouse...
... shivering...
... listening...
... listening...
... listening...
... waiting for...
... hoping for...
... wanting...
... an answer.

But so far there's just the call...

"Who-cooks-for-you? Who-cooks-for-you-all?"

... over-and-over-and-over again.

Keeping me awake at night.
Keeping me from dreaming...
... too much.

* * *

Friday, September 26, 2008

Daydreams of then or now

* * *

Cold autumn winds blow rain against the diner window next to me where it forms magnifying trails of the world outside.

(Louis Armstrong sings from the greasy chrome table-side jukebox...

... "What a Wonderful World")


I unzip the rain-wet outer-layer black hoodie...

revealing a flannel which has seen far better days over the last 15 years...

and adjust myself as I toss it on the seat beside me.

Open "beat-up-WWII-army-bag-serving-as-messenger-bag-backpack"...

... pull out Moleskine and pen...

and get to work.

(Everything seems like a black-and-white photo to me.)

Waitress comes... bearing gift of coffee.

(Funny... same waitress for almost ten years now... and I STILL don't know her name!)

She smiles...

... I smile...

She asks "the usual?"...

I - not realizing that I'm that obvious... embarrassingly nod "yes"...

and blindly reach for the sugar jar...

the creamers...

and prep my coffee without even thinking.

Steam-smoke rises as I take the first sip.

Diner coffee.

Bad coffee.

Yet the most wonderful coffee in the world!

(Back to work)

Pen starts moving across page after page.

Furious writing... flowing from I don't know where.

Flowing...

Smudging here and there as hand brushes across still-wet ink...

Running...

... on-and-on...

without thought or reason...

just appearing.

(Like now... for I truly have no idea what I am writing)

She returns...

two eggs over-medium...

French Fries instead of home-fries...

toast drenched in butter...

side of very crisp bacon...

(THIS is my usual? No wonder my doctor wasn't happy!)

Ketchup flies across the plate in a condimentary pattern...

("condimentary"... that's not a word, is it? Yet I just used it... and it's the only word which could truly convey what I meant... so... I guess it IS)

... and I begin to eat... without thinking...

... as I continue to drink my coffee... without thinking...

... as I continue to write... without thinking...

... all while I continue to "exist"... without thinking.

Memories come and go during the in-betweens...

... countless dates and meetings held here...

... friendships formed...

... relationships ended...

... lessons learned...

... and shared.

The nameless waitress returns...

refills the cup...

... removes the plates...

... exchanges them with a piece of coconut custard pie...

(Apparently a continuation of my "usual". This is just getting "worse"!)

My mind wanders to an endless trail of "I wonder what ever happened to ______" and "I remember the time that _________"...

... and so on.

The rain slows...

the check appears...

and I sit...

alone...

and lost...

waiting for another refill.


* * *

Friday, September 19, 2008

(silence)

* * *

I haven't touched my camera since Sunday.

It's not that I haven't wanted to. (Believe me... I have!)

It's just that I "can't".

Or... at least... I've feel as if I can't.

Or shouldn't.

(I don't know)

Sometimes I put camera to eye... and feel so "sure" of the moment that I punch the shutter into life... and quickly make adjustments for the next shot - almost unconsciously.

There's a confidence and a comfort there. I know what I see... and I know what it will (or, at least - "can") become.

Yet sometimes I'm almost afraid to look through that viewfinder.

Afraid that I won't like what I see.

Afraid that there won't be anything to see.

Afraid that I won't have what it takes to release the shutter.

Afraid that it will be a blurry result...

... a missed moment...

... the opposite of what was desired.

Afraid that I "can't".

Afraid that it won't be comfortable.

And in those moments my camera becomes silent.


So I haven't touched my camera since Sunday...

after 300 shutter movements produced such "opposites"...

... and ended up in the trash.

After frustration set in...

... and discomfort arrived...

leaving me to stand in the silence...

... afraid of what my camera might show me.

* * *

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Craving Phở

* * *

I have a serious craving for Phở.

Actually... I've had this craving for several weeks now. Maybe even several months. It's possible that it's been even longer... perhaps several years.

I have a craving for Phở that simply cannot be quenched... fully.

What the heck is "Phở", you ask?

Good question!

Phở is a Vietnamese dish. Think of it as sort of a "Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup"... but in all honesty, that's a very simple description of it. Phở is so much more than that.

Phở (pronounced "fuh"... sort of like you're trying to say "foot" but you cut off half the vowel sounds and completely forget the "t" at the end - and pose the whole thing as a question) is sort of the "unofficial national dish of Vietnam". It is eaten for breakfast... for lunch... and for dinner. There are regional variances... though most stick to the basic foundation of white rice noodles... thinly sliced beef... and clear beef broth.

The broth isn't your basic 'American' (read "salty yet bland") beef broth! It's more of a true stock... made by simmering oxtails and bones with blackened onion and ginger - along with spices such as star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and fennel seeds.

Phở is usually served with an assortment of garnishes that you can add in whatever combination and amount you wish. Onion... Basil leaves... Cilantro... Lemon and Lime... Hoisin Sauce... Bean Sprouts... Fish Sauce... etc.

In the end... Phở becomes a single-serving hot-pot (of sorts) full of Vietnamese flavors. It's more than a simple "noodle bowl"... it's flavors are more complex... yet at the same time, "simple". Whether you're having it for breakfast... or dinner - it's deeply satisfying.

Well... to me it is, anyway.

So - as I've already said - I have a serious craving for Phở.

I've had this craving for several weeks... perhaps several months... perhaps even several years.

Lately, this craving has been "thrown in my face" repeatedly...

I turn on the TV, and the show is Andrew Zimmern's "Bizarre Foods" on the Travel Channel. He's in Vietnam... eating Phở.

I sit down to read some Anthony Bourdain... and within a few pages he's talking about Phở.

A friend sends out an e-mail of humorous images... and one shows the sign for a Vietnamese restaurant called "Phở King" - which, of course - would be pronounced "Fuh King".

And if it isn't direct references to Phở - it's references to Vietnam.

Then I find myself on the phone with someone from the offices of a local marketing agency... who is asking me questions to determine whether or not I'll qualify for an upcoming job...

Most of the questions are basic... "Age"... "Marital status"... "Any kids?" - etc., etc..

Some pertain to the specific job in question...

Then there's the final question: "If you could go anywhere in the world right now... where would you go?"

I asked "Anywhere?"

"Yes... anywhere. Where would you go?"

I replied "Back to bed"

She laughs.... then says: "Seriously... if you could go anywhere in the world right now... where would you go?"

And, without really thinking - I responded "Vietnam".

"VIETNAM!?!" she responded... sounding rather surprised. "Why Vietnam?" she asked.

"I have a serious craving for Phở" I responded. "So I guess I'd go there to get the best Phở I could."

Believe it or not she instantly knew what Phở was... and then went on about how she had a different job available that focused on Asian food...

... but that's not the point here.

The point is my response to the question: "If I could go anywhere in the world right now... I'd go to Vietnam for some Phở".

We finished the phone interview... and I hung up somewhat transformed. The meaning of my statement... and thus, the meaning of my craving - had just hit me like Newton's apple.

And I had to ask myself - is it really the Phở? Or is it something much, much deeper?

I used to eat Phở quite often, actually. Maybe not "every day" - but at least once or twice a month.

There was a Vietnamese restaurant near the place where I worked. I'd get a to-go order of Phở... and sit at MY work bench... eating my lunch - perhaps in-between having framed an original Robert Mapplethorpe photo or Joan Miró painting for some wealthy Greenwich collector and matting some watercolors for Gene Wilder (yes... THAT Gene Wilder). While James Brown played over the six speakers that filled the room... and while my brother danced at his work bench... I'd sit and eat Phở - or whatever the hell I chose to have for lunch that day... paging through a magazine or newspaper... laughing as all of us who worked in that room told fish stories and such...

... and at the end of the day I'd walk out of that room... hop on a train... enjoy the almost two-hour journey back home... knowing that tomorrow would be the same... and that the Phở was there if I wanted it.

