yes, yes, it approaches. the spring season of soccer in the midwest/south. miles on the road between kentucky, ohio, virginia, tennessee, indiana and the like. dreams of trophies and cups. and getting better, always better–ball to foot, earphones to head, foot to gas, smiles to faces. sun-up will be here before we know it and we will start that day.
Melancholy in a capitalist, like the appearance of a comet, presages some misfortune to the world.
Not to say I am anti-capitalism, or melancholic but I do suffer both those traits on occasion. It’s a pity travel is for the rich in the century where we can do so many other things with relative ease and sometimes on the cheap. upon hearing of Pete Seeger’s passing, (american activist, agitator, singer of folk songs, songs for folks who work and those who hate war) i was reminded of the fact he dropped out of Harvard in 1938 to ride a bicycle across america. people used to do remarkable things for the sake of being free. now we do remarkable things to line our pockets and be on TV.
i have wasted a wealth of words over the past decade pontificating about using film, cheap, plastic cameras and why i still think doing it is relevant. as the populace have adopted photography (again) as a means of communication, storytelling and narcissism with the rise in smartphone usage, somewhere between 6 & 7 our of every 10 persons in the US and UK now have one, it has become harder and harder to find images that have resonance. as i scroll through instagram, pinterest, twitter, tumblr or any other social photo environment there is no short of actual “good” photography. there’s maybe too much good photography as a matter of fact. good photography has become as disposable as the bad. between the cute puppies and the people of new york is a vast variety of fantastic lookables. you can digitally duplicate everything from tack sharp large format work to toy camera or vhs tape cruddy captures. there’s little you can’t make an image look like if you want. which brings me back to film. let’s take the above image for example. it’s pretty boring, who knows where the horizon line should be, between the parking lines, the light poles, the tree line, it’s all somewhat terrible. the face focus is soft, i’m too far away from the subject to really make this photo effective as a portrait, the limitations of my plastic lens have hampered the sharpness because of my bad guess at distance, there’s random dust specs even after i cleaned them up after scanning and all in all you could just count this frame as a throw away…
so why do i love it? i mean you can guess i might love the subject and that helps but that doesn’t really jilt my ability to judge an image…so, i am left lured by the film quality, the color, the crappy-somewhat flat contrast. and the fact that when shooting film, my frames seem, mentally, less disposable. i am just as critical of my personal work yet less willing to dismiss frames of film now without searching corner-to-corner looking for something that might say something to me. is it just about not giving up on an image just because it’s film? possibly. but i’m fine with that. for now. because i want to keep using film. i want photography to continue to take time, thought, rumor, conjecture, innuendo and a little passion. not just my phone placed 24 inches above my head to the left and my lips pouted and cheeks sucked in for something you have dubbed a “selfie.”
photography — with all the advances, the fact that “everyone” has access to a rather sophisticated camera on their phone, and more importantly a real willingness to use it — still relies on some tried and truisms to work as a tool of interest and art. light sure helps. shadows, too. i like lines, and if we’ve learned anything from the internet it’s that girls in a photo are capable of making said photo, er, better. or something. anyway, this wasn’t taken with a digital camera of any kind. instead taken with a Diana, with film, at the Arch in St. Louis. looks like a few people were suspect of me using this device by the stares gathered in this one frame. i guess i should have pointed my phone at them.
whether or not you buy into the whole “it’s a new year, i’m gonna make wholesale changes” narrative that comes with flipping the calendar or not, there’s some to be said for striving to make the next year better than the last. it does kind of suck that you have to motivate change in the middle of the damned winter though. i mean really, it’s 7 degrees and i’m supposed to feel some form of renewal? grade me on a curve, please.
sunny day at the St. Louis arch.
as the holiday is upon us the end of the year is nigh. as the Counting Crows once churtled, “maybe this year will be better than the last.” it’s safe to say we can say that every year. here’s to you and yours if i don’t talk at you before Christmas and New Year’s.
i remember when there used to be debate about whether Christmas was “becoming” too commercialized. that argument sounds quaint now. don’t get me wrong, i am as materialistic and shallow as the next guy, (although i have better shoes than that guy) but wow, we have turned gift buying into something that drives a whole economy, hell, a couple or three of them from China to Japan, to the U.S. to all points in between where cheap labor can be traded for corporate profits for the manufacturers and sellers of these goods. people seemed outraged that stores would open for Christmas shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, only to see the nightly news featuring insane amounts of people camping out, storming the doors and fist-fighting over cheap, large-screen televisions. shopping has become competitive, buying has become sport, saving has become a blood lust and it all leaves me wondering whether any of this is really about giving in the any sort of real spirit of the so-called season. i think we all enjoy the getting part of the giving just a little more than we like to admit. we ‘Mericans we love a game, pretending we beat a retailer at theirs for 25% of list price is something we “win” at every time we see a mail circular touting a bargain and a limited quantity. i can’t believe the sucker-society we have become. and i’m no better.
a boy blames everyone and everything but himself when he loses, a man takes responsibility for what happened. lessons you learn in competition. if you lose, you do it with some dignity, some grace and you learn what to do to lessen the likelihood of similar outcomes. so the fall soccer comes to an end great victories, stinging defeats. now, rest, regroup and work on the things that make you a better player, a better person and work on that man you are becoming.
“It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.
i think i once heard this line attributed to Lou Reed, it went something like, “my bullshit is worth more than other people’s diamonds.” without wasting a bunch of time googling the phrase, i will guess it was during one of his contentious back and forths with Lester Bangs. this sort of sums up the Lou Reed I love. self-important, self-effacing and selfish in his music. selfish in the sense that it is overindulgent, off-putting, and at times pure noise. wonderful, nasty, pure noise. that noise that splattered the paint that formed picture that his words described. to some weird kid from Kentucky, his work exemplified everything i ever attributed to New York City. before the Ramones, before Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground had me longingly wondering about the filth of the city, it’s alleyways of junkies, cocksuckers, cookers, lovers, artists and mainliners. that city sounded like the most frighteningly fantastic place on the earth. i knew it was hard being a man, living in a garbage pail. Lou told me that, but if some girl would just show up, Shelly, Candy, Stephanie, Jane, Jackie or Sister Ray, hell, it’d be alright.
the city, at some point, mainly due to pukes like Rudy Giuliani deciding that it needed scrubbing and sanitizing and turned into Disney world, changed shape from the wild decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s and lost some of that sleaze that the V.U. seemed to not-so-subtly hint at. but that being said when i step foot on the sidewalk there, in my head, it’s always contrasty black and white, i’m wearing wrap-around black shades, my collar is turned up and i searching for something, anything somewhere between white light and white heat. Lou Reed is New York City, his words, doo wop riffs and feedback are the haze that hangs over the island. everyone should have an Elvis and i’ve had more than one, including Elvis, i guess, Lou Reed you are one. now, i’m gonna do something that i do at least once every week, i am going to put on Foggy Notion and when I hear Lou chuckle, i am going to smile, ‘cept this time i will swallow the lump in my throat as i do it.