Okay, maybe I’m finally losing what’s left of my mind. Due to the loss of a family member and a constant reminder that my neurological issues are continuing to fuck with my balance. I’ve been doing my best to stay busy and creative. For the most part, I’ve splitting my free time tending to my music column United By James and reconnecting with my love of photography. Along with purchasing some Neutral Density Filters and a wireless remote, I’ve been revisiting and getting reacquainted with my Canon 5D’s many functions and even planned a few photo related outings for memorial day weekend. As for the picture on the right. I took it after hearing about a family members passing. It was shot 5:43 pm on a tripod at 1.0 seconds and f/14. The ISO was 250. It was taken to convey loss and perhaps the sense of loneliness we tend to feel when losing someone we love.
Over time, I began to include a few pictures of the crowds expressions, participation and overall reaction to particular acts, sets and song. For as long as I’ve attended shows and gone to concerts, every act with little to no exception, had a particular song that the audience knew every word, hook and breakdown. While it was always a great opportunity to capture the moment when a singer reaches his emotional halcyon or time the moment when the guitarist launches in the air. It might also be the perfect opportunity to catch the reaction to the crowd. The images to your right were captured about eight years apart. The above captures the crowd at a Revelation Records showcase at CBGB’s. While the one below shows the emotion of the crowd during a set by the band Thursday at Atlantic City’s House of Blues.
Though my mom and step dad’s move to a New Jersey suburb was partially due to an attempt to provide a better and perhaps, safer environment for us, it also offered windows to many other unforeseen dangers. One being, somewhat unsupervised weekend back in Queens where I originated. With my dad having moved to Staten Island to be live with his soon to be wife, it was up to my grandmother to not only host me but act as a parental force.
My grandmother, God rest her soul, was an angel in every way imaginable, yet with all her intelligence and grace she embodied, she lacked when it came to her role as a disciplinary figure. A weakness that gave me the free reign I sought on the weekends as a sixteen-year-old looking to find his freedom by sampling everything on the menu.
On one particular night, I met up with two good friends in search of alcohol and whatever else we could find. I remember the night air being cool but not cold, leaving us warm enough to cover a lot of ground and stay out late. Being the lightweight, I always was when it came to drinking. I had a heavy buzz after just three beers. So much so, that by the time we reached our final destination at the local public school steps, I was eager to sit down and share a blunt with someone I had met before but didn’t know that well.
Noted, though I never got into hard drugs or even smoking cigarettes, I did enjoy marijuana and the occasional joint and enjoyed the harmless buzz it provided. Doing so with someone I didn’t know, and trust was an epically bad idea, one that I would quickly regret.
Though what happened on the ten-block walk from the schoolyard is clouded by a combination of alcohol and drug intake, I completely flipped out and recalled being slammed on the concrete after attacking one of my friends. The next thing I remember is getting dumped on the steps in front of my grandmother’s apartment. Within a few minutes, I was able to find my keys and make my way inside.
Imagine the surprise and flat out shock when my father stood waiting at the top of the stairs. “Sorry, dad. I’m pretty fucked up.” I slurred. “I can tell,” he remarked. “Go take a shower and get some sleep.” “We’ll discuss this in the morning.” By then, his soon to be wife would often throw him out when he broke curfew and came home drunk from the bar. It only seemed natural to run back to his mom’s place.
There was a short period between making my way from the living room, through the kitchen and onto the bathroom where I must have blacked out. My father tells me he heard a loud crash. When he found me, he tells me I had collapsed before I had made it to the shower. He often remarks on how my entire body had turned gray, which made him think I might be dead. My father had made some phone calls to some of the people I might have seen that night. I recall being flanked by two of my close friends with my father standing in the doorway.
The night finished with me sending a barrage of curse words and insults at my father. “Fuck you!” “What are you looking at?” “You’ve never done anything for me.” “You knew we were struggling. Why didn’t you ever pay child support.” Mean, vile things that I have apologized for and will always regret. When I woke up the next morning, I remember my legs feeling weak and needing time to find my balance. Dad and I had a long talk, during which I apologized. I remember him laughing and saying, “You had a rough night. I hope you learned your lesson.” Before taking me out for breakfast, he added, “I don’t see any reason to bring this up with your mom.” If he had, my punishment, constant lecturing, and threats of not paying for rehab would have lasted much longer than one night of incredibly bad decisions and judgment on my part. In the end, I learned that the joint I smoked contained PCP. A drug that I’m sure some of my friends could handle. As for someone who never did more than smoke a little grass, it wrecked me.
