March 1, 2002
Call me Argo. Continued.
I was lying on the computer-floor room when Mr. Joseph (Joseph’s Asprins) came in. Mr. Joseph was the head of the department. He was a cross between a porcupine and a warthog. He had hairs that bristled out of every pore, including his nose and ears. He wore the big suit in the agency. Broad pin-stripes which signified that he was high up on the food chain. I had discovered that the pin-stripes were more than just a fashion statement, but that they were part of some masonic ranking system. The further apart the pin-stripes, the more power the wearer had. Mr. Joseph had two expressions: a scowl, and a piercing glare. Right now he was showing both of them. He looked down at me, looked at the flashing lights in the computer room which signaled that the power supplies had been pulled apart, and bared his lower teeth.
“Well Argo,” he sputtered “what are you doing on the floor?”
Things were still spinning around and I had a bump on my head from where I had hit the corner of the server box, and Mr. Joseph’s question had an echoing effect on me. I heard myself muttering that I had tripped over the wire. Mr. Joseph reached out a hairy, bristling arm and jerked me up to my feet. He still towered over me, and I was looking up into his nostrils.
Mr. Joseph was no idiot. Far from it. He had graduated from Columbia University with some sort of post-doctoral degree in robot intelligence, or something like that. We had heard that he had designed robots for NASA at some point. So as I say, he was no idiot, but as far as management skills goes — he must have read the Ghangis Khan management handbook. In fact, those bristles that protruded from every pore were the most human thing about him.
As I mentioned, he had two expressions. He only had about two phrases that you could count on him saying everyday, “Is it done yet?”. And “How much longer do you expect it will take?”
Yes, he was a cold-hearted bastard.
This agency job was really my first “real programming” job. And I came in all eager and excited to prove myself. But no matter how fast I worked, I was always behind. And I always knew that first thing in the morning Mr. Joseph would be standing behind me, asking, “Is it done yet?” And I would always be abashed to say, “Sorry…I think it’ll be another few days.” At which he would turn around on his heel and march off.
It was a two man project. Me and Dudley were writing a program to analyze overnight advertising statistics. Dudley, unlike me, had been a college professor, and was a database specialist. I was just doing the front end. We sat in a tiny cube together, back to back, and one day Dudley told me that if Joseph asked him, “When it was going to be ready” he would just sit there and stare at his nails without saying anything. He advised me to do the same.
And sure enough, the next morning when Mr. Joseph asked the question, “When will it be done” Dudley just looked at his nails. The silence was unbearable. Mr. Joseph began scratching the hair in his ears. Dudley seemed to be counting how many fingers there were on his hand, as if something in the count might have changed overnight. I don’t know how long the silence lasted, but eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer and blurted out, “Soon, Mr. Joseph. Maybe tomorrow.” Dudley shot me a withering glance, and Mr. Joseph walked away.
* * *
Mostly spent the last day or two cleaning up and making room for the larger mat boards that are on the way.
* * *
Exciting day at the old home-front. I had been trying to get the plumber here for two months to fix a leak in the sink. They finally arrived while I was cooking some eggs — no notice, speaking Spanish. I actually went into Alta Vista translator to tell them what the problem was and learned how to say “Sink is broken”.
After three hours, they came out proudly to show me how everything worked. I noticed that the gallon container for short-stop that I had been using for ten plus years was cut in half. We then went through some more pantomine in which I gathered that the sink had flooded and they needed something to catch the water in. “A small price to pay for beauty.”
* * *
I’m thinking of putting up a Spring sale on the site. I’m re-arranging all this space in the loft, unframing things that have been sitting around for years since I don’t sell prints framed. I’ve probably got twenty prints up there that have been taking up a lot of room in the frames.
* * *
Scratch what I might have said a while back about the Crescent mats being so much cheaper than the Westminster mats from LightImpressions… wrong… I was comparing two different sizes (brilliant). Actually, the Westminster mats, bought in bulk are cheaper.
* * *
After removing a bunch of prints from frames to make room for mats, I decided to put some of these up for sale. I called it a March Sale
I’ll see whether it’s worthwhile or not. Everything on the site has been an experiment, and this is just one more. The other thing is that is seems as if there is a real dead period in sales between end end of Feb. and the end of April. I have no idea why. Maybe not enough holidays or something. Maybe nobody has birthdays at this time. I’ve also gotten the whole matting thing down now, so that by cutting my own mats and buying them in the large full-sheet sizes, I’m saving money.
* * *
I think that if you look back over the things that have concerned me in these journals since leaving the job, money will pop up more often than any creative endeavors. There was a tremendous rush of freedom that I felt when I left the corporate world, but also a new kind of respect for what money meant to me. It’s almost akin to moving from adolescence into adulthood in someways. The corporation was akin to your parents. They took care of you. True, they would kick you out if they had to, and there was no real security, but there was the illusion of security. And now, you go out on your own, and it seems romantic and all, but along with the freedom comes the reality that you are now in charge of your own life and finances. I guess that what I’m getting at, trying to make this link to growing up, is that one of the things that children don’t really worry much about, is earning money, or the meaning of money. How many times did my father say, “Do you think that money grows on trees?” Well, of course, you know it doesn’t. But somehow the corporation can take the place of the parents in that role.
On a related note, there’s a bus strike in Queens. And I remember one of the strikers calling for “job security”.
He was yelling into the camera, “If we do a good job, we should be able to keep our job.” That idea seems totally foreign to me. The only place that I can think of these days with that security is in academia.
* * *
That was kind of fun. Put a banner for my own sale on my own page. Also added a Paypal link, bottom of home page. I guess if you didn’t want to fill out the cart, you could add up the totals for yourself and use Paypal to send the money.
* * *
I’ve been slowly going back through some old negatives from my first trip to France (’93). This one looks like it’s worth printing. It might be good for the cover of a jigsaw puzzle box.
House In France
This one wasn’t taken in France…
Women From Mars
You can find pictures like this any time you want if you take the train out to Coney Island on Mermaid’s Day.
* * *
The “March Madness Sale” seems to be working (thank you!). Four orders for Promenade came in yesterday.
* * *
Went to this big plumbing store up on 96th and Lex to get a new adapter for my new bathroom faucet so I could attach it to the print washer. The store was a revelation. Eight men behind a counter. The store filled with burly overweight plumbers bumping into each other. I walked out of the house in the morning with my camera in my bag, not really feeling like shooting at all. By the time my little trip was finished, I had been walking for two hours and shooting quite a bit. This is normal with me. You say to yourself — oh just another day in New York City. I need to go somewhere else for some fresh inspiration. And within minutes of hitting the pavement, things strike you. And at first, if your in that down mood, you just walk by them. And then something forces you to pull the camera out. Yesterday it was the Mosque on 96th street. There was this McDonalds sign in the foreground, I was trying to experiment with echoing the McDonald “arches” with the Mosque architecture. Was squatting in the street, to get the shot and cars were whizzing by. I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I forgot about the cars, until one of the drivers honked at me.
Then I stumbled across an old Synagogue next to an Hispanic grocery, and became engrossed with this. Came back to the house, sort of frozen, and amazed again at how the energy in New York can infect you.
* * *
Warning…unless you are obsessed with matting details, skip over this section:
I received the archival mounting strips from DickBlick (Product No. L533-4015). They are not exactly the same as the ones from Light Impressions, but 23 cents each instead of 44 cents each, they will do just fine. The plastic part that sticks out is a little longer on the Light Impressions version. Can you believe that I was spending almost $2 just for the mounting strips on a 16 x 20 print?
Spent a good amount of the morning still figuring out the best price vs. quality solution for matboards, and finally placed an order with Light Impressions. Here’s what I ended up with: Exeter archival 2-ply (for the backing) and the usual, Westminster (which I think is made by Light Impressions or Bainbridge) for the top. Size: 32 x 40 inches. Now its back up to the loft to clear more room for them. (I was supposed to be printing, but got a late start, and put it off ’til tomorrow). It seems as if unless I get started printing around 8am, I don’t do it.
* * *
What else? Nobody has bought Paris Steps (even though its #1). Actually, maybe that’s a good reason not to buy it. Might be another ten years before I get it right. I think I’ll put Promenade back on the home page.
* * *
Have been reading Shelley’s Frankenstein. That is a revelation. I can’t find Boris Karloff anywhere in there. Did you know that the title is actually “Frankenstein Or, The Modern Prometheus”.
* * *
My sister and I often play a game that we made up a long time ago in which we open a book and either make up a sentence, or read the exact sentence, and the other person has to tell whether it is truly from the book or not. Here is one from the Upanishads that I just opened up to. Did I make it up, or is it real.
“The Self is a bridge between this world and the Real.
Day and night cannot cross that bridge,
nor old age, nor death, nor grief, nor evil or good deeds.
All evils turn back there, unable to cross;
evil comes not into the realm of Reality.
One who crosses by this bridge, if blind, is blind no more;
if hurt, ceases to be hurt; if in sorrow ceases sorrowing.
At this boundary night itself becomes day…”
Granted, The Upanishads is not exactly an easy one. Usually, both people need to have at least read the book.
Call me Argo. Continued.
The Farthing company was located on the outskirts of Princeton, New Jersey in an old warehouse which had once been a shoe factory. Dudley and I were in our mid-forties and had both made this mid-life change into computers, and this was the only job either of us could get. Dudley was an interesting character. He had taught biology at Harvard, and was deep into some sort of bio-chemical research when his grant money dried up and he just decided to call it quits and do something else. He came from Belgium and spoke about five languages, and had a regal presence, like a king in exile. At that time, he had decided to lose some weight and was eating the same thing for lunch everyday, a salami sandwhich. But no other meals. Just salami. If you could have heard the way he asked for his salami sandwhich in the local deli — “I’ll have a sahlamee sandwich.” And he elongated the word salami until it sounded somewhat lascivious. Sa-LHAM-mee. And he was losing weight rapidly on this salami diet.
