Category Archives: photography

Dimples That Can House the Ocean

The last couple weeks have been so full that, when contemplating how best to re-cap things, I find myself stumped.  If there’s a theme to be found, I’m guessing it is what it usually is….I’m some special variety of Lucky Bean.  Perhaps a hybrid bean made up of some parts Jelly, Mexican Jumping, Magic, Lima, Baked and Green?  James Garfield once said that, “a pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck” and I have been plucking and lucking like it’s my job…

The most noteworthy news would have to be my 3 days of documentary photography at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock, NY.  Chris Castle rallied The Womack Family Band, Garth & Maud Hudson, Tommy Ramone, Gabriel & Salli Butterfield, Sandy Allen, Daphne Lee Martin and Carl Franklin together to make an album.  The session was masterfully run and engineered by Justin Guip and his assistant Brendan and, in a nutshell, it was amazing.   The atmosphere is something all by itself but add to that some rock and roll icons and 5 cameras and you’ve got a smile so wide my dimples could house the oceans.  I’m still editing away and hope to be able to share the work and – eventually – an album cover with you…fingers crossed.  Even if the work never sees the light of day, pays me nothing and costs me plenty it was a worthwhile experience and something I hope to do more of.  Though I will never complain about shooting rock shows, the quiet tension of the studio and added elements of hope and waiting and architecture challenged me in a new way.  It’s been a while since I have felt like a humbled and hungry artist….mostly becuase I’ve been consumed with my day job…but it feels great. 

You know what else feels great?  A whiskey-drunk Thile & Daves show at the Bell House.  I could not like these guys any more than I do and I especially love rocking the front row with a video-equipped recording device.  Here’s my favorite shot of the night and a little video clip.  If you want to see the rest of the album (published on their Facebook page by Red Light Management) click here and click here for a couple more videos.

Thile & Daves @ The Bell House

The down home goodness just kept giving when some besties rolled in from far and wide (VT, PA, SF) for some mexican food and karaoke.  The nice things about time rolling past us so fast is that good friends become good, old friends in no time flat.  Queso & Karaoke are always good fun and throw in a cute (and amazingly well-behaved baby) and it’s a party!

The gift of GOOD kept on giving for a third, yeah!  that’s right!, third night of Tragedy at the Brooklyn Bowl.  I skipped my weekly Glitter Anonymous meeting and decided to indulge for their finale and I’m glad I did.  You can check out the growing archive or Tragedy pix here or, if you’re lazy, just check out one of my favorites right here…

Tragedy @ Brooklyn Bowl

The text and life that occurred between all this rocking punctuation were as – perhaps even better – than everything else.  I’m beginning to feel like myself again after a long haul of identifying myself as an expatriate before whatever came next.  It feels like a long, cosmic exhale.  

Ahhhhhhh.

In the immortal words of Oprah, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. “

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Spectacular Geography

Where to begin?

The thing about life in the big, bad city is that – in an instant – everything can change.  BAM! new places.  POW! new people.  HUZZAH!  new stories.  A door opens, a path unwinds and you find yourself amazed at the possibilities.  I should probably rename this blog ilovenyc.com because it seems like every time I sit down to share a thought it begins with my spectacular geography.

The last couple weeks have been filled to the brim with work and music and photos and friends and it’s all a little too much to try to weave into a tale for you now.  There’s been no discernible theme other than, ‘go with the flow’ so I’ll keep it simple.  Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been up to when the work is done…

Tragedy @ Brooklyn Bowl

A glitter-infused, rocks off, metal-tastic, spandex-wrapped party with the Tri-State Areas #1 Heavy Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees.  You can check out a few more images from this night right here.

A slightly more subdued evening in Gowanus with Vetiver & the Yellow Birds, a friend and I enjoyed some pretty, pretty music while conjuring the life stories and intentions of just about everybody present.  It was great.  You can see more pix of Vetiver right here.
Then we headed back to Greenpoint for another night with Tragedy that ended with whiskey consumed from the bottle and a great deal of footage that will support the making of a Glitter PSA.  Did you know that the #1 risk of glitter addiction is “Confetti in your eye” followed closely by “Sparkle Cough?”  Seriously, glitter is no joke.

