Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yes, but is it Art?

I had stopped what I was doing suddenly. Like the abrupt and offensive sound of a needle scratching an LP, my task had ceased. I looked up at him dumbfounded.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Photography isn’t art. My Dad was an art teacher for 20 years, and it wasn’t until recently that photography was inserted into the art curriculum. It was never considered an art before then.”

I blinked twice. With this level of ignorance, I’d expected knee-high Jack Boots on his feet, or some kind of stick or club in his hand. He was so sure of his opinion... so confident he was right...

“It’s not art, it’s a skill.”

”You...(sigh)...I...I don’t have the words to express to you how wrong you are.”

He looked at me as if he’d just discovered that it was I who had pissed in his corn flakes this morning. “Don’t you tell me I’m wrong! I know what I’m talking about. My Dad taught Photography for 10 years. It’s not art it’s a mechanical process.”

My eyebrows rose as if to object, my mouth opened and inhaled as if to speak, but nothing came out. I was so shocked at the absurdity of it all... (Was this what it was like to be offended?...) and finally composing a thought...

“I think that Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, among others, would take issue with that.” I tried to contain myself, being at what passes for work. I put down what I was doing and...

“I don’t know who Amstel Adams or Western is, but my Dad said...”

He continued to talk...his words melded into the teacher’s voice from the Peanuts cartoon.

All of a sudden I knew the story...

His Dad was a failed or frustrated painter, maybe a watercolorist or a Bob Ross graduate, or maybe he answered that ad for a free art test on TV, either way, he felt forced into teaching. Then he gets this class foisted upon him with no raise in pay to compensate for the extra pain in the ass (not to mention little or no extra funding to make it work). Now he’s dealing with all of this chemistry, and these mechanical cameras and lenses...this class was the albatross around his neck and he’d been sure to pass on this opinion like a recessive gene to his offspring.

“...So you’re saying that art must be made by hand?”

“Well, yeah, that’s the creative process. Artists create something from their minds that wasn’t there before. Art isn’t just recording reality.”

“(blink)...So, if I make a camera out of, say, a cigar box, I then make some paper, and coat it with silver nitrate, and then use the cigar box and the paper to create an image that wasn’t there before, that’s not art.”

“It’s still a mechanical process. I know, my Dad’s an ART TEACHER.”

I raised a Harrison-Ford-Righteously-Indignant-Finger at him, “Well, I’m a PHOTOGRAPHER and maybe you should with hold your judgments on the matter until you see my ‘ARTWORK’ on display in my gallery space. There are some other PHOTOGRAPHERS there who might take an interest in your opinions as well.”

For the first time in a while he said nothing.

“(deep inhale)...You have a sad and narrow view of art.”

Some people’s kids...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

from a conversation I had recently...

Photographers live in the past.

We take ourselves out of the moment to record it for posterity. Witnessing, but never fully taking part.

Then, after the fact, we examine and rearrange the events, hoping to make sense of them. By then, however, it’s too late. The past is gone and it doesn’t really matter that we figured it out in the first place.

I’ve realized that the several years of my life I’ve obsessively documented are now hollow memories and not as fulfilling or comforting as I thought they would be.

As I peruse these photographs from time to time, I see Brothers, Friends and Lovers. I see the places I’ve gone and places I haven’t been to in a very long time. The one thing I don’t see is myself. I am absent from these events, and consequently, I am absent from the memories as well...

I still carry a camera pretty much everywhere I go, but now the life experiences come first and the photos come second.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Short Note...

Re: Public Breast Feeders:

Unless you brought enough for everybody, maybe you should put that away.

Reflections on the Unphotographed Life

My Doctor once told me, tapping his temple; "Some images are just for you... for up here."

Those images are some of my best work, and I jealously guard them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wide Load...

I entered the crowded coffee chain at 10AM, to discover that it wasn’t really that crowded, just jammed up by 2 people, each with doublewide strollers. This husband and wife team had managed to put a complete stop to traffic flow. The store was smallish, and had a couple of displays that were taking up valuable real estate (though not as much as these Peterbuilt Prams). As people shuffled in, and tried to move into the line, the prams held their ground.

