Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tribute to a Young Lady/Kid

A few weeks ago I was called to make urgent portraits of a very young woman, a patient at a local hospital, for a charity that I have volunteered for for three years – Flashes of Hope. Lymphoma was mutating and attacking her body and she was dying soon.
I set up my backdrop and lighting in a colorful room at the hospital's pediatric ward, it's tricked out with things that kids like: it's a clubhouse on a floor of the usual drabness of a hospital with beiges and pinging machines.
Time, as it does in hospitals, mutated into timelessness and we (me and two Flashes of Hope chapter leaders) waited for her arrival.
We heard from nurses that she was hesitant.
We heard from nurses that she was alone.
We heard from nurses that she was not feeling well.
Then word came that she was getting ready.
Then an update came down the hallway that she would be arriving soon, in wheelchair.
She rolled in.
This young lady was imperious, in a fine way. In a short time we knew that she lived with her best friend and her family, and that her biological mother had died. We also knew that she had several siblings. I would meet one of them in a few days in a classic hospital moment: a guilt-soaked time of apologies and tears and she pretended that she was asleep through it all.
She had hair and makeup done and when she was ready I adjusted her satin tank top to cover her port near her collarbone, and to drape a silk scarf around her shoulders. I would later PhotoShop out any evidence that she was sitting in a wheelchair so it looks like she is sitting in an appropriate throne.
When her portrait was done I invited her to stay with us, saying that she did not have to leave, to hang out, and she did until she was exhausted. Before that I went to get her some hard candy, stopping by the nurses' station and then her room where I saw a large corner room that felt very empty and devoid of evidence of many visitors. She did, however, have an impressive stash of candy and soda, the offerings of nurses and caring staff adults. There was a small collection of greeting cards. I would visit in a few days and bring her some little presents, and another card in case she was sleeping when I visited. I learned that hospital trick years ago: your visitee may be sleeping or wacked out on meds and actually forget that you stopped by. They also might get into that dusky hospital timelessness and enter into a zone where things like visits and concrete concern drift somewhere else.
I brought her lip gloss, adorable slipper socks with elves on each, chocolate and the card.
We watched Scooby-Doo together and the cartoon featured KISS.
I asked her if she knew who the band is, and she answered, lying on her back, "I know who they are" in a tone that said instantly she was culturally aware and impatient with my older suppositions.
So when she wanted, after her photo shoot, to head back to her large and empty corner room I offered to push her wheelchair, warning her that it would be a hell ride.
In my world/experience (beginning with my wild first boy cousins pushing infant me in my stroller, running me through the streets of their west side neighborhood – I loved it), that means license to run and scream at will while pushing a wheelchair/stroller/friend or young niece in a shopping cart.
We ran down the hospital hallway to her room, her letting out a scream, the nurses looking over their station wide-eyed.
We talked in her room for a while, she didn't want help getting into her bed.
This imperious in a fine way young lady/kid laughed when I asked her if she would like to ask me anything about being a non-twin: she was a twin. All twins are asked about being a twin.
She was young and she is gone.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

80 Beats for the Life of Jimmie

80 Beats for the Life of Jimmie
October 2015

It was the soft resonance
of your honeysuckle,
of your valley mist rising,
of the southern porch,
cinema to our ears.
The beaming light, love,
cornflower blue eyes,
from wide lips, a smile,
wherever you were that glow.
Promise, more words, more words, 
more words
I whispered to you
when I held your hands.
I know your teaching soul blooms.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

At a community table at a coffee place laden with the smells of burnt coffee and butter and laden personally with deadlines multiple and far-flung. A reprieve in the shape of a man unprepared for a dilemma meant the jettisoning of the scheduled session and his worry and my secret elation to work on other, pressing matters.
It was that sort of morning. Up at 5, and the time to depart for teaching arriving too fleetly three hours later.
In the midst of the work the sudden tapping of you. It was probably the mention of you and your passing that has sparked this moment.
This still surprises me, that my grief feels under, I hesitate to say wraps, or control.
Because it is neither.
And will be neither, ever.
Photographing Patti Smith for the third time last week she spoke of her grief and it was a lovely and honest recounting of her sudden crushing grief that prevents her, nearly, from crossing a street.
For the longing of the person who was once there, who was a source of comfort and strength.
So what is this grief.
It is, of course, universal.
It is that thing that can kill the living, choke the Joy out of life, to give some energy behind the making of Art, the loving of the living.
I am back in the moment when, as your body left this life that you had, you came to me and said:
"Live! Live! Live!"
 Thank you for the words, the Love, the inspiration dearest Brucey.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Durgs and The Shiney Apple: Two Big Tall Tales

Durgs and The Shiney Apple: Two Big Tall Tales
It was about one year, exactly eleven months, before Phil Durgan (Durgs was my name for him) would slip into The Good Light that I headed into Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea in the Shiney Apple to spend time in the retrospective of the work of Basquiat. It was March of 2013. Happily, I was with sketchbook, and my dirty assortment of pencils and the Gag was not crowded.

There was room to really float in front of the work unhindered by any jostling. There was an extreme extra troop of security guards in the gallery. Because I was there so long they began to come over to see my sketches – one guard called over her colleague to see the latest, smudgy drawing.

I sat on the floor before some of the fifty pieces, for some I stood – and made drawings for hours. At some point I posted that I was there and Durgs replied nearly immediately. Knowing how much he absolutely loved and revered the work of Basquiat I felt a sense of responsibility to not only pay better attention to the details, but to share the experience that I was now having for two.

