Friday, December 14, 2018

...Waaay Out In the Water, See It Swimming

Most of my work from this last year is sitting in a hard drive, unreviewed.  This time of year is always difficult to get through, partially because the holidays make me want to firmly place an ice pick in my brain, but mainly because I am forced to go back through another lost year and review what I accomplished, and, while we (not the royal) did accomplish a lot this year, I spent most of it wondering what the fuck I was doing, and flailing about like an angry child.  Now that I've really understood that I've spent my entire life apologizing for existing, I'm beginning to understand that the wall I hit earlier this year was less about where I'm going, and more about who I am.  I've always felt like an impostor.  Everything I was always praised for were simple things for me, and I knew that I could really be amazing at things if I tried harder, but I never reached that point, always seemingly waiting for the right time or opportunity.  Now I'm just an old face that used to be good at things, like the trailer-trash, 40-something cousin who still tells stories about being the quarterback in high school.

...Your head will collapse if there's nothing in it.
And you'll ask yourself...


....... why am I hugging a tumbleweed?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Pros and Cons of Being

 We met some great people on this last adventure, and I'm glad we met them; I hope we remain friends; but I felt so incredibly out of place, and walked away feeling ashamed of myself for how I see the world.  Clearly, what I have to say and how I feel doesn't matter, in that it isn't changing anything.  I've been repeating myself long enough to finally be convinced that there is something wrong with me.  Call it what you want; dig up some elusive psychological dysfunction; I must simply be a little bit retarded, and I have to come to terms with that at some point.

 I recently started a new project with one brave soul, and was completely excited about it until I really watched the footage.  What was supposed to be a project about a "normal" person's experience with the vulnerability of being naked, turned into me going on a on about me, and what I'm doing.  I've been doing this for twenty-five years, and I'm still defending myself; I'm still trying to convince people that I'm not doing what they assume I'm doing... which was what I did for over a decade of said time by complete accident... and I have come to terms with the fact that no one will ever understand that I ignorantly didn't know any better.
I'm forty-one years old, doing what I love (time and finances permitting), and investing most of my time and energy into making excuses for something that I have been obsessed with since I was a child; I've spent most my life making excuses for existing... and like five people get it..... so what the fuck am I doing?  I really never felt like I was good enough.  I always put unrealistic expectation on myself that I could never live up to; not this guy in this world.  More importantly, I have always demanded that people understand things that I clearly don't.  How do I expect anyone to just be, with someone who spends so much time apologizing for being?  At some point I imagine I will have to stop apologizing for being me, but this has been a depressing couple weeks for this stupid guy in this stupid world.  Everyone is free to not understand what I'm talking about, including me, and I am also free to keep going.  I still don't want to conform to your spoon fed ideal, but I'm tired of feeling doomed to fail, while worrying about paying bills.  I've been approaching a cross-road for the better part of this year, staring blankly in the mirror, obsessively checking on likes and followers like a child searching for approval from his parents.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Spinning Plates

 Somewhere between a combat ceremony and Rohatsu Sesshin...




I am flailing at finding a balance between being a bad father, a husband that can do better, a horrible friend, an adequate brewer, and a mediocre creative.


This place... *blank twitch*


Breathe *chokes on coffee*

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

11/11/2018(11)

 Going on four years since that fateful message asking me if I would be interested in shooting her because she had some "self" to figure out and love, having no idea that I grow on people like a fungus, we have found ourselves with a family, living a life together, and, surprisingly, she isn't as sick of looking at my dopey old face as I am.  I have referred to her as my wife for years, because we're doing this, so most assumed that it was so, but it wasn't, and now it is... or is it?

Either way, I am strangely happy.

 We wanted to have a simple little ceremony at Yokoji, with just Tenshin Roshi and the kids, but that gradually evolved into close family that made the journey, which was exactly what it was supposed to be.  I've been into my history with this place, but while I was at home reading about Zen, she was actually going there.  I doubt that I would have ever checked this beautiful place out without her to hide behind, and quickly felt like part of the family, until I had to wander back off into the world to carry water and chop wood for my own family.