Do these people have any concept of what they’re doing? Can’t you park those damn things at a meter and have one of you go in? Oh, wait. Neither of you knows what you want even though you both see this menu every day of your work week. So if you could fuck with everybody’s life, while adding 15 minutes to my coffee buying experience, that’d be great.

While you may think it’s quaint to have a stroller the size of your husband’s H3, nobody else does. That Baby doll tee from Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t give you a pass, either. I don’t care how MILF you may think you are; you’re standing in the way of my coffee. So take off those shades, hang up the phone, turn off the iPod, make up your FUCKING mind, and get that progeny-riddled monstrosity out of the store!! MY LIFE IS LEAVING ME!!!

These goddamn strollers take up the ENTIRE width of the sidewalk, but then to bring them into a store?

“Excuse us...Excuse us.” over and over again in that condescending overly polite way stroller driving Mothers have around here. Clipping ankles and running into people as they muscle their way through, never stopping.

Maybe this an example of “I’m on vacation, so the rules of polite society don’t apply to me.”

Sir, I can see that you have your vacation pants on as well as your vacation sandals, and your very brave vacation hat. That’s great. I’m happy for you. None of this exempts you from the ire of people who aren’t on vacation, however.

Try this exercise: for 10 minutes a day try to think of someone OTHER than yourself...

now try harder...

The woman’s mega stroller is 6-point turned into a hallway, completely blocking access to the other room as well as the pastry case, while the other super mega stroller continues to block access to the line and wonders what he’ll order.

I move around him into the line, with a sigh. The barista asks me what I want, and I manage to suppress the urge to say “a tire boot for the SUV behind me.

I understand the need to air out the little people with a wistful slow walk through the narrow streets of Old Town, but a little consideration, if you please. For example, there is no need for your mate to walk abreast of the stroller. You don’t move fast enough for the locals, so just like on the escalators: stay to the right, so we can pass you...hell, stay to the left for all I care, but taking up the entire width of the walk is unacceptable.

This may come as a shock to you, but not everyone in Old Town is on vacation. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.

So, I get my muffin and latte, turn around and nearly topple onto this fucking pram, as this idiot has all but pulled up to the back of my ankles, blocking me in. I stop, look down at the stroller and look up to him square in the eyes.

“Hey man, you need a CDL to drive this thing?” This guy doesn’t have the space to turn around or even move to one side and just stands there with a vacant expression on his face.

One frustrated sigh and eye roll later (a look reserved just for the tourists) I step over the front corner of the pram and stalk out muttering something about inconsiderate yuppie bastard tourists.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Most Dangerous Pastry...

She had asked for a Rice Crispy Treat.

Dammit. My heart leapt into my throat. The tag on the tray said Marshmallow Bar. Can’t she read?

I couldn’t let her call it a Rice Crispy Treat, not with those rumors floating around. We never paid for the right to use the brand and if THEY caught wind of it, we’d be in trouble.

I must have had a deer in headlights look on my face because she repeated her order.

“Rice Crispy Treat?” she said, pointing.

Those elves are treacherous... I mean they’re Evil. He’s not called Snap for show. That little guy is a knee breaker and he’s crazy.

You ever wonder WHY the Original Boo-Berry went off the market? It’s because they never found him, not after he started talking smack about Snap and his brothers. (Subsequently, they pulled a "Darren From Bewitched" and "reintroduced" him.) After that, Cap’n Crunch had to house all of the General Mills guys in his Vitamin Fortified Compound in the West Indies.

“How ‘bout a Marshmallow Bar?”
“No, I’d rather have that Rice Crispy Treat.”

Part of me wanted to know how those power hungry imps could have a lock on the whole crispy rice and marshmallow fluff combination, anyway. That’s like Microsoft trying to copyright the letter M.

“Are you DEAF? RICE...CRISPY...TREAT.”, she signed.

There’s a reason you’ve never seen Cocoa Pebbles Treats, you know. Flintstone has a family to think of. After The Cap’n left, Fred replaced Dino with a Veloceraptor. Barney and Betty took Pebbles and Bam Bam and fled to Mexico.