Reportage on the pieces in the show, some of the highlights, small details of some of my drawings were shuttled off to Buffalo. Admittedly, I had a little guilt that Durgs was the bigger Basquiat fan, he would have, undoubtedly, enjoyed it even more than I. The show was unforgettable, I had seen another Basquiat round-up in Rome a dozen or so years ago but this one was more delicious: in my revered Shiney Apple in the wide open white space of the Gagosian, and sharing the visions with his ardent and inspired fan, Phil.

This past winter (so the end of the Basquiat-at-Gagosian year cited above) I happened to overlap time in the Shiney Apple when Durgs and his beloved Ev were there. I realized this as I was trolling the internet when I was there, we hadn’t discussed any traveling plans so this was a serendipitous finding.

As they were obviously on a honeymoon of sorts, the absolute Joy of being together in such an amazing city, I didn’t connect to them and try to rendezvous anywhere. I’ve got strong Shiney Apple needs and have an ongoing Love of that city where I’ve been going since I was nineteen: it’s where I learn, hear my thoughts better in my head, where I got my Masters degree, where I’ve loved, and mourned the passing of my mentor this Spring. It’s where I have touchstone experiences at places and visiting certain arts and public spaces. I did not want to impose any of that on the loving couple.

Instead, I enjoyed seeing what they were doing, looking at, and posting. There was, as with all that Phil expressed, reverence, humility, and happiness. I realized in his posts that we had different agendas for our trips: he was heading into some jazz clubs, I was spending most of my time just walking and thinking and drawing.

One afternoon I happened to be walking up Lafayette Street and they were pretty close in a casual pizza and beer restaurant. Durgs and Ev posted about that, and I thought I’d breeze by and surprise them if they were still in there. I arrived at the corner place and peered in: they were gone on to another adventure but I smiled thinking of them hugging and loving each other in that gleaming joint.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Two Tragedy Anniversaries: Film and then Digital

Yours Truly just returned from a jaunt for a quarter-day to Orangeville, Ontario and wended back on Highway 25 and at one point marveled at the proximity of ducks floating amid chunks of ice on a picturesque rivulet.
Also marvel-worthy was that on this entire trip WBFO, the Middling City's National Public Radio outpost was available: whereas most times it evaporates into the air once one rounds a bend in the lake, it hung strong in the air.

On Highway 25 on the return trip there were stories afoot/a-air about today being the anniversary of Crash 3407 five years ago in Clarence, New York, and then about it being the anniversary of the burning of Little Harlem Hotel which once stood at 494 Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, New York.
I was friends with the final owners of Little Harlem, The Trammel Family, and heard of the fire and grabbed my camera and ran back to the site watching the water cannons soaking, unsuccessfully, the grease fire in the center of the building.
There were rivers of water flowing out the front door and I stood next to one of the Trammels and we both had tears running down our cheeks: Little Harlem was an incredible place even when I went there to see music and to sip and to dance in the 80's and 90's, well past its epochal past. But what had remained of Little Harlem was that it was a rare place that bridged the eastern and western sides of the city, everyone was welcomed there. And now it was gone.
I was lucky to have owned a jacket that was previously owned by Diane Montgomery, the club's owner. I had been at the estate liquidation with a friend and bid on probably the least-desired items in the sale: two wooden coat racks (one of which I still own). There were a bunch of invaluable articles of clothing on the racks and they were part of the deal. Underneath a lot of polyester and old and yellowed dry cleaning bags was the jacket. The large inside satin pocket was embroidered with a large DM.
Yours Truly lost this jacket in the black hole of moving in one of my several moves in the 80's and 90's.
So Little Harlem was gone, a glorious building of good vibes and Art Deco class.

Today is also the anniversary of the crash of Flight 3407, an inconceivable tragedy due to pilot error.
The night of that crash Yours Truly was photographing Donna Brazile, former adviser to Bill Clinton and many other Democratic candidates. She is now a highly-respected analyst.
She was speaking at University at Buffalo as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series there: I was making images of her with select members of the U.B. community in the green room, and then during her talk.

In the green room she was still shaken by her flight that afternoon, commenting again and again about it. I was struck by this and thought that surely she's had other bad flights.
When I left U.B. that night it was almost at the time of the crash, which was probably about four miles away as the crow flies, as they say.
I wonder if I would have hear that crash from that distance. The night was cold and clear, I stopped that night as I walked alone to my car to look out over the small ridge where before me was the man-made frozen lake on the campus.
Later that night, or the next morning everyone – and Donna Brazile – would know about the horrific crash.
I have always wondered how she felt upon hearing about 3407, her shaken self that unforgettable.

Photographs: We make, we save, we share.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Insignificant and Iconic Item that Made Me and Bruce Kurland Laugh Laugh Laugh