The recent fears of a pandemic and warnings that suggest social distancing have got us trying to stay sane as we continue to spend more and more time in lockdown. As shaking hands and sharing germs with strangers has come to a screaming halt, I’ve found more and more time to read books, listen to records, and rekindle my interest in old hobbies. When I went downtown to Pike street to pick up some refilled medication. I got a real chill, seeing what a ghost town the often lively area has become. I’ll tell you, shit doesn’t get more real than this.
As someone who grew up, lived, worked and went to school in the boroughs of New York City, I thought I’d seen it all. From the dark days of a crime-ridden city, the crack epidemic, and two terrorist attacks, one that shook the towers in 1993 and another that brought them down in 2011. However, moving to Seattle has reintroduced me to some of those somewhat dark times. On the day this picture was taken, we had witnessed much of what Seattle has succumbed to. The homeless camps and tent cities on the sides of the highway, the mentally ill clashing with random passerby’s, and people are shooting up on the sidewalks, allies, and in public bathrooms. While I can’t help but feel for these people and their suffering. I can’t help but feel the atmosphere created by the politicians and appointed authorities foster it. Ax much as I’ve loved and appreciated my almost three years here. I can’t help but wonder when the powers that be will get off their duffs and find real solutions that can be put to work to help these people while saving their own city and state. Only time will tell.
Earlier this morning, I took some time to revisit some prior posts on the blog. Initially, I wanted to check to see if anything needed editing or, if thoroughly embarrassing or inappropriate, deleted. As I quickly found myself going back to my years as a Jersey City resident, I was happy to see that the overall tone of my posts was overwhelmingly positive. Getting to see my life, travels, and experiences documented through words and images reinforced my belief that starting this blog more than ten years ago served as much more than an opportunity to share m passion for photography.
Blogging allowed me to communicate my thoughts while sharing my work. Perhaps the most unexpected gain has been finding consistency, and being able to backtrack and see my progress has been rewarding, though there’s always plenty of room for improvement and growth. I feel that it’s more than worth the effort and time. I created and built this blog on my love of photography, art, and life itself. I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve taught, and I hope to continue to learn more about myself and life before sharing my ups, downs, and experiences with the people who dare to read and follow. Here’s to the future, present, and even the past.
I’ve quickly found myself becoming an angry old man. You know, the kid of one who shakes his fist at the clouds and yells at kids to get off his lawn. Considering I was an angry kid and an angry adult, this should come as no surprise to me or anyone who’s been lucky enough to know me for a while. Still, maybe for the first time in my life, I find myself attempting to relearn how to think and go about my life without judging others and perhaps be a tad less harder on myself.
Forgiveness and closure are powerful tools that have brought me more peace than I could have ever wished for. While I’m still learning and trying new ways to balance life. Having overall lower exceptions when it comes to myself and others has been a game changer. I still struggle to find that balance and overall acceptance that, no matter how much I wish it, we do not live in a perfect world.
This morning, as I waited for the library to open. I did my share of people watching. As I perused the steady flow of commuters, panhandlers and tourists. I became somewhat fixated on the amount of people stopping to take pictures in front of the library. Having lived just blocks away in Hell’s Kitchen for years. Places like Times Square, 5th Avenue and even the storied 42nd st. were areas I avoided at all costs. I guess seeing these things on a daily basis for close to ten years can take some of the glimmer out of things. Until this day, the mere thought of going anywhere near Times Square sends douche chills to places I didn’t know existed. With about a half hours wait left before the 10:00 am opening. I noticed a pretty young lady approach the library. Armed with a backpack and a fully armed selfie stick. She proceeded to spend the next thirty minutes taking pictures of herself. Not the architecture, the city she came to visit or even the bum who lay within feet of her fancy sandal. Herself!
Later on, as I was roaming the halls. I saw that same girl walking in front of me. Slowly cruising the same corridors as yours truely. You would think any traveler would stop to take in the countless years of history and culture. The colors and texture of a living landmark. Instead, her slowed pace was to properly analyze the half hour or so of diligent self preservation. Now I would never go as far as saying I hate these kind of people. I wouldn’t even say I feel sorry for them. The truth is, it bothers me… and for the life of me, I will never understand or relate to them. Where are we going from here? I don’t know.