“Ma’am, we don’t HAVE any Rice Crispy Treats...HOW ABOUT THIS MARSHMALLOW BAR?”

I had heard that Crackle had subcontracted alot of their Copyright Enforcement work to Tony The Tiger and his Cereal Assassin Squad.

“That’s a RICE CRISPY TREAT! Are you going to sell it to me or not?”

In the back of my mind I had wished that I had the money for some kind of protection. I had turned down Quisp’s offer. It had been a little steep, but looking back, I’d pay twice the price. The more this woman insisted, the greater the risk to my well-being.

Fucking Corporate wanted to sell these stupid pastries, not me. I tried to tell them about the risk of such a venture.

Nobody ever listens to me...

“Ma’am, don’t make me ask you to leave. This is a MARSHMALLOW BAR.”

The Keebler Elves had wanted to branch out into the breakfast business a while back. Their tree mysteriously burned to the ground one night, along with their cereal plans. My shop would be next if this lady didn’t shut her cake hole.

“Fine. You call it whatever you want, but it’s still a RICE CRISPY TREAT!”

I winced as she produced her cash. She sneered at me, grotesquely chewing a huge bite.

I thought of all of the strange clicks and beeps on my phone and the mysterious cars slowly driving past the store.

As the glass door closed behind her, a nondescript black van pulled up to the curb. A furry orange arm with black stripes pulled her inside. Funny how his claws never looked that big on TV.

Her half eaten marshmallow bar skipped across the pavement, as the slider door slammed and the van screeched off...

I pulled my passport out of the drawer, and my emergency duffle out of the closet. I locked the front door and left the closed sign to lazily swing side to side on it’s nail.

Maybe Belgium, or Prague...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"Don't take any wooden nickels." and other non-tips from TagTown USA

The world is essentially divided into 2 types of people: those that tip and those that are cheap oxygen wasting mouth breathers.

This is the type of person that a corpulent childhood friend named Albert would have described as “School in the summer time... No class.”

You know who you are. And so do we. We notice you, and we still smile because it’s our job. But on the inside we’re doing unspeakable things to you... and that’s why I’M smiling.

When I moved here from West Michigan, I thought I had left a city plagued by the cheapest lousiest people on earth.

Not so.

Bearing their lanyards as a badge of distinction (as if I’m impressed), sauntering up to the counter while talking on the cell phone (hands-free blue tooth sci-fi ear piece, of course, you neophyte) and browsing a menu they’ve looked at a thousand times before. The vacant open mouth stare I know so well. Then they order the same thing they always do.

“Uuuuuuuummmmm... hum... well I’d like- No we can’t have that report by Monday- Grande 3 shot extra hot decaf half organic, half soy sugar-free hazelnut mocha...oh yeah with extra whip.”

Paying with a $20, they absently pocket all of the change, using the phone call as a dodge and avoiding all eye contact, as if we don’t notice. I would probably shove this silly drink up your ass if the first pennies you’d ever made weren’t already taking up all of the anal real estate under your khaki’s.

The other big tip dodge is the credit card and gift card. If you are paying with a card, you still look like a cheap asshole for not tipping on your Venti 5 shot double blended light ice extra caramel Crappuccino.

That ringing you hear is the clue phone...pick up!

Another non-tipping favorite is the guy who orders a small coffee in a large cup. When you come back for that $.50 refill, you feel great don’t you? Do you think that you’ve put one over on us?

By the way, when you come in first thing in the morning with yesterday’s cup to get a refill...

Again we smile, but on the inside...

What you don’t seem to understand is that we keep you awake for your mind numbing shitty desk job. YOU NEED US. What else are you going to drink? The coffee in the office? I didn’t think so.

So, the next time that latte of yours isn’t doing its job, and your eyelids are drooping, think about whether you tipped or not. I could’ve absentmindedly hit the decaf button (which can happen...).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The changing face of covert assassins...