I count the days since he died.
It was a Wednesday.
Every Wednesday now I have a ritual of barely sleeping, waking at about 5:00 a.m. and rushing to the suburban big box gym where I sweat, pushing myself through pain.
December 11, 2013 was a day of glossy hard function; I made it through the day before I could hurry back to him.
I used a lot of Rescue Remedy–that day and many since.
The first time I walked into the low Hospice building on Maple Street in Buffalo's Fruit Belt neighborhood I stopped midway on the walkway to the door and thought 'There will be a moment when it will be the final time that I leave this building.'
I did not know that that first time would be the first time of six trips entering or exiting: he was there for five days, and I visited for three. 
One of his doctors, who is a friend, and his ex-wife contacted me that Sunday to let me know that he was in Hospice, they did not know themselves until he had been there for a day or so.
I was one of his two health care proxies, a position that I took on with a sense of protectiveness. And when he tried to thank me from his hospital bed during his two month-long stays for this role I always said that he did not need to thank me, that I know that he would do the same for me. And he would have. And we both knew that.
I replay what happened that Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday–it is all so clear and I know that it will remain so.
It was the conversation and the ferocious ILOVEYOU's on the telephone, the visit with the two of us talking for hours and laughing and apologizing and laughing and more Love (his final lucid conversation), the actively dying day of holding onto his hand and having a breakdown and speaking privately with a Hospice nurse at a dining room table about what was happening to his body, and the last day of quiet and nearly-silent breathing and talking to the others in the room who came in for their goodbyes.
And my goodbye with touches and words of Love.
I thanked him, I told him how much I love him, I said that I hoped that he wasn't afraid.
The visit on his final lucid day he said that he wanted it to be over with: something I had to respect, but which felt like a knife being plunged into my heart. We had talked a few other times about him letting go, about how his final two years of his five years of cancer were not about living but surviving.
When it was time to say fare well before he drifted away into the good light, the dying part of what was happening seemed such a part of life. From my perspective. The release.
I nearly drowned amid swells of water in Lake Erie one teenaged summer and, after struggling and gasping for air amid an undertow, was ready to let go as I was exhausted. It was peaceful and quiet but I heard a voice say that it wasn't my time and then I did not die. Because of that moment I imagined him having that same Peace after that series of groundswells that they call active dying in the Hospice world.
His last lucid night he said to me "All you can hope for is to be happy."
He wanted to know if I was happy, I know that he was hoping that I was happy.
I told him that I am happy. He asked about different people in my family by name, he wanted to know that everyone was alright.
All the days and weeks and months that he had been in a hospital room those last two years he always asked about others, maintaining an interest in others, a voracious learning mind still connecting to Life: an eternal inspiration.
The night that he died I needed to cook, to find order in something, to focus my mind on something that was familiar as my heart turned to gelatin, set with bright red chunks of pain. I sliced vegetables, I don't even recall what I cooked or if I ate anything. I doubt that I ate. The night that Brucey died he came to my house, his energy engulfed me as he made his way to the good light.
I believe he lingered for a while.
He came to me and said "Live, Live, Live."
His voice sounded serious, it was an order.
The next morning I left for an already-planned and paid-for trip to the Shiney Apple to see a performance at Park Avenue Armory.
The timing was perfect, to leave for two days to be in the city that we both love, to get swallowed up by Art, to make Art.
I add here that that Monday night, Lucid Monday, I thought that I wanted to talk with him, share with him, thoughts about being fifty, thoughts about aging. Him dying and me aging (but also dying) and needing his wit, always, to understand Life better, to have a perspective about everything that is funny, and wise, and useful, and real, and kind, and Artful. That was the scenario. That will, in part, be the scenario.
He would have said something funny and helpful about being this age and I'm straining still to hear his words. 
Today as I was organizing things in an area of my home where I have mementos – and mementos mori – I came upon this object pictured above. I have realized that there are pieces of him all over my house and in my life.
This object was acquired by him at a truck stop and I think maybe it may have been where he trooped off to buy cartons of cigarettes every month or so.
This plastic object is a lighter in the dual shape of a pager of yore, and also a more classy lighter. When flipped open there were once ultra-bright chaser lights that, upon first flip, were quite shocking.
There was a clock on the side that stopped working long ago.
We loved the absurdity of this object.
I can hear his uproarious laugh that I will miss (and need) the rest of my life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The White House, The Honor, The Oysters

Yours Truly is pictured here, in a self-portraitly fashion, at the South Lawn of Our nation's icon of elegance – The White House.
What I was doing: leaving The White House solo whereas I walked into The White House with a small group of fellow media people and reps from other arts orgs/awardees also being honored.
Yesterday was warm and sunny but when I was departing, after filing my images from the press bunker within The White House, there was a mistiness in the air and when I turned back to look at it from the circular driveway, parts of it were obscured by a soft fog.
As a longtime champion of CEPA Gallery and its photo-centric mission, as its enthusiastic board president, and as a nearly lifelong member of the press, I am so very thrilled about the award that CEPA Gallery received yesterday at The White House: one of twelve organizations spotlit for work with after-school arts education programming.
The award's official name, National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, was created to say HIPHIPHOORAY to Art and learning, a rare moment when creativity is above all other concerns. Creativity, out in the world, is not, sadly, a usual thing.
We at CEPA learned of the award in the summertime and in August YT jetted to D.C. with Lauren Tent and Sean Donaher for three intense days of what I dubbed "Protocol Training." We networked with other awardees, wrote a preliminary press release with assistance (and sweat) from a D.C.-based P.R. firm, and came up with a media plan of attack.  We spoke throughout about our organization, and YT was incredibly inspired by the other groups, especially Write Girl in Los Angeles.
We were informed – and re-informed – that we were not to share the news except with our board members and few trusted individuals. It was rigorous and we all left with thick binders of information. Leaks, we were told, would mean a black limo would be parked in front of the building.
In D.C. at Protocol Training I asked Lauren if she had in mind a student who she thought would be a great rep, and she said that she had two. When she told me about Jose Lagares I was impressed by him: knowing no English, he came to CEPA to learn photography, persevering to learn those skills while also learning the twists and turns of the language. His work is good, he has a strong style and I could see him becoming a photojournalist.