Well, anyway, Mr. Johnson owned the Farthing company with his wife, Linda. Dudley and I were the two main programmers, and there were about fifty data-entry people.
Johnson knew that we both had to prove ourselves, and treated us like crap. We worked seven days a week, and often 15 hours a day to try and get our programs out on time. But we were always behind. It began to take its toll. After a few weeks of this, Dudley and I marched into Mr. Johnson’s office and complained about the long hours and unreasonable deadlines. Mr. Johnson was not exactly sympathetic. Mr. Johnson, who had been the hot-shot programmer before we came, always said that he could do whatever it was in half the time it was taking us.
Finally, Dudley, who was at that point wasting away to nothing, blurted out, “Do you want me to have a freakin’ heart-attack? Is that what you want? Because that’s what’s going to happen if I don’t have a day off.”
And Mr. Johnson, without missing a beat, replied cooly — “Just don’t have it in my office.” At that point, Dudley and I got up and left. Dudley disappeared off the face of the earth for almost a week. He just stopped coming into work. When I called his house, I got the answering machine. Finally, after two days, I went to his house and knocked on the door. No answer. But I smelled pot seeping out from under the door. I banged on the door again, and it opened. It was not locked. And into the house I went…
Have been waking up early, lately because of the girl upstairs. She wears these huge heels, or platform shoes or whatever, and as soon as she wakes up there is this clattering and clanking across the wooden floor upstairs. She normally gets up at 5:30 to go to the gym, (like everyone else on the upper-east side) and wears these shoes which then go booming down the stairs past my door. Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode with the tic-tacs. Its like wearing a cow-bell. I don’t need an alarm clock anymore. Clank, clank, clank. Time to get up. She’s a little short, which is why the shoes, but why she’s wears them to the gym I don’t know. I ran into her on the stairs a few weeks ago and asked her where she went everyday at 5:30, which is how I know she goes to the gym. I told her that her shoes were waking me up every morning and she promised to tread lightly past my door, but that lasted for a week or so, and then she went back to clanking like those Budweiser horses. She looks like a model, and spends the other half of her time at a salon getting her hair done. Her hair seems to be getting higher and higher also. If her hair gets much higher, I’m starting to fear that she’s going to lose her center of gravity and trip down the stairs in a big spill one of these days.
Then there’s the couple upstairs that raise dogs — boxers. At about 7am they let these dogs lose, from upstairs they come down the stairs barking, growling, and running over each other. I’ve been trying to make friends with these dogs so that they know me and don’t bite my hand off, but every time I make friends with one of these monstors, they sell it and get a new one, and the process starts over again.
If the stars are out of alignment, the girl returns up the stairs from the gym as the dogs hurtle down the stairs.. A cacophony of barking and clattering ensues, and I turn up the t.v. to drown it out.
There are no families in the building. At least I’ve never seen one. The apartments are too small.
Directly across from me, is a would-be opera singer. She starts practicing around 9 am and continues doing warm-up exercises for hours. But I never actually hear her sing anything that I can recognize.
* * *
Dear Mr. Beckerman,
I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled across your site through one of the search engines, and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I work for a French advertising agency, and we recently acquired the Spam account. Spam has been a very tough sell in the French market, and we were hoping to use some of your images as part of our Spam campaign. Please let me know if think this is possible. Sincerely, Francois.
* * *
Let me know which images you are interested in, and how you want to use them, and I will be happy to discuss. Dave
* * *
The print that we have in mind, is that shot of the two lovers on the Seine, I think you call it “Hug”. We would like to use it in a print campaign — the caption beneath the image would be: “Est-ce possible? J’aime le Spam”
Roughly translated, this means, “Is it possible? I love Spam!”
* * *
I don’t see why not. Let me know how much you would be willing to pay for the use of the photo. Sincerely, Dave
* * *
I will let you know as soon as I speak with my boss, Pierre. Just to let you know, the French version of Spam will be called, “La belle viande” (The beautiful meat). Let me get back to you. Pierre just walked in, and he doesn’t look happy.
* * *
T.R. stopped by and picked up Midnight Grand Central. Otherwise, just a regular old day. Spent the day re-printing Promenade. Also took a crack at a few new things, but wasn’t happy with them. Tomorrow is packaging day, and then Friday I get to go out and shoot.
* * *
I’ve been thinking about going to this “deserted” village I read about in New Jersey, but I’m not sure if the place is open during the winter. It’s called Allaire State Park. “This picturesque spot was once a bustling iron forge center, known in 1763 as the Williamsburg Forge… What we see as we walk through is a charming small village, totally inhabited except for a park ranger station and a general store…” A Walker’s Guidebook, Serendipitous Outings near New York City, Marina Harrison & Lucy D. Rosenfeld.
* * *
If you want to see what someone with a little bit of graphic design skill can do with my images — check this out.
Two reactions to that last link:
1. I don’t really understand what I’m looking at.
2. Good graphic idea, maybe you should use it for your site.
I’m not sure how to pronounce the name of the place — ionone
I On One
Whatever, it’s basically a link to my site, but really well done.
* * *
Received another email saying that the person had printed out all of the journals, and read through them and thought there was a book there. Well, if anyone wants to edit it down into a book, let me know. I don’t have the time or the editorial distance. It’s just fragments. I wish that some of the stories actually had middle and ends. Maybe I should write the end of the Argo saga first. It might go something like this:
Argo stood at the top of the mountain holding onto the rope that Mr. Johnson was hanging from. The winds at the summit were fierce and he wasn’t sure that he could hold on much longer. Mr. Johnson was pretty bruised at this point, having hit his head against the granite face of Mount Rushmore… (scratch that… that’s the end of North By Northwest)…
Argo stood at the top of the corporate heap. He was now in the corner office of Farthing Incorporated. Mr. Johnson was his lackey. Argo held out the piece of paper with his resignation, and crumpled it up in front of Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson sank to the floor clutching his heart…
Argo opened his umbrella. It wasn’t raining. Not yet. But it would. Argo walked down through the rows of Cyprus trees, as the leaves fell behind him. At the other end of the park, he saw Marcia waiting. She too was holding an umbrella. He tried to read her face, but it was a blank cipher. As he approached her, she took the ring from her finger and threw it at him. Argo bent down and picked up the ring which had meant so much just two days ago. Now it was just a testement to the twisted convolutions of his failed romance. He put the ring into the pocket of his suit-pocket, and turned slowly on his heels and walked back to the cab which was still waiting for him.
* * *
To get back to reality — the four promenade prints are packed and ready to be dropped at fedex… and now I plan to take a little break.
* * *
Finally heard back from Pierre about the Spam campaign, or “La belle viande” . It seems as if they’re still struggling with a proper French name for the meat, and unless they come up with something fast are in danger of losing the campaign. The U.S. office said that “The beautiful meat” didn’t translate very well into English and might be taken the wrong way. So they’ve been thinking of starting a campaign to “name the stuff”. I suggested that the Spam brand was an important consideration, and that they should just call it:
“Le Spam” — and the tag line could be:
Il a aidé l’Amérique à libérer votre pays une fois, nous a maintenant laissés vous libérer encore!
Which roughly means: Spam — it helped the American’s to liberate your country once, now let it liberate you again!
Since as I remember it, Spam was developed for the army during world war II. And this would associate the one thing the French might like about American’s (the liberation of France), with something they will probably never take to (processed meat in a can).
Or: Nine out of ten American gourmet’s use Spam. (Now that’s something that they probably already believe).
Or: Spam — pre-chewed so you don’t have to.
Well, whatever, I’m obviously no advertising genius. I will let you know what they decide. As a side note, we really did eat Spam when we were kids, and it was quite a treat. Cut into thin slices and grilled, I remember it as being very tasty. My father was able to eat it right out of the can, and that was an acquired taste. Trivia question: Do you know the relationship between Spam and the movie, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”?
* * *
I did finally get out and walked for about four hours. At one point ended up on the overpass, or the ramp to the overpass to Randall’s Island. I really love that green bridge. Did quite a bit of shooting from there.
* * *
It’s funny how some prints that you haven’t looked at in years creep back into your life. This shot of an escalator in Paris just cried to be printed at a larger size, so I did it up right at 16 x 20, and voila (as the French say) not bad. It really doesn’t translate well to the web. I think what intrigues me are the tiny ridges of the steps which seem like razor blades, and the dead leaves (there’s a theme that also keeps coming back.)
* * *
The answer: Mr. Blandings (Cary Grant) is an ad man stuck with coming up with the tag line for a meat product called Wham. Eventually, his maid comes up with, “If you ain’t eating Wham, you ain’t eating Ham.”
* * *
Maybe I should start a contest where the winner gets a free print, no strike that, a print at half price. Would need to come up with something that you can’t easily find in Google.
* * *
A photographer friend has something hanging in the Moma — that’s right, the Museum of Modern Art. The catch is, they don’t have his name next to the photo. In fact, there’s no info at all — it, along with about two hundred other photos are simply thumb-tacked to the wall to form the so-called exhibit. Anyway, he asked me to try and get down there and take some pictures of it and to try and get one of the guards in the picture so you’d have some idea it was at the Moma. The first guard I approached, nearly grabbed my camera away:
“No pictures, no pictures!”
O.K., O.K. I said. No pictures, I get it.
Then a brilliant guy next to me said, “It ruins the pictures if you use a camera”
I replied, “No flash! No flash!”
And he practically tackled me trying to find out how you could take pictures with “no flash”. I explained that I was using fast speed film (400) and a special lens that could let in more light.
