If you’re like me, you’ve probably lived your whole life thinking there was a little man who lived inside your stereo and woke up every time you turned it on. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited when Pops Rizzo & The Bra-jole Brothers invited me along for their appearance on Gotham Radio’s “Neir’s Music Spotlight” with host Chris Piccione.
So the band, Chris and I slipped into the tiny little studio when the show is recorded for an hour of some great conversation with the band, some tacks off the CD and a great live rendition of “The Rumba Song”. I happily let them do their thing as I tried to silently document the event (I’m hoping my shutter sounds don’t come out on the final take, LOL).
Afterwards the we ducked back into Neirs Tavern next door where their weekly Poetry Slam was going on. Even though the music didn’t fit the Poetry Slam theme, the organizers were kind enough to let the guys go on for a few tunes and instantly they had a bar full of new fans.
The broadcast will be on GothamRadio.com this Tuesday, March 6th from 8-9pm and again on Friday March 9th from 11am-12pm. After that I’m hoping it’ll be up on the their archives. If you can, try to listen in, the band sounds great, and they gave me a huge and unexpected plug on air.
And don’t forget… Pops Rizzo and the Bra-jole Brothers are playing Saturday March 10th at Neirs, so come down for some great tunes, cold beers and some magical moments.
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
All the shots from that night can be seen here…
Sometimes all it takes is a few light bulbs to make some memorable images.
Of course removing the glass from the bulb without breaking the filament was the tricky part, but once that was accomplished, all it took was getting the right exposure and focus. The flame and smoke did the rest of the work.
Saturday night at The Place in Brooklyn with The Freight rockin’ the joint isn’t a bad way to spend an evening.
The Freight is a tight four piece comprised of veterans of the Brooklyn music scene. The band sounded great … and not just because Kim was running the soundboard. Joey Reirdon sets the beat with his expert chops.I’ve been a fan, and a friend of Joe for a long time, watching him in awe back in the day when he played with Flying Blind and The South Side Boogie Band. To this day, Joe on the list of my top ten drummers. Holding down the bottom end is Bill Harvey, pushing his four strings along to create that fat layer that guitarist Michael Barron can work off of. Mike coaxes the perfect tones from his rig and it’s the vocals of Kevin Lay that seals the deal. Kevin’s deep bass voice coats each song, making them charge through the air …well like a freight train.
Keep your eyes peeled for their next stop…
See more shots from the night here
See more shots from the night here
Wow it’s been a busy month. August barreled through my life like a runaway freight train. An amazing Camp Creek kicked things off (… and don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail soon…) followed by a great family vacation. That got clipped a bit by Hurricane Irene which pounded NYC with lots of rain but left us safe. The area around us suffered harder blows and there’s thousands still dealing with it. My heart goes out to all of them. I pulled a 40 hour shift at work, and was thankful afterwards that Kim and my family were safe at home. Though it seemed that once the clouds parted it was time to get ready for the next big thing on the Grasp The Moment calender – the wedding of dear friends Ryan and Sheri.
However, in the midst of all that, I was lucky enough to catch up with Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros.
Now if you don’t know the smooth sounds of Pops & the boys by now, then you’ve got a serious problem. Throw some swing, jazz, and groove into a pot and mix it with a serious helping of Brooklyn attitude and you’re getting close. “Pops” Mike Rizzo keeps the beat, playing the skins the same way he’s done all his life, with a style and flare that makes kids a fraction of his age jealous. Laying down the groove is the incredible Simon Walsh, playing the bass with an unbelievable combination of flair and musical prowess. Rob Rizzo adds the vocals and the groovy swing of his six string churning out solos and fills that keeps the corwd calling out for more.
These guys are the tops. I’ve seen a lot of music in my day, and Pops Rizzo & the Bra-jole Bros can move the crowd, get asses shaking and feet shuffling better than most of the bands headlining big clubs. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to work with these guys. We met up at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, a bar that’s been there and serving thirsty New Yorkers since 1829. We stole a corner of the bar and Pops & the boys settled down just being them. No instruments, no playing around, no showing off, just them being them.