During the awards ceremony YT was sniffling with Joy, and then I realized that on the press risers the women to my left and right were also crying. Then I recalled how Kevin from Metropolitan Group said that there were hardly any dry eyes in the house during the NAHYP awards event, something I didn't recall until I was wiping tears away between frames.

During the last moments of the ceremony YT was crouched down and editing my images to email them tout de suite: my flight was in a few hours and I was slated to be leaving from Dulles which is a very considerable commute away. Note to self (and for You): always fly into D.C. via Reagan, an easy Metro ride from the city. I asked the Buffalo News D.C. correspondent Jerry Zremski about wi-fi at The White House and I took over a small desk just outside the Briefing Room where earlier, as we were in a holding pattern after media pre-set, Jay Carney was rebuffing questions by the media and YT heard him state that it was not his, nor any press secretary's job, to define Due Process.
After confirming with Zremski, it was obvious that I had to change my flight immediately.
A woman behind me, working at another small desk, said "You will never get a flight, it's FRIDAY, it's D.C.!!!" and I waved her off.
As I was sending out my images of the proceedings, I was on hold with United, and while I was on hold, I trotted off the the ladies room around the corner expecting (correctly) that I'd be on hold for a considerable length of time.
I laid out the scene for Kat, the kindly United lady: award ceremony, board president, press, later start, program running later, commute, etc. etc. and she put me on a flight at 8:00 PM from the preferred airport – to Newark.
So, leaving The White House in the soft fog, happy, and pleased I returned my press badge outside the security check-in structure on Pennsylvania Avenue, swiping it and dropping it into the metal box.
I pushed open the first gate, and then the second and looked back toward The White House which is so spectacularly white when you are next to it you can smell the fresh paint.
Actually, while down in the subterranean media holding area below the South Lawn which is near the kitchen, a painter emerged in full-length Tyvek suit.
I looked to the area where Moroccans had been either protesting or welcoming their king, it was difficult to tell by the signs and the voices, and walked through the park to meet Sean at the bar of Old Ebbitt Grill, a historic wonder of reconstructed wood imbued with history and worthy artifacts and taxidermy from Teddy Roosevelt, for oysters and a celebratory drink. Or two.

Then it was a jubilant float to the Metro, a wait, a train, another train, a third train, and a walk through the Upper West Side for a snack and more social media posting from the circular hotel room at the Belleclaire.

It was A Day. What a day.
In the words of First Lady Michelle Obama: "just keep on having fun."

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Spring on Real Time's First Day

Today is the day that everything once again goes back to normal, when the clocks in most of the United States of America (and here in EST where the right coast and its largely bigger liberal cities like to make art and contemplate manufacture in a timely sense) have their arms and LED displays reversed one hour earlier.
Yours Truly never remembers if this is Daylight Savings Time – or if Spring ahead is the real time.
Whichever it is from now, early November, until that designated day in early Spring, it feels like the time that it should be: looking at clocks constantly throughout these action-packed days and nights there is a silent heaving of relief that it is the time that it feels like it should be.
And not one hour too soon.
Or late.
So now it is time to get back to the pushing of pixels this now-late afternoon, images made of children with cancer and I have been meaning to write about one of them who has stuck in my memory more vividly than the others.
She walked slowly into the room that I was set up in in Roswell Park Cancer Institute with her mother and her IV tree. There was a possibility, the charity's rep and hair & makeup girls & I had heard, that she would not be on the informal roster that day as she was tired from her treatment, but there she was.
She was quiet in the way that those wrapped in pain are, both glowing and inverted in their awareness and yearning to not be projecting the significant pain that they are in.
She wore a long summer dress, a trend for this past summer, and it was a swirling floral print.
Her long curling hair was swirling in its own way.
The hair & makeup girls, a trio of sunny blondes who work at the same salon, put a little makeup on her but she needed little (in my opinion) as she was (and is) already perfect in her teenaged and unworn way.
She could not stand in front of my backdrop so I dragged over a heavy plastic institutional chair and she crumbled onto it.
As her mother got some attention from the hair & makeup girls I began to talk to her and asked her about herself.
She laughed a bit and we talked about her long and curling hair.
She told me that it was beginning to fall out and that by the end of the week she would have no hair: I suggested that we celebrate and immortalize her hair as it was that day so we made images of her regarding her own hair, it in some shots just hovering over her outstretched hands.
These are some of my images that will never forget.
I like to believe that most of my images (whether for Art's sake, or for editorial gigs, or for any other client) are embedded in my memory somewhere.
I just recently came upon one of my images in a hallway and it was blown up rather large – I recalled cajoling the three students in the shot to do more than stand in place and look happy. I gave them some adjectives and had them mirror some of my suggested gestures. It worked, and then there the trio was in a hallway, blown up and looking just perfectly jubilant and successful.
Not only is it a day of editing portraits in the day of shifting hours and light, but this autumn day has had the feeling of spring.
The seasonal shift kind of day where there is expectation in the air.
There is possibility in the air, things are changing and growing and being remembered.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quiet Morning? Late Night?