“A fast speed film,” he had his arm on my elbow. “What’s a fast speed film?”
“They make films that are fast, like say 400 or 800 or 3200”
“Who makes ’em? You mean Kodak?”
“Yeah, yeah, Kodak”, and I pulled away from him and went in search for another guard.
I heard him mumble something like “You see, you learn something every day”
And I thought, “Yeah right. Especially if you don’t know anything.”
So I found another guard and approached him with the same story. A friend of mine had a picture hanging there and would he be so kind as to stand by it…
I motioned for him to follow me, and he did, and just as he was about to stand in front of the picture he says, “No pictures here. Flash is very bad for the pictures.” So I went through the same spiel about no flash and finally he moved in front of the picture and I took a couple of shots.
I stuck around to look at some of the famous photogapher’s stuff that was up there — HCB, Weegee etc. and got pretty bored after a while. I didn’t think the actual prints were as good as some of the reproductions I’ve seen in books. Whatever. The museum bores me. So I left.
I did try to picture some of my own prints hanging on the wall besides the already acknowledged greats, and I thought I had a few prints that would stand up pretty well. In fact, I guarantee that if I had put up some things like Turnstyles, or Funeral, and they would have attracted plenty of attraction. Unfortunately, you need to be “discovered” and not just by anyone to get on that wall. I think that’s the problem I have visiting museums — for the most part, the paintings and “works of art” were created by people who worried, day in and day out about money, and sales, and whether the rent would get paid. And then they die, and people walk by this sort of bright, clean, place with guards all over the joint, and wealthy gawkers who wouldn’t chuck out a dime to the guy while he was alive, and now in this funereal atmosphere ooh and ah about the stuff. Sure. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it’s always been. Most probably there were famous caves, in the days of the neanderthals where snooty guards stood around saying — “no torches, please, you’ll ruin the latest spit drawings.” And wealthy cave people would come by after the artist had been gored by saber-tooth tiger, and the price of admission to the cave would soar from two sticks, to a piece of meat.
* * *
I received my print (Promenade 16 x 20) yesterday. And I have to tell you that I am in awe. I absolutely love it! Thank you so much for also including “Girl with ball”. That was a very nice surprise as it is also one of my favorites.
I think your packaging is also great. Having had to mail framed photos myself, I understand the hassle. The inner envelope is a nice touch. Not one bend or crease.
And I also have to thank you for sharing your experiences in your journal. You have given me some helpful photo hints, as well as keep me entertained in my cube when I don’t think I can stand it much longer. I congratulate you on getting out and doing what you love.
Take care, [C.L.]
* * *
Third day in a row that I’ve actually been out shooting. It’s been about five weeks since I left the job. I guess its taken me that long to get a footing again.
* * *
The plot thickens about the girl upstairs. I ran into her on the stairs again today. And she was wearing jogging shoes. At least they looked like jogging shoes, but as she went up the stairs ahead of me, I heard that same clanking and clunking sounds. Maybe she’s carrying lead weights in those shoes. Now I’m really puzzled. And when she got into her apartment, the clanking and clunking got even louder. I can’t figure this one out. Life, as I’ve always said, is filled with mystery.
* * *
I had a bit of luck with the weather today, there was a wonderful fog over the east river. Here’s one of several shots of Roosevelt Island. Not sure which one I’ll print yet. I also find this one interesting: Lighting Up. I was just about to take the shot of the courtyard, which reminded me of the apartment building where I grew up, when a woman from the Korean nail place stepped into frame and lit a cigarette.
* * *
Actually, sales have dropped off again after the initial pop from the March discounts sales, so I’m starting to wonder whether Spam might not be in my future. I’m going to keep the “March Sale” thing through next week, and then decide whether it’s lost its glitter. Another idea I had was to put a Donate a couple of bucks Paypal thing on the site… Sort of the New York version of “Spare some change…” The most amazing thing about panhandlers (where did that term come from… the gold rush?” in New York is the spiels you hear. For example, one very common ploy is to ask for a specific amount of money. For example, there is one guy on my block who only says the same thing, “Excuse me, sir, can you spare 73 cents?” Not a dime. Not a quarter. Not lose change. 73 cents. He’s about a hundred and fifty years old, and I can only guess that his marketing surveys have found that 73 cents is the perfect price point for him. I once reached into my pocket and gave him what was there, two quarters, and he accepted them with evident pleasure, so I imagine that it’s not a hard and fast rule with him.
Another common ploy is to sit on the sidewalk with a sign saying, “Vietnam vet”. Since the Vietnam war was from my era, I have wondered how a guy who is in his twenties managed to fight there, but the “Vietnam vet” sign works well.
Two days ago, on my way back from the Moma, I was on the 6 train, which was crowded, and there was a stir about three passengers over. I saw two tourists holding their noses, and then the guy next to me took a handkerchief from his pocket, and passed it through the crowd to the other side of the train. At the next stop, everyone, well, almost everyone got off the train, and there was barf all over the floor. The tourists had actually been vomited on, and were wiping it off their seersucker suits as they got off in horror. I’ve been riding the trains for a long time, and would just like to say to those tourists, this is not common on the subways. . I’ve only seen it about 8 or 9 times.
* * *
Dave, I love the way your content changes everyday. You set an example of how a website ought to be done! [B.E.]
* * *
Today is the six-month anniversary of Sept. 11th. There will be several memorial services. There is also going to be a “light tribute” — two high powered arrays of lights which in some way represents the fallen towers. These towers of light will run from dusk until 11pm each night for a month. The following Dylan lyrics are on the Biograph CD and Shot of Love.
Every Grain Of Sand
Copyright © 1981 Special Rider Music
In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere,
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.
Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.
I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.
I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.
Now I’m going to go out to see if I can see the beams of light aimed at the sky. …
And I’m back. Didn’t see anything. I saw one guy looking up at the sky (I’m on the upper east side) — very much in the “it’s a plane, no it’s a bird…” stance and approached him, asking if he had seen anything. He just turned and walked away as I were about to mug him. I’ve had a cold the last few days, and was sleeping on and off all day. I wear (and now this is getting personal) a removable bridge-like thing in my mouth — the top two front teeth were pulled about ten years ago… and so I feel around in my mouth and sure enough, I had walked out without it. That’s enough to send even the most friendly New Yorker scurrying for cover.
* * *
This is just sort of a public notice — the March Sale is going to end this Friday. If you’ve been following the journals you might have seen that coming…. You don’t usually see things on sale for a month, and there’s a good reason for that: very little immediate incentive.
* * *
Promenade [the big one] arrived today. Amazing! I’m smiling and shaking my head as I write this…
Thanks for the quick service and the excellent packaging (a rather complex work of art in itself!). More importantly, the print itself is, as I had hoped, quite extraordinary! As you and many others have already mentioned, a small jpeg image on the internet is inevitably destined to be, at best, a crude approximation of a well-printed photograph. That rarely is more starkly seen than is the case with Promendade. The actual 16×20 print itself has a lustrous, luminescent, liquid range of tones, with extraordinary, amazing detail. Ansel Adams would have been proud to have called that one his own! To say I’m delighted would be an understatement!
Thanks! I will definitely be back for more… [J.H. 3/11/02]
* * *
I’ve had a chest cold for the last few days, and it is lingering on. I haven’t felt much like writing or doing anything else. I’ll keep the March Sale through March 18th.
Yesterday, I started thinking about how to make a book out of these journal entries. What I really wanted to do was to just use quotes from Dylan lyrics, but I don’t know if I could get permission to do that. Anyway, had some ideas for book titles, which go from bad to worse:
The Road Ahead
A Small Price to Pay for Beauty
Between This World and the Real
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
… I can go on this way ad infinitum…
Well, after lying around sneezing and coughing all day I got a little burst of energy and took a crack at the start of the so-called book. Here’s how I thought I’d start it off. I’m not going to make any more references to it in the journals until I’ve got at least fifteen pages that make some sort of sense…
* * *
Still sick but I think I’m on the mend. Drank gallons of water yesterday. Three or four orders came in yesterday, so I think that shortening the “sale” had some effect.
I have been receiving a lot of mail recently from people looking for jobs as photography assistants or even as interns. I can only think that my site makes it look as if this is a bigger operation than it actually is. Well, let’s think about this for a second — I go out when I can — walk around with no idea of what I’m going to shoot, and most of the time come back with nothing worth showing. What could anyone learn from that? I think if you followed me around for a few days, you’d learn that I don’t really have anything that could be taught about shooting. In fact, just having someone around would make it less likely that I’d get anything. I have gone out shooting with other photographers a couple of times and generally you just end up talking about camera gear and missing shots. On the other hand, when I was using the view camera or the Pentax 67 I could have used someone to carry my packs and tripod.
Well, how about in the darkroom? That’s also pretty instinctual. For example, If I am printing a new negative, I don’t proceed at all in a teachable way. I place the negative in the enlarger and I fool around with the composition, or just print full framed. As far as exposure goes — I look at the negative projecting down on the back of a tattered print, and take a guess as to the exposure. I don’t really use any tools to do a graduated type of series of test strips — but study the highlights and darkest areas, and try to get a time/f-stop which will be at the “meat” of the enlarging lens. I almost always start off with about a grade 3 paper. If I have some doubts about the print, I might hold a piece of paper over half the print to dodge about ten seconds, and then let it rip.
Nine times out of ten this is close enough to give me an idea if the print is even worth printing, if the contrast range makes sense, if the composition makes sense, what problems there are. And then go do another print. This is usually close. Now the hard part — the print is sitting in the water bath, and I go off and do something else to try and get my mind off it. I might write in the journal, or play the guitar, or make a cup of tea. After a while, I approach the print again, hopefully with fresh eyes, and decide whether its worth working on.