Oh … and they’re playing back at Neir’s Tavern on September 24th … ya better be there if you know what’s good for you.
What a terrific way to start my “First Year Package” program but with an adorable little peanut of a girl names Samantha. Just three months old she’s got the biggest most beautiful eyes and cutest little smile.
Taking her picture was an absolute joy, and I’m glad they turned out so well. The best part is now I get to watch her grow as I visit every three months for another session.
See more images of her first shoot … here
Why not look into booking your own session? All the information can be found on my site… Here
Ray Wylie Hubbard sang “there are two kinds of people in world, the day people and the night people.”
I guess I’ve always considered myself a night person, especially after taking a job on the overnight shift. Some people don’t like the night, perhaps they’re afraid of the dark. I’ve always seemed to revel in it. The stars come out and the moon bathes everything in a musical light. Beautiful music is made on dark stages, and fireworks would be powerless at high noon. And honestly, there’s noting to be afraid of.
Danny’s a night person too. He’s one of those people who seem to made for the dark, so much so I don’t know if I’ve actually seen him during the day. Before you start conjuring visions of Danny with ashen skin and fangs, let me just explain that Danny’s a musician. Most of the times I’ve seen him he’s been throwing down the groove with his monster bass lines or wielding a solid guitar. He’s the founder of Loudhouse Radio, a show dedicated to bringing the music of the undiscovered to the people. He also works the graveyard shift, and we usually chat on-line through the night. More important than that, Danny’s a hell of a guy. Danny’s one of those rare individuals in life that would give you his shirt off his back even if he was butt ass naked. Proving that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, Danny’s not only a Boy Scout leader, but a strong believer in God and a dedicated family man.
So when Danny called me looking to get some photos to help advance his music career, I didn’t hesitate to help, and I suggested we do it at night. I scouted out a few places and a found a spot which had almost as much character as Danny did. Lighting the site was a challenge, but I’ve been researching a lot, and I was able to accomplish most of what I wanted to pull of.
Danny’s happy with the results, which is the main goal. Especially since he spends so much time helping others, its good to give back.
All the shots of Danny can be seen here… on my site
I’ve got some people to thank for their invaluable help with this shoot. Of course we choose the hottest night of the year to do this, so standing in a back alley at 90+ degree heat wasn’t easy on any of us, but as usual, there was Kim as my beautiful assistant. She’s getting good at it … even starting to know what “Hey, I need the thing for the thing.” means. Of course Danny for being so co-operative even though he was sweating out buckets. Then there was Eugene who kept a watchful eye over us as we did what we did on a pretty mean and desolate street. Finally I gotta give credit to Melissa Jill Hester at Melissa Jill Photography. I found her blog in the hopes and getting some inspiration and ideas on wedding and event photography and was surprised to find a whole series she wrote on how to use off camera speedlights. For me it was a lot of “Ah-ha!” moments which I definitely was tapping into through the night.
Ten years ago, on a hot Tuesday night, my little boy came screaming into the world. He was a little peanut, 5lbs, 1 oz. He was so small his cries for the first few weeks were soft, like a kitten.
I don’t have to describe how your entire world changes when you become a father. All that was important isn’t and you find yourself worrying about feedings, diapers and sleep schedules. James didn’t like to sleep when he was born, and there were nights I’d hold him for hours, walking around, signing a lullaby version of “Franklin’s Tower” until he fell asleep.
He’s 10 years old today. My little boy isn’t so little anymore
Happy Birthday James. Daddy loves you so very, very much.
Outside it’s so hot, the sidewalks are melting into a puddle of goo. I’m sitting protected from the disgusting inside my apartment, breathing in recycled air-conditioned air, listening to the hum of the machine in the window that’s keeping things bearable.