It has been almost 10 years now, since the last time I had Phở.

It has been almost 10 years now, since I left my job... a job I loved - and despite any actions on my part - was truly honored and blessed to have. The gallery is gone now... having closed down several years ago. It's only a memory now.

Ten years.

A decade.

And I have a serious craving for Phở.

* * *

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ralph Gibson for a mere $2.00?

* * *

Ralph Gibson is one of my favorite photographers. I honestly do not know much about him... and I cannot claim to have seen the majority of his work - I simply like what I have seen of his photos.

My favorite Gibson photo would have to be “Bastienne”, the photo which graces the cover of his 1995 book “Infanta” - a collection of his nudes, primarily focusing on abstract portions of the body. “Bastienne” shows only the right eye (looking down) and top of the cheek of the model - positioned in the upper right corner of the frame... leaving most of the image filled with the deep black background. It’s an extremely simple composition... and, to me - a very beautiful one indeed.

Most of Gibson’s work remains unfamiliar to me. I’ve seen bits here and there in books and on the internet. I’ve gazed at one or two in museums. Yet despite having seen so little of his work - I consider him to be one of my favorite photographers... simply based on the fact that what I have seen of his work has amazed me. Simple compositions... abstract... high contrast - sometimes showing lots of grain. Simple. Beautiful.

So imagine my amazement when - at an agricultural fair here in my own Connecticut - I wandered in to a used books tent, raising money for the agricultural society which hosts the fair - to find, sitting prominently atop a pile of books in a section marked “Coffee Table Books” at the tent’s entrance - a copy of Gibson’s “L’Histoire De France”! The price? A mere $2.00! (Yes... an out-of-print art book with a cover price of $49.95 - for a mere $2.00!)

Fearing that someone else might notice this treasure and make a run for it, I grabbed the book as quickly as I could... as my mouth hung open.

Of course... the possibility is high that I was the only person in the entire fair that gave a damn about that book! Most of the books being sold were romance novels... war histories... cookbooks... gardening books... and children’s books. Most of the customers were either fair attendees tossing books around with BBQ-sauce-sticky fingers - or were fair participants, with manure-coated shoes. It might sound as if I’m stereotyping a bit (perhaps I am) - but for some reason I just don’t think that the Gibson book would have been their cup of tea!

Still... I snatched the book and clung to it!

(And I’ve been devouring it ever since!)

This book is special because it was the first he published of color photographs (usually he focuses on black & white exclusively). There’s a certain ‘softness’ to his images... and his “reductivist” style continues to amaze me. Gibson shoots using Leica M cameras exclusively... and almost always using a fixed 50mm lens (a lens which many photographers today seem to have either ‘forgotten’ or have chosen to abandon).

On his web site, Gibson says that his images reveal “how it feels for me to be looking at something”... and continues to say “I may shoot something as humble as the corner of a box, but it’s really about photography, the process of seeing, and conveying my personal feelings. How you feel determines how you perceive reality - therefore the only thing that’s real is how you feel. That may sound solipsistic, but I succeed as an artist only when I communicate my individual consciousness.”

A philosophy I completely agree with...

No wonder I like his images so much!

* * *

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Falling into my Harvest

* * *

I'm scared shitless.

Strapped "securely" in my seat... third row from the end of the train. We start to move forward with a rather awkward jerk... and begin the slow climb up to the 220 foot high dropping point.

To our left... the Connecticut River...

To our right... acres upon acres of people waiting in lines... drinking ICEEs... applying sunblock... spinning around in circles... screaming on rides.

Almost a minute after leaving the station we reach the top of the hill... and this is when I realize that sitting in the back of that second-to-last car was a bad idea...

a really, REALLY bad idea.

We make our way over - and I can't see the track at all! Unlike the people in the first few cars... I have no idea what lies ahead until we're already well into it. A 71-degree drop... at over 75mph...

and just like that I'm having one of those "OH SHIT!" moments!

Yes... this is my very first time on any sort of a "mega-coaster". Up until now the biggest coaster I've ever been on is "Space Mountain" in Disney World. My fear of heights has kept me off all others I've been presented with over the years.

But today is about conquering fears... right?

It isn't the highest roller-coaster in the world... nor is it the fastest. (At 456-feet high with a top speed of 128mph, both of those records are held by "Kingda Ka" at Great Adventure in New Jersey) Yet "Superman: Ride of Steel" at Six Flags New England has been consistently rated one of the "Top Five Steel Coasters in the World" since it opened in 2000. It has been rated No. 1 in the world most of those years... including 2007 (the 2008 results aren't out yet). Why? Mainly due to the "air time"... those moments of negative-Gs that send your stomach up towards your throat - which coaster fanatics crave. It might not be the highest... fastest... or longest coaster in the world - but "Superman: Ride of Steel" is generally viewed as being "the most exciting".

(NOTE: There are other parks with "Superman" roller-coasters... in fact almost every Six Flags has one - but most of them are "Superman: Ultimate Flight" or "Superman: Krypton Coaster" - and those are entirely different from "Superman: Ride of Steel" - which can ONLY be found at Six Flags New England).

No... I didn't scream.

No... I didn't close my eyes.

No... I didn't let go of the lap bar.

Yes - I swore that I was going to fly out of the car and land, very hard - upon the ground... each and every time we crested a hill and hit one of those air-time moments...

and YES - I smiled the ENTIRE time!


A year ago I wouldn't have even been able to look at that ride without getting a vertigo moment of nausea... forcing me to turn around.

Yet here I was... enjoying every last second of the over 2-minute-long ride!

What changed?

Everything!

Every last thing!

And in that moment... I knew - that the Seed I had planted back in Spring had grown to a ripe and very sweet fruit indeed!

Change had arrived. Perhaps it had done so gradually... and unnoticed - yet now - at 77mph... with the long hair of the girl sitting in front of me whipping my face every now and then - I realized once and for all that change had, indeed - arrived.

My Harvest is a truly bountiful one indeed!

(And now one more thing gets crossed off of my Bucket List!)

* * *

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sometimes...

* * *

Sometimes you just have to write...

but you don't know what to say.

It's not that you don't have anything to say...

it's just that your mind gets a bit fuzzy...

and the words get lost...

and tangents come and go...

and come again...

and before you know it you're just sitting there...

staring at a blank piece of paper...

or a glowing screen...

completely lost...

knowing that you "should"...

but feeling as if you "can't"...

or... at least... that you just don't know "how".

(It can be a very scary place to be!)

So you look for things to help bring the words out to the surface.

For some it's wine.

For some it's cocaine.

For some it's sex.

For some it's locking themselves in a room with nothing but their memories.

For some it's a plate of apple pie and vanilla ice cream at a diner at 3am.

For some it's a white plaster bust of Shakespeare.

For some it's the explosion of color in a Kandinsky... or a Pollock... or a Basquiat... or... of course... a van Gogh.

Or... the black-meets-white-meets-gray beauty of a Mapplethorpe photograph.

For some it's Hemingway's words... (O Me! O Life!)

For some it's walking the streets of the city.

For some it's the sound of Miles Davis' muted trumpet in "Recollections"...

or the power of Dawn Upshaw performing Górecki's Symphony No. 3.

(And for some it's a combination of "all"... or "none" - of the above)

And sometimes it works... beautifully.

They come alive...

and in a fury of creation - the words flow like notes from Coltrane's sax...

quickly and beautifully...

falling.

Yet sometimes it doesn't work...

and they're left staring at the blank page...

the glowing screen...

even more lost than before...

until they give up... and walk away...

frightened...

and mourning for what could have been.


Sometimes you just have to write...

but you don't know what to say...

so you grab yourself a cup of coffee...

sit down... here...

and before you know it... you've said something...

and are about to click "Preview & Post" on another blog entry.

(And having released that... you suddenly feel "free"... to breathe)

* * *

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Declaring my existence...

* * *

I used to own an old Smith Corona electric typewriter... about 18 years ago.

Blue... gray... white... and black...

Heavy as hell.

(It had a metal plate bolted to the body saying "PROTOTYPE - NOT FOR SALE".)