So there’s this constant whittling down process. I’d say that 3/4’s of the time I pick the print up and toss it in the garbage and go on to something else.
The process reminds me of Madame Curie going through tons of pitchblend looking for radium.
How can you explain that? How many times did I toss something, only to come back to it years later and try it again? The funny thing is that years later, when I do “discover” something that was tossed and try it again — I come to the same conclusion and toss it once more.
But once in a while, I pick the print up in the water bath and there’s something there. Sometimes, I just stick a big piece of paper in and go at it again and get something pretty good on the first try. Sometimes, I struggle again with the print, and after a lot of frustration get to a point where I feel it works. Why it works? Don’t know.
In other words, for me, a big part of the “creative” process is being able to throw things away. How do you explain that?
I don’t really do anything fancy as far as the chemicals go. It’s been Dektol 1:2 for about five years I think. I basically use two types of paper: Ilford Gallerie, grade 2 and grade 3, and Ilford Fiber Variable Contrast.
As I think about what I could use an assistant for — its for the non-creative parts — packaging, matting, mailing, how about coming to the house and watching t.v. while waiting for the fedex or UPS delivery?
* * *
This is the bridge that goes to Ward’s Island. with some historical background that gives it the flavor of a high school text-book.
I’ve been keeping careful notes on how many times I pointed the camera up at the sky, and this shot, Sky Study #1000 may not be the best, but it’s a nice round number.
Waiting For The Light
MoMA, Stairs #5
From Cab To Met
I have bronchitis. Great. Tomorrow I start antibiotics. Yeah, this thing just wasn’t going away. I’m writing less here now because a) I’m spending too much time blowing my nose and coughing (oh now the Karma goes back to the girl upstairs) b) I’m having a good time trying to figure out the book. I’ve got a big piece of matboard on the wall, and I’m drawing all sorts of lines from one photo to another and one blurb to another. I love the chaos of it.
Here’s something that I did for Bill E. who has the picture of the “doll in the subway station” on the wall of the MoMa. Its just a documentary type picture, but while I was there, I did some other things that gave me a rush. The MoMA Stairs #5 actually gives me a sense of nausea, vertigo, and a good chuckle. I’m starting to put numbers on things as if they were part of some series, which believe me they’re not. Could be too much Benadryl.
Life Of The City 2
Life Of The City 4
Life Of The City 5
* * *
Feeling better this morning. Thank you for all the get-well wishes.
* * *
As far as the book goes — I’ve come to the conclusion — at least this morning, that there are really two books. One is a book that is really a coffee table type book — the emphasis is on the photos. When you try to take things from the journal, short snippets, to juxtapose against the images, it doesn’t feel right. You lose the sense of the journal. And if I want to put words next to the pictures, there’s no particular reason for grabbing them from the journal. It’s quite possible I can make them up myself.
The other is a book which is really based on the journals, and where the pictures are secondary, perhaps at the end, but there is a narrative flow. Essentially editing down the journal — taking out the dull parts — but still keeping that day-to-day feeling.
I think I’m going to work on the picture book first. Try to put the pictures together in a way that feels right. Then add text as required. But not necessarily either about the photo — or from the journals.
* * *
I have a big box of mats that arrived yesterday — 32 x 40 sitting flat on the floor between the futon and my desk, and I’m tiptoeing around it all morning because I haven’t found a place to put it. I basically knew that I would need to slice them all to 32 x 20 before I could store them, but don’t have the energy right now.
* * *
MoMA, Stairs #5 by far my favorite from the last batch. Oh yeah, just for fun I put this Donate button at the bottom of the page. Even Stephen King couldn’t get people to pay for reading his book on-line so I don’t think there is much chance of this being succesful, but it’s easy enough to try, and since this whole thing is just one grand experiment — you never know. I would like to put a picture of myself next to it with a cup out and a two-day growth of beard.
* * *
I must have been a pretty odd bird in the corporate world because I didn’t really want to climb the ladder, and I thought I was being overpaid as it was. In fact, from the first day, I sort of wished they’d fire me. Little did I know that that attitude would lead to being promoted. I should also say, that I’m beginning to forget what stories I’ve told in these journals… so if I’ve told this one, and if this time it comes out a little differently…
One of the top execs was a woman with the reputation of being a sort of Marie Antoinette — quick to fire and quick to make a decision as to whether you were valuable to the company or not. Most people were terrified of her. So one day I get invited to go to the headquarters building to meet with her and some other execs — I don’t remember what it was about — and it doesn’t matter. So I am standing there in my jeans and tee shirt, and I’m in a room of suits, and someone introduces me to her. I like her, right off the bat. Yes, a tough cookie, but I like her. After some small talk she looks at her watch (it’s six o’clock) and says something like, “I’m surprised to see you here. Don’t you usually disappear around 5:00?” Everyone in the room gets real quiet and watches us. My boss who is nearby turns bright red.
Without missing a beat, I shoot back, “I need to get home by six to watch my favorite show”
And she, without missing a beat, and without the slightest smile, says, “What’s your favorite show?”
I tell her “The Rockford Files” And she says, “I love that show. Is it on at six? Really, what channel.”
And we start chatting about our favorite episodes. Turns out she knows them as well as I do.
Two days later, I arrive in my office to find that a television set has been delivered.
The next time that I run into her, she asks me how the t.v. is working out. I tell her its pretty good, but the reception isn’t that good. I need cable to get the Rockford Files. She laughs and says that’s really pushing it.
Anyway, from then on, we really hit it off. Every meeting started with a little Rockford Quiz. She eventually ended up as a great supporter, and bought the first copy of Promenade or was it Marsh? I don’t remember anymore.
* * *
I’m amazed — I actually received three donations today — enough to buy a few rolls of film. I’m telling you, the people out there that are reading this are simply wonderful. Thank you! What’s great about it is — no invoice to print, no print to pack, nothing to do.
It was actually a very good day. A good-sized order and a couple of small ones… I wonder whether these journals will continue to be interesting if I am actually succesful or whether a good part of the story is really the struggle.
“There is no success like failure, and failure is no success at all.” — Dylan. I think it was in “Love Minus Zero”
Does it mean that to be succesful in the usual sense of the word doesn’t really mean anything — or is it a sort of boolean switch: failure is simply the lack of success?
* * *
I was thinking about the noble art of begging and it is an art form that has been written about extensively by Henry Miller in most any of his semi-autobiographical hallucinations.
As I was starting to copy an example of this from Plexus, a distant memory came back to shock me. Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, I had actually tried to make a living by my wits, so to speak. Or to put it in modern parlance, via a scam. I was living, if you could call it that, in Flushing Queens, sharing an apartment with Andy G. And believe it or not, we both wanted to be artists, and as the saying goes, believed the world owed us a living. I had dropped out of college for the second or third time, and was trying to write short stories. And Andy was trying to sell paintings he had done on the street.
His otheri interest was gambling at the race track. And so one day we go up to the racetrack in Yonkers and as we’re going in we run into a seedy-looking character who tells us that he has discovered the secret of making money without working. And if we’ll give him twenty dollars, he’ll tell us what it is.
Neither one of us has the money to learn this secret at the time, but later on, Andy wins a couple of races and we run into this guy again, and Andy gives him twenty dollars.
“Well,” the guy says in a matter-of-fact way. “Here’s how it works.” And he then goes on to explain that no one wants to give money to a bum, because a bum doesn’t work. A bum isn’t like them. The important thing is to set-up a situation that the person who does have money can readily identify with.
With the manner of a college professor this old-timer gives us examples of how this can be done.
He sizes both of us up and says “Now here’s what you lads should do. Do you have a good suit? You do? Good. Put on your best suit and tie. If you’ve got an attache case, even better. Find a very busy token booth in the subway where there’s always a long line during rush hour. And stand on that line. Look at your watch a lot. Just as you get to the token window, fish in your pocket for your wallet and pretend that you can’t find it. Make a big deal of it. If you have a handkerchief in your jacket pocket, pull it out and mop your brow. And after searching your pockets and taking a good long time to do it, turn to the person behind you and tell them that you’ve left your wallet in your other suit and that you’re late for an important meeting. Make sure to look sheepish about it.
I don’t think either one of us had ever even been to a meeting, but we listened carefully.
The professor continued. Now, this may seem embarrasing at first but ask the person behind you to loan you the price of a token. Nine times out of ten they will. And if they don’t, there will be someone else who will. Take the money and pay for the token. Thank them profusely. Shake their hand. Then, pocket the token and leave the station. You can then return the token later for cash.
And things eventually did get tough enough that I actually took a crack at it. After all, I didn’t want to work for a living. I wanted to be a writer.
One gloomy day, I decided to give this a try. I put on a suit, and put a handkerchief in my pocket, and stood on line to buy a token. As I approached the token booth I fished around for money and came up empty and turned to the person behind me and sure enough they gave me the money for the token. Happy to do it. It’s happened to them before and they’re glad to help me out.
And I disappeared in the crowd. At the end of an hour or two I had made twenty dollars this way and cashed in the tokens.
But here’s the funny thing about it — after doing this for a while, possibly one day, it struck me that here I was, wearing a suit, carrying an attache case, and standing on line all morning. I was scamming people left and right. In short, I might as well be in business.
And with that I picked up a newspaper and took the first job that would have me and was glad to get it. That job turned out to be mixing chemicals for a custom photo lab which was where I first learned about color printing…
* * *
It was recently suggested to me that I change my address from 243 East 83rd Street, #3B to Suite 3B. It would give a more professional appearance. Interesting idea. Still under the weather, and having no energy to mat or anything, I decided to investigate this possibility.
