Monday, January 31, 2005

Chapter 3

    Taken with Rolleiflex TLR

"To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there's the rub."

--From Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)

Lately, Abbie had been trying to relax more. She was taking a ceramics class at the University and writing some poetry. The after effects and stress of moving to Sendersville were finally starting to subside. She had actually even moved in legitimately, materially, for a change. Everything in her apartment had finally found its way out of its boxes and it seemed she was going to be able to stay a while. Sometime towards the end of summer, she noticed she was beginning to settle in. At each of her last few apartments, the boxes had never disappeared completely. She would get herself unpacked to a certain extent, with bed and sofa and television and closets full of clothes, like most people, but she was generally content to navigate a maze of boxes to get from toilet to toaster. So, rather than hunt high and low for the salad spinner, she was the type who would simply do without. She would seldom unpack all the little things that emotionally, and cosmetically, take your shelter to the next level of comfort. The boxes containing photo albums and letters and framed pictures; Mom and Dad, nightscapes she had taken in college, pictures from Wyoming where she had lived before getting married, pictures of her dogs when she was a little girl, almost all of her past remained entombed for transit. No matter how long she was somewhere, no matter how much time she committed herself to unpacking, she couldn’t, until recently, manage to cross that threshold into actually living anywhere.

This sense of place, actual personal space, was a personal victory for Abbie. After a year or so of habitual impermanence, boxes clogging her domestic arteries, books never quite making it to the shelves, trunks posing as coffee tables, she had finally gotten herself all poured into the closets and cabinets. Parts of her had been slung into the crawlspace, drawers were filling with string and carpet tacks and batteries, tables had flowers, the basement had a workshop even and she was fixing it up to use as a studio. It was shaping up into a fairly normal place really. Not that she fully expected it to last.

She thought about this now because she had celebrated her domestic triumph on a comfortable autumn day. She had found a place for everything in a late night, wine-induced, fit of organization. She remembered the market outside was starting to transform itself, as antique beer cans replaced fresh rhubarb, and lava lamps were lined up where the garlic and shallots and onions had been only weeks before. The array was so similar really. Popcorn makers (unused, in Box); Racing with Jesus Nascar pins and keychains and beer steins; handmade scarves and water pipes; buttons; and on and on. She had been the first customer, drinking her coffee watching the goods multiply in the stalls along 18th Street, when she decided to treat herself to a Tamagotchi. These electronic pets had been an insanely popular Japanese toy in the 90’s. Small, colored objects, about the size of a pocket watch, these micropets came with virtual responsibilities, as they needed care and feeding and love just as would their real life counterparts. Hers, Astro, was blue. And it was kind of needy she thought. Though it seemed healthy enough and had rarely been sick in its short life, it was sometimes going poo even without having been fed which was a trait she hadn’t expected. The sprawling outdoor market was one of Abbie’s favorite places because these were the earliest businesses to rise in her neighborhood. Followed soon after by the cafes and groceries and dry cleaners and then the wheels of commerce would finally begin to grind and it would seem finally that everyone else had joined her again at least for the time being.

Most nights, Abbie didn’t sleep at all. And hadn’t really for much of her adult life. This explained her affinity for Farmer’s markets and early risers but not her relative transience nor her marked passion for order, these will be explained later. The loss of her ability to sleep, to just shut things down for the night, didn’t seem to bother her like some of the others she had met. She had been depressed at first, now some ten years ago, and had spent most of time chasing rest with alcohol or exercise or whale sounds but none of it seemed to help. She then had tried going to sleep disorder clinics and had even traveled somewhat extensively to be observed. For a while, it seemed as though science was her chosen profession and sleep her specialty. Except she wasn’t very good at doing it. She had been tested for apnea and thyroid disorders, had changed her diet, dabbled in feng shui, been ‘healed’ by a Cincinnati mystic. It had been suggested, by her psychiatrist, that the depression might have been the root cause for her sleeplessness though she suspected not. She did take anti-depressants for a while and it helped her only a little with her predilection towards the continuous doing of things but it didn’t really help her to sleep at all. She stopped taking them after just a couple of months. It was at that point that she realized that these medical practitioners, well-meaning down to the last one, didn’t seem to know shit about what was going on inside of her. Nobody was going to tell her why a nap of fifteen minutes was sometimes followed by three days of socalled ‘normal’ wakefulness. And the real stumper for them, beside her relative high normal energy levels, had been how she could dream while doing the dishes. She could even drift off while doing a crossword puzzle or during any quiet activity which required only the slightest economy of movement.