The bored doorman picks up an errant plastic bottle as Yours Truly is walking out the front door for a fresh WSJ and Stobba as a Chinese cabbie pulls up yelling "Anything for me?"
"No, quiet morning," says the doorman.
And as I walk toward Broadway I hear the lopsided conversation with the cabbie lobbying.
Quiet morning indeed.
Construction - or restruction - of a building across BWay commenced with the blazing sun rays resting on my face at 6:00 AM.
Somewhere behind/below my room rests the weary heads of Dead Can Dance, who YT watched at Beacon Theatre (b. 12/24/29) last night with Justy and Heady.
An aural triumph - sold to the gilded rafters.
Imagined the same wonder of an earlier audience, perhaps eighteenth century, experiencing the magic of an opera.
It was lush and transported my mind to not only the early 90's dance clubs of several cities, but to a foundry of ideas.
That should be the mission of all Art.
But inspiration to create more Art.
To quote Keith Richards:
"I receive, I transmit."
Onward to More Art.

Foundry Love.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Shoulder pads.
When the 90s and its bulk waned one would slice shoulder pads out of jackets to spare them the Goodwill dump once the next sleek decade made its aesthetics apparent.
It was indeed the 80s on the cusp of the 90s (the decade in focus) that Yours Truly spotted thee one and only Grace Jones (see above cig-centric image) emerging from a brownstone in the west 60s and that seems impossible suddenly and I am trying to better pinpoint the exact site.
But that is where it was, it was not a then-decrepit Broome Street with its mix of cast iron, cardboard, spray paint, and creeps which seems where she would have emerged.
She exited the brownstone, approached and mounted a scooter, and zoomed in a western fashion down the street.
Decades are not neatly packaged, their vibes imbue, influence participants before lightly melting into the next momentous cluster of changes.
Tonight Jesus and Mary Chain will be hitting a free stage in the Middling City, and YT will be shooting the gig.
It's been over a decade since the last time YT shot the band, and the venue was perhaps the gym at Buffalo State College.
[Of course it would be handy to have a database of shows shot and all that and that will transpire once there is a spare month.]
Homage to the 90s includes the leaving-behind of the 80s odd haircuts, and madcap dancefloors, and the emergence of the MC's Goo Goo Dolls (who became stellar during this time frame - as we friends and media types all watched and cheered and shot and attended the parties), and the emergence of Nirvana and that roadtrip (where were You when you first saw the video, where were You when you heard the news), and the emergence of sundry other guy-fronted bands (The Verve! Oasis! Third Eye Bind!) with contemplative names, and the emergence of ladies with guitars, and odd politics, and explosions of online life.

Just Like Honey Love.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

So there was Yours Truly, enjoying the business of dreaming, when YT was aware that Brutalism Architecture was playing a prominent role – as prominent as YT indeed.
For there in front of my face, in front of my body, my knuckles knuckled deep into concrete ridges, was Brutalism. And how utterly metaphorically obvious: I was scaling a high building by joining with the unyielding surface. In the midst of the climb I knew that I could not succumb to the pain of climbing the concrete (my knees and fingers were bleeding), but that I would not fall.
I believed that I would not fall, and I did not fall, and made it to the top of the building.
YT dreams a lot about scaling difficult buildings: architecture is always a lead character in my dreams.
In my nocturnal central casting my brain casts about for tall, challenging, encompassing buildings, and interiors are filled with Art, craft, and intricate details.

In this moment I think of Walt Whitman, melder of Nature/Love/Body:
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
 It continues, find it.

The concrete structure in this dream was a compilation of several buildings that I have visited: it was in part the squat that I visited several times in the Lower East Side of the Shiney Apple, where Bernie lived on East Thirteenth Street for several years in defiance, with a group of other pre-Occupy defiers. It is now, of course, a fixed-up building filled, assuredly, with exquisitely furnished expensive flats.

I learned to love Brutalism somewhere along the way of this interesting life, perhaps while writing a story about court buildings in the Middling City: City Court here is in a building much like that in my dream. I am not sure if some interesting public art graced its northern edge.

Climbing Love.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Re-cover/Recover Love.

Yours Truly, looking about whilst editing as a cornea-protecting measure (that nice Lisa at the eye joint reported that I have the classic bent corneas of one who spends entirely too much time looking at the backlit screens of le monde moderne) spots some summertime flaws:
1. Men in sandals. Unless they're the sort that men wear in the state of Maine for legitimate, kayaking-related reasons, please, men, spare us.
2. Tattoos, badly executed and splayed on limbs in collagey fashion. To my right a man who otherwise looks alright has collaged on his arms (in no particular order): a black lobster head/puma head, life-sized scissors, crystals coming out of a wave/cat's paw, spots resembling bruises or tropical flesh-killing disease.
As YT advised a young person recently, who breathlessly awaited my cogent reply to the question "Where should I get my tat?" - "You do realize that it's not mandatory, right?"

Getting ready for several things presently:
1. Deadline du jour of images made of an upholstery lady whose job (see Trade Tools above) it is to salvage and creatively recover furnishings that have been beat to hell by undergraduate students who drop pizza slices and slop their snowy feet all over the seats and sofas. And yesterday, while meeting with a friend for summertime bevvies, she reported that some of these upholstered furnishings - in libraries - are covered with unmentionable fluids after unmentionable activities.
2. Roadtrip to a lakeside joint for a brief respite.
3. Workshop using this very tool (Blogger), FB, Twitter, and smarts for a group of teens on Thursday via YAWNY (not to be confused with thee one and only YANNI of "Is GREEK spoken here?" in heavy accent despite living in the USofA for ... like forever. NB: caveat away if and when You, on a lark, open up his cheeseball flash page as some horrid music will stream into your life).
4. The solo YT drawing show - "Direct."
 But that is an ever-present fact until Friday, September 7th.