Definition: “a connected series of rooms to be used together: a large suite at the Waldorf” Random House Dictionary, The Unabridged Edition.
Well, according to this definition, I live in a suite. Not a large suite. But a suite indeed. My bedroom is connected to a hallway that leads to the bathroom and the bathroom qualifies as a room. The kitchen, is a typical studio kitchen without a door, and about the size of a telephone booth. So it doesn’t qualify as a room. But the bathroom. Now there’s a room. So then the question was what qualifies as a series?
Definition: “a group or a number of related or similar things, events, etc. arranged, ranged, or occurring in temporal, spatial, or other order or sequence”
That doesn’t seem promising. I don’t think that two things qualifies as a group. But “a number of related or similar things…”
Now I await the verdict of any mathematicians. (cough).
* * *
* * *
Girl & Shark.
* * *
I received the photo today and everyone is right, “Promenade” Rocks!!! The blacks are black and there are things like the leaves that are so much more detailed than the photo on the Internet. It will proudly go above my fireplace. [T.D. ]
Speaking of commercials, tomorrow is the last day of the March Sale.
Another two donations came through. I added a nice thank you page yesterday, but don’t know if it works because I can’t test it myself.
* * *
Sometimes I try to picture the audience for these journals. One image is of a man or woman sitting in a cubicle, probably with pictures of their family tacked to the cubicle walls, and desks filled with papers. They are generally unhappy in that cube — not the kind of black despair that I was in — but just below the surface is a desire to break out of the box and do something really meaningful. Many are working in technical fields, and are disappointed to find that there is little lasting glory in it. They’ve become attached to the journals because the underlying theme is one of trying to break from the box and do something that you really like. This could be anything from starting your own catering business to selling photographs on the web.
It’s been two months since I left the “corporate cube” and I’m beginning to have hope that this will work out. I won’t get rich, but I never wanted to be rich. My original goals were very modest. Be able to pay the rent, electricity, phone bills, and have time to do some shooting without going into debt.
Debt scares me. I’ve been there before, and like the heroine of Gone With The Wind, I made a promise to myself years ago that I would never go back to that kind of life.
When I left film school, almost twenty years ago, things go to such a point where I defaulted on my student loan, and one day walked up to the local ATM only to find that my account had been frozen. Literally no money. This was as close to the financial edge as I ever got, and it began a stretch of five years of extreme hardships. One day I was told that a script I had sold was going to be produced. That big stars were involved. That a famous director was attached. Two weeks later the deal fell through and I was broke and in debt. I bitterly didn’t have money to take a subway to a job interview and walked fifty blocks to get there.
The job I was going for was as a word processor. I hadn’t had a bite to eat in two days, and arrived in a nervous sweat to take a typing test. As I sat down to take the test, and the little bell rang to start, my hands were shaking so badly from nervousness and lack of food, that I couldn’t get them to hit the proper keys. So back I went to the rat-infested dive I was living in on the lower east side, and with no one left to borrow money from, and no skill that was marketable, I bought a bottle of whisky and got drunk. It didn’t help.
The next morning, the phone rang. It was an independent producer who was offering a script-writing job for Con Disown. They needed someone to write training films. They needed something to explain how safe the massive propane tanks that if they blew up would kill thousands, really were.
Over the next three or four days I knocked out a script about propane tanks and how safe they were. . They liked it, and I got a couple of other training films. I couldn’t put the money in the bank because I was afraid I would never see it. So I cashed the checks at a check-cashing place and kept the money under the mattress.
But I was determined not to live in this world without some skill that people would pay for. Nobody wanted art. That was for sure. And one thing leading to another I picked up computer programming. For years afterwards, whenever I sat down to demo a program, my hands began to shake as they had that day of the typing test.
This has not been an easy road. I’m now fifty years old, and I’ve been trying to make a living as “an artist” for thirty years. And what if I had to do it all over again. What would I have done differently. Unfortunately, nothing. Whether you are an artist or not — that’s a label that the world puts on you.
The corporate world took a liking to me. I kept getting promotions. I had convinced myself for almost two years, that programming was a creative activity. That it was similar to writing screenplays. You devised a structure, and you had an audience, and it wasn’t that different. But slowly, it began to dawn on me that there was one big difference — for want of a better word — creative expression. And so a friend, another programmer, offered me the use of his Canonet. And the new obsession burst forth again. This time it was unstoppable. And so, to those people who are sitting in the cubes, I can only say, that if the obsession is strong enough, no amount of hardship, or trying to stamp it out, will work. If you can stamp it out, then the desire wasn’t that strong. You don’t need to throw all caution to the wind. You don’t need to quit your job. But keep your hand in it. One day you may be surprised at what happens.
“Dreams can come true! Without that possibility,
Nature would not incite us to have them.”
– John Updike
I was washing my face this morning when I thought of some other inspirational lines from “The Bank Dick” a W.C. Fields movie:
Egbert Sousè [accent gave over the ‘e’] is trying to convince his daughter’s fiance to invest in some probably worthless gold stock: He’s pretty much mangled up the spiel given to him by the conman…
Egbert Sousè (Fields)
I met a poor fellow who’s in trouble. Something the matter with his grandmother’s paisley shawl. He has 5,000 shares in the Beefsteak Mine and you can buy them for a handful of hay.
Hay? And they’re worth?
Ten cents a share. Telephone sold for five cents a share. How would you like something better for ten cents a share? If five gets ya ten, ten’ll get ya twenty. A beautiful home in the country, upstairs and down. Beer flowing through the estate over your grandmother’s paisley shawl.
Beer! Fishing in the stream that runs under the aboreal dell. A man comes up from the bar, dumps $3,500 in your lap for every nickel invested. Says to you, ‘Sign here on the dotted line.’ And then he disappears in the weaving fields of alfalfa.
Gosh! Do you think he was telling the truth?
You don’t think a man would resort to terra-diddle, do you? Why, he sounded like a child at the very thought of disposing of these shares. How does the bank make its money?
That’s the point. You don’t want to work all your life. Take a chance. Take it while you’re young….My uncle, a balloon ascensionist, Effingham Hoofnagle, took a chance. He was three miles and a half up in the air. He jumped out of the basket of the balloon and took a chance of landing on a load of hay.
Golly! Did he make it?
Uh, no…He didn’t. Had he been a younger man, he probably would have made it. That’s the point. Don’t wait too long in life.
* * *
Finally finished cutting up the 50 big mats to a size that I can store. I think I have enough mats to last ten years. Now I can walk around in my apartment again.
Also, finally, in the middle of the night, came up with an idea for “The Book” which seems promising and eccentric and I’m now plowing ahead with it.
* * *
Orders picked up again yesterday. March may not be as bad as I originally feared.
* * *
5pm. Still struggling with the “idea” for the book. When I told the idea to my friend she said, “It’s too esoteric” for the average person. And suggested that I simply call it Dave Beckerman’s Pictures, Volume I. (Now why didn’t I think of that.) At any rate, I will say that I had written down the names of all my photographs on index cards and was searching for relationships between them, moving them around on the floor, and began pairing up opposites, or images that seemed to clash with each other.
One idea that I abandoned was to accompany all the prints with phrases from Dylan songs. I think I would enjoy that, but after doing a bit of legal research its clear I would need to get rights to re-print the lyrics. That seemed like too much work and who knows if I could get rights to do such a thing.
I’ve already thrown out the idea of simply using passages from the journals with the images… it sounds good in theory, but you would have to have too much writing and it would get in the way of the images.
I also don’t like the idea of a single theme — The Subway, or the Park. Then I had the idea of presenting pictures in pairs, pairs that were opposite, or pairs that were similar, tied together with some verbiage. I’m still somewhat intrigued by that idea.
I guess I could take the cards and toss them up in the air and however they fall, that’s the book.
* * *
The Historical Account of Circles and Squares
Once upon a time, the only way to show other people what the world looked like was through painting, drawing, and sculpture. But even before that, there were people who painted and etched on the walls of caves, maybe to show others how to hunt, maybe to commune with the Gods. But even before that, people had a desire to arrange nature. Circles of stones. During this time, in what anthroplogists call the palaeozoic age, there was a fellow named Urm, living in the hills of what is now modern day New Jersey, who awoke one morning, with what was at the time called a Blitzer (or what we would now call a hangover).
Urm had spent the previous night at one of the all-night pre-hunting blow-outs, where they had been drinking quite a bit of Murgh (the Budweiser of that era), and Urm had a splitting headache. In fact, he had drunk so much Mrugh, that he awoke to find himself blind. This was a common side-effect of Mrugh, and given the wretched state they lived in, not one that was totally unwelcomed.
Urm was one of the top hunters in the community, and so the top doctor of the time, Welb, came by to take a look at him. (They still did cave-calls in those days). Welb explained that there was nothing much that modern science could do for Urm, unless he wanted to take the “cold-mud” cure. The “cold-mud” cure consisted of being buried in mud for a few hours with small children dropping stones on you, near the freezing river that they called Fresko.
Urm decided that he would rather just lie around the cave all day than submit to this. In fact, he may have been the first one to utter the phrase, “The cure is worse that the disease”.
At any rate, this Urm character found himself blind, and aching, and with nothing much to do. He managed, after a while, to fall back asleep and in his tormented state, he had a dream-visit from the Antelope God. The Antelope God told Urm in the dream, that the stone circles that they had been using — well just forever — were not the correct symbol for the hunt or for worship. Rather than a circle, the Antelope God suggested that they arrange stones in a new form that Urm had never seen…what we would call a square.
The next day, Urm brought the idea to the council — the council which was very much like a modern day co-op board. Most of the council members thought that the idea was a good one, since Urm had never been one for making frivolous suggestions, but there were of course a few old-timers who refused to go along with this new-fangled idea.