This is what summer in NYC is like. We have miles of shore line where we can play in the spray of the ocean waves and substitute a breeze coming off the water for the AC for awhile, but getting to them are the hard part. The roads are choked with traffic, and are twice as hot. Once there, good luck finding a small sliver of real estate in the mass of humanity there.
So yesterday as the thermometer began to explode, we tried to seek relief in whatever form we could – namely a handful of water balloons and a few buckets of water. It didn’t last too long, but it was a delightful escape for a little while.
Stay cool everyone.
PS … Don’t forget to vote for me in the 2011 PDN One Life Photo Competition!!
I find that things get more and more complex as my life goes on.
Wait a second, I’m not referring to decisions about life, love, money or time, I’m actually just talking about Legos. As I’ve stated in the past I was a huge Lego fan in my youth. I had a giant cardboard box of Legos and I’d spend hours of the day digging through it and building whatever my mind could come up with. I was limited to only what was in my imagination.
But of course, even this had to change.
Today Legos are sold in kits. They come with a 7000 page instruction manual and twice as many parts, and you don’t build whatever is in your mind’s eye, you build what you see on the outside of the box. When you’re done, you dare not touch them because they’re delicate and fragile, so they wind up sitting on the shelf, untouched and unplayed with. It they are played with, be careful, because if that one tiny piece rolls under the couch – and you know it will – you’ll never get it back to wahtever it was supposed to be in the first place.
And, of course, my kids love them.They also love buying their own stuff, which worked great when their Uncle Mark gave them git certificates to the Lego store. So off we went, and the boys picked out what they saw and what they liked and what they wanted to build. They used their own money to buy them.
It took three adults to help put them together when we got home, and even though the boys were happy, I guess I was just missing that big old cardboard box and the smell of an imagination at work.
My mother says that all the time.
I tried to learn how to play guitar once. I was young and I went to classes at my grammar school and then my parents sent me for a few lessons with a family friend. I had a nice new shiny acoustic guitar and I was quite excited until the first lesson comprised of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.
What as this? I wasn’t here to learn this. Didn’t these teachers understand that I was here to be the next Jimi Hendrix? Surely Jimi never had to learn “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. That was then and this is now, and I’ve learned the hard way that even Jimi Hendrix had to start somewhere.
So when I picked up all this new gear lately I realized I was going to have a lot to learn. There’s so much that goes into photography, lighting, framing, colors, textures, it takes a lifetime to master it all… which means maybe by the time I figure it all out, I’ll be dead.
In the meantime, I’ve got to start somewhere. So since I had my backdrop system set up from the other day, I decided to play with my SB-900 flashes on slave/master mode. Mom supplied the really cool glasses and all I could find in the deli was jello mix.
I wasn’t shooting for more than anything than to learn, trial and error, a kind of “OH! So that’s how this works!” I shot on lots of different settings. I changed flash positions and settings, changed lenses, experimented for a few hours, practiced. And yes… the whole time “Mary Had A Little Lamb” was playing in my head… though I will admit it was the Stevie Ray Vaughn version.
All the shots are here…
is exactly what we need sometimes.
Kim and I have been jonesin’ for some live music lately. We’ve been laying low since Max Creek’s explosive 40th anniversary bash in Rhode Island (which I owe you a blog about, don’t I?) Between the heat, the kids and their busy schedules, and the empty wallets, it been hard to get out.
So there really wasn’t a question when we found out that the necleus of of the Funky Godmothers were hitting the beach with Guy Nevirs on guitar. We jumped in the truck, picked up some friends and headed to Far Rockaway, a place that would almost make you forget you were still in Queens.
You couldn’t ask for a better spot for a summertime gig. Out on the back deck, above the water, an incredible breeze in the air, although I could have done without the bar next door playing the same Johnny Cash greatest hits cd over and over – nothing against the Man in Black. The place was oddly enough a Thai restaurant (that served Itailan Ice, my buddy Jeff pointed out) but the beer was cold so it ok in my book.