We all got sick the week before the wedding, and I was naturally the last to feel it, so by the time family started to show up from out of town, I was curled up in the corner.  We managed to level off before the ceremony, and everything went beautifully.  It was wonderful to meet family that I have heard so much about, but a definite highlight was that my first born daughter, who has been noticeably absent in recent years, made it up, which really made me feel this second chance that I am blessed with.
 I have written about that often, but I am finally really starting to feel it.  My first two marriages were complete opposites, and both maliciously destroyed by me, but I needed them to become who I am.  What really weighed heavy on my heart these last twenty years was the kids I left behind with the first marriage.  While they have been thoroughly taken care of, I wasn't there, other than to pop in and take them to a movie every now and then, par to their mother's wishes.  Then when I was banished to the desert it was reduced to holidays, and the birthday/Father's Day calls stopped.  Since I have settled in to this beautiful new family, we have tried to bring my older kids back into our lives, but haven't been successful.  I still have no way to contact my daughter, and my son is nowhere to be found.  In the mean time, we have so much to be grateful for, and still have a lot of each other to figure out.  My first two marriages were fizzling out by three years, but we didn't start in the chemically induced blindness of standard societal relationships; we fought to build this family, and will keep fighting, whether a piece of paper says we are or not.
This is still sinking in for me, and we are both recovering from the weekend.  We had our reception at my work, where I brewed a bride ale with manzanita berries that turned out to be a pretty good beer, that the "religious" family didn't drink.  Though, despite their religious differences, they all enjoyed the ceremony, except for my mom, who used our fidgety youngest to leave the Buddha Hall and narrowly escape bursting into flames.  I will have much more to say about this, but as for now, we are just tired, and the world is up one Ellirand(Borntrager)..... and my head is cold.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ziel

"There is a war between the sexes in this nation, between those who believe they are destined to be predators and those they deem prey. Resistance to gender domination has intensified that war. As feminist thinking and practice looses visibility, many females look to patriarchy for their salvation. More than ever before in our nation's history, females are encouraged to assume the patriarchal mask and bury their emotional selves as deeply as their male counterparts do. Females embrace this paradigm because they feel it is better to be a dominator than to be dominated. However, this is a perverse version of gender equality that offers women equal access to the house of the dead. In that house there will be no love."


~ Bell Hooks

Feminism as we know it failed because they were doing it wrong. I finally understand that, and there's nothing I can do about it. The Zen puzzle and the patriarchal conundrum cancel each other out. You can not destroy something by becoming it, but it is you, so neither it nor you exist, only what you want them to be.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Resignation

"What does it mean when I'm in a trap that I can't get out of? There's no way of getting out of this trap. Well what it means is that you and the trap are the same thing. You're not caught, because when there's nobody in the trap, there's no trap. See that? As long as you think that you're in the trap, then the trap's got you, but when you know you're the trap, then what has the trap got? If you're trying to get out of the game, you're trapped... no way out... but when you have found that you and the game are the same, there's no game to get out of; there's no one to get out of the game...


... and that is true resignation."


 ~ Alan Watts 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Wirklichkeit Impromptu

Op. 67

Chopin's body is buried where he died, in France, sprinkled with some Polish soil that he kept with him for almost two decades, but his heart, par to his wishes, was removed from his body, taken back to Warsaw, Poland, and enshrined in a container of cognac.


Creatives.

"Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on."

"When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher."

Friday, October 19, 2018

Regrowth

“I love people as I meet them one by one. People are just wonderful as individuals. You see the whole universe in their eyes if you look carefully. As soon as they begin to group; as soon as they begin to clot; when there are five of them, or ten, or even groups as small as two, they begin to change. They sacrifice the beauty of the individual for the sake of the group.” ~ George Carlin

This has certainly been the year of model drama, not directly with me, but in general. I’ve worked with more models this year than any of the last eight years, by far, and only one of them could be described as a bad experience, but I still managed to get something decent out of it. I worked with more people last year, but most of them were locals, while this year only gave me one small group of locals. Now we hunker down and try to make it through another winter, while trying not to think about the amount of money I spent on said models... though I'm sure it will come up at some point. I can not even begin to describe how grateful I am to have a family and still be able to do what I love, within reason, but this recent divide that I have reached has left the futility of it all weighing heavy on me. My wife is still hot and cold with it all, while I've never really been focused on anything other than this, so we don't understand each other on a lot of levels. She is still doing this primarily because she thinks I need her to, and I keep telling her that she doesn't need to do it.