It wasn’t really a democratic board — decisions were made through trial by combat. Urm, to his dismay, found out that in order to get this idea passed, he would have to go up against a guy named Bru. The council would go along with whoever was the winner of the fight…
* * *
Excuse the cave story ramblings above. I was sitting on the stoop in front of the house thinking about the history of painting and how photography had changed it, and I sat down to write something about that relationship, and this Urm thing popped out.
* * *
I’m almost up to number 50 of the large promenade print. I remember when I began selling it (two years ago), that I didn’t think I would ever sell fifty of them. Yet, being optimistic sort, I set the edition size for everything to 500. Now I’m glad I did. If I had set it lower I’d have no way to make a living. (That print has been selling like hotcakes recently. I’ll need to go to the griddle and pour out a few more.)
* * *
Spent a good part of the afternoon cutting down fedex boxes. I get the large size delivered, then cut the edges off, and then use one or two on either side of the Kraft shipping envelope. This works out pretty well, and is a wonderful mindless activity. The boxes are free, and I can slice up two at a time on the mat cutter. That’s one of the lucky aspects of my personality, I can thrive on mindless activity. One of my favorite jobs was at the book company where I would take orders out of one box, mark a few things on them, and put them in another box. Before I got into programming this was the longest job I ever held. The beauty of a job like that is it allows you to dream while you work. I was at that job for about a year. They kept trying to promote me to something or other, I think it was customer service, but I kept refusing. In the mornings on my way to work, it was a long subway ride from the Bronx and I would work on my screenplay. While I moved papers from one box to another, I would dream up ideas for the script. And on the way home I would continue writing. That particular screenplay, called Adon, was about 500 pages long with a cast of thousands. It was the story of a kid who was conceived by artificial conception who was then raised in a lab setting. He was then brought up by robots. Believe it or not, he ended up in the advertising field where he developed a method of subliminal advertising which was powerful enough to really control people’s minds. At the end, however, he turned against his creators — don’t all monstors — and tried to use his subliminal messages to kill the scientist who created him. As I remember it, he ends up on the roof of a building near an antenna where he is struck by lighting. But even his death wasn’t the end of this epic. The script continues to follow him into a sort of computer hell, where he meets scientists at various circles of hell.
The script may have been as long as it was because I wrote it with a friend. We wrote alternating scenes.
That script, along with some photographs, ended up getting me an interview with Laslo Benedik (director of The Wild One) at NYU and eventually into the NYU Graduate Film Program and a decade of bohemian life followed.
* * *
Went out with the camera in the pouring rain to pick up my prescription for antibiotics. Not exactly the right thing to do given that I’m at the trail end of the bronchitis, but there’s been so little real weather here — and after getting pretty soaked, ended up the pharmacy and was drying off the camera when the woman behind the camera said — “They should really make a little umbrella for that thing”
Wow, that’s a great idea I said. I wonder if there is such a thing? It could go into the hot shoe and be just big enough to give some protection for the camera.
I’m going to do a search on the web for camera umbrellas. 🙂
* * *
And of course, now that I ended the March Sale, received a couple of inquiries as to whether I would sell the prints at the March Sale prices. I said sure.
* * *
I believe its now officially Spring. Spring and Summer are the seasons that I dislike the most. Oh those nice balmy Spring days where the sun is shining and the birds are twittering, and the flowers are bursting forth — not for me. Give me a cold, miserable, frozen day, where the wind howls outside your window, and the drunks sleep in the vestibule where you have to step over them. Or give me a gloomy autumn day, where the clouds hang heavy, and there’s a darkness at noon. Is it something in the stars? I was born in the winter. Or is it just a left-over from childhood where bad weather meant no-school. How I remember praying for snow. Lot’s of snow so we could meet up with our buddies in the park and go sledding on flattened cartons. We used to climbs the hills on Mosholu Parkway, and skid down towards the parkway, sometimes right out onto the parkway and have to jump off so that we wouldn’t get run over by passing traffic.
So many things happened on those hills. My boyhood friend Frank was going down through the trees on a sled, and turned around to shout back at me how much fun it was, and hit a tree with his head. Knocked him right out. We all ran down the hill and dumped snow on him to revive him, but he was out for a while. Our poor mothers and fathers. If they only knew the trouble we hid from them.
My sister decided to go down the hill without even using cardboard, just on her rump — hit some rocks, and tore up her thigh pretty good. Went home crying. My dad cut the pants leg off her, and blood poured out and she needed about thirty stiches.
Maybe what was so great, was that we had absolutely no physical fear as kids. Years later, I tried to learn to ski. I was already in my forties. I stood at the top of the hill, petrified. I knew I could break a leg, or worse. If I had been ten years old, I would have just plunged down the hill without a thought. I fell about halfway down the hill and had my skis crossed and couldn’t even get back on my feet. Eventually my friends helped me up and said I was doing just fine. Everyone falls the first time, etc. etc.
* * *
I don’t know if anyone will find this interesting, but this is from my web logs, and these are some of the more odd phrases people have used that bring them to my site:
strange black and white photography
photography of crazy people
dark black and white photography
recommended photo paper for tmax film
the message mohammed, messenger of god film caps
pros and cons of black and white photography
egyptian hierogliphics on walls
art photography naked bodies
black and white 3d
how to dilute kodak dektol developer
I Think there’s a poem in there somewhere.
* * *
I’m pretty disciplined about all this. Each night before I go to sleep I make a todo list and scribble the next days chores on the top of it. I usually don’t get through the list during the day, but it keeps me pretty focused. A typical list might go something like this:
Fill out forms for the 401K rollover
Get taxes done
Order more boxes from fedex
Order more paper from B&H
Send out prints to xyz
Today, its 10:30am and I’ve gotten through my whole list. And so I go out for a walk. No camera. Just a stroll through the neighborhood. I don’t always like to take the camera. The camera hanging on my shoulder puts me in a certain mood where I’m looking at everything as a potential shot. Without the camera, I can just walk, and listen to my own thoughts. Today, as I was walking around, I passed this guy who is probably shell-shocked, and walks back and forth on the block chain-smoking and listening to a little transistor radio that was probably made in the 50’s. He talks to himself, but he’s not really a homeless guy. He’s related to the guys who run the nearby garage. So instead of just walking by him, as I usually do, I stop and say, “Nice day, isn’t it” And he replies, “All days are beautiful.”
Well, that’s enough of a mystical statement to get me musing. You just never know what the fates, the oracles, the mysteries of the world have in store for you. Here’s this guy, who I always pass by sort of nervously, and he pops out with this wonderful statement.
I continue on and run into the Indian guy who runs the grocery store. We strike up a conversation starting with the usual banalities about the nice weather, and eventually moving on to how his business is going. It seems that business in the grocery store is tough these days because of something — I couldn’t really understand what he was saying — but he smiles about it all and shakes my hand and I continue on my little walk. As I approach the nearby church, I see that there are about fifty young people with knapsacks and odd things like hoola hoops standing on the church steps, posing for one of their members to take a picture. This is really a mystery. They seem to have all these vans nearby, and most of them look foreign and scruffy, like foreign students on a tour, but I can’t figure out the hoola-hoops. And a few of them are carrying small dolls. I stand around watching them pose for a while, hoping that the mystery will clear up, and then approach one guy who has a goatee and ask him what the hoola-hoops are for, and he answers in a foreign language, maybe Russian, and makes some signs that I never really get, and I just nod like an idiot and figure its just another one of these Spring rituals that I just will never understand.
Sometimes, I like to sit on the stoop by my house and watch people go by. If you wait long enough, some little story always unfolds. People fight for a traffic space. Somebody meets a friend that they haven’t seen and get into an animated conversation. The delivery boys peddle by with their take-out food. The garbage truck blocks the street, and horns go off like a horrible atonal symphony. Something is always going on.
And it makes me philosophical. Never stepping in the same river twice. The same street. The same people. And everyday, the scene changes. I imagine that this is how Monet felt when he painted his garden over and over for twenty years. I think that Monet was more interested in the reflections in the water, than the actual garden, and that in a way is akin to photographing, where the photograph is really a kind of inverted reflection.
* * *
Since I’ve been home a lot the last week or two, I’ve had c-span on a lot in the background. Did you ever notice how much time they spend with quorum calls, roll calls, and other types of calls in which some guy with a gavel calls their names out? I starting to think this is just done because these guys can’t remember their own names. What do they do when they get home and no one is there to call their names out. Do they forget who they are? At any rate, it seems like an archaic process. I think they should give everyone palm pilots with secure hookups. They’d get a little beep on the palm pilot, they’d have to enter some password, and then the screen would say, “How do you vote on HR 4567, the bill to give more pork to your district? Press 1 for Aye and 2 for No.” This way they could spend less time going and coming from the Senate and more time raising money and pressing the flesh, which is what their real jobs are.
The language that they use is also funny.
“I would like to thank my good friend, the distinguished senator, the great Pubah from the great state of so-and-so..
“The gentleman from Virginia, the gentlewoman from Idaho… ”
I would say that the “gentle” appelation is something of a misnomer for any of these people.
While I’m on the subject, I never understood this Separation of church and state thing. They begin the session with a prayer, yet they don’t allow prayer in school. When you take the oath, you “swear or affirm” to God. .
OATH REQUIRED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND BY LAW TO BE TAKEN BY SENATORS
“I, A__ B__, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” (5 U.S.C. 3331.)
What if you are an atheist. Or what if you are a polytheist and believe in mutliple Gods?
* * *
I decided to write my high-school term paper on you — well, not *on you* literally (though who knows) — but you know what I mean, about you. Anyhooo, I knew that as soon as I saw your sight, that I would have to write my paper about you. The only thing is, could you answer a couple of easy questions for me because I need this info to put into my report. I hope so much that you will. And even if you don’t, I just want to tell you how much I love you’re pix.