The band set up in the corner and began grooving away on some classic tunes. They never got crazy all night, kind laid back, old tunes. A few more nights out and I know they’ll bring out the hard stuff. It was perfect though, for a nice relaxing night with some friends, some beers and a great setting.
It was my first night out with my new gear too… all the stuff I shot was with the D7000 on an unimaginable ISO and the most wicked lens giving me an unreal f2.8 aperture. Came away with some decent shots, enjoy…
Yesterday was Christmas all over again.
Except I was my own personal Santa and no one came down my chimney. I did, however, walk away with some pretty sweet ass presents.
To help my growing business, I made a serious gear investment, and walked away with the new Nikon D7000, a new Nikon SB900 flash and an amazing Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens.
What do all these numbers and jargon mean to non-photographers? Umm.. I got some really awesome shit!
Yesterday there was a lot of personal stuff going on with the kiddies, so even though I physically picked up my new gear yesterday, I wasn’t able to play – I mean learn how to use it. And learn is an accurate description because the D7000 has more controls than the space shuttle, and I feel I need a PHD to master them all. The lens… that’s gonna take a heck of a lot to get used to…
So this morning, I woke bright eyed and busy tailed, my mind racing of all the places I could go and start my training. I sat there, sipping my coffee, creating a mental itinerary of all the places and things I could see, and didn’t really even hear what Kim said to me.
“What?” I asked, “You want to go to a flea market?” I said with doubt and disbelief until I remembered that yes, we were planing on heading to see our good friend Noel at her new shop “Catfight Boutique”. So, I took the new toys along and as the girls chatted, I snapped away. Nothing special, but a learning process, part of the ultimate goal of me becoming better and better.
Oh … and if you’re ever in Queens, definitely stop by Catfight Boutique, Noel’s actually got some really cool stuff.
Wikipedia defines light as the portion of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, responsible for the sense of sight. It defines sight as the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye and color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others
Confusing, cold, scientific definitions which give the answers needed, but fall short in describing the feelings of lights, colors, and most of all sight. It in now way captures the essence of fireworks exploding in the sky. or the way the world seems to change when you drive past a police cruiser, lights ablaze on a dark stretch of highway – or even more so – when one pulls you over. It can’t begin to paint the picture of candles providing the sole illumination in a lover’s bedroom, the neon of the Times Square or the blinking lights of a Christmas tree, and the light up Santa half buried in the snow.
I remember being a young boy, on vacation, in a strange hotel room, waking up in the middle of the night. My parents and sister were all sleeping, but I lay in bed gazing out a gap between the curtains. There was a road outside, and every so often a car would come along, I would watch as the headlights began as two white points the distance, growing larger and larger, then once it passed the hotel, turned to two red dots which grew smaller and smaller into the distance.
Lights inside the darkness, color surrounded by blackness, and the beautiful gift of sight to bring it all to us, how does anyone even begin to describe that?
I love New York City.
To those who don’t live here, it just can’t be described. It’s a giant web of lights, colors, sounds, smells (yes some nasty ones, especially in the summer on the 7 train), people, places and things. It’s a living, breathing, growing entity which can never be duplicated or matched. I’ve been other places, and most are “lets go to this district and see something” but all of the big apple is something to see. You can find as many interesting things on the south shore of Staten Island than in the middle of 42nd street. All you need to do is look.
I always find it a shame how many New Yorkers don’t look. They hustle along to and fro and never stop to admire the city around them. The faces they past, the colors in the sky, the smells in the air. (I’ve found some incredible pizza joints following my nose.)
But it’s my responsibility to be the one who does look, isn’t it? It’s my eye – and my lens – that’s supposed to be catching those sights, and even though I can’t bring the scent of the freshly cooked slice to you, but I can make it look so damn good you’re dying for a bite.