"“We used to have a lock on the huge albino assassin market...sure it had been done before, but we were the ones who came up with the self-flagellating monk angle. You see, no one ever questions a monk, and you don't notice the albino thing right away either; 'Jeepers, that's a big monk!', you say...but other wise you take no notice."

"Then that damn book came out and we had to change tactics. Of course, we had a back up plan. We've been working with a major cosmetics company to create a self-tanning spray specifically for our guys. Something natural, not too bronzy, or shiny."

"Well, it'’s been a real disappointment. We had long-term contracts that are now void, because people see our guys coming a mile away. Nowadays, who's NOT going to notice a 7-foot tall albino monk, even if he ISN'T one of our assassins?"

Friday, May 05, 2006

Is it possible to look at all manly with a blended drink in your hand?

What does a Strawberries and Cream blended drink say about you as a man? Decaf Light Blended Coffee? I don't care what mid-life crisis car you're driving, you can't look cool sucking from a straw. Maybe Chuck Norris could...maybe.

It beats workin'...

I get an embossed card after 90 days, right around the time I have my 30th coffee tasting. My decoder ring comes after 120 days. At 5 years they let me into the Inner Sanctum, where their ultimate plans for controlling the world will be revealed to me. At 10 years I get a sabbactical and use of the Island Lair...

Of course, I'll be wearing the black apron of a Coffee Master by then.

seriously, coffee master, black apron, you know, the Jedi Knights of coffee...

"This is not the drink you are looking for..."

"You'd LIKE a muffin with that..."

Moving cups around, blindfolded, making lattes with my mind, maybe I would finally crack the mystery of the Iced Cafe Voltaire...then somewhere nearby, a cup spills.

a disturbance in the coffee...

Although, I often wonder if Tea Master might look better on the business cards...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

This art will self destruct in 5...4...3...2...

"I AM THE GOD OF HELL-FIRE AND I BRING YOU...!!", bellowed The Doctor.
I jumped back as the flame singed my eyebrows.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

vegan apocalypse

Back then we didn't know that plants led lives of their own. They lived, loved, mated and died. Once this startling discovery was made, Legislation was passed to prohibit the consumption of plant life of any kind. The agricultural industry collapsed overnight, as fields were ordered to be left to grow, nothing to be touched.

Their spirits were among them teaching the young plants how to grow, and when to fear the harvest.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Pause...

I'm always straightening my tie.

I like to stop the van and take a few seconds before I do these gigs.

The four-foot check sits awkwardly in between the seats. I look at the name again, saying it to myself a few times.

Contrary to popular belief, "The Check" isn't cardboard, it's actually made out of foamcore board, which is much sturdier. People have a tendency to hug them.

I move the mirror to make sure my tie adjustment has worked. It has, but I adjust it anyway. The cameraman is loading tape into his video camera. The photographer is testing his flash.

We are about to change these people's lives forever, and they have no idea. This used to excite me about the job, but lately it's just become sort of, you know, more of a job.


I sigh and say their name again a few times.

I straighten my tie and put the white van in gear. It's just over the bridge.

I just hope the flying elves don't come back...


I realized that I finally knew exactly which one was "the weakest link".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006


The tiny church had no name. It's builder was remembered by no one. The inside was empty, save one small podium and a picture of a thoughtful Christ, looking up through a small hole in the rafters.

It now gave sanctuary only to the desert animals that took refuge under it's foundation.

Too late...

All of a sudden he realized, there in low light of the evening sun, that his life had passed him by. He was destined for nothing.
What had he accomplished?
What had he to show for a lifetime of wanting?
His shoulders buckled and fell under the weight of his acceptance that wanting wasn't enough.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Deep Throat knew he could hide out in the Terrarium...

how long could he possibly stay there? They would find him soon, unless he did something...drastic.

Operation Latte' Thunder...GO!!

Freelance, you know, the Latin term for terminally unemployed. That's me. Lately, the bills are out-pacing the gigs.

time to take my Howard Roarke tour of the Rock Quarry. But which quarry?

Realizing that my only marketable skill aside from the whole camera and lighting thing is making coffee, I got a job at a coffee chain...a big one.