These were episodes of parasomnia, or sleep-walking, most of her learned advisors had declared at some point or other. They had determined through testing that she was enjoying certain manifestations of sleep, namely REM or rapid eye movement. And during these periods she would report dreams of remarkable clarity but it would eventually dawn on them that she experienced no disconnection from her conscious mind. She could participate in their discussions concerning her even as she dreamed and while her basal indicators clearly confirmed that she was in fact soundly sleeping. Her unconscious was rolling along with carpeted ceilings, sexual tensions, old lovers, girlfriends from fifth grade, a general suspension of physics where gravity would pull or not depending on who know’s what, she could fly, she had been frighteningly obese in one recurring dream, she had fallen deeply in love with and lived briefly with John Turturro and it was she who had helped him to choose the right film projects. In short, there were familiar places, there were fantastic places, there were dangers, chases, sexual tension, warm and savory childhood memories to be relived. Yet, she was also clinically awake as though she could hit ‘pause’ when interrupted by yet another Dr. with his sonorous questions, all calm and knowing and just as easily could return to her life as a bridge keeper, who played the banjo to communicate with all of God’s creatures. Eventually she came to think of herself as ‘differently abled’. Seriously, she thought, if we could collect all that we don’t know about our own fragile psyche and then birth it into this world, it would muster its huge hindquarters and sit its fat ass square on top of what little we do know. Like a bear on a grasshopper.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Chapter 2

    Taken with Holga Camera

Larry had been able to shirk any real responsibility for as long as he could remember. No kids. Never had a relationship longer than two years and then only once came close. Not a bad looking guy, pretty charming. But big. Dark hair, dark features, prominent brow, deep voice built for menace if he cared to use it. Six three, two thirty. Even now he still looked pretty put together. Big enough that he had once played the part of a wrestler on Magnum P.I. and was even a possible suspect well into the second segment until his alibi turned up solid. All that, and he had never officially pursued acting. Fresh out of college, with sociology degree in hand, Larry had bolted for the west coast and landed in San Francisco. He had then spent the better part of six years mostly content to park cars, party as often possible, paint a little when the mood struck. Then he sort of stumbled into an acting gig and for a few years did commercials and television work. He actually worked with Tom Selleck again on a TV movie, adapted from a Louis L’Amour western. His favorite observation, then and now, was "The fuck kind of name is Louis L’Amour for a guy who writes westerns?" And Larry was of course one of the rowdy barroom gang. He got to break some stuff in a bar, though he never did get to do any cool stunts. Just a bunch of whooping and wearing a gun and hitting on the harlots off-set for a good three days. He came to think that Tom Selleck was pretty cool though, and sort of a charming guy actually who would hang out, getting high with the stunt men, laughing his ass off at stupid shit. And then Tom also wound up becoming kind of an acting inspiration for Larry because he was a pretty sizeable guy too. But Larry was pretty sure that Selleck's bigass moustache was going to hold him back. And it did.

So before acting found him and raised his profile from barely employed clear on up to underappreciated. Larry had been living in the city, off of Filmore in the Haight. Had a couple of roommates, one a money manager and the other who played some music, was a bartender, writer, big thinker, huge drinker. Everything was great being young and living in San Francisco excepting that somehow, through a revolving cast of friends and would be girlfriend’s there arrived a parrot that nobody wanted and nobody would claim any longer and which yammered incessantly. Straight through the night, from the kitchen, like somebody’s midget grandma returned as a parrot and with some kind of evil malady of the feet to keep her bitching all hours and scratching back and forth.