I’m not the only one, thankfully, and I’m in no way one of the best. Take James Maher for example. The miles he strolls around this city, camera in hand, would probably put him to the moon and back. He captures street life at its best, and most honest. He blooged the other day about setting a tripod on a street corner and what walked by and now I find it a thought that won’t get out of my head. Wouldn’t that be something? Just set up and see who stops. In this city, the cross section of life you’d capture would be amazing. Might be something I have to try. Stop by his blog, if you’re from the city you’ll see things that feel like home, and if you’re not… well, this is New York City… enjoy.
Here are some of my favorite NYC shots. I don’t many of the faces and people that make up the city, I guess I’ve been concentrating on other sights for now. Maybe I should grab that tripod. Anyway … enjoy.
WC Fields once said he’d never work with children or animals. I had his words in mind as I entered the Glendale branch of Bobbi & The Strays.
Bobbi & The Strays is a 100% non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization, located in Queens. They rescue stray dogs and cats from the streets, and from situations of abuse and neglect. Before today, the only contact I had with them before today was my kids looking through the windows at the cute dogs & cats. But a volunteer from Bobbi & The Strayscontacted me, needing photos done for publicity purposes.
The day was challenging at best… it’s damn impossible to ask – even politely – a cat to smile, or to turn it’s head, or to do anything in fact. After a few hours, I for what I came for, and I worked on my photos as for the rest of the day as Kim peered over my shoulder with a constant song of “AWWWWWWWW… I want a kitten!!”
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.”
Which is why I guess Eugene didn’t bat an eye when I showed up at his place with my camera. “Come on, I need photos.” I told him, and we drove to the park. He picked a spot he liked, a spot he usually went to on days where there wasn’t much to do. He sat on the bench and put up me with snapping shots of him. We chatted about this and that, enjoying the slight chill in the autumn air.
I had some photos in mind when I thought of shooting Eugene, but right away I could tell he was comfortable and didn’t my prodding so I decided to get my ideas of of the way. We did a few things, and then I said what was on my mind. With out hesitation, Eugene took the hearing aid of his ear, and held it in his hands. As he did, he shrugged off my concerns and said “It’s a part of me… and there would be no way to capture me without showing it.”
We moved on, walking along the park. He sat at a bench under a large tree and looked up. “I’m an architect.” he said. “I love just sitting and looking at the structure of things. Why don’t people look at things anymore? When was the last time people just stopped and looked at clouds?”
We wandered along, along the baseball fields. Eugene looked over the fields, told stories of his old high school football days, and gazed through the fences.
As we headed towards the playgrounds, we chatted about this and that, the quite unimportant chatter of friends. I met Eugene only a few years ago, but since then he’s become a rock in my life. The buddy that’s always there, always ready to help. He’s shown up to clean out my parent’s basement – hardhat in hand, to my kid’s birthdays and to many a movie night. He’s as quick with a joke, as he is with a solid piece of advice.
Eugene was the one who suggested the swings. He swung back and forth and I looked at him thinking that he found a way to remember back to the days when being in a playground was the epicenter of joyful day. The sun set behind us, and the chill in the air got stronger, so we packed up and headed back to his car.
To me, nothing is as awesome as earning money from my photography. If you look back to the very first post of this blog, perhaps you’ll see why. In a way, it’s the ultimate validation of my work. Not only is someone saying “Hey, you’re not bad” but they’re saying, “Wow, you’re so not so bad, I’m gonna pay you to take my picture.”
So I had money from the past three or four gigs, and some free time, so Kim and I headed to B&H.
If you’ve never been to B&H, let me explain that for a photographer walking into B&H is just like a sugar craved kid walking into a candy store. There’s stuff everywhere. On top of that, there’s more stuff. Lenses, filters, flashes, tripods, lights … it’s a never ending cornucopia of gadgets and goodies. The only way to make it out alive… and with the rent money safely still in the bank account is to go in with a plan. So Kim and browsed a little, walking under the bins of filled orders that whized by overhead, but checked off the list I had prepared… especially the lens I wanted.