 These guys are so much fun it should (and probably is in some States) illegal.  There are still 2 nights of their residency glitterbombing the Bowl and you should grab some protective eyewear and get there.  Check out some more pix of last Friday’s party right here.
Judging by the party pix you just waded through you might not believe the week could get better…right?  Well, it did.
Saturday I devoured some risotto balls and a Scotch Porter while watching Del McCourey make magic at the City Winery.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there aren’t too many problems that some good bluegrass can’t fix.  I love how Del smiles when he sings…There’s no pix to share since I wasn’t “working” that night so you’ll just have to use your imagination…
Finally, the cherry on top of a mountain of fun….believe it or not…Motley Crew & Poison at PNC last night.  I hopped on a Rocks Off party bus with a real, live motley crew and the rest was history.  Imagine these 3 guys, 1 Bean and bus load of random poison fans…it was awesome and I descend into giggles just thinking about it.

motley crew

On tap for tonight is some Levon Helm & Emmy Lou Harris in Central Park with more bluegrass lined up for Wednesday and…wait for it….Death From Above 1979 on Friday.  I am making up for the musical drought that I lived through in Honkers and now my cup runneth over…

tits

Is that the internet in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

It’s hard to imagine the world with no internet.  Even life pre-facebook takes some imagination to fathom and this is only the last 5 or so years.  The stretched limits, power and instant gratification that comes with a pocket full of bandwidth are amazing but the new layers of skin it places between already socially awkward animals doesn’t always feel like progress.  The notion of cyborg anthropology has arisen here before and it’s on my mind again lately.

I made a case to my 91 year old Grandfather that social media and ‘life online’ has been, for me anyway, a 100% positive experience that has added depth and breadth to my own knowledge & network making things possible now that weren’t before.  4 years of isolation and then a seamless reentry into a life I left behind are only one testament to this perspective.  If we discount the handful of less-than-awesome internet dates, I could stand by this sentiment and still easily defend the position.  Though I live and preach transparency and have a robust life online, I will not pretend that there aren’t downsides.

In particular, I see a new layer of living that isn’t quite grounded in 3 dimensions or cyberspace – a netherworld where new friendships seem to be still-born and old friendships go to expire.  Flirtation that has no intention of ending with dinner and dinner plans that revolve amongst calendars attached to phantoms.  This in-between place has an atmosphere that allows superficiality to flourish and flakiness to function as a standard operating procedure.  The life happening here is real enough to occupy thoughts, direct action and inspire though it simultaneously demands quick dismissals and casual acceptance of behavior that would not hold up when exposed to eye contact.  Something about digital connections allows them to be held by totally new standards.  We are on a frontier and there are only a few sheriffs and very few laws.  Etiquette is being reinvented as we speak and human interaction is molting like an old python.  I’ve been lucky to see real fruit bloom from cyber seeds though my feeling is that this non-landscape is less fertile than it used to be, the netherworld or cloud  is now a legitimate state and the expectation that rain will fall from the cloud is outdated.  A paradigm shift is in order.

Or a reprioritization, perhaps.

Anyway, I could rattle on about that for ages but instead I’ll share an example of when a digital friend escapes the fiber and emerges as one of the best tour guides Memphis has ever seen.  Ween and Facebook were the red threads that helped me get to know Johnny but 3 days together in Memphis are what made him my friend.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and just say that I had a wonderful adventure in Tennessee…

Johnny

the things that came before and everything after

Monte Cristo & Cheese Grits - Brother's Juniper

 
 

"Elvis, let me in" - Graceland

 
 

Beale Street Saturday Night

 

Huey's Midtown

  

Johnny Williams

If you want to armchair travel through the rest of my fun times in Memphis, click here for the whole album.
 