So, the guy who played music, Mike, well to hear him talk there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do which was pretty funny too when he got rolling about black ops or salsa dancing or market trends or authentic tamales or money laundering. It seemed that being from New Jersey qualified this guy for just about everything but he was definitely decent to get a beer with. They’d go to Harry’s and sit the bar, talk to the ladies, most of whom would have way too much talent for a couple of ingrates but the talk was always good. There were always beautiful women at Harry’s and dressed so that you can’t help but look. Fine clothes. Except for those power suit types. Larry basically felt a solid wave of revulsion when an attractive woman would roll in feeling full sassy but decked out in those fancy pants. The kind of dress pants that swing around the ankles, light and swishy, about twice as flared as bell bottoms, more skirt or dress than pants, usually flashing some kind of crazy pointed shoes in which her sorely misshapen feet numbly wince with each step but dutifully bring lady to the party. The women’s suits sometimes came with the pants, sometimes dressy cocktail outfits would have the pants. There was some kind of correlation between those pants and good money but it just didn’t make sense that those flapping eyesores could be more expensive or more fashionable than regular clothes. He felt genuine disappointment whenever a girlfriend of his would turn up flouncing around her ankles, usually thinking to herself, "I’m looking pretty good I am... very fine." Then Larry’s jerk would come to the surface to beat her down. But he couldn’t help it somehow, kind of like he had been lied to. He had nothing against jeans or pants that were just cut to be like pants. He could even suffer those strange and shrunken Capri’s, for chrissake. But those fucking fancy pants made him angry. And this wasn’t a gay thing straight thing or a threatened man thing. Girls in pants, fine. Girls in fancy pants, really fucking stupid looking. Even the hot ones.

Then, one weekend Mike’s younger brother hits town, up from L.A. and is all fired up because a film was going to be made based upon one of his short stories. A small film sure but something that might get seen, possibly get picked up. Basically, kind of a loss-of-virginity quest set in smalltown somewhere and which followed a crew of high school friends through a madcap series of zany situations. There’s the requisite jock, the nerd, there’s the sweet guy who’s going steady with the girl next door but she doesn’t put out. There’s the foreign guy. Good stuff. Mike was pushing his brother for a part in the movie, which was a little absurd since Mike was scarily old, at 27, to be hanging with high school kids, even pretend ones. But after a few hours drinking sake and singing Karaoke in Japantown, Mike and Larry both had scored their first serious dramatic roles. Larry was cast as a large but effeminate lounge singer and Mike was cast as the guy who seemed about five years older than all the other kids in high school, with full on facial stubble, drove a muscle car, slept in class, got a few laughs. The movie was finished in a few weeks of summer time, then did its turn going to a few festivals and then pretty much everyone involved moved on to the next best thing as the movie eventually lost its momentum. But Larry wound up cozy with one of the girls from the film and had already decided to head down to L.A. for a while.

Jump cut to ten years later and we find that Larry has returned home to Sendersville to help take care of his mom. She was no longer remembering things as well as she used to. Nothing clinically significant, at least not at first, but nevertheless Larry’s dad didn’t seem to be handling the situation very well. He had finally decided to move back home when, over the past few holidays, he had watched how panicked his mom was getting over the littlest things. She had just about lost it completely this past Thanksgiving when his brother, Jason, was visiting from Baltimore for the weekend and had gone out with friends for drinks until bar time when he had to sneak back into their parent’s house to sleep it off. When their mom heard him coming in the door, she started screaming from the bedroom. Didn’t even get out of bed, she just sat up and screamed for help. Jason had to talk her out of calling the cops. She even recognized him but couldn’t let go of the idea that it was so late and that somehow she really needed help. Dad helped get her back to sleep as though this were nothing unusual. Most other times, she would walk around slightly agitated about fairly normal stuff and it seemed his dad just couldn’t get out of the house fast enough. He would get himself dressed quietly to go to work, or read quietly in the living room. Or eat his dinner quietly. All the time, he seems to be drifting off to a different place, really kind of an equal and opposite reaction as the situation slowly bears down on him. But, otherwise, his dad is in great shape physically though and still works at a machine shop in town. Ever since he was little, there was pretty much nothing his old man couldn’t do with his hands but Larry could see that now in his seventies, his dad was having major difficulty with the idea of becoming a caretaker after having been a provider near all his life. Frustrated that there is no way to fix the woman he has loved for so many years.