Photographer, singer, and salesperson, Manny, even commented I was making a good choice when i bought the Nikon 35mm F1.8. I had been reading all over the web about it – especially on Ken Rockwell’s site and I couldn’t wait to get it home and see what it could do.
Needless to say it didn’t disappoint. It’s amazing in lower light conditions, and the DOF is fantastic. But that’s photography jargon… I took some shots walking around…especially after Kim finished setting up her curio cabinet… which then of course was interrupted by me having to make dinner. A shame, but the apple pork chops were delicious…
Just another Sunday in New York City. Unseasonably hot, yet Kim and I ventured into Manhattan for a stroll, and of course a stop at our favorite bar on planet earth.
We wandered through a street fair in SoHo, taking in the sights, sounds and all that is Manhattan.
I got to play with my new toy, the MB-D80 Battery Grip which is why I realized all my shots are portrait. I spent the afternoon playing with the new shutter button.
Nothing special, but that’s what makes Sundays like this so special. Being in the place you love with the person you love doing what you love…. and a cold a beer.
I just got off the phone with a new dad.
Less than 24 hrs ago, Alison came screaming into this world and changed my best friend’s life forever. We spoke for over an hour, about stuff, and all I could think of was the words of John Lennon repeating over and over… Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans…
I know I’ve been absent for awhile, and I know I promised I wouldn’t let that happen, but it did. I knew/know someone who is photographer. In our conversations all would hear was the pressure of this and that, and how the need of the business cut off all other forms of life. I vowed I’d never let that happen. In my life I found it harder and harder to balance and juggle a job, a relationship, my kids, and the pressure to blog and, yes, to even pick up the camera.
So you know what I did? I took a break. I left the camera sitting on the shelf above the computer and when no one was looking, we’d talk. I’d tell it how my day was, about what I had for lunch, about what I did, and it would tell me about it’s day and all it saw …. which was limited because it never left the shelf. Then I’d start to apologize and it would shush me, and tell me it was all gonna be ok, because it would wait patiently for me until I was ready. So no matter what anyone said to me, I knew my camera wasn’t disappointed in me, so it didn’t really matter.
This weekend was gig. Same place as usual, but with a fresh “new” band. The Funky Godmothers, a band that regularly made feet move was back for a historic night. I brought my camera this time, and my new gift, the SB900 which is without a doubt the single most amazing piece of technology I’ve held in my hand. I think there’s a feature to run to fridge and get me a ham and cheese on a roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo and a little salt & pepper, I just haven’t found it yet.
You know those things people say to you and really don’t mean? “If there’s anything I can do for you…” or You sing wonderfully in the shower” or the often used “I’m not mad at you.” Well, I entered the bar thinking my camera might had been lying to me. It told me it was just waiting for me, and I wanted to believe it, but I fully expected to look through it and find nothing. Sure I had a few practice runs, the kids coloring eggs, playing around, and an afternoon walking around playing with the new flash.
I raised the camera up to my eye, focused in, and fell back into a world of music and color. The band was hot, smoking away with some serious rhythms. They had took the time and effort to actually jazz up the joint with lights. They tossed beads into the exuberant crowd and Kim even battered her eyelashes at the drummer and came away with a pair of bunny ears.
It was a phenomenal night of music. One of those beautiful occasions where the music seems to drip from ceilings and the whole bar is lost in the groove.
And I got some good photos. Nothing earth shattering, but hey, maybe I was a little rusty. Next time though …
And I hope next time won’t be as long as the last time was…
I find it most ironic.
After a year, almost exactly, of living off Uncle Sam and getting my weekly unemployment check, I’m back at work. As if that wasn’t good enough, I’m back doing what I did in the past, and I didn’t have to settle for a minimum wage monkey job. I work for a company that’s been around so long, I don’t really worry about it going under. They’ve given me a laptop, a cubicle, a blackberry, and a paycheck every week. Best of all, they like me, and so far they keep wanting me to come back the next day.