1. How old are you and where do you live?
2. Is there a picture of you on the site?
3. What do you like to do other than photography?
4. Are you married or single?
5. And finally, could you tell me which lens you consider to be your best lens?
Mark-x and Nora-y Buderbrook
* * *
I noted the other day that I was picking up some habits of my ancestors. For example, when I was a kid, one tea-bag was passed around the table for five people to dunk. I never knew what real tea tasted like until I was in my teens. My mother used to “water-down” the soda, usually without us kids knowing. In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly how she did it, because it was always watered-down, even when we first opened the plastic bottle. She must have always kept an empty bottle around and poured half the soda into it and then watered-down the two bottles. At any rate, when we kids went to our friends’ houses, we always wondered why the soda tasted so-much stronger. Bacon with breakfast was a real treat, but it was cut into thirds — right from the start — and was a very cheap cut that mostly went up in smoke and fat.
But when we went to my uncles’ house, they would really put out a spread for breakfast — big juicy tomatoes, and all the thick bacon you could swallow.
Well, the other day I found myself searching around the house for a glass. I wasn’t exactly sure what the glass was for, and then it struck me, I was looking for a “teabag saving glass”. That’s the glass that we kept around as kids, where there was always a lifeless teabag hanging. And I had a flashback to my family and to my grandmother’s house where there were always lots of these teabag glasses around. Not one, but several. All containing dried-out teabags, often from several days past.
And here I was — several generations later — having spent the big bucks on fancy cameras — having quit the high-paying job — looking for a “teabag saving glass”. Well, I found one, and happily placed the teabag in it — and went back to my mat cutting, quite happy to have remembered this little survival strategy.
* * *
If you read through the journals, since I left the security and agony of the ad agency, you’ll notice that most of the entries have something to do with money. Fear of not having it. Stories about what its like not to have it. And ways of conserving it. Yet, as I sit here this nice frozen Spring morning in New York — I find that although money is on my mind — its a different sort of worry than the worries I had at the agency. It’s a sort of clean and pure worry — that comes to me like an old friend — taps me on the shoulder and says, “You didn’t forgit ’bout me, now did ya sonny?”
No, I didn’t forget about you, but I’m not afraid of you either, not really afraid. Its only natural that you should come and visit me when I’ve just started off on this expedition into the unknown. It wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t. But you can’t make me unhappy. Not really. Not as you once did when I was younger.
On the other hand, your brother — financial security — he made me miserable. There truly was no escape from the pain he rained down on my as I sat in my little cube and he whispered — “You can’t leave without me! You’ll never get by without me!”
Someday, it would be nice if Mr. Financial Security and Ye Olde Money Fear could meet on neutral grounds and work things out, or if not have a fight to the death. I imagine they would wipe each other out, or find someone else to haunt.
* * *
My friend A.G. who wrote Adon with me just sent me the following email:
“The scene in Adon that comes to mind is when the Spanish maid comes in to clean Adon’s room. If I remember, she was supposed to evoke some sort of sexual awakening in our robot-like hero (‘Oh Adon, passion’s not a sin, In fact it’s where we all begin.’)
Neither of us had any idea of what a real maid might be like, since we didn’t even have enough money to buy sandwiches with meat in it. (Your favorite was lettuce, tomato and mayo on a roll) ”
I’m sure he wrote that line.
The other meals that I remember as being a staple of my diet during that time was cream-cheese on a roll. And the famous (at least in my mind) story of how we had pancake mix but nothing to fry it in — so I put a glob on mayonaise in the skillet and fried pancakes in it. Kids, don’t try this at home.
I also remember a time in Mountaindale New York where we rented a bungalow for a few weeks. Again, money was a problem and we used to sit on the porch and wonder if we could catch squirrels in a trap. Yeah, two city boys in the country. We reverted to shoplifting from the local deli. I also remember being afraid that A. G. was going to kill me in the middle of the night and sell my clothes. We were really crazy with some kind of youthful angst, that culminated in the day that we pretty much destroyed the cabin. Did we peel the wallpaper off the walls before leaving? I think we did. I’ve written before that I feel as if I’ve lived several lives, and that was the end of one chapter for sure.
Even thirty years later, these incidents pop up in conversation. I was driving back from the Hilton with my father, where we had spent the weekend lying around the pool and eating, and as we passed a gas-station on the Deagen I mentioned that that was the gas-station that I had called him to come and pick me up one night after hitching from Buffalo to NYC in a blizzard. I said, to my dad, I guess I caused you a lot of grief in those days. I could see his eyes in the rear-view mirror, they looked very sad. He just said, “You weren’t in good shape that night. I sent you away to college to learn, and you spent your time gambling.”
That was true. There’s a theme here. I would do anything rather than work. I played chess for money. Played cards for money. Played pool for money. I was also a terrible student. If the teacher told us to read a short story by Hemmingway, I’d go to the library and get every book by Hemmingway and spend the rest of the term reading these books late into the night. The teacher would have long since passed Hemminway and gone onto Faulkner and I’d still be reading Hemmingway.
Those years, going from childhood to adulthood was like witnessing a slow-motion nuclear explosion. And I don’t have much insight now into what any of it was about, other than that my upbringing had been pretty strict, with a lot of responsibilites at an early age, and that when I moved out of the family house, there was a kind of explosion of self that lasted about five years.
“Some of these memories you can learn to live with, and some of them you can’t” Dylan
* * *
The following is a synopsis for my new cookbook for Photographers and other artists. Please respond as quickly as possible to this letter as this diet is leading to…
The Artist’s Cookbook
Pasta. There are many delicious meals that can be prepared using Pasta. These include, Pasta with Garlic, Pasta with Peas, and Pasta with onions…
Potatoes. There are many delicious meals that can be prepared with potatoes. These include, Potatoes with Garlic, Potatoes with Peas, and Potatoes with onions…
Rice. There are many delicious meals that can be prepared with rice. These include, Rice with Garlic, Rice with Peas, and Rice with Onions…
There is no harm in combining any of these staples. For example, Rice with Pasta, Rice and Potatoes, and Peas with Onions…
Toppings and sauces. Throw a nice sauce over any of these meals, and you are into a new world of gourmet cooking. Cheese Whiz is an especially meltable cheese that actually includes some ingredients that you may otherwise may be missing in your diet, such as “Yellow Dye #4” and “Potassium Sorbate. Recent studies have concluded that “Yellow Dye #4” as opposed to “Yellow Dye #2” is actually a beneficial skin lightener. And Potassium Sorbate in its purest form, can help preserve some organs after you have departed this earth.
You will often find that a small residue of dissolved sugar forms on the bottom of a cup of coffee. Most people throw this away. But in fact, this is actually the most delicious part of the beverage experience. If you set up a small glass jar ahead of time, you can scrape these dissolved crystals with a tea spoon, and deposit them in your glass jar. After 30 days, you will find, that the glass jar is full. At this point, place it in the oven (make sure to use an oven-proof jar), and the sugar will dissolve into a brownish liquid. This liquid can then be poured onto a baking tray and allowed to cool. Cut into squares, and top with a slight sprinkling of sugar. Serves ten…
* * *
Another day of printing Promenade and Night Storm and Turnstyle…
* * *
I’m avoiding the south side
As best I can,
These memories I’ve got
they can strangle a man
When I left my home
The sky split open wide
I wouldn’t ever want to go back
I’d rather I’d died
Auto Graveyard, Bronx NY
* * *
Kiss In Diner
* * *
Two very busy days. Yesterday a full day of printing, and then drying, and today matting and packaging. I’m pooped. Nice and rainy in NYC today — maybe I can tap a quick catnap and then get out.
* * *
* * *
I’ve been getting a tremendous deluge of junk e-mail lately, and I’m thinking of starting a new page dedicated to the best and worst of this mail. But so far, these are still my favorites. Falling under the category of Truth is Stranger than Fiction.
I am a young Danish man, who collect pens with advertisement from all over the world.
I have in my collection such a pen from your company. The pen is however a little too used, I can no longer read all of the text. I would therefore kindly ask you if you want to help me. You can do so by sending me a new pen. [I actually don’t have pens with my name on it but it might be a good idea]. If you have other pens with advertisement on I would off course be more than happy to receive them as well.
If you have become interested in seeing some of my pens, you can see them on this address: [nah]
It is only a very very little part of my collection which is on these pages. I will also add the pen from your company – after having received it.
Should you have any question – please feel free to contact me.
I thank you very much in advance.
* * *
And this one is pretty good also:
I am Addo Rawlings, a cousin of the former president of the Federal Republic of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, and I also held an appointment during his 10yrs in office as the General Manager in charge of Ministry of Solid Mineral such as Gold, Diamond, Bauxites etc.
During this 10yrs tenure, I managed to secure a large quantity of Gold and Diamond secretly before he handed over power to his successor Mr. John Kuffour. When he took over power, information got to me that the new president is aware of this large deposit of Gold and Diamond that is in my possession, and because of this, I have to look for a way to dispose it.
To this end, I contacted a friend of mine in a neighboring Country Federal Republic of Togo, who helped me to sell the Gold and Diamond for a total of $18.5Million (Eighteen Million, Five Hundred United States Dollars), which is now deposited in a security company in Lome, Togo.
Because of my relationship as the cousin of the former president of the Federal Republic of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, my Togolese friend suggested that we should move this entire fund Overseas to avoid being traced by the present Ghanaian president.
However, I am now asking you to be my partner in this transaction. Therefore, if you are interested, kindly contact me through my e-mail address or call me on my telephone number in Togo: ****** so that we can discuss on the modalities for a smooth transfer of the entire fund into your nominated bank account Overseas.