My mom bought it for me at a tag sale. It must have already been 10 or 15 years old at the time.

To me it was some sort of an electric wonder!

I remember heaving that thing onto my desk... lifting the cover... uncoiling the plug... stretching it out to reach the socket... having to decide what to unplug - My Mac 128? My stereo? My desk lamp? What?

(I chose the lamp)

Flipping the large switch on the side of the beat-up body... an electric buzz sent motors spinning and whirling - bringing the machine very noisily alive.

It warmed up... and settled into rhythm. A regular hum of a heartbeat... with the occasional metallic cling and clatter to keep things interesting.

I adjusted margins... wound in that first sheet of blank paper... snapped back the bar... checked to make sure that the ribbon was usable...

and sat...

staring at that blank page...

and the keys...

and the possibilities which lay there before me.

I reached out... set myself into position... ("Business" class was a requirement in Florida schools... so proper typing technique was already second-nature to me)... and waited for something to come.

Nothing did.

Just the hum of that Smith Corona... the ringing in my ears... and a moment of dumb blankness.

I looked out the window...
saw a vast blue sky filled with puffy white clouds...
saw the edge of the pine and palm forest...
saw manicured lawns...
saw heat waves rising off the pavement of our little cul-de-sac...
saw middle-aged neighbors playing basketball...
saw the girl I loved practicing dance moves in her front lawn...
heard my dog start scratching himself on the floor of my room...
and turned back towards that blank page...

... and typed my name... in lowercase letters only...

vincent james pia

that's it. Nothing else.


I had just formally "declared" myself...

Declared my existence...

Declared my intent...

Declared all of my hopes, dreams, desires...

... and possibilities...

in that one little electric line of lowercase letters: "vincent james pia"

and that was that.


I pulled the page from the roll... with that rapid clicking sound that happens in such moments.

I put it on the desk beside the typewriter - carefully and reverently.

I reached along the side of the machine... and pulled the lever switch to "OFF"...

causing motors to wind down... into silence.

Leaving it plugged in... I put the cover back on... securing it with the chrome latch beneath the blue vinyl handle along the front edge.


My work done - I was both content and proud of myself.

Stood up... pushed in the chair... and walked away.

(Damn! I miss that old Smith Corona!)

* * *

Friday, August 1, 2008

Moving Past Heroes (at the speed of insomnia)

* * *

James Douglas Morrison died in a bathtub in Paris on July 03, 1971.

(He was 27 years old)


Kurt Donald Cobain died in Seattle on April 05, 1994.

(He was 27 years old)


James Marshall Hendrix died in London on September 18, 1970...

(He was 27 years old)


Janis Lyn Joplin died in L.A. on October 04, 1970...

(She was 27 years old)


Robert Leroy Johnson died in Mississippi on August 16, 1938...

(Some say he was poisoned...

Others say the Devil himself sent Hellhounds for Johnson... to collect his debt...

Either way... he was 27 years old)



Jean-Michel Basquiat died in New York City on August 12, 1988...

(He was 27 years old)


Brandon Bruce Lee died on the film set for "The Crow" on March 31, 1993...

(He was 28 years old)


Percy Bysshe Shelley died in Italy on July 08, 1822...

(He was 29 years old)


Keith Haring died in New York City on February 16, 1990...

(He was 31 years old)


(And the list goes on... but I think that's enough of it for now.)


What's the point?

No... I'm not going to try to point out any sort of eerie coincidences that link their deaths.

No... I'm not going to get hung up on the whole Morrison-Hendrix-Joplin-Cobain-Johnson-Basquiat "Forever 27 Club" crap.

No... I'm not going to talk about things like "murder conspiracies" or "family curses".

So... what IS my point?

Nine people.

Nine people who have... at various times in my life - had a tremendous impact on me - through their words... their lyrics... their music... their art... or, simply - the "visual impact of their being".

Nine people who have been "personal heroes" at times.

Nine people I've based aspects of my Self on, at times.

Nine people who have helped to carry me through certain journeys which I needed to be carried through.

Nine people who continue to have an impact on my life in some way. (Hell... my own son is named after one of them!)

But what's the point?

Nine people who never made it to the point that I'm at today.

Nine people who never made it to "32". Only one even reached "31"... and died 3/4 of the way past that year of his life.

Nine people...

And here I am... a little more than two months shy of "32"... And I've officially outlived them all.

And what is the point in that?

I don't know... really. It was simply a thought that kept me awake all night last night. A thought which I find both "tremendously comforting" and "tremendously depressing" at the same time.

And perhaps THAT is the point.

Perhaps not.

* * *

Thursday, July 31, 2008

(NOT Sleeping With) Kim Bassinger and Denise Huxtable

* * *

Another sleepless night. The constant hum of three fans blowing on me as I toss and turn in bed... cracking knuckles and toes... staring at the dark reflections on walls and ceiling... wondering whether the experience of a four-dollar-and-seventy-five-cent Chicago Superdawg is worth an eighty-dollar car rental... wondering which movie I should download to my ipod for the plane: "Koyaanisqatsi"... "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"... or "The Big Lebowski".

Then it happens... my mind somehow goes on a train-wreck-of-thought...

What movie was Johnny Depp best in?

I loved 'Donnie Brasco'. Depp and Pacino together... an awesome combination.

(forgetaboutit)

I was surprised at how well he sang in "Sweeney Todd".

(Johnny Depp, I mean. Not Pacino. Pacino wasn't in "Sweeney Todd". That would have been interesting though.)

Helena Bonham Carter did a fantastic job too.

I used to be annoyed by her... but I've been liking her these past five or ten years.

She's married to Tim Burton. Well... not really. They've been together for almost a decade... and have kids and such... but aren't technically "married"... yet.

Helena Bonham Carter was NOT in "Boxing Helena". That was Sherilyn Fenn who played Helena. She was in "The Wraith" with Charlie Sheen. I loved that movie. Well... I mainly loved the car. I hated that one character though... "Packard". He was an asshole!

But regardless... Helena Bonham Carter was NOT in "Boxing Helena". Which was also an awesome movie. I love Julian Sands movies.

Wasn't there some controversy over that movie? Yeah... there was. A famous actress was supposed to play Helena... but backed out. Then the studio sued her - and won - and she had to file for bankruptcy.

Who was that actress?

She was the same actress who played Vicki Vale in the Michael Keaton Batman movie. And she played Holli Would in "Cool World". And she was married to Alec Baldwin... and last year there was that whole thing about him leaving horrible messages on her answering machine and stuff.

Who the hell was that actress!?!


And so... for the next two hours I sat there in bed... desperately trying to figure that out. I knew that I knew the answer... I just couldn't "remember".

Almost 3:00am and I find myself sitting in the kitchen... eating a bowl of cereal... my computer on... staring at the "Yahoo! Movies" web site, so I could find the answer.

And there it is... "Kim Bassinger".

Good. That's settled. I can go to sleep now.

I head to the living room... turn on two fans... (one, a large box/window fan... put on the coffee table... so it can blow directly on me on its highest setting)... I collapse on the couch... turn on the TV to one of the "Music Choice" stations ("Soundscapes"... the "New Age" station) turn off the lights... and try to drift off.

Then it happens again...

Sondra Huxtable...

Theo Huxtable...

Vanessa Huxtable...

Rudy Huxtable...

Wait. There was one more. Lisa Bonet's character. What the hell was Lisa Bonet's character's name?

I had the biggest crush on Lisa Bonet once. Remember those photos of her in Rolling Stone back in the late 80s? Yeah... that was nice!

Lisa Bonet. What the hell was her character's name? And what's Lisa Bonet's new name? Didn't she change it like 15 years ago? It was "something Moon"... but not "Sherri Moon"... that's Rob Zombie's wife... and she's really hot too... but she wasn't on "The Cosby Show".

(THAT would have been cool too though! Rob and Sherri Moon Zombie as two of the Cosby kids. Maybe there can be some sort of a re-make or something. I don't know.)

WHAT THE HELL WAS THE NAME OF LISA BONET'S CHARACTER ON "THE COSBY SHOW"!?!


