Touch of a World That is Older

I feel a hot wind on my shoulder
And the touch of a world that is older
I turn the switch and check the number
I leave it on when in bed I slumber
I hear the rhythms of the music
I buy the product and never use it
I hear the talking of the DJ
Can’t understand just what does he say?
—-Wall of Voodoo, Mexican Radio

Apartment Building, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Think of the radio

When I was a kid I was really interested in archaeology. I even joined a local archaeologist club and had a fantasy of going out somewhere and digging crap up. Of course, nothing ever happened. I loved a book about archaeology called Gods Graves and Scholars. I was always fascinated by this photo from Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza - from the book Gods, Graves, and Scholars

Chichen Itza – from the book Gods, Graves, and Scholars

A couple decades or so ago, I found myself in the exact same spot – sort of cool. It turns out that photo was taken from the top of the great pyramid.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

But as far as actual archaeology goes… nada.

Now I’m cleaning out my garage, organizing, sorting and throwing as much stuff away as I can. Finally, I feel like an archaeologist, slowly moving through the detritus of the past, working layer by layer, trying to understand the purpose of things that have been long forgotten.

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I Influence It

“The past does not influence me; I influence it.”
― Willem de Kooning

Seated Woman, Willem de Kooning, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas



Oblique Strategy
: Give way to your worst impulse

There is nothing as exhausting as facing your fears – no matter how things turn out. It is so tiring, I’m not sure it’s even worth it.

Seven in Seven

Where are we going? Life, the timeless, mysterious gift, is still evolving. What wonders, or terrors, does evolution hold in store for us in the next ten thousand years? In a million? In six million? Perhaps the answer lies in this old house in this old and misty valley…
—-Control Voice, The Outer Limits, The Sixth Finger

Oblique Strategy: Use Fewer Notes

I am not a fan of internet memes, challenges, viral videos, cat images, or Rick Ashtley.

However, when I was invited to do the “Seven ‘Days, Seven Black and White Photos” on Facebook, I decided to do the thing.

Because I wanted to.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Practically Nothing Is Going On

“Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons

Downtown Fort Worth, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Retrace your steps

What are the reasons for the modern vertical big city downtown? Maybe three is no reason… maybe they just are, like a mountain or an ocean. Maybe simply the value of a square foot of property.

There is the perceived need to pack a large number of lawyers, accountants, and administrative assistants together in order to foster some sort of symbiotic synergy between them. Think of the three dimensional human density in a fifty story high rise… it is unprecedented. I saw a documentary on The Lost Boys of Sudan – the Africans were brought to Houston and given ordinary apartments. They had never seen a two story building and were constantly afraid of falling through the roof of the first floor. Imagine their reaction in a skyscraper.

With today’s multi-use towers, will we have people born, live, work, and die in the same building? It’s certainly possible. It may be inevitable.

But I think the real reason for skyscrapers is to impress the rubes. To amaze the hayseeds off the farm and in the city for the first time. After all, they are the only ones that look up.

Sublime Is Something You Choke On

“Now tequila may be the favored beverage of outlaws but that doesn’t mean it gives them preferential treatment. In fact, tequila probably has betrayed as many outlaws as has the central nervous system and dissatisfied wives. Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!”
― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

“Sublime is something you choke on after a shot of tequila.”
― Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Agave, Dallas Library

Oblique Strategy: Simply a matter of work

There is something gloriously insane about drinks made out of cactus. Do the spines infuse the alcohol?

I don’t know if this is a Blue Agave or not – probably not. That means if you ferment and distill it, you wouldn’t get tequila, you’d get mezcal – which is crazier still. There is a saying in Oaxaca, Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también. (For every ill, mezcal, and for every good as well.).

Decades ago, when I was working in St. Louis on the Times Beach Dioxin cleanup I was at a late night party in a hotel corridor – the kind of decadent insanity that you see in a large group of young people that don’t know each other very well, working hard, long hours a long, long way from home. A woman took a bottle of mezcal, stuck it in her mouth and tilted her head back. We watched as she let the worm settle down through the clear liquid, down the neck of the bottle, and into her mouth. Without using her hands, only a gulp, the worm and a healthy helping of mezcal were gone.

For me, watching this, it was love at first sight. Unfortunately, I had no idea who she was and never saw her again.

I Lift My Gaze

All of a sudden, as if a surgical hand of destiny had operated on a long-standing blindness with immediate and sensational results, I lift my gaze from my anonymous life to the clear recognition of how I live. And I see that everything I’ve done, thought or been is a species of delusion or madness. I’m amazed by what I managed not to see. I marvel at all that I was and that I now see I’m not.
—-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy: Convert a melodic element into a rhythmic element

I sit there with my camera ready to raise and shoot… waiting for the woman to take another sip of beer. Sitting there waiting with my weapon in my hand, ready to raise and shoot, like a big game hunter… or more like a little kid with a BB gun waiting on a sparrow to land within range.

Stronger and Stranger

“I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes”
― Vladimir Nabokov

Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Dallas, Texas

Oblique Strategy – Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events

I want to take more photos of people… and that is difficult for me. There is a high wooden bench, built into the wall, in the yard at Deep Ellum Brewing company. It is a great place to people-watch or to sit with a longer lens and shoot.

There was a family, with two young sons, out enjoying the beautiful fall Texas early afternoon. The two young boys were not very happy for a while – they looked tired and bored – cranky and on the verge of crying. Kids do that. Kids do that a lot.

I thought about shooting the pouty sad expressions – despite their misery, they were photogenic and the picture would have been funny. But they settled down quickly and this peaceful photo of one with their mother turned out to be the one I liked.

Like a bad memory I deleted the others. I think if we remembered all the tired, grumpy and frustrating times in our lives as clearly as we did the beautiful fall afternoons we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.