So, this is how Larry finds himself back in town. For now, he is renting himself a little A-frame about five blocks over from his folks and pretty much visits with his mother most mornings and then spends the rest of his time trying to cash in on his notoriety as the guy who dated the borg chick, ‘7 of 9’, from Star Trek Next Generations. He amazes himself with how much mileage he can get out of that one in small town America. But trekkies don’t usually tend to be, how to say this delicately, the finest looking of all God’s creatures. And if there is even a single hot girl among the science fiction devoted, then she is keeping it to herself. But all things considered, casually dropping that he used to get baked with Tom Selleck is a pretty good set-up line as well.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Chapter 1

    Taken with Holga Camera, Wide Angle Video Diopter

There was this guy. We'll call him Dennis. Lived alone in a house like this one. He was working for an equipment rental business in town. Delivering stuff, occasionally running a sump for an old lady when her basement flooded, spraying down tillers and wenches, sweeping the shop floor, topping off tanks, mixing oil into the gas for the two-stroke engines. Got to work on time, brought his own lunch and stayed as late as they needed him. Regular guy. Had his own tools. Wore coveralls. But this was before things went sort of strange for him.

Then, once upon an ordinary day, the phone rang. Dennis was alone in the office and ringing receipts so he picked up the phone. "Buy, lease or sell, We'll treat you well. This is..." Goddamn I hate answering the phone, he thought. But after a short pause, and a rushed hello, there's a woman on the other end of the line talking fast and claiming to be an undercover investigator. Right, he thought. Are there any ‘undercover investigators’anymore? If there were they wouldn't likely go about calling themselves undercover investigators at any rate. Isn't undercover supposed to mean undercover? Sure there are some old guys with bad knees out there tailing cheating spouses and looking through windows all high speed film and Chevy Impala but those guys are called detectives right? Used to be called private dicks he thought, before porn went electronic and Jane was still a popular name. So, this woman sounds honest somehow but this had to be a joke. He had a friend, Larry, who was essentially an arrested adolescent and who had nothing better to do usually than to orchestrate elaborate plans / pranks / what have you. Larry was behind nearly every mysterious or misguided event that had ever occurred in this Dennis' life. Making Larry an essential ingredient, making life somewhat interesting, pain in the ass that he generally was. But still, this sounded urgent in an honest way. Her voice - Asian accent? – sounded a little nervous. Undercover? Sounded like she may have just decided that she’s an investigator. He thought, funny how you can up and start calling yourself something and there you are. Not even a puff of smoke and you’re a dancer, writer, C.P.A. okay maybe not a C.P.A. but still. Taxidermist then.

So, she asks if he will meet with her tonight. She needs to show him something. What in hell? She didn’t even get his name… so, he says he is busy and he is, sort of. American Idol is on at eight and as pathetic as it sounds he hasn’t missed an episode yet this season. So she asks if she can come by work tomorrow. He said, “Make it after work tomorrow because I need to deliver a backhoe and some other things up to Orange in the morning and am supposed to start inventory in the afternoon which means I am working with my boss until close. After work, we can meet at Crossroad’s if you know it.“ Then she hung up. No discussion, no I’ll be wearing a red hat type of thing, no names. Nothing. Has to be Larry, he thought.