And so I get up again...

It's almost 5am now... and I haven't slept a wink. I'm sitting at the computer... looking up "Lisa Bonet" on Wikipedia.

"Denise"

Denise Huxtable.

There. That's it.

And yes... she legally changed her name to "Lilakoi Moon" in 1995... but apparently still uses "Lisa Bonet" as her professional name.

OK... Now can I sleep?

Back to the couch. Back to the fans. Back to the glow of the TV. Back to "Soundscapes". Back to my pillow. Back to having my legs tucked between the cushions and the back of the couch. Back to trying to stretch on a couch that's too short.

If I end up not liking the Superdawg, I'm going to feel like crap.

Kerouac was in Chicago. I think it was in Chapter 3 of "On The Road"... when he was on his way to Denver. He was in Chicago... back when Bop ruled the American Night... back when Bop was somewhere between "Charlie Parker and Lester Young" and "Miles Davis". (Or something like that)

Where did Kerouac go while in Chicago?

Do we really need to rent a car?

Isn't there an EL that goes from O'Hare to Superdawg?

I don't know. I'm NOT getting up again. I'm NOT turning the computer on again. I'm NOT. I'm NOT!


And thoughts like those kept coming... on through the final hours... where night meets morning... and skies brighten... and birds spend an hour or two being "annoying" rather than "beautiful"...

Until the faint smell of coffee filled my nose... announcing to me that Holly was up and getting ready for work...

... and "Thursday" had arrived...

... without "Wednesday" ever ending.

* * *

The Cadillac Man

I want to buy a metallic brown 1976 Cadillac Eldorado two-door convertible with tan interior.

I want to be "that guy"...
(the guy with that sweet metallic brown '76 Caddy Convertible...
who drives around town with the top down...
black and tan bowling shirt...
sunglasses on...
tattooed arm resting on door...
black jeans...
black leather boots pressing gas pedal down...
always heading west...
all mysterious-like.)


There's a Tibetan Skull Mala hanging from the rearview...
along with my Grandmother's bean-bead rosary.

There's the irony of a Little Trees air freshener...
(Maybe it's orange... and smells like peaches)
hanging from the knob of the cigarette lighter.

There are wet-naps...
and ketchup packets...
and those little salt and pepper packets...
and a couple of straws...
and an old blue Bic ball-point pen
(which doesn't have a cap... and has dried out)
in the glove box.

I want to drive...
in search of freedom...
in search of my Self.

(Coltrane plays on the radio when I drive like that)

I want to drive through city streets at night.

I want to drive on midwestern highways in the early morning...
(the rising sun behind me)

I want to spend the night at motels with "jungle rooms" and "Sinatra suites"...

I want to spend my time photographing the un-photogenic...
the undesirable side of America.

I want to see what others turn their eyes from.

I want to grab THAT...
and record it...
through the lens...
on paper...
on canvas...
(then force them to look... and pay us for the privilege)

I want a car from the year of MY birth.
I want a car the same age as ME.
And together we will prove that we can make it...
... that we are not to be overlooked...
... that we still have potential...
... that we still can go the distance...
... to reach out...
... to explore...
... to create...
... to take the unthinkable road...
and arrive there safely...
and "on time" (whatever that means)

I want to park in the center of the crossroads...
Toss out the map...
and let the call of America dictate the direction I choose.

The guy with the sweet metallic brown '76 Caddy Convertible...
driving the American highway...
with the top down...
always searching...
for himself.

* * *

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sleep

* * *

Almost 1:30 a.m.

Can't sleep. The upped "L" is sending electric lightning shocks through my spine and down through my legs... leaving me shakes and tremors.

I had to leave the bed... (didn't want to wake Holly)

The room is too hot.

It's too bright.

The fan is making a funny noise.

The sheets are pilled. They were annoying my skin. And they smelled funny.

My Sleep Number seems to be wrong.

I can hear EVERYTHING right now.

I hear my heart-valves opening and closing through my pillow.

I can hear my wristwatch ticking away on the dresser across the room. For that matter I can here the two other wristwatches in the wooden valet box on the floor. For that matter I think I can hear the wind-up pocket watch... in the bottom drawer... tucked away in a box... where it has rested... years since its last winding.

(I can hear EVERYTHING right now.)

I hear the slow drone of Miles Davis running through my mind...

"Recollections"...

but just his horn...

no drums.

And I find myself sitting here... on the couch... the comfort of the LCD glow of this electric moleskine sitting on my lap...

waiting for "Z" to kick in... and carry me away for the night... to the peace of sleep... until the morning comes and pulls me away again.

(I do not know how or why I've arrived "here"... I only know that "here"... for now, at least... I seem to have ceased being "Vin"... and have become "Travis Bickle" instead... guiding my cab through the dark streets of insomnia)

I've made a decision... I'm going to cut my hair.

(Actually... it's a decision I made over a year ago... but "couldn't" allow myself to do... out of "fear" of the comments I'd have to deal with from others who felt that I "shouldn't".)

Now it's time. "Couldn't" isn't an option anymore.

(I've grown tired of this outfit... and it's time to hang it up with the rest... and walk away from the closet... clean and reborn... for a while, at least)

My mind is playing tricks on me. I'm awake... but I'm dreaming. I'm "remembering" with my eyes wide open.

(The Whitney Biennial... around '95 or so... a very "sophisticated"/"upscale"/"yuppie" woman, perhaps in her 50s, looking at a rather "controversial" piece of art - expressing her lack of understanding... inability to connect to the piece... and disgust that anyone would focus on portraying anything "angry" instead of something "pretty". My response as I turned to her: "I guess it's hard to paint pretty flowers when you've been held down and raped.")

But what do I know? I don't paint flowers... and I wasn't held down, per se. Instead I steal moments of time with the click of a shutter... and I deny being held or forced to do anything that wasn't...

whatever.

(I think I've gone too far... but THAT is another story)

Strange thoughts come out of nowhere...

When I die I want to be cremated... returned to Shiva's fire...

my ashes scattered...

some allowed to wash beneath the Cornwall Bridge...

some left at the base of MY tree in Wooster Cemetary...

some blown by the breezes on Slopey Rock's hill...

some spread at the base of the Chrysler Building...

some released to the ancient wind-voices of Machu Picchu...

but who am I kidding... that all could change next week...

(and probably WILL)

(but I still want a really cool headstone.)


It's after Too-A-M now. My mind is drifting... my body getting that buzzing feeling which tells me that the medication is working... and sleep is just around the corner.

Thank God!

or Charlton Heston.

or Joseph Campbell.

or whoever the hell is paying attention.

(in India a Goddess girl was born with eight limbs... and they named her Lakshmi)

(just for the record, I have no idea where I'm going with any of this... it's just arriving...)

Sleep. Time for sleep. The morning is not far away... and I'll need to make pancakes that aren't round... just to prove a point...

that I can.

* * *

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Polaroids: Mapplethorpe (Whitney Museum of American Art)

On view through September 14, 2008...

This exhibit is one I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.

From the museum’s web site...

This special exhibition traces Robert Mapplethorpe's use of instant photography from 1970 to 1975. Created in collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the show brings together one hundred objects, many never exhibited before. Included are self-portraits, figure studies, still lifes, and portraits of lovers and friends including Patti Smith, Sam Wagstaff, and Marianne Faithfull. Many of these small, intimate photographs convey tenderness and vulnerability. Others depict a toughness and immediacy that would give way in later years to more classical form. Unlike the highly crafted images Mapplethorpe staged in the studio and became famous for, these disarming pictures are marked by spontaneity and invention. Together, they offer insight into the artist's creative development and reveal his pure delight in seeing at a formative time in his career.

* * *

I remember vividly the first time I saw a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph. It was “Calla Lily, 1986”... an image which has since become, perhaps, my single-favorite photograph.

Words cannot describe the beauty of that image. The sharp edge the black background creates. The soft white of petal... almost erotic... reaching through the “spotlight”... hanging, suspended... reaching toward its own shadow. Simple. Sensuous. Powerful.