For your participation, I will offer you 15% of the entire fund but which is subject to negotiation.
Meanwhile, I am looking forward to hearing from you so as to plan on the next line of action to execute this mutual beneficial transaction.
* * *
You can’t make this stuff up
* * *
I applied for the Square Deal program on eBay. It costs $7 a month and is supposed to give people a more secure feeling about buying from you on eBay. The first month is free. I’ll see if its worth it or not.
* * *.
A beautiful Spring day in New York. After my visit to the periodontist (ugh) and quite a bit of scraping and torture, I went out to Central Park. I may have gotten a couple of interesting shots — of course not of the Park, but of odd things that were going on there. Well, I did climb to the top of the tower overlooking the lake and took shots from there, but I don’t expect anything great. Kind of a blank sky. I fooled around with a couple of shots through the window on the narrow passageway to the top. I had set off to go back to the Promenade (Poet’s Walk) locale with the idea of shooting it again in 35mm just to see the difference, but I got lost and ended up at the Tower. The leaves are just starting to come forth, and I’m waiting for the Cherry Blossom trees to bloom — I shoot these every year but of course never end up with anything that interesting.
My list of subjects that have eaten up film with no “keepers” :
The Dogwalk (both the one in Central Park and the one in Schurz Park)
The Cherry Blossom Trees (the one’s near the resevoir, and the ones near the entrance on 84th)
The Resevoir (the biggest eater of film)
Anything in Yosemite (two weeks in Yosemite and not a single shot to show for it)
Anything in Sedona (I did get Birch Trees, but that was on the way to Flagstaff)
Anything involving window washers (I have to give up this pre-occupation)
Anything involving the ocean (Montauk Beach was okay, but I never cared for the print)
The Empire State Building (I have enough film to fill the building)
The Brooklyn Bridge (forget about it)
Reflections in Puddles (don’t do it, I don’t care what is reflected, or what surrealist feelings you have…)
Anything in Florida
Anything near San Francisco
* * *
I wonder what’s happening to me. Today I spent almost two hours photographing the horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. I think I’m losing my edge. All that stuff I wrote about not-liking Spring, and all that — and here I am, a beautiful Spring day, setup on a narrow little cobblestone street in the Park with the 59th street skyline in the background — a typical tourist shot, and I’m just standing there waiting for the perfect horse to come by. Then I climb up some rocks that overlook the skating rink, and more magic appears — ice-skating in the Spring. And I sit down on the rocks, towards the edge looking down at the skaters, and I see this one little girl, maybe ten years old, being trained to do some sort of spiral (I have no idea what any of the ice-skating terms are), and she keeps going at it; over and over, with the skyline in the background, and two tourists sitting behind me (on a cell-phone) and I have that feeling like this is my spot, my perfect spot. There is just no place in the world that I would rather be. If you’ve read any of the books about Carlos and Don Juan (Don Juan was the sorcerer that tried to teach his student Carlos about other worldly things, and I remember Don Juan telling Carlos to look for “his spot”. Carlos had no idea what he was talking about. Don Juan told him to wander around until he found it.)
But that was the feeling.
The day had started out with me loading TMAX 100 film in the camera (hadn’t done that in years) and going out to the Promenade (Poet’s Walk) site. Looking at it. Just nothing there. No feeling for it in this light. And then out of the corner of my eye seeing something silvery off to the right. What the heck? It was apparantly a silver tree — glistening in the morning sun. As I approached, it turned out to be a sculpture of a tree, done in stainless steel, that was budding. There another hour went by as I shot this from every angle, backlit, front lit, side lit — with people, without people — on the tripod, without the tripod… hadn’t even noticed that the batteries had stopped working… no light meter — so what… you don’t need batteries for a silver tree on a day like this. And then turning to go back home, tired and happy, I see one of the horse-drawn carriages, and then another, and another coming down the road and I begin to follow them, looking for just the right place… and as I’m setting up the driver of one of them turns the horse right at me and gets out to take a picture of his passengers. We exchange a few friendly words, the horse neighs, and then he hops back in and continues on…
And then, turning to go back (I’m starting to get hungry), I see this structure near the Dairy — another area I’ve never really seen before. Rows of stone tables for playing chess. And another hour goes by as I try and arrange the compositions…
And I walk back home — the camera bag is digging into my shoulder — but I’m in love with the Spring. I can’t wait to go out again the next day. And I start to wonder whether a lot of the dark, moody things I was shooting were really a reflection of some deep dispair caused by my corporate life. And now as that life slowly lifts — the Spring, the time of growth, becomes more attractive to me. Who knows.
* * *
We talked late last year when I bought the smaller version of your image, The Steps of the Met, which is on a stand in my study next to a Michael Kenna and several John Sexton prints. It is an image that holds its own even in this good company…” [JSW]
* * *
Billy Wilder films that I love:
Fortune Cookie, The (1966)
Irma la Douce (1963)
Apartment, The (1960)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Spirit of St. Louis, The (1957)
Seven Year Itch, The (1955)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Big Carnival, The (1951)
Sunset Blvd. (1950) (screenplay) (story A Can of Beans)
Lost Weekend, The (1945)
Double Indemnity (1944)
* * *
I am what they call a secular-Jew. One of those hyphenated words, like Chinese-American, that just means that I’m not particularly religious. I haven’t felt much of a connection to Israelis. I don’t feel like, this is my homeland. I’m pretty much immune to all the biblical references that are supposed to make me feel a connection to that place. I feel more of a connection to the Bronx. But when the suicide-bomber explodes himself during the Passover seder, something very deep, and very angry comes up, and its a feeling that they are “killing my people”. People that during most times I wouldn’t identify with at all. I feel that we’ve got to do something to protect ourselves. If I feel this way, I can only imagine what the people living in that country feel. And actually, after Sept. 11th, when “my” city was attacked, I can readily identify.
So what then can be the strategy of the Palestinians who are blowing themselves up? What can be the military objective of killing civilians — of targeting civilians. It’s beyond my comprehension. The only result that I can see is that Arafat will be exiled or killed, and that groups like Hamas will then be in charge. But if they think that they will drive Israel into the sea — or that they will bring Israel to the peace-table by these tactics, then they are truly misguided. If someone, who is as apolitical as I am, can now feel “they are killing my kind, my people” I can’t see any tactical advantage to be gained by it.
* * *
March is ending with a flurry. A couple of more orders. And a lot of shooting. I have about eight rolls to develop. Mostly touristy stuff of the park, but one shot stands out in my mind — near the Met, I saw a guy rolling up his sleeves and realized he was going to reach into the pool nearby for some odd reason, and prepared and went vertical and one or two shots with him practically stretched entirely into the water.
* * *
I’ve done two shipments to Spain, and so far, something has gone wrong in both cases. The latest one is fedex calls me (they are nice) and leave a long message saying that the address doesn’t exist and the phone number is wrong. I hate to admit it, but I actually lose some sleep over this. I send an email to the customer in Spain and now I await an answer. If I don’t get it cleared up, I need to pay for shipping to get it back (which is about $60).
* * *
I fell asleep listening to CNN and what was going on in the mid-east and that probably wasn’t good either. In my sleep one of the old peace songs came back to me and I was trying to remember the name of it…who wrote it… a quick search on the web and voila:
“Last night I had the strangest dream,
I ever had before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed,
To put an end to war.”
Yes, what a strange dream indeed. How disconnected my day was from all this. Here I am, sitting on a rock by the lake in Central Park watching the boats row by. Looking at the reflections in the water by the restaurant that overlooks the lake, and wondering how to frame it. Thinking of the best angle to catch the reflections of a building and when to press the shutter as a row boat with happy kids in it comes by. Sitting on the damp bank, trying to keep my pants from getting wet while I squirm around to keep some tree branches from getting into my perfect little composition. Wondering whether to use the orange or the red filter.
“I dreamed I saw a mighty room
The room was filled with men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again ”
And as I get up to follow another trail, a homeless guy in the rambles comes out, and at first I’m a little nervous, and he looks at me and whistles some song, and says, “It’s a lovely day for taking pictures, isn’t it?” And then continues on his way.
“And when the papers all were signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed ”
And I wander on — happy with the feel of the camera bag strap digging into my shoulder, and sure that all is well with the world. And I find myself on the bridge overlooking the lake where kids are throwing bread to the turtles. Squeels of delight as the turtles clamor for the food, and then the fishes are stealing the crumbs from the turtles. And one kid leans over the railing laughing and pulling on the sleeve of his father. Barely able to contain himself. “Fishes take from turtles! Fishes take from turtles!” His dad has a tight hold on the little kid so he doesn’t fall in. Just normal, everyday life for the kid — but life and death for the turtles and fishies…
“And the people in the streets below
Were dancing round and round
And guns and swords and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground ”
Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
E. McCurdy, 1950
* * *
* * *
On A Leash
(The dogs were coming towards me, the school children were walking away, and I had the wrong lens on. Luckily they stopped for the light. I switched to the 35mm as fast as I could, zone focused and shot. I also like the sign on the phone booth).
* * *
After not really using Tmax 100 for a long time, I’ve gone back to it during the last few days. First roll was way under developed. Next roll was over developed. Hopefully as Goldylocks said, the next one will be just right. TMY is really been my mainstay for several years, but I’m beginning to print things larger and larger, and TMX is a pretty good way to go for this. I’d really like to buy a second Leica body but can’t afford it right now.
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Bobbing for What?
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Nothing but packaging today, and a little walking around. The TMX seems to be working out just fine, though I haven’t printed anything from it yet. Maybe I’ll walk around with that in the camera for a while ’til I remember why I originally switched to TMY.
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