Sendersville. Where you have half the town trying to get out to the country, relax, make hay and drink their tawny port and the other half is looking to earn there stripes, slip on through to a ‘real’ town. In other words the halves aren't equal. Never are anywhere. ‘Sinners’ville, as told by some, is more or less a college town set in a beautiful area of the country. A sexy, spaghetti strapped coed of a town with beautiful hills. But it has traffic like noone the fuck could possibly understand without experiencing it. Somehow the planners didn’t anticipate how popular this town was going to get and so left its little curving streets to their own designs. And everyone drives around in their Escalades, Pathfinders, Land Rovers, the occasional cherry classic like well-heeled tourists in their own town. So the once red clay and rolling hills beauty has developed some kind of brachial congestion which makes her wheeze a bit and makes you, oh so briefly, think twice before falling in love. Meanwhile life as it is practiced elsewhere has started to take root in the suburbs. One has to apply oneself to appreciate a place like this one.

The folks who are been heres. They have been in the area for generations, some of them, and they have either moved up on the hill so to speak or they have been the real working life force that most of the rest of the come heres hardly notice. Not quite a hill town but close enough. Not quite a cultural place but the college environment props it up nicely. A film festival in the spring, a jazz club on the downtown mall, all manner of places to drink up, settle down, move on. But still to hear them talk, you wouldn’t understand what is right about the place. Too crowded, the young people are too irresponsible, too provincial, too small-minded, too this, not enough that. Or as his daddy used to say, “With most people what you get is a whole lot of want and very little need.” Spend all your life looking for answers and things tend to deflate a little. There is not a lot of there there once you get those answers. The reward then is in the journey but living in the unknowing is just a little too Buddhist for most of the folks around here so it feels more like restlessness. His wife had been like that.

Sarah had been his reason for coming here, now twenty years or so ago. She had been the embodiment of the place. Smart as hell, beautiful without an ounce of inhibition. Whatever sounded good, she was up for it. Sendersville was home to her. She was the daughter of two professors - genetics and art history - moved from Pittsburgh to work here. And so, aware of maybe some of what she was missing, had honestly come by her just about to blow out of here first chance I get energies. She needed to be doing something all the time. Every next person was a big window with a fresh breeze of possibilities blowing through them. Dennis had been living on couches in Clifton back then but came to play a gig at Baker's before it became O'Tooles. His band would travel five six hours sometimes for a gig and they made it to Sendersville probably once a month or so to play frat houses or small bars. He played guitar, could sing a little bit. Had kind of David Byrne thing going which was just strange enough to be sexy. She had fallen for him big time.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Holga Wide Angle

   Taken with Holga Camera, Wide Angle Video Diopter

- Finally Got Something -

The image is nothing special but I have had a few lousy attempts in recent weeks at making my Holga wide angle. Using video diopters, video lenses, I have come up with seven stripes of gloriously blurred crap. I think I have got a good thing going now - .42x wide conversion lens with a macro diopter attached... sounds nerdly to even write tech details but someone might find this interesting, right? [... crickets chirping... ] This might look pretty slick in a studio or daylight situation as the on-camera flash / indoor subject combination do not play well together in this particular shot. Am going to try some landscape stuff this afternoon. There are some tips from if you are interested in this type of modification or from Randy at

A little bleary after playing cards last night. Witty rejoinders to resume after a couple of days rest.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Bloody Mary Sunday

   Taken with Holga Camera

Tomorrow is M.’s birthday and so I decided to take her out to Godfrey’s, where they have brunch and a drag show every Sunday. It is really a pretty great time. Turn up early, get your name on the list and then head out for a drink or coffee until the show starts at 11:30. Bloody Mary's. Crabs Chesapeake, which was pretty tasty really. The performers are men. Beautiful, talented, breast-having, not-sure-what-else-having, lip-synching men. Really the show was excellent. It seems a place where you might enjoy bringing the uninitiated to. They might catch a little grief but basically the whole experience is a very straight friendly atmosphere. We thought we might should bring our folks next time. Muah ahh haa haa... or maybe not.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Princess Is Having A Bad Heir Day

   Taken with Holga Camera, Closeup Filter

Disclaimer... This is a beautiful little girl.