Prior to that image I had only heard of Mapplethorpe in the context of controversy. His plans for his “Perfect Moment” exhibition at the Corcoran in Washington D.C. in 1989 had created quite a stir. The museum backed out of the exhibition... the Washington Project for the Arts picked it up - but not before quite a lot of commotion had been raised regarding the sexual nature of the photographs.

As a result, Mapplethorpe’s name was known to me... his images, however - were not. These were the days before the internet... before libraries were keen to stocking risqué art books... and when trips to museums, for me anyway - were rarities.

Yet one day I found myself standing before “Calla Lily, 1986”... transformed by the moment.

Not long after I happened upon a copy of Richard Marshall’s Mapplethorpe book being sold by a street vendor near St. Marks in the East Village of Manhattan. Quickly snatching the prize I had found, I made my way toward Grand Central - and almost two hours of pouring through the images during the train ride home followed. I absorbed every page... every image the book offered. In the weeks that followed I found myself consuming other Mapplethorpe books as well... such as “Mapplethorpe Altars” and his biography by Patricia Morrisroe. I travelled from city to city... museum to museum, searching for the opportunity to gaze upon the real thing.

Over the years I have seen many Mapplethorpe photos in person. Museums in Manhattan... Boston... and Philadelphia have presented me with Mapplethorpe’s Flowers... Nudes... and images from the controversial “X Portfolio”. Working as a professional picture framer I had even been blessed with the task of framing an original print of his “Wave (Fire Island), 1980”.

I had seen a lot of Mapplethorpe’s photographs. What I hadn’t seen, however - were the polaroids. Those first images... which set the foundation for his later work.

Sure... I’d seen many of them in books. Some - such as his mixed-media “Self Portrait, 1971” - had had a tremendous impact on my own art. That particular image - consisting of three polaroids behind the metal “cage” window of a paper potato sack, spray-painted purple - had introduced me to the world of mixed-media photography pieces... and spurred my interest in collage, self portraits and mixed media work - all at once.

His frequent use of diptych and triptych style framing/matting - to place a series of two or three (or sometimes more) images side-by-side, blew me away! I had never seen photography presented this way before. Photographs had always been presented in white cotton rag mats in thin black or silver frames... or in cream-colored cotton rag mats in thin auburn-colored wood frames. Multiple images within one frame... double-mats cut without bottom rails on the top mat... frames of bizarre shapes or colors... this just wasn’t done! It wasn’t supposed to be this way!

But it was. And it was wonderful to me!

Now... after 15 years of waiting - I have the opportunity to see those first images in person. Those early Mapplethorpes, which had such a tremendous impact on my own art. The polaroids.

The show is simple. One long room. Most images presented in neat rows - two high. Framed to be the same size and shape (the aforementioned cream-colored cotton rag mats... and thin auburn-colored wood frames used on most).

Self portraits. Photos from hotel rooms. Photos of friends (most notably, Patti Smith and Sam Wagstaff). Early experiments with florals. Early experiments with sexual subject matters. Early nudes. Early experiments with creative framing - such as the use of the plastic polaroid cartridge cases - spray-painted different colors - as frames (such as 1973’s “Candy Darling” series).

Brilliant.

To see these images in person takes your breath away! The images are small... as polaroids are... yet they present so much! Books can only capture part of their essence. To really understand them, you must stand before them!

I had seen the first three images of the “Charles and Jim” series (1974) countless times in books... yet seeing them in person - it was as if I had never seen them before! There is a sense of nervousness... of fear... of anticipation... of submission - which is amplified when gazing at the original. There is a power of the moment which cannot be passed along through books... postcard prints... or internet images. It simply has to be experienced firsthand.

The final piece in the show... “Self Portrait, 1971”... the very piece which graces the cover of “Mapplethorpe Altars”... the first piece featured in Richard Marshall’s book... the piece which inspired so much in me. And it just about brought me to tears to see it in person... finally.

And once again I find myself deeply moved and inspired by what Mapplethorpe saw through his lens.

Robert Mapplethorpe had a way of finding the beauty that is often missed or simply “overlooked”. His images are rather simple in composition. “Black” meets “White”. “Soft” meets “Hard”. That which is usually in the supporting role moves in to the spotlight. And often he forces us to see what, perhaps - we’d rather not... and recognize that there IS a beauty there.

* * *

Simply put - “Polaroids: Mapplethorpe” at the Whitney Museum of American Art exceeded all expectations. It is a rare opportunity to see firsthand the foundation-work of what would become one of photography’s greatest contributors.

* * *

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Needs

* * *

I really need some Tylenol right now...

No... what I really need is to get off of my ass and actually DO something!

I need a drink - yeah... that's it! I need a drink. (...but don't worry... I won't...)

I need to get over this "Writer's Block" I've been going through!

I need to lock myself in a room with only my laptop... my iPod... and a dozen or so pots of coffee - and WRITE, dammit!

I need for "Allison Kimball" to finally come back to life.

All-i-son? Allison? Where are you? Why can I not see you outside my window anymore? Where is your haunting stare when I need it most? Where is your song? Where is that curl of your lip... that sinister smile that says "I know what YOU don't know yet"? Where the hell are you? Are you coming back?

(please come back!)


I need to take EVERY THING out of the living room... and the dining room... and the kitchen... and my bedroom...

EVERY THING...

and put back only what is necessary.

I need to white-wash it all... and start over again!

I need to dig into the back of the closet - and pull out the Keith Haring that has been hidden from the light for so long... and get it back on the wall...

I need to see it there...

I need to know it's there...

I need to "feel" it again...

(Besides... it's an original... and one of the most valuable things I own. So why is it always hidden away?)

I need to sit on a Metro-North train bound for Grand Central...

with my eyes closed...

my head leaning against the cool glass of the window...

my iPod singing Coltrane to me...

my arm sticking to the maroon and midnight blue vinyl of the seat...

my mind wandering towards the possibilities that await me.

I need a hotdog from Gray's Papaya.

I need to stand at the base of the Chrysler Building and look up - through the viewfinder.

(I need to move to New York City)

I need to travel.

I need to get lost.

I think I need to give up "God" for a while...

(and "Goddess" too)

... and see if they can catch up and find me again.

I need to go to the diner at least once a week again...

... just for sanity's sake.

I need to catch a film at Bethel Cinema...

(something "artsy")

I need to find an old beat-up copy of Pablo Neruda poems.

I need to re-read van Gogh's letters.

(I need to stand before "Starry Night" again)

I need to find a bum in the East Village... selling candle holders made out of cut soda cans.

I need some new plain black T-shirts...

... and some plain black long-sleeve Ts too.

I need some new tubes of Liquitex.

I need a new external hard-drive so I can back up all these damn photos!

(I need to spend hours-upon-hours in Adobe Photoshop - tweaking until my mind and the screen are showing the same thing)

I need to punch someone in the face... but I can't. Not yet, anyway. Not until I figure out who that "someone" is.

"I need a brand new friend who doesn't bother me...
I need a brand new friend who doesn't trouble me...
I need someone... yeah... who doesn't need me..."

(Yeah... that's it... tell it like it is, Jim. Tell it like it is.)


I need to dance in the rain again.

I need to stand at the top of the ESB and scream again.

I need to jump into the cold of the turbulent ocean and willingly release all of the "bad air" within me...

release it to the blank sky...

and allow myself to sink... down...

down...

down...

down...

until I touch the Titanic...

until I solve the mysteries of Flight 19...

until I find my own Andrea Gail...

until I have nothing left to search for...

until I have nothing left to find...

and I can push myself off of the ocean floor -

and shoot myself towards the surface...

breaking through like a submarine doing an emergency breach...

to finally be free of all constraints...

and left naked... floating above all that is left behind.



I need to break the glass of the mirror with one swift pounding of the fist...

and kick the reflections of "what once was" under the carpet.


I need to not have to worry about what others are expecting me to say...

... or expecting me to write...

... or how they are interpreting what I "AM" saying...

... or what I "AM" writing.