As for the moral of my story….I guess it’s presence is the best present.  It’s an affirmation from my side that, though I live an amazing life online, I still prefer the tangible present to the virtual one.  I can’t promise that I won’t continue to try to merge these 2 things but I am beginning to realize it may not always be up to me…
 

Beana Bern - Central BBQ - Memphis, TN

 
 

Stairway to …

i have a lot to say right now about a lot of things.  the usual gratitude, a healthy dash of adventure, some musings on middle america, love in the 2st century and some work on the horizon that can change everything….while the words find their ways towards one another and my mind has a little time to cluster things, i’ll share this photograph from Memphis

stairway to heaven

On a road to . . .

With 15 pages left to the novel I was reading, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, I found myself so impatient to see how the story ended that I got frustrated with my inability to read faster.  Shifting in my chair, sitting up straight as though that was going to streamline absorption, I was relieved when I finally reached the  end.  I’m commenting on this because it was a new feeling.  Usually, I get a little sad when a book is ending and tend to drift off before reaching the end, perhaps to keep the end from coming…Anticipating the need for a new beginning I picked up another paperback off a stoop today and wonder, already, how that story will end.

This seems to be a theme with me:  a pounding desire to know how the story ends.  It didn’t occur to me until pretty recently that this may be a trend worth diverting.  Perhaps, like the mighty Mississippi, I can reshape my own path and carve a channel through a more patient and meandering landscape.  I think to myself (everyday) that I want to write a book and then think a little longer (every time) that I can only begin when I know how the story ends.  Tonight is the first time that it occurred to me that this may not be true.  Maybe I just need to know where it begins…

The last couple days in NYC have proven to be filled with stories.  Cue up a soundtrack of some old timey Rugged Sauce and ease into Paul Simon playing his acoustic guitar to a silent Webster Hall then fade into a jubilant David Byrne followed by a melancholy and over-crowded Andrew Bird.  In front of the music was a hard lost fight with an endless To-Do list, some unidentified ailments and a little caffeine. Perhaps more excitement than some people score in a lifetime but, for me, a rather typical week.  It’s utterly overwhelming.

Pinch me, I'm dreaming

I keep waiting to wake up feeling ‘normal’ and it keeps escaping me.  Overseas I dreamt of the ease with which my life unfolded in America.  Now that I’m back I realize how easy I had it beyond the beyond.  The grass is always greener…the water always clearer…the smog always smoggier in the space between what we know and what we think we know.  It’s both reassuring and a little anticlimactic to constantly realize that wherever you go, there you are.

Old Rugged Sauce - Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club

Succumbing to the overwhelmption (should I trademark that word?) seems to be the only course of action.  The things to do, places to go and people to see are not going to decrease in number.  It’s up to me to make the space, make the time and make it work.  It’s breezy tonight in New York City and I have opened my windows wide, allowing the wind to stir me up, fill my sails and carry me a little ways.

Lonely Geometry

There’s a city in my mind…it’s very far away but it’s growing day by day…but it’s alright…

Where the magic happens

I wish it was as easy to upload my thoughts as it is my photographs.   I’ve been skimming snippets and poetry up like leaves floating on the surface of a swimming pool.   Thoughtful muck, as it were, with the intent of slopping it up here so the light of day can dry it out, deconstruct it.  The sun is shining now so there’s a chance I might make some sense of things yet.

10 days in the Alps was as fun as it was intense and I can state frankly that I am very lucky to find myself at home, surrounded by friends, almost everywhere I go now.  A gift of incessant wandering.  Though my focus was on work, I did manage to squeeze in some p.m.k. action for Innsbruck’s Sound City 2011, some grillage and some fishcicles at the Eibsee.

HGichT, short for heute gehe ich taut (loosely translated as, today i’m gonna  die), seemed to be well loved by everyone around me though, if I’m honest, I found it more weird than meaningful.  Its possible that some art cannot translate beyond its linguistic and cultural boundaries and, if that’s the case, it could explain things.  You can google them or youtube them if you’re curious to get to the bottom of it and I’ll just leave you with my visual impressions and one of my favorite shots of the show…

HGichT - p.m.k.