I get a pound of coffee a week for free...i had to get that out of the way...

My first day was spent reading through a forest of dead trees compiled into bound works the likes of which I haven't seen since college. These great tomes included things like the 20 steps of cleaning the pastry cabinet, and the 16 steps to making whipped cream. At first I was a bit nervous, thinking that this actually might be akin to rocket science. I was quickly turned around when I realized that the manuals are written to the lowest common dominator, and that I wasn't crazy, or stupid and that this (as I suspected) is the farthest thing from rocket science. They were able to take the simple process of mixing a bag of powder into a pitcher of water and complicate it to a level I've never seen before. I read through the several chapters that I was required to complete and spent much of my 11 hours watching others work.

I did spend a few of those hours in front of a computer watching a presentation that was so mind numbing, I actually felt dumber after it was over. The photos that accompanied the presentation were horrendous! Some store manager with a new camera decided he was a photographer. His very liberal use of the flash and the awful exposure of some of these shots really made me cringe. It was so bad that I asked the manager if I could redo the presentation for them. I would, too...for save the poor souls forced to sit through this nonsense. Do I really need to see photos of each of the 12 steps to cleaning and stowing a mop bucket? Is my life so sad that I have to sit through this at age 35?

(pause as I have one of those moments where I really start to examine my life...thanks to Bourbon, it won't last too long.)

One of the other folders of brochures and pamphlets includes a Tea Passport and a Coffee Passport. I am expected to conduct coffee and tea tastings. This is actually kind of cool and was the best part of the day. I had three coffees in different presspots and tasting cups. I was to pair each coffee with a pastry or food item. There is a pairing chart that says what coffees go with what, so it wasn't too difficult. I was told to take out of the pastry case whatever I wanted...

The Kenya AA went surprisingly well with the Lemon cake, red grapes (the most enlightening pairing by far)and an orange. The coupling with the grapes really brought out the citrus notes in the coffee and brought down the high end acid taste.

The Sumatra was paired with cheese. Brie, cheddar and a pesto jack. The cheese actually made this coffee tolerable to me, as the bolder dark coffees have not been kind to my aging stomach over the past couple of years.

Guatemalan Antigua was coupled with a chocolate espresso brownie. nice. The rich brownie really went well with the bold earthy flavor of this coffee. The apple also went nicely.

As I fill my coffee passport, I will be on my way to becoming a Coffee Master. I have to take a couple of classes to attain this title. I might stay just to get this title, and have business cards made:

Camera, Lighting, Coffee Master

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Evidence Collection

Evidence of the crash was collected over the course of 10-15 seconds. I was able to store all of the information I had gathered onto one negative, thanks to an ancient technology...

The collection of extended periods of time onto film was created around 1880.

I know there was an American Flag bandana there when I took the photo, but now I'm not so sure. Did it vanish in processing?

"The trains are blameless, holy creatures..."

The Doctor was here...

A year after the event, there was still proof he had been there. Did they leave the evidence alone, knowing it's importance?

...or had he come back...

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Mouse starts under the bowl. Bowl is lifted. If the mouse goes into the color hole you've bet on, you win. There's a mouse kibble in each of the holes, but the odds are always on the house (or is it the mouse).

I feel like this mouse all the time....

This carnival game seemed kind of seedy at first, but upon second thought, the mouse gets a treat no matter what hole he goes into, so for the mouse, it's all right then...

so maybe I don't feel like this mouse...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Posse...

I'd like you to meet my Posse, Runz with Scissahz

First up is Crispy G, he's always on edge, ready to snap. Some tribes say he can steal your soul, so lookout for him.

Big Fresh is up next. He's so hard-core, he's puttin' in 80 hour weeks...every week.

Tastee-Taste is our man across the pond. Don't let his appearance fool you, he's a brainiac, and ready to pounce!

Hot-Stuff 'll make you into a statistic in the blink of an eye, so watch it!

And backin us up here state side, Mr Durden, if you don't see him around, you know he's off somewhere savin' the world. (you know, like Pete's Dragon)

We're stickin' together like the zippers on a Michael Jackson Beat-It jacket.

thanks to:

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My brief, torrid affair with bacon...