Onwards to the push of pixels.
Indie Love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Because I missed epinw.
Because the evocative air of spring is around me.
Because I want to document this moment for several reasons.

Yours Truly is sitting on a semi-comfortable chair in the daylight-only light of a room in Buffalo General Hospital.

The most important person in my life has been sealed into this place, breathing its rarefied air, for nearly one month and today he is leaving - finally.

As with his other monthlong journey/stay/visit at nearby Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the daily visits are never a chore, but an anticipation of a meditative moment. Time spent in hospitals is time to leave behind much of the bullshit of the daily world, to enter into a place of selflessness amid a world that is nothing about your self.

Time here with him, when it is the two of us, is a celebration of Life, and of Art.

If he were to look over now at my face and to see my eyes all swoony with tears he would become alarmed, and worried about me so I'm thinking I may have to take a quick stroll along the bustle of the hallway until this subsides. And what is needing subsidy? Well, it is the transition that is difficult. Getting accustomed to a certain reality, and then a modification of that reality, and then another jolt, or change.

The rhythm of the days has been the racing, walking up the windswept hill to Buffalo General, the process of opening doors against the rush of lake winds, the familiar faces of volunteers and guards and people selling the shitty Tim Horton's coffee, the changing holiday decorations, the advisories along the walls and on computer screens, the turning off the elevator and the turning down into the wing, the nurses at the station who never glance upwards, the arrival at the door, the quick assessment of what is happening in the room, the kiss hello, the conversation, the other guests, the conversation continuation, the kiss goodbye, the retreat to the daily rhythm.

And now of today.

Today is the leaving. The transition so the documentation of the feeling of this room.
This room is the usual assemblage of hospital colors that are meant to soothe. This room features a buttery yellow, a bleached-out mauve, an earthy maroon around the four vertical windows that are locked tight.
I was inspired to draw at Roswell Park, with its several flourishes of stainless steel and interesting lines that converged over the bed. But Buffalo General hasn't - didn't - inspire any drawings out of me.

Our conversation today has been about Art, anticipation, medical matters, Love, and more. What impresses me constantly about him is his Love of people and life, truly the smartest man I've ever met - an intellect I am in awe of, one that amasses information while mine sort of throws itself upon facts that are useful, but many times, sadly, what remains is a shadowy remnant of the original excitement of the gleaning of the fact. And this perhaps why YT is a better journalist than creative writer: I am good at gathering and putting-out of fact and moving along rather than archiving intellectual arcs between things.

I have suspected that I am not a great hospital visitor as I push the boundaries of what is acceptable to be a visitor. I cry in front of the patient and said patient has to comfort me. I grab a wheelchair and decide to take it for a spin around the hallways with orderlies offering to help me with a tight turn before I've mastered the moves, I lay on the patient's bed to get more comfortable as the patient sits upright in a chair, I suck oxygen from the mask attached to the green valve on the wall after the breathing treatment meds are finished for a nice blast of freshness. Bad visitor conduct. C'est la vie.

Vie indeed.
Spring is for life, as Life is for the living, and Love is for us all.

Love Love, Love.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Big Wont.

Yours Truly: Accidental Shadow Self-Portrait 12.11

There was Yours Truly, as is the big wont, in car, in traffic, in captiva, listening to all-day Patti Smith (that is not part of the wont-ness, but was today's unofficial soundtrack, Easter to be quite specific, and more specifically, a few of the more YT-unloved tracks), and en route to the offices of the Shiney Happy Mag for a photo shoot. As in YT in front of the cam, not on that other, and more usual, side of the divide.

And despite having listened to Easter since its release, and absorbing the whole of it as a work of art (voice, lyrics, band), the following snippet was quite a surprise from its title song.

Again I am the salt, the bitter laugh.
I am the gas in a womb of light, the evening star,
the ball of sight that leads that sheds the tears of Christ
dying and drying as I rise tonight.
So many surprises.

So there I was in the slow 190 North situation, from before where one gets off in the Middling City to get to officialdom, or that big ugly concrete hotel, or to meet someone at Stobba, or to whirr around the feeble yet still kicking encampment rendition of Occupy!, to the 290. And YT had no clear explication what this image was for. Why I had to wear a black shirt, why I had to be there, why I would be wearing a handed-over vest embroidered with the logo of the Shiney Happy.

The car was relieved of me and I trotted into the building and up then to the Shiney Happy offices to be photographed by KC & G Kratt.

I hopped onto the mark, a white-on-white X.

So what is this for, YT queried.

Apparently for something to do with Valentine's Day.

So, using that for inspiration, I decided to play Cupid by jumping à la Philippe Halsman of jump-model fame (and his subsequent, famed notation that Marilyn Monroe jumped like a little girl, for whatever that might be worth) sky-high.

And then I added twirls.

And then a trot to the mark and a twist in the air with hands nearly off the seamless. And G, always concerned & full of maternal sweet vibes, reminded me to not trip on the cables of the battery packs, and YT had to - of course - offer the visual implausibility of YT crashing through the seamless and through the window behind said seamless.

Then YT moved on to another style of jump, and then to heart shapes with hands and arms and then on to points beyond and beyond and beyond. As in outside the offices of the Shiney Apple.

Moral: One might be a cranky ass after sitting in post-accident slow-downs but when One is called upon to hit the mark - any mark - one must do so with vim and vigour.