Such is the life of art, though. Creatives are generally left to resort to solitude because they are surrounded by souls who don't get the drive, hence the common story of misery and suffering, which, ironically, only pushes the passionate boundaries of the drive. I want to believe Elizabeth Gilbert's take on positivity in creativity, but when you have spent your entire life perpetuating the misery for the sake of story and art, that Daemon seems to nap in times of comfort. I've thrown the word 'art' around here a lot, but I still don't really consider myself an artist, aside from the philosophy that there is an art to everything. I still struggle with that. So many people say they love my work, but it's not really work by societal definition. I call it work because I am always in it, but I treat it less like work and more like life. Life isn't work. Life just happens, and even when you give up on it, it just keeps going. Regardless, very few of my few readers and followers refer to what I do as art. I suppose the fact that I continue to do it despite any sort of real spotlight, for the love of it, makes it art.
...and just like that, the tangents are back. This is what happens when you need to write, but didn't really plan anything out before you get to it. Repeat and fade... 


 More than the 'work' itself, which at this point seems to have even less purpose in terms of style and theme, spiraling off into wider, illegible lines from an over used organic medium that needs to be sharpened, I have always been more interested in hearing the stories from all these wandering works of art. Like maliciously living a life with an interesting plot line, these are stories and plot lines far more interesting than mine, staring into some glass that freezes their moments forever. Each city, each photographer, each frozen moment is a story, good or bad or both or neither. The sub plots of real life intertwine with art and create depth that no one can fake. Beautiful souls are traveled, and I have tried so desperately to become a beautiful soul by creating in my mind what I could never create in my reality. When I met this amazing woman, she was surprised that I never really left my little corner of the world. At the end of the day, no matter what the story, I will always be limited to this.

For years, the stories I got from models were of beautiful and terrifying personal journeys. In this year of drama, the stories have been more gossip related. 'He said, she said'... 'I heard...'.. 'this is what really happened'........... 'that's not what really happened'... blacklists and backstabbing. At first I appreciated it, really learning about the community, but I have heard so many different accounts of the same events, so many different perspectives, that I just have to slouch down in my corner and accept that we are all just painfully human. George Carlin nailed it: "I love people as I meet them one by one..." This creative community has certainly began to clot, and hearing all the stories about 'who did what to who', 'who doesn't like who and why', has made something I love even more depressing, especially the 'who is sleeping with who'. In my really getting into this on a professional level, I had to rewire my brain and stop pursuing relationships to get a photograph, which means taking the relationship out of the work, and most of what I see is still perpetuating that negative paradigm.
I realize that we are all human, we all have basic desires and needs, but I genuinely feel that when you demean the beauty by reducing it to base desires, you negate the work on some level, unless that's the level that your creativity exists on. I shoot my wife, sure, but she's my wife first, and I'm just lucky that she happens to be all amazing and shootable. When I work with souls who travel the world as works of art, I am incapable of seeing them as such basic creatures, especially within the conundrum of so many creatives complaining about how they are treated, sexually... then you hear some stories, tilt your head, and knot your brain trying to figure out why so many people want both... at their convenience.
Now that I do know more about the seedy underbelly of this potentially beautiful community, I feel even more distanced from it. The attitudes of most of the creatives who really get attention and are followed by the masses are not representative of how I see the world, but they get the work, they get the praise, they get the likes and shares, they sell the prints and the books, they're in galleries and magazines, they have models lined up to be demeaned by them, and I am left the fool for being proud of evolving past that life, my 20s. I use the word 'most' broadly, and try to keep those who I believe appreciate what I'm talking about in my news feed, but this is all so very very depressing. I am the charred remnants of hope, waiting patiently for this forest to replenish itself. The creative community that I always dreamed of, where everyone loves each other, and takes care of each other, as the beautiful works of art that we are, will exist for me some day, even if I have to fall completely into delusion to find it.