This photo is one of the stranger images I have made of late. This is actually Christmas morning, a sweet little girl, wearing a dressup Princess type thing. Ooof. I have so many people bust my chops for not helping them to look cute, sweet, pretty, thoughtful, etc... but I haven't too often transformed someone into something else entirely. I managed to add twenty years and seven vodka gimlets to this particular image. I hope that her parents will understand and forgive me. They are my best friends - wipes tear - in this whole cruel world - they are saints possessing infinite compassion, I tell you - and I pledge to shower them with nice photos for as long as I might function. Plus, it just might be possible that I have exorcised one drunken evening from their little girl's adult life. It would be curious if our time space continuum could be tapped accidentally by the occasional off-kilter image, through some sort of temporally seeping and slippery instant.

On a different note. My friend Tim Remick has sent me a link to Black Thursday, a website detailing the upcoming protests scheduled for January 20, 2005. Basically, the message is one of discontent with our President and his policies. This morning I heard that the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq has been concluded after two years. And concluded unsuccessfully, it is necessary to add because it was Saddam Hussein's stockpiles of WMD that was cited repeatedly * as our reason for going to war in Iraq. It may not be possible to curb our cantankerous Cowboy-in Chief, after his inexplicable reelection, but maybe an economic boycott will make an impression. Do what you will, but have a look if you have an abiding uneasiness with the state of affairs, both at home and abroad.

* Just a few pre-war Bush administration references to WMD...

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." - Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002.

"After 11 years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more." - President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

"Saddam Hussein is a man who told the world he wouldn't have weapons of mass destruction, but he's got them." - Bush, Nov. 3, 2002.

"The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world." - Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5, 2003.

Also see :

Rathergate vs. Saddam's WMD - A Quantitative Comparison;
brought to you by The Poor Man

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lost Luggage & Emergency Landings

    Taken with Holga Camera

We went away for the New Year and the holidays were great apart from the actual travel aspect of things. The airports were crowded, of course. We didn't expect otherwise. My luggage did not arrive with me. Don't know where my bag wound up traveling to, but we were tearfully reunited a day later. On the return trip, We were departing in pretty icy and snowy conditions but the trip began uneventfully enough. Once in the air though, the plane was unable to climb to altitude. Turbulence was pretty significant. After about twenty minutes in the air, the plane was turned around and began its return trip to the original airport in Montreal where the landing was normal enough. We didn't stick around long enough to find out what actually happened to the plane because we had at this point missed our connection and needed to figure out where we were going to spend an extra night in Montreal. So, even though it lacked the dynamic sense of crisis, this was my first, and hopefully last, emergency landing. The next day, we just about missed a connection in LaGuardia as well, which is a thoroughly screwed up place to be in a hurry. Next year, I am going to think long and hard about buying the DVD of our vacation and staying at home...

Anyway, I also had an equipment screwup which goofed with a couple of rolls of film. I was messing with a flash and bulb exposures but did not return my Holga to shutter for a couple of rolls. And unfortunately there were not many happy accidents on the blur side. The image above is of Walker at the beginning of a dogsledding trip we took in the Laurentians. His expression pretty much tells the story. Very cool trip. Bitter cold in fact. Three hours along the river. Hot chocolate, coffee, cookies... As a rule, memories are somewhat warmer than reality, but all the BS related to travel still seems actually worth the hassles. I think. Yeah.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's Wishes

First, I must say that I have been effected by recent events as I would think anyone has been. Apart from the disconnected sense that I feel when such an immense tragedy happens so far away, there is a desire to do something. Anything. As I listen to the radio, NPR, the main thing that seems to come across from the spokespeople who are breaking down current events, is the need for money. Send it if you should have it to spare. The largest fear of these charitable organizations is that the sustained needs felt throughout southeast Asia will far outlast our collective attention to such a dire situation as we slowly and inevitably return to our lives and lifestyles and personal concerns.

So, here are a few links...

The American Red Cross
OxFam International

More to Come...

Best wishes to all.