Upon moving in with my new roommate, Mr Durden, I was told that he was very frugal with all but 3 things:

Bourbon : Maker's Mark or Knob Creek
Coffee: shade grown, organic, fair trade, free range
Bacon: Thick-Sliced Virginia Bacon.

It comes in a 1.5lb. package, and at almost $8.00, it's nothing to sneeze at.

The right bacon makes all the difference, and sub-par bacon is a real shame, according to Mr. Durden.

Before living here, I had never given bacon it's proper respect. I considered it a treat, a throw away side to eggs and pancakes, an occasional addition to my Subway Turkey 12 inch.

He takes it very seriously, considering bacon to be it's own food group. We have a jar or two of drippings, used for cooking almost every one of Mr. Durden's native dishes. My favorite is pilau (pronounced Pur-low), a rice dish with shrimp, sausage and, of course, bacon. Another brilliant and tasty treat is Shrimp and Grits. Bacon drippings and flour combine with sauteed onions and green pepper, add the shrimp (with have been sprinkled with lemon juice, and cayenne pepper and allowed to sit for a few minutes), and served over cheddar grits.

I confess that I have a newfound love of the porky goodness, or maybe it's lust. It really does go with everything, and makes almost any food better. I've crumbled a few slices into bowls of New England Clam Chowder, and added drippings to everything from grits and biscuits to spaghetti sauce, rice and burgers.

Wrap any meat in bacon and you can pan fry it till the cows come home and it won't dry out. (I use this trick with chicken breasts when cooking over the open flame of a camp fire.)

And now we come to the dilemma... My diet advice (read: dodge) has always been: All things in moderation, including moderation.

Sensible eating with any amount of physical activity, and you can be a reasonably healthy person. I don't have a television or a game console, I walk quite a bit, and I don't drink beer (Bourbon has no calories), so I've been mostly guilt free when it comes to my diet...

As with any new lover, the first part of a relationship often involves an over indulgence in all things. I'm coming to the cooling off period with bacon. I still love it, but we'll be spending a little less time together. This is a good thing, as I can be allowed to appreciate a little more, our meals together.

I turn 35 this year and I've noticed that it's getting harder and harder to retain my girlish figure. This could be a problem as chicks just don't dig on man-breasts like they used to. I'm starting to be more (gasp) responsible when it comes to my diet.

So, my darling bacon, I think we need to spend some time apart. We need to live our own lives. Maybe we can see each other in the future, if things (like me) work out.

Even still...there's nothing like good bacon...damn.

Friday, March 31, 2006

(repost) Depending on the kindness of Strangers? Is that even legal?

(Until I post something new, here's a repost from my previous blog site...)

I was walking today and came across the following sign:


30 GB in black wearing a DLO Action Jacket

iPod was lost near 40 E. Taylor Run Pkwy; missing since 2/7/2006

Music ranging from Andrew Thompson to Weclef

If you have any information on the whereabouts of this ipod please contact Leann at 703-283-6303


The sign was printed with the iPod graphic showing Bono
crooning a lament for Leann that must surely be "Whose gonna listen to your Wild Horses".

I wonder how much more exciting the Wyclef must be with the addition of the DLO Action Jacket. Is it the same level of improvement that one gains from the GI Joe WITH the Kung Fu Grip? Does the Action Jacket also have a Kung Fu Grip option?

I wonder if the person or persons who have poor little iPod are keeping the Action Jacket on, seeing as how the blustery days of spring are here in VA. If iPod catches a cold, would that be covered under the warantee?

What reward would make it worth one's time to return iPod? another iPod? WWBD? (What Would Bono Do?)

I was struck first by the futility of the action, but then I wondered how nice it must be to have that much faith in humanity.

Or is it just depressing how little faith in the same I must have to think this action so futile?

Just in case I'm wrong, I've posted my own sign:


Brown Wallet wearing DLO Action Jacket:

containing $200.00 and several credit cards with high limits and low balances!

lost nearby


call Mozo 616-555-1762