Tabula rasa armonioso con anima.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Drip

“…many men caught in patriarchy’s embrace are living in a wilderness of spirit where they are utterly and always alone.” ~ Bell Hooks

This book is making sense of a lot of things for me, but I only get to read about once a week.  I obviously get to write even less.  So often I formulate a post, and set aside time to write it, only to find I have too much shit to do, or little humans poking at me.  Such is the life of a creative with children.  I remember reading Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing, and him describing having a wife and children who separated from him to let him write, even having a desk in the garage, and his kids tapping on the window because they wanted to play.  It doesn't really work like that, and I don't necessarily want it to, but... even now I have a two year old running figure-eights through my legs and pulling at my pants, while I write, standing, at work because our power is out.  It's cute... until it's not...but I love it... until I don't... then I'll miss it... just keep going.
I don't want my kids to ever have to tap on the window of my office because they are so desperate for attention.  There is something very sad about that.  Where is the line drawn, though? So many people have said that you can accomplish something while having everyone pulling at you, but most of the creatives I have read up on only accomplished something significant by alienating their families.  What I was going to write a week ago is gone now.  The only way it could have existed in my endless train of thought is if I would've sat down and written it then.  Even if I were to remember the premise of what I was going to write, it's going to be different a week later, because everything is different a week later.  In order to be genuine, you have to write it now... you have to shoot it now... it will never be what it is right now.  On the other hand, when I go through my writing, as far back as high school, I am basically making the same argument, slightly altered to account for experience and understanding, so maybe just waiting until the kids are old enough and my wife is bored enough to leave me alone is fine... if I'm still alive...
...pick up the oldest from school and drop her off at art class... what was I talking about?

Yesterday I started a post with the proceeding quote and went into my often joking, in the past, about having never been more alone than when I was married.  That elaborated into expectation that people put on relationships, and inability to accept people for who they genuinely are, which I thought was poignant and necessary... but I can't post that.  Who the hell am I, anyway?  What do I know about human relationships, other than the observation that they perpetually fail and no one can really seem to understand why?  Regardless, that argument was ranting on only the last word of the quote about patriarchy, which I hoped to tie in later, but what was I going to write?...because I didn't write it and have no idea where I was going or why.  I highlighted the quote because I have always felt that way... living in a wilderness of spirit where I am utterly and always alone... we're running low on diapers and the two year old just blew out the second one in a couple hours.
Were you to ask my father about how I was as a child, he would tell you that I cried a lot...not that I felt a lot... because I'm a boy.  If I were a girl, like my mother wanted, it would simply be written off as me being an emotional child.  Truth is, we're all just human beings.  We all feel, and the more you coddle girls for feeling and punish boys, the more you are perpetuating this system that is destroying itself.  Feminism is so much more than demanding equal rights and treatment for women; It's about demanding equal heart for men.  When the heart equalizes, everything equalizes.

Another basic observation to ponder: aside from the "locker-room" jobs I have worked in, and being unable to escape this sexualizing of the human body in the fine art world, it has been the women in my life, often "feminists", who have perpetuated the patriarchy in my story; they fell in love with the character I was playing to fit in, not with who I really was.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Raw

One last hurrah to celebrate the end of another summer, ironically: Nova. With everything that's been going on with me and my creative crisis, my last scheduled shoot of the year needed to be named "new," though I imagine she goes with more of the "star" part. She's in the midst of her own crossroads as well, having made the decision to step bad from modeling because she is sick of how models get treated, which I got to experience first hand while we were driving and she was trying to sort out hosting at her next stop. I'll just sum that up by saying I dropped her off at a hotel.

There has always been a little list of models I would love to work with, but years would usually go by before they were anywhere near me, and that would generally line up beautifully with a time in my life when I was counting change to put gas in my car.  This year has been a bit of a phenomenon for me because when I do get the nerve to reach out to a model, though their initial response is that they don't come out here, it isn't long before I catch a travel schedule that reveals that they are on their way, which is not to say that their LA experience is positive, per se, but I get to work with them...and hear about all the bullshit they have to deal with.