More inspiring than the sweaty Germans was the way the sunlight reflected off the Zugspitz and played on the surface of the turquoise and silver Eibsee.  A couple friends and I peddled from island to island and wrapped up the adventure with some smoked fish, brezen and – eventually – homemade pizza back in IBK.  You can explore this Bavarian treasure a little more right here

Zugspitz from the Eibsee - Bavaria, Germany

Shimmer - Eibsee

The grillage and other assorted love and kindness in Kufstein warmed my heart and will keep it warm until I get back to the Tirol later this year to re-up and rodle.

As expected, arriving home to Brooklyn felt like I hoped it would.  If you can imagine the skyscrapers, bridges and beltways all wrapping around me like ribbons, it was the hug of all hugs.  State Street is a great street and to celebrate my life in New York (and on the planet) I opted to take a few days off to simply absorb the Spring, my city and catch my breath.  As I write, a 72 degree breeze is flowing over me and the sound of leaves rustling and birds chirping is filling the air.  It was a good call to take some time.  Some nesting, some baking, some wandering, some music and some time left still to rack up some “somes” …

Last night, when finding myself standing between Spike Jones and Johnny Knoxville at the Mercury Lounge, it occurred to me that I am madly in love with New York.  It was more likely the amazing rendition of Birthday Boy by Danjaboots V1.1 or the wildly talented Jonny Corndawg that had me so elated but, throw some Roger Alan Wade and random celebrities in the mix and it’s hard to identify exactly where the magic happened.  It did though.  I am still editing pix but here’s a glimpse at a few…

Danjaboots V1.1 - Mercury Lounge

Jonny Corndawg - Mercury Lounge - NYC

I’m gonna go feel some sun on my face now.  You should too.

Cosmic Sandpaper

The weekend is crawling to its close; on its last legs but not quite finished.  I should be packing a bag right now, planning my week and trip but my mind can’t leave this moment.  I’m content to leave all the details for the morning and while away in Sunday evening.

The weekend surprised me.  Actually, the last couple weeks surprised me.  Since I returned to New York I have felt a little numb.  I thought there was a chance that the city would have a Novocaine-like effect on me and the irony is that I have been numb to my own numbness.  Drifting through the days and nights, so filled with so much goodness, I am tingling now; coming to, shaking off the anesthesia and feeling flooded with all the bits and pieces of the last weeks.  The details that I normally like to wade in are flooding me and I’m happy to sit here on my couch and let them.

The thing about moving is it shatters routines to pieces and lays waste to the order of what was.  Disorientation is like cosmic sandpaper; buffing and polishing as it wears away edges and reveals the essence of things.  In my own lost way, I can see familiar pieces of me bobbing up to the surface, tied loosely together with new threads and modified perspectives.  Retrospectives.  Connectro-spectives.  The rhythm of conceive, create, experience, reflect that I relied on like clockwork to measure my careful days is now more like free form jazz.  There is space between the notes,  they jumble and then pause, they collect and then spill over…yesterday’s metronome is obselete and my clockwork has melted like Dali’s Persistence of Memory.  Dripping and moving like liquid finding it’s new level.   I have no idea what my new level is going to look like and I can’t guess when full sensation will return.  I have no idea what my routine will evolve into and I am looking forward to finding a new rhythm for this new soundtrack that is my life.

If the past few days are any kind of indicator, I think the rhythm might rock ’cause there are a lot of good stories heating up like coals in the fire…

Reunion

New York Fucking City!

If you’re wondering about this shot, it was taken last night on the tail end of the tail end of a frozen margarita (or 2) after the Rocks Off Rock and Roll Walking Tour.  I learned some things, had some fun and shot some pictures

NJPW Invasion Tour

Had I known that Rock and Roll history was going to lead me to the East River, under a bridge and smack dab into the middle of some Japanese Pro-Wrestling, well, I might have brought my camera.  OH WAIT!  I did.  Click here to see some more photos of these legends (or whatever).  Good times.  Great oldies.