(I need for others to stop trying to find hidden meanings behind my words! Sometimes they're just words, dammit!)

(I need for others to stop thinking that what I write or say is about THEM... because the truth is, it probably isn't... or it probably is... and either way - it's about ME)


I need for jokes to not be taken seriously...

and seriousness to not be turned into jokes.


I need a fresh cup of coffee.

I need a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream... at some diner somewhere.

I need to find the William Forrester within me.

I need a blank journal... and a refill for my pen.

I need to find the REAL me.

(and I don't need anyone else to tell me "how")


And yes... I DO need that Tylenol!

* * *

Friday, June 13, 2008

I sold my soul for an iPod

* * *

I sold my soul for a black 80GB iPod Classic.

Well... sort of.

I only sold part of my soul... 18 pages to be exact... and, according to the contract - "only until December 31, 2011". That is when my work becomes mine again... instead of "Property of L. Pub.".

The trade-off? Enough to have covered the purchase of the aforementioned iPod... as well as the purchase of a sweet Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO Macro Zoom lens that I've had my eye on. Oh - and some CDs too.

And I feel like crap about it.

Why?

I sold my soul... and I didn't even want to.

Accepting that commission was not something I wanted to do. It's sort of "anti" what I wanted to do. It's sort of "against everything I ever wanted to do" with my writing. But I couldn't say "no" to the friends who were pushing me to do it. So I did it. Very reluctantly.

I'm in no way implying that the "blame" belongs to anyone other than myself... for I am the one who ultimately made the decision! That decision... however... was heavily influenced by my own self-induced fear and anxiety of the possibility of letting down those who really felt that I should do this thing.

And so... one year later... I've received two free copies of the finished book... and a check. And I hate it.

I hadn't read the article since the day I sent the file to the publisher. In fact... I planned to never read it again. But now... with the finished book in front of me... I couldn't help myself! I re-read it... And I feel worse!

It's nothing of what I submitted. The "feeling" isn't there. It's mixed up and forgotten. Important elements aren't there anymore... and non-important ones seem to have "appeared" out of nowhere.

And they spelled my freakin' name wrong!

But I'm trying to view it as my own overly-critical self-review... and abandon it. So I read the rest... and the book sucks ass. Yes... there are several very good articles in there... but overall, the book sucks ass. And it's definitely NOT an "almanac"... so why do they even include the word? Why not just call it "a collection of essays" or "writings from the Pagan Community" or something like that? Why even bother adding a calendar and calling it an "almanac"?

Still... Holly sees the silver lining in such things. At a Barnes & Noble in Massachusetts she pulls a copy of the book from the shelf... opens to my article... and says "THAT is so cool!" - then takes it to go brag to her mom.

But I sold my soul for those 15-nano-seconds of celebrity... and the knowledge that it wasn't something I wanted to do just makes it sting even more.

But I did get my new iPod out of the deal...

And I will be getting my new lens...

So I sold my soul for a black 80GB iPod Classic... and a future lens.

And I abso-freakin-lutely LOVE that iPod! Though I must admit that every time I pick it up I see that article... and that contract. I try not to view it as something "bad"... but rather as a "reminder"... a reminder of what not to allow myself to do in the future. I did something I've spent over 15 years saying I would NEVER do... now I must make sure that I do not make that mistake again.

So I pick up the iPod... turn the click-wheel to browse through the more than 500CDs that are already on there... stop at one... turn the volume up to the max... and pound the sound into my brain - like an emotional cilice.

(God I hope this works!)

* * *

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I miss the Florida rain...

* * *

Last night while lying in bed... listening to the rain and the distant roll of thunder... watching the lightning flashes as they illuminated the room - I suddenly realized an overwhelming feeling...

"I miss the Florida rain".

Florida rain - for those of you who do not know - is a natural wonder in and of itself. For starters, it tends to be "bigger" than New England rain. Bigger... Faster... Heavier.

Florida rain can come out of nowhere... and disappear before you even realized that it was there.

Florida rain can be falling in your front yard... while Florida sun warms your back yard.

Florida rain can fall on your neighbor's driveway... upon his freshly washed car - while you play basketball in your driveway - completely dry.

Florida rain can stop you in your tracks... and force you to pull off to the side of the road because you can't see a damn thing.

Sometimes Florida rain comes... and an hour later no hint of it remains. No puddle in the driveway. No soaked lawn. Nothing but heat mirages rising off asphalt in the distance.

But none of that is the point here.

I miss Florida rain.

I miss sitting in my garage during a rain storm... with the door open... and my HUGE Memorex dual cassette bass boosting boom box pouring out old Iron Maiden or Metallica...

I miss sitting on the ledge of my oversized bedroom window during a storm... letting the wind blow in the occasional cold drop of rain... as I watched the lightning strikes in the distance... and sat with a notebook and a thousand poetic thoughts...

I miss being caught in the rain while out on my bike... and still have two or three miles before I'd get home. The coldness of a soaked shirt clinging to me... and the sting of rain hitting my face as the whirling tires of my 10-speed parted puddles like Moses...

I miss sitting in an abandoned U-Haul trailer deep in the palmetto and pine "forest" that bordered our sub-division... listening to the rain rattle on the roof... watching drops run along the web of the huge argiope spider who owned the place...

I miss walking the long trail beneath the power lines - perhaps not the smartest place to be during a Florida rain storm - but I didn't care. The openness... the beauty of the sky... the hum of the towers... the pounding of rain hitting sandy-grass-ground...

the solitude.

There... that's it...

the solitude.

I miss the solitude of Florida rain...

I miss the quiet contemplation amidst something so much bigger than anything I had to deal with myself...

I miss the comfort of that.

I miss the Florida rain.

* * *

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Mojo

* * *

Photobucket


It all started with a paycheck spent on ten rolls of Kodak Professional T-MAX black & white film. ASA/ISO 400. The first "food" for my Canon "New F-1" Professional 35mm Camera. The first attempts. The first go. The start of the journey.

Ten rolls of T-MAX in the hands of a 17 year old boy who thought he was a representation of what happens when Robert Smith, Jim Morrison, Jack Kerouac, Robert Mapplethorpe and Keith Haring meet in one big creative clash.

Ten rolls of T-MAX...

360 clicks of the shutter - give or take a few (that's the funny thing about film... you pay for 36 exposures... and might get 37... or 35... or more... or less... or none at all, depending on how you look at things)

360 clicks of the shutter...

A hundred or so blinding flashes of a monstrous Canon 577G off-camera flash...

The hum of an AE Power-winder...

Ten rolls of T-MAX... roaming around Danbury, Connecticut... roaming around the East Village... roaming through cemeteries... roaming through the magic of a girlfriend's house...

Ten rolls of T-MAX... and a "need" to create...

a "need" to live.

Those were the days before "digital". When "taking photographs" meant "film". Expensive film. Wonderful film. Film that had to be loaded into the camera without accidentally wasting an exposure. Film that had to be advanced, or else the risk of double-exposure. Film that had to be wound, before the camera back could be opened. Film... that came in little canisters. Film rolls... that had to be pried open in darkness... to access the dreams within...

leaving you with a roll of sweet-smelling silver...

and an empty film case...

and a black ring that used to keep hold on the possibilities.

Ten rolls of T-MAX...

Ten black film roll rings...

The first ten - I ever took...

And when the film was developed... the rings remained to be strung on a chain and handed to me as a sacred object...

My creative mojo...

A jingling reminder to wear...

A jingling reminder of my creativity...

of possibilities...

of my ability...

of my choices...

of my right to choose to live the life...

or not.

Ten film rings from the first ten rolls of T-MAX film...

dangling on a chain...

along with a subway token left over from a September '96 trip to see "The Cure" at Radio City Music Hall...

a NYC subway token... to remind me that I always had a way to move...

a way to get from here to there...

a way to go places that scare me...

my creativity.