Anyone who truly knows me can tell you that I appreciate the stories and experience, meeting these beautiful souls, and I just happen to have a camera on me all the time and have always shot the experience, though my work is not as documentary as I'd like it to be.  Maybe that's the wall I'm hitting creatively?  Maybe...instead of random, seemingly themeless and styleless photographs, they need to start having more of a purpose, and I need to focus more on the stories and experience?  I don't know.

I do know that I crave real and raw people.  On our way out to this location she started asking what I wanted to shoot and how I wanted hair and make-up.  I just told her the same thing I told everyone else: however you want to be seen.  I have a natural aversion to anything made-up, because to me it represents the machine's control.  Most professional models, however, do have an image to maintain, and their paychecks depend on it, so I respect that, but it makes me sad on a much deeper level.  I understand, but I don't get it.  This beautiful soul was perfectly comfortable rocking her natural everything, war wounds from a recent shoot included, which was awesome.  In the first pic in this series her face was completely flushed and reddish from the heat and mild exhaustion.  I saw a lot of character in that, so I shot it, but I was sure to ask her if it was ok that I use it.  She was just like, "PSH... yeah."  At the end of the day, the treatment doesn't nearly represent how she actually looked: like she was about to pass out from the heat.  I feel like I should explain how we got to the middle of the desert, so I'll go back a bit.

Any time I talk to a traveling model who's coming through LA or SD, which is very rare and primarily dependent on finances, I offer rides and a place to crash, general help, to compensate for the money I can't afford to pay.  I DO pay, but it is often less than what is now hourly rates, out of necessity, not because I'm a greedy, arrogant photographer, which is becoming redundant.  In this particular case I offered her a ride to Vegas because there was an abandoned water park just shy of Zzyzx that I've been wanting to hit.  The original plan was for my model wife and kids to meet us out there, all of us shoot each other (she's a photographer, too), then I take Nova to Vegas and go back to camp with my family because my wife's birthday was the very next day.

That plan got nixed because of finances, but I had already offered and it was agreed upon, so that meant I was driving her out by myself.  My wife demanded that I stay in Vegas and not drive all the way home, but I'm not about to wake up in Vegas by myself on my wife's birthday while she's at home with the kids.  I left my little mountain at 6am, and the hour and a half drive to LA took about four hours, because fuck LA.  Left LA around 10, stopped at the abandoned water park and shot in 100+ degree desert for a couple hours, and ended up dropping her off in Vegas around 6:30pm... got back in my car, and drove home attempting to lie to my wife about where I was staying to keep something resembling a surprise intact.  I'm a horrific liar.  Stopped in Victorville to buy some flowers, and was home a little after midnight, but she was asleep and I didn't want to wake her up, so I quietly curled up on the couch.  She thinks I made a sacrifice to come home and surprise her; I think she makes sacrifices to let me run off with models to accomplish what I love.  I honestly can't wait until my girls are old enough to come with me and not need constant attention.
At the end of the day, this is what I wish I could do for most models.  I have had a number of models ask me for rides to PHX or SF, shoot on the way, but they always cancel last minute.  I'm not a big talker, but I appreciate those conversations.  Nova was amazing to meet and work with.  I just wish my wife could've been there.  I hate to hear that she, and many others, are getting sick of model life, but I completely understand how frustrating it must be.  I'm sure plenty of models have complaints about me, when I was figuring this all out eight years ago.  For the time being, my gratitude runs deep for the souls I have worked with this year, but I imagine I'll be taking some time off so my family doesn't drown.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

XXXIII

 Thirty-three seems like such a long time ago to me.  I was finally starting to figure myself out, but still had years before I even decided I wanted to survive my thirties.  I can't help but smile when this beautiful soul reaches those personal milestones that seemed so blessedly profound and blatantly obvious, as my flailing gradually got less extreme, and my accidentally harming those around me began to taper off.  Eight years ago I thought I was done with relationships. Although I was done playing the stupid games that most relationships require, it took a pretty extraordinary human being to show me that life could be even more beautiful.