I work in the three data centers the company owns, two existing ones, and one that we’re bringing online soon. Its that new facility that I’ve been going to every morning. Its a beautiful facility, and very secure, and that’s where the irony comes in. Every door where I swipe my ID card past the reader and then lay my finger on the scanner to verify my identity before gaining access has a list of rules on it. Rule number one is always the same. “No photography in the data center.”
We’ve been breaking that rule, however, but it’s not what you think. Since the guys in suits aren’t gonna come by to see whats going on, I took my mom’s old point and shoot to work and I’ve been documenting our progress. I uploaded the photos on Friday into the company library and actually got an “ata boy” for them. Again, ironic.
My D90 has been in its home above my PC unused on a daily basis since I started. I get up in the morning, suckle on the sweet teet of the coffee maker, check my daily round of blogs and sites, and get ready for work.
And all this time, that tree outside my window watches me. It’s beautiful. A brilliant burst of color, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that my parents bought this house because of the autumnal grandeur of that tree. Yet, all I’ve done was glance at it as I walked through the kitchen to the coffee pot and back. I mean I had to go to work, I’m a data center technician, and we don’t have time for trees, I mean we don’t even have time for photos at work.
Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t at work yet.
But then again, does what you make who you are or does who you are make what you do?
I grabbed my camera, and ran downstairs, passing my dad reading the NY Times who didn’t even blink that I was in my PJs and heading in the back yard. I was only out there for a few minutes until the cold got to me, but in that time I remembered something that I had forgotten.
Yeah, I’ve got a job, but I’m also a photographer.
JRR Tolkien told us “It’s a dangerous business going out your front door.”
If that’s the case, I was thrown off the cliff this morning when I bitched that my internet was down, and all the things I should be doing wasn’t going to get down. “Pick a new word” she responded, and I knew right away she was right. What the hell was I doing inside on a beautiful summer’s day in NYC anyway? I went to the study, grabbed the can & drew the word.
Something about a door always sparks a curiosity in me. When those hinges creak open, what’s on the other side? Who has the key to that door in their pocket? I get insane desire to peep through the keyhole, spy the world that exists on the other side.
Doesn’t everyone want to look inside a medicine cabinet when in someone else’s bathroom?
In the end though, strange doors are still magical and mystical, but could never to compare the greatest door of all… you’re own.
I wonder what a road feels like.
A road is the thing that takes us from point A to point B and back again. It speeds by under the tires of our big fuel guzzling SUVs without even a glimmer of appreciation. Sure, perhaps we’ll glance out the windows at the trees whizzing by, ooh and ahh at the houses and scenic views, but mostly they go unnoticed.
Today I left the house with a new word in my pocket. Its a word that should have been so simple that I could have completed it by the time I reached the corner, but something wasn’t there today, I couldn’t see anything through my lens, no matter how far I walked, especially when it came to seeing that word. I walked farther along until I came to a pretty busy road that runs through a park, one of the biggest roads in Queens. It gets pretty wooded, the two lane black top snaking through a forest which most of the area would look like if not for the work of man.
The word I had come to look for had already slipped so far from my mind that I could barely even remember it. I carried my camera in my hand listening to the whizzing cars rush past me. In between them, the silence of the woods returned only to be shattered within seconds by another passing car. As I walked, I became aware of the road. My eyes drifted along and I began to notice not only the road, and as I said, how ignored and unloved it was, but even worse what was left along side of it. Trash littered the curb, things tossed out a car window, discarded by the owner.
We live in a society being eaten alive by our own garbage. I don’t want to interject my own feelings on global warming or how we’re beating our planet to a horrid death, so I’ll just leave it as saying I was appalled by the litter around me.