And now... 15 years later... those first ten rolls worth of photos no longer matter. Of those first 360 photos (give or take a few) - only a handful remain. The photos themselves were not important... only the journey. The Canon "New F-1" rests quietly at the top of a closet. It's 577G and AE Winder, sold... along with a dozen of its lenses. No more T-MAX. No more film. No more canisters. No more rings. My hands hold a Canon EOS 40D now. 10.1-megapixels and the capability of taking thousands of photos before needing to download them to my computer. Color to black & white with the click of a button. Filters and screen changes with the turn of a dial.

No more film...

Yet those first ten rings remain...

Constant reminders of possibilities...

Jingling from my belt with every step...

Calling me to listen...

to create...

to live...

... again ...

* * *

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thankful...

* * *

Today I am thankful for...



Getting away...


For the feeling of being on the road...


The whistle of air moving across a car window that is only open a crack...


The droning hum of 65mph wheels on wet highway...


That first glimpse of the Philadelphia skyline through a misty fog...


Comfortable hotel rooms with amazing beds...


Hot tubs...


Leaving the food journal at home...


Amazing sex...


Getting away from the tourists...


Driving through town...


South St. on a Friday night...


An amazing crystal ball...


Pearl Paint...


Taking the locals advice and going to Jim's Steaks instead of "Pat's" or "Geno's"...


Waiting in line for almost an hour...


Downing three from Jim's... and still wanting more...


"Cheez Whiz"...


Cans of Yoo-Hoo...


Parking tickets...


The "awesome-ness" of my camera...


It's weight in my hands...


487 clicks of the shutter in two days...


Close-ups of Rodin...


Base-up-shots of the Comcast Center building...


Finally replacing the pair of black & white Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars that melted in the fire almost five years ago...


Convincing Holly to get a pair of dark green ones...


The perfect Djembe - calling out to us from the doorway of a Reggae shop...


Knowing that THAT Djembe is now here with us... and that Holly finally has a drum she loves!


Fourth-row-center seats at The Cure concert...


Robert Smith being less than 15 feet away for three hours...


Robert Smith being "ours" for three hours...


Robert Smith singing "Lovesong" to US...


Robert Smith's eyes, looking to the side...


Robert Smith's hair, wild... catching the light from behind...


Robert Smith's red lipstick smiles...


Robert Smith still being beautiful... and still making me shiver inside like a love-struck schoolboy...


(Me not really caring what any of you think of that)


Porl Thompson's amazing guitar playing... 


his 3-inch ruby-red glitter platform shoes shimmering in the stage-light...


his grins and smiles, as he looked at us...


(Me knowing that one of his guitar picks now sits in my pocket)


65daysofstatic being a freakin' awesome band!


Blondes in black cheerleader outfits with knee-high black pole-climber boots, quietly screaming "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!"...


Me looking...


Holly and I "arguing" about whether or not it was worth the look...


(Yes... it was)


Heading back to South St...


Sitting by the window upstairs at Jim's around 1am...
... downing two more steaks with whiz...

...
... and another can of Yoo-Hoo...


Heading to a pirate bar...


Spending an hour or two sitting at the bar... staring at the single hottest bartender we've ever seen...


(Holly and I not needing to argue on THAT one... for we both agreed)...


Having a one-armed man buy us drinks...


Watching a very drunk man drink the contents of the barmat on a dare...


A night of falling asleep with the music of The Cure in my mind... and visions of Robert Smith...


Billboards that make you laugh every single time you see them...


Car-rides that become commercials for Lexapro...


Not being able to finish a Grandpa's Country-fried Breakfast - for the first time ever...


Sleep...


Seeing the kids for the first time in almost three days...


Smiles...


Happy-ness...


Mother's Day...


The desire to move to the city...


Plans...


Dreams...


Desires...


Love...


Having my best friend be my wife...


Having my wife as my best friend...


Those moments alone.... even when we're in a crowded restaurant...


Love...


And the shy-ness of Robert Smith as he thanked US and blushed his way off-stage... and into a memory...



* * *

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thoughts Upon Waking

* * *

The way my mind works, first thing in the morning...




Why does my head hurt?



Where’s my coffee?



Damn! I’m roasting under these blankets!



What the hell ever happened to that Alyssa Milano poster I used to have hanging over my bed twenty years ago?



Damn! I forgot to soak the beans for the soup... again! I guess that means I’ll be making turkey burgers for dinner tonight.



Something smells funny in here. Is that me? God, I hope not! I don’t think I’ll have time to take a shower until late-morning.



HELLO! What are YOU doing up at this hour?



(Oh yeah... I was just thinking about Alyssa Milano. That explains it!

)

I really wish that Holly wouldn’t shut the fan off when she comes in to wake me up. It’s amazing how quickly I can go from "comfortable" to "sweating like a mother-fucker".



Is it Friday? Or Saturday? I hope it’s Friday... because if it turns out to be Saturday, and there’s really no need for me to be awake right now - I’m going to be P-I-S-S-E-D!



Speaking of which... I really gotta pee.



"Pee". That’s a silly freakin’ word. Very "tinny"... not "woody".



Heh... I just said "woody"! That’s funny!



"Balls"... Now THAT is a very "woody" word!



I had a dream about being on the Queen Mary II last night. Huh. I wonder where the hell that came from!?! 

That’s a pretty freakin’ big boat, though! 



Ever been on a real shrimp boat? 

No... but I’ve been on a real big boat.



That’s my boat... "Jenny".



Oh well... whatever....

Nevermind. 

Hello-hello-hello-hell-o-o...



OK - enough of that!



Alright now - on the Transexual Transylvanian count of three and-a-half, I’m going to do a pelvic thrust and swing my ass out of this bed...



One...

Two...

Three...

 And-a-...



Well - THAT didn’t work!



OK... I guess I’ll just do this the old fashioned way...



Damn! It’s freakin’ cold outside of these blankets! Why the hell didn’t Holly turn the heat up when she got out of bed!?!



Where the hell is my coffee!?!



Oh... there it is. 

I guess I should stand up now...



UGGGHHHH - THIS HURTS! 

I MUST be gettin’ old... My body feels stiffer than Glenn Quagmire at a Hooters!



"Hooters" - now THAT is one hell of a restaurant! Really good wings... cold beer... and lots and lots of ta-tas...



But I can’t have any of that anymore. Doctor says no wings or beer. Holly says no ta-tas. Oh well!



"Ta-tas" - that’s another silly word. "Tinny" - not "Woody".



Heh... I just said "Woody" AGAIN!



Today is going to be a good day!

* * *

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Double Porn

* * *

So last night I’m sitting there watching TV...

 Food Network HD...

 "Everyday Italian"...

 and I hear Holly - who is sitting at the dining room table, working on her computer - laughing.

I look up... and find that she is laughing at ME.



"What!?!" I ask.



She responds by making a face. Mouth hung open... eyes open wide... star-struck-sort-of-"Oh-My-God!" sort of a look.

 Then makes a comment about how that was what I was just doing... and another about me being silly or something.



My response? 

"Shut up! This is like double-porn for me now!"



(More laughter coming from the dining room)



I can no longer eat most of what is being shown on the Food Network. No foods drenched in butter... or oozing cheese... or sprinkled in salt... or cooked in bacon drippings... or wrapped in Prosciutto... or covered in cream... or... well, you get the idea.



Combine a tray of artery-hardening-goodness with a dash of sky-high-blood-pressure - and throw in a heavy helping of close-ups of sexy Giada De Laurentiis ta-tas in high-def... and what do you get? Double-porn. Well... at least for me, anyway.



So I find myself capitalizing on the moment, for Holly’s amusement.

..

As Giada pulls out two cooked chicken breasts to be shredded for an appetizer...

"LOOK AT THOSE BREASTS! WHAT A PERFECT PAIR!"



As Giada talks about taking her tartlets out to prep...

"YEAH... YOU KNOW I LOVE IT WHEN YOU TAKE OUT YOUR TARTLETS!"



And as Giada brushes the dough with butter... and sprinkles on salt...

"COVER IT IN BUTTER, BABY! SHOW ME SALT! SHOW ME SALT! SHOW ME SAL.... AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!"



(I hate it when they cut to the shot of the head of lettuce at THAT moment!)



Yep...