Vigorous Love.

postscript: Blogger has once again tweaked itself to high levels of annoyance and now for whatever reason all my words are in italics and YT loathes Italics, an unnecessary hold-over from the early days of typesetting. Not that there's any little thing wrong with the days of my pub forbears, but this tipsy styling - unwanted - on Blogger is ever so pesky, as pesky as a car that cannot move to the beat and surge of rock & roll.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Accidental Frame Series: Blue-Lit Curtain + Revelers. Gala. Amherst, NY 11.4.
Yours Truly lives life as an endurance sport, one of a few cherished chestnuts being "Sleep when You're Dead." Amongst the collected chestnuts the very private "Attack the day with Joy," which I say to myself every morning, repeated on the wake-up message on my iPhone screen. In case You didn't realize this, wake-ups are customizable. 

Everything is customizable, if You can figure shit out.

Thought about YT's Accidental Frame Series: sometimes these images, to my reckoning, are the off-kilter, usually, mis-firings that capture the aura of events Perfectly.

After a marathon, Art Endurance Test of four solo shows within a span of 1.5 years, including the most magical one of all in DUMBO a year ago (magical in its inception, its happening, the opening, and the loving crush of my Shiney Apple friends) YT self-promised a rest of Art for a while. Like a year or so. Well, if You know YT, this is a self-ruse at its best as as soon as the wall labels are yanked off the walls, I'm thinking 'What now.'

The What Now is now a solo show in October in the Middling City and I'm thinking of an all-drawings show. And then I committed to a group show after the new year, its theme being Janus. As soon as I read Janus I RSVPd as a yes as Janus has captivated me since I paid attention greatly to a drawing by Robert Longo of same title - or so, as my artistic imagination can at time take small and pleasurable liberties - and learned more about this Roman god of beginnings and endings. 

At Parsons I made several video pieces, including one devoted to the idea of Janus. I am now thinking, as of this morning, of casting two male twins (the video featured two women, not twins) to be Janus. The video is a forehead-to-forehead awareness, rolling, before a stretch to touch backs of heads, into a neck hug, and lastly the Janus gesture.

Endnote on the idea of endurance. Yesterday afternoon I went out on rollerblades for twelve miles, starting out with music, the usual protective gear, and the goal of looking and pushing, on the roadway along the water, curving to the small town, to a backroad with ditches full of water, occasional trash, and dead animals. It was two hours of limbs reaching, rolling along with music, giving an occasional wave to people burning leaves, or mowing, or on their bikes. I passed at one point a young boy teen with something in his hands, walking slowly along a ditch, and I had a rush of childhood memory - that feeling of wanting independence, and how that could be found in some moments where time could be stretched out while the adults were occupied. 

And now there's a collage of other roads meandered down for a moment to reclaim balance: the road in Pennsylvania after a long car ride and before a funeral; a road in Massachusetts before the beginning of a job, and meeting a man down the road who showed me his art studio, and then finding my boss walking toward me on the road, looking for me and a piece of my adventure; the street in Chicago to just have a fucking break and lose the nausea of a frenetic cab ride.


Endurance, Love.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unified Chaos: Occupy Wall Street, From the Loud Comfort of a Found Arm Chair

Manhattan’s Wall Street is under siege. Barricades have seized this quadrant of the city; every block has barricaded sidewalks quelling foot traffic. On my way from the Subway and walking along Broadway to Zuccotti Park, home of New York City’s Occupy Wall Street encampment, I overheard a tour guide complaining that barricades would be barring them from uncomplicated sightseeing.

Occupy Wall Street: Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. 10/12/11 Photo: Nancy J.Parisi
I write this seated in an armchair a few feet behind the sprawling onsite jam band facing outwards toward Trinity Place on the park’s steps. Straight ahead are musicians, flag wavers, dancers, and beyond them the barricaded onlookers, photographers, passersby, and First Responders.

The band is mainly drummers with someone on a full drum kit, various people on other drums and buckets, and a wizened sax player, who at this moment has stopped playing to outstretch his arms toward his audience while shouting “Freedom!”

The armchair is faded floral and was probably found curbside on some nearby partially-residential street. I had an artist friend who had a live-work space on nearby Beaver Street: this is not the most livable of Manhattan neighborhoods. And, as everyone knows, not too far away is Ground Zero.

Moments ago a man, perhaps pleased with my recording of the goings-on with my camera around my neck, and laptop on my lap, came up and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. I can still feel where his stubble brushed my face. Where are all these encampers shaving, and bathing?

There are hundreds of placards (held aloft, and at rest on top of dozens of electric blue tarps that cover clumps of personal possessions. I watched a woman enthusiastically create two anti-greed/government placards from two sides of a pizza box. People donate food, and pizza is a popular item: food is free and I watched the peaceful chow line where people could make a PBJ, eat some pizza or other donated food.

This is all very organized. Live music faces Liberty Place, just across the street from Brooks Brothers and the sky-high NYPD surveillance box, replete with video cameras, and, for some reason, devices to measure wind velocity and direction. A chalkboard announces when organized marches will be taking place, and where they will be headed to.

Just now the band went a bit more up-tempo, inspiring me to write faster: this entire collaborative voiced action in this park is powerful, and is being noticed around the world. Hopefully those high above this park in offices, are realizing that their own actions must change. It's idealistic, and as one of the placards read, it's organized chaos. But it feels - and sounds - good.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Libran Musings at the Height of Libra Season

Yours Truly, while minding her own business, sipping a little anti-cold vodka at The Pub last night after a full day of shooting, spied a fellow Libra across the room - the famed AJ Fries.

There was the famed AJ Fries hug of significance, and then the discussion of birthdays and parties, and balloons and festoonery.