I looked at all the trash around me, I looked at it through the lens of my camera, and when I was done, I did something I never do when shooting, I destroyed what I found. Using a plastic bag I found at my feet, I cleaned it up. I picked up the trash laying along the road, stuck it in the bag, and threw it all in the garbage can supplied by the nice people who run the park
My life is in a bad place right now, I have little control of my fate, I’m desperately looking for break, praying for a way to get back on my feat, with very little that I can actually take control of. But this… this I was able to fix… so I did.
Yes, I know it will be back tomorrow, and no I wasn’t able to get all of it, but the bits that I did not only made me feel good, but made that stretch of road that much nicer to look at … if someone else would ever decide to slow down and appreciate it.
Oh … and I left the toilet… it was too big to carry.
… Goes one of my favorite Max Creek songs… and it’s the first thing I thought of when my hand went into the coffee can this afternoon.
For those who don’t know about the coffee can – or forgot about it, like I tried to – it’s a little game I’ve created for myself. A while back I wrote a gagillion words on tiny slips of paper and stuffed them into a coffee can, which I promised myself that I’d raid the can every few days and shoot whatever the paper said. Like most promises I break, I followed for awhile, but then tapered off, hoping no one would notice. Great idea, except for this one bone head friend who brings it up to me every time we see each other. (Thanks Chuck. Now you know why I never invite you to afternoon tea anymore.)
So this afternoon, before I brought the boys home to their mom for mother’s day, the can caught my eye and opened it.
What? Colors? I hate these words. Who the hell thought of them?
So I went about my day with the word tucked back in the dark recesses of my mind. As I walked through Home Depot – I promised my mom I’d fix some stuff around the house today – I pretended I was bouncing around ideas, but it really more like tossing a rubber ball against a wall in an empty room. As the hollow echo of the ball bouncing from floor to ceiling ran through my skull, I passed the paint aisle and all it’s samples laid out, and I walked right past them.
Colors… what a sucky word.
it wasn’t until after the chores, after diner, after I had pretty much given up for the day that I saw the flowers sitting on my dining room table. I really am an idiot sometimes.
I grabbed them, and found my colors. Colors more beautiful than any can from Home Depot could ever make.
And yes Chuck, I’ll try to get another word real soon…
Spring is our yearly second chance.
We die through the winter, everything becomes cold and bleak, and even a fresh white blanket of snow eventually turns to a ugly gray eyesore piled up on the curbs of New York City. The wind chills you through to the bones, and I at least, make my way through the streets muttering “There is no reason for weather like this…” and usually a profanity or two.
But soon, the winds die down, the sun peaks from behind the clouds a little longer each day, and you’re not so pissed that you forgot your gloves at home. Winter has left us, and spring has arrived.
Every year around this time I watch the ground. Yes, contrary to what some people think, there are actually patches of ground here in New York City. I’ve always had a piece of it right outside my back door, well, my parent’s back door. Its a small section of property that we here in Queens call “The Yard”. My parents have always taken pride in their yard, it’s a mix of a quiet place to eat BBQ – or actually any meal cooked in this household between June and September when it’s not raining – and a small slice of nature that my parents tend to, consisting of a few flowers, some tomatoes plants and lots of ivy. There’s also a cherry tree that my brother Mike somehow picked up, I don’t remember the story, and remnants of the old magnolia tree that I spent countless hours playing on in my youth.
In my mind, it’s the most beautiful yard in the world.
It’s also the yard that I’ve watched the winters of my life fade away, and the springs sneak in before the summer heat.
What a perfect place to go with my new camera, right? Only one catch, of course, I hate taking pictures of flowers.
I told this once to someone I love once. They bore me, I said, not moving, giving you all the time in the world to frame it, switch lenses, get closer, work on that really nice shot. She said to me, that I should look at it as a thing all photographers need to do, and every really good shot of a flower as one step closer to never having to take a photo of a flower again.
So hopefully these will get me closer to that goal. And if not, I’m not too worried, because no matter how hot the summer gets, and how cold and nasty the winter winds blow, I know all I have to do is wait for spring to return home, and I’ll get another chance.