Double-porn. I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but: "Thank you, Food Network! Thank you very much!"



(now I need to go smoke a carrot stick)

* * *

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tremors and Shakes

* * *

Have you ever felt as if your bed was shaking?

Or as if the very ground you walk upon is moving... and trying to throw you off of it... only to laugh at you when you land upon your ass?

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.



Don’t get me wrong... that’s not necessarily a "bad" thing! It’s just a bit foreign... and takes some getting used to.

Within the past week my entire world has been transformed... while I, seemingly - was just a bystander.

Two doctors visits and some blood tests and I find myself going from "zero" to "four" medications... and a world of lifestyle changes - in less than a week.

No more alcohol... at all... not even a little bit... (Doctor’s orders)



No more sodium (Doctor’s orders)



Mandatory Low-fat and Low-cholesterol diet (Doctor’s orders)



No pork of any kind (Doctor’s orders)



Only the leanest red meat... and even then, only 3 oz and only on the rarest of occasions (Doctor’s orders)



Daily exercise... (Doctor’s orders)



More blood tests in three weeks...



More visits to the doctor in four...



Even more blood tests in six months...



And a whole bunch of "goals" that need to be met by then - just to ensure...

Well... to "ensure" that I get to "continue to be", I guess.

So now my body seems confused by contradictory side-effects...

"This one" makes you need to piss more... while "that one" makes you piss less frequently - so my body isn’t sure whether it’s allowed to piss or not...



"This one" causes you to be drowsy and fall asleep fast - and forces you to yawn uncontrollably while you’re awake - while "that one" keeps you awake - so my body seems to be sleep-walking in an effort to split the difference - and I’m yawning so much my jaw actually hurts.



"This one" causes extreme muscle and joint pain... "that one" causes headaches... and "the other one" causes twitches and tremors... and in the end my body screams "HOW THE HELL IS THIS SUPPOSED TO HELP!?!"



But it is.

Despite all of that, I can actually feel the difference.



I can actually "feel" my body. 

I can actually feel what is going on within.



I’m "aware" (if that makes any sense)...

And my mind is finally quiet. I can lay awake at night and not think at all... (I’d actually have to struggle to think something)...

which is nice...

because I’m enjoying the "quiet within"...

and it all helps me to avoid being pissed at myself for "allowing myself to create THIS"...

and, instead - just focus on what needs to be focused on...

so I can, "continue to be".




And the odd thing is that right now the main thought in my mind is that I can’t wait until I can order my freakin’ camera!



I can feel the weight of it in my hand...


I can feel the lens...


I can see the Live-View screen dim as I raise the body to my eye...


I can feel the shutter button beneath my finger...


I can hear the USM moving as the IS lens begins to focus upon the half-click...


I can hear the shutter clicking already.




I can’t help but think about those things and only those things right now.



Why?



Lets just say that I have an "extreme need to take a self-portrait".



It is a project I was told I had to work on... 

by a much, much higher power.



* * *



P.S. - While I’m comfortable saying what I’ve already said (and actually consider it to be a bit of a "release" to have done so) - this isn’t really something I’m up for discussing in any further detail... So... while I appreciate the phone calls and personal messages that have already come through - please understand that this really isn’t something I want to have to "explain" or "discuss". Yeah... I’ve already been a bit public about it... but only to a certain degree.

I guess you could call it "publicly private", LOL! ;-)



* * *

Friday, January 25, 2008

Falling Down

* * *

It finally happened...



And when it came, the snapping sound was deafening.



Grandma always said "Don't play in that tree."



It was old... and its branches were worn thin. They creaked with every breath of wind.



Still... how could you resist? It was there... asking to be climbed.



Besides... I'm OK up here. I've got a firm-footing.



"OK... but when you fall and break, I don't want to hear you crying."



(Don't worry... I won't. I won't be falling. I won't be breaking.)



So she walked back into the house... away from me...



And in that instant the wind blew hard...



And the branches creaked and moaned...



And with a snap,



I fell...



And I'm still...



Falling down.



* * *

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dust Circles

* * *

"OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES!", he screams.



But she will not hear him...

and just stands there smiling... 

bopping her head to the music pouring from imaginary earphones of dreams...

eyes gazing right past him and everyone else in the room.



(For some reason the weight of his left hand becomes ten times heavier...
And it pulls him down to the floor, where he collapses at her feet.)



Unable to move he just gazes up at the ceiling...

Noticing the dust circle the ceiling fan has scattered around the popcorn finish.



He laughs at this... 

At some imagined symbolism there that we will never see.



She steps over him... 

and walks away... 

again.



* * *

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Echoes of the Crows

* * *

He lies in bed listening to the yelling coming from outside of the room. The angry, annoyed yelling... and heavy-footed stomp-walk of a parent... waking him from a nighttime of escape.



(How is this any different from the life of 20 or 25 years ago?)



He hides... slipping off of the bed... sliding to that spot between the nightstand and the window...



Covering himself with a blanket...



Sobbing within, as he rocks back and forth trying to get the calm to return before the door opens and the light bulb blast scatters the shadows and brings about that moment of pretending nothing is bad here.



(Why does everything he hears seem to echo?)



(Memories of a quick moving cast iron pan... held by an angry hand - years ago)




Calm comes quickly. After all... he's an expert at it now. He knows the routine that gets him through the day with the least amount of discomfort.



Stepping into the bathroom, the cold tile shocks him when it meets his bare feet. He looks at himself in the mirror... checking to see if any remnants of the previous nights session remain.



(They do)



A quick rinse erases what he would never want you to see. A simple mask covers the rest.



He exits... 



Doing his best to hide the tremors...



Doing his best to quiet the voices...



Doing his best to pretend - for our sake.



Waiting for the moment when he returns to the alone...



And hears the echoing click of the dead-bolt cell-lock on the kitchen door.





Then he steps into the closet... and shuts the door. There he will hide until the buzzer goes off...



Immune to life...



Immune to Self...



Desperately trying to quiet the echoes of the Crows outside the window.



* * *

Friday, January 18, 2008

Want to play tag?

* * *

I've been tagged by the amazingly wonderful Rose: http://www.myspace.com/walkinthewoods



* Link back to the person who tagged you.

* List three things that you believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.

* Tag five others and comment at their blog informing them that they've been tagged with this award!



So, three things that make writing good and powerful.....



1. "Self". Writing is an expression. Writing is an art-form. And like all "true art" (as opposed to "commercial") - writing is always... in some way/shape/form - a "self portrait". My favorite authors are the ones who are able to put a touch of their true selves into their writing - even when the piece has nothing to do with them, per se. Your writing should come from YOU. It should be a reflection of YOUR CREATIVE MIND. It should never reflect someone else's ideal... or a mold that dictates "what sells".



2. "Passion". I'm not just copying Rose here (who also listed "Passion" as one of her three). Your work - regardless of how "simple" or "complex" it may seem to you - should ALWAYS reflect your passion for writing. Readers can tell whether or not you were feeling what you were writing. Readers can sense when you are just adding fill-in to meet some "deadline, be it real or imagined.



3. "Limitlessness". For me, powerful writing is writing that is not held back by any "conventional restrictions"... or bound by some pre-ordained form. Think "Dead Poets Society" here. (If you haven't seen it yet - I *order* you to go rent it right now! Go on! Go! I'll wait!). The decision of whether or not a work is "good" or "bad"... "right" or "wrong"... "powerful" or "weak" - cannot be graphed on some Pritchard Scale! There are no set guidelines to dictate what will be "good" or what will be "powerful"! Even my three components of "Self", "Passion" and "Limitlessness" - are just that... "MY" three components. I've read supposed best sellers that seemed to be lacking all three... but that was just my opinion - and, in the end - who the hell am I!?! Never limit your writing! Don't hold back! Write what you feel. Write what you see in your mind. Write YOUR story! And when others try to enter your mind or heart with their "red pens" - turn around and fart in their general direction!



I tag the following people whose writing I have read and been impressed by over the years... and whom I know have a passion for writing:



Holly

Lexi

Heather

Angie

Vance



* * *