As the Buffalo Bills (who make all of those with Buffalo DNA want to shout, for good and bad) play on with Cincinnati  (a name that would be much more interesting pronounced with a faux Italian accent - try it) YT is plotting the next and much-needed foray to the Shiney Apple for art, erudition, and the making of art and ideas.

Speaking of Ideation and such, there was a big rock rumour that Radiohead would be playing for those encamped on Wall Street. A quote from Occupy Wall Street's site:
Due to miscommunication within our rapidly expanding and adjusting group, we were unable to determine that this was a hoax in time; it can be difficult to seperate rumor from fact in an open source movement.
We are all living amid the open source movement, know it or (k)not. This is the sharing of information of all genres, an empowering facet of our ever-controlled social structures.

Time to make, do, and drive.

Driving Rain, Love.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bob Memories During Irene Weekend.

“Some are born mad. Some remain so.”  - Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Bad-Ass Hurricane Bob. 1991

 Bee-stung, wind-stung, song-stung.

There is nothing like battening down hatches (physically and metaphysically) to wrap most in the all-for-one and one-for-all sentiment that should occur more frequently - the sense of collective well-being and cause, not the natural/man-made disaster taking place along the east coast of the USA this weekend, of course. As Al Gore implores, the frequency of disasters of natural/man-made varieties will keep coming with more severity as the ice melts, as the sun shines with greater ferocity, frying our collective protective skins, and destinies.

And today, as the hurricane Irene seemingly wanes from a 4 to a 3 to a 2 to tropical storm, the thoughts of Yours Truly, former, decade-long counselor/teacher of children in the state of Maine (at the toppermost) naturally/man-madely turn to memories of Bob.

Bob encroached on the summer of 1991. According to my calculations that is exactly one score ago, and was at the end of our camp's second session. YT was acting as not only an assistant director, but the Arts & Crafts teacher. I created a program for all campers, daily. I taught six periods a day, and kayaked away my stress on the spring-fed lake daily, taking to open roads when possible to enjoy the surrounding area, and Portland, as time allowed. Or as heartstrings tugged.

As I had proved myself many times to be unflappable in the face of kid-related disasters small, x-l, natural, and man-made, I was always called in by camp foundress Nancy Maier to assist and brainstorm (and at times to deliver the most unruly of girls back home before dinner in the camp van - to backroads Maine towns, to Providence, and to Manhattan) in the midsts of challenges.

Discussion took place about what to do about Bob, expected in the next day or so. We planned a move down the road to a closed-for-summer brick elementary school. We expected that this would be an overnight, and we'd all be returning to camp the following day. Everyone was piled into the gym, where everyone was to sleep in their sleeping bags, mats were in short supply. We/they had food, water, games and music to play.

YT and Nancy Maier surveyed the background, technical aspects of the school as some of the power was obviously waning, with lights flickering as the storm approached and heavy rains fell. And heavy branches fell.

Here it should be noted that YT was supposed to have a night off and had been very much looking forward to spending a night in Portland with a friend. Coming from Buffalo, where blizzards deter no one from leaving the house and heading out to what is usual, YT drove off after lunch expecting to make it to Portland despite reports of twelve-foot waves in the city. What does that mean to a woman from Buffalo who knows that three feet of snow can seem, with drifts, and other heady factors, like a mere six inches. So off I drove in my little car, making it about three miles when it became very clear that a hurricane meant lots of falling branches, and trees, with big pieces of debris of Nature flying by the car. The car and I returned to the school parking lot, relieved. I had made an evacuation plan and now I was in the midst of that plan.

Nancy and I decided we should investigate ways to keep the power going (if need be), and I located the fuses and breakers. Lights were half-off, it was like a Filipino brown-out. Nancy grew up in the Shiney Apple with supers, but I, a Middling City renter, was more familiar with these items. I flicked breakers. I looked at fuses. The security system began to wail as its power supply was momentarily cut off when I jolted that breaker. When the alarm sounded we looked at each other with "oh shit" looks as the sounds of several screaming girls could be heard coming from the gym. Finally I figured out how to turn the siren off, or it went off. The power was out and while it was still light I decided to attempt jumping the generator battery with my car. The generator was in a small room near a door so I could reach it with my jumper cables. What YT didn't realize was that the battery needed water - when the school's maintenance man was finally able to make it to the school, he told me so, and then did jump the generator in the same way that I'd tried with his truck. So much for being a powerhouse superhero.

After a semi-sleepless night in the principal's office with Nancy and Mo Ganey, Nancy and I returned to our camp to survey the damage, to see if the kids could return. Funnels had spun off the small lake and cut the top halves of trees off, leaving a clear path of damage. Power lines were down. Toilets could not flush. The campers had to be evacuated from the school before their session was complete - and staff had to move personal belongings for the girls. It was a bit chaotic but nobody was hurt, and there were many disappointed kids (and parents, I'm sure) as that summer ended abruptly.

Hurricanes, in a nutshell, are more than a Neil Young metaphor, more unpredictable than a raging Middling City blizzard, and nothing to sneeze at. In January YT will make a third trip to New Orleans, the first time after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. On my first trip there I photographed a week of Mardi Gras. The second trip I shot a jazz funeral. This trip I plan on shooting what remains of NOLA's charming eccentricities.

I'm not one for fruity drinks (and fruit in general) but may sip a Hurricane there with the hopes of banishing remaining hurricane badness, like a liquid smudge stick.

Smudgy, Liquid Love.