She showed up in front of my camera for the wrong reasons, and I simply showed her the beauty that I saw in her, which she still cannot even begin to fathom.  She then pulled me out of a lonely world that I had become complacent with, having to accept that I would never have another chance to have and raise children, and showed me that I was waiting around for something that I didn't really want or need.  I was so anxious to just go, that I became frustrated with all those moments that relationships must go through, but she has stuck by me through my relearning process.
No, she was not a model that I started dating; she was a strong, independent woman, raising a daughter by herself, basically, who was on her own journey of growth and discovery.  She not only let me in, put she has pursued modeling because she knows it's something I love.  Now we have an amazing daughter together, to beautifully contrast her oldest daughter who I am doing my best to mold into a human being as beautiful as her mother.  Having such a gorgeous model with me at all times is just a bonus to being with such an amazing person and mother, and I couldn't ask for anything more.

Happy birthday, Love.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Privilege and Power

 We were recently inspired to embark on a journey with a beautiful tribe of women who are connected with this little mountain and the fire that came surreally close.  My wife took the lead, a FB event was created, and a small list of strong souls were invited.  The initial response was that the photographer needed to be a woman, which made me cringe because I have always wanted to do projects like this, but finding real, strong women to be involved is near impossible, so this would be yet another beautiful mountain tribe moment that I would be excluded from because of how I was born.  When I was presented as the photographer, the response was overwhelmingly positive, though I'm sure it did deter some from being involved, primarily those who don't know me, or haven't taken the time to really read my posts.  That support felt amazing, but by the end of the night, one of those invited demanded to hear a feminist's argument for the project, and argued that being naked in front of a "man's" camera did not support strong, independent women, but perpetuated the patriarchy and women's suffering.  Normally I would roll my eyes and refuse to engage, but my wife asked me to defend myself, which I've been doing my entire life, so my response was one that has gotten more and more angry and frustrated over the decades.  That, of course, fueled her argument, so she just kept bashing me and bringing up obscure things like English photographers exploiting African women, and it quickly became apparent that she wasn't even reading what I was writing, she just had a lifetime's list of predetermined arguments why this talking penis was wrong, so I stopped to breathe.  A number of women interested in the project jumped in to defend me, which felt amazing, and a number of souls who refused to engage in the argument later validated what I had to say.  By morning, my heart was heavy, wondering about what horrific things happened to this woman that would cause her to insert me into the role of MAN, having no idea who I was, and obviously having no knowledge of my work or point of view.

  I posted an apology, and a brief history of what I've dealt with as a "man" growing up in a system that I did not agree with, and what I have had to overcome to accomplish what I love.  She responded by giving me a list of feminist authors to read, and to learn about power and privilege.  *eye roll*. I have no power or privilege.  I live in poverty and servitude.  If anything, I have had less opportunity in my life because I'm a white male.  I have been surrounded by individuals who are handed opportunities because they're women or minorities, because it's "man's" job to take care of them or certain groups' job to look out for their own, while this patriarchal system has conditioned most to think that I'll be fine.  I'm not.  I have always needed help and support, and have had to make the most of having very little, and the help and support I did get was not because I was a white male, but because I am who I am, while I suffer constant attacks for being a white male, and false accusations based on others perception.  Such a privilege.

So I bought one of the authors she recommended, Bell Hooks' The Will To Change, because I will never pass up the opportunity to learn something.  To be perfectly honest, I have read nothing about feminism or patriarchy.  In the world I grew up in feminists were angry man-haters, and I hated men too, so I didn't think I really needed that redundancy in my life.  The closest I ever got to feminism was reading up on the beautiful and independent Imogen Cunningham, who blatantly refused to be a part of the feminist movement, but accidentally became a symbol of it because she just flipped everyone off and did what she wanted to do, despite the patriarchy and men.  She didn't stand on a soapbox and whine about how much men sucked.  Bell's approach took me by complete surprise.  The title of the preface, About Men, was an immediate turn-off, because she goes on about the rage and violence she was subjected to as a child, and lo and behold she found herself in similar relationships as an adult.  Hearing things like that hurt me deeply, and I did not want to read a book about the horrible things women have to suffer.  I am fully aware of those things.  On a personal level, I don't understand it, because, aside from observing the society at large that I grew to hate at a very early age, I never had to experience it.  The only aspect of patriarchy that I grew up with was my father being the provider, but he didn't treat us like his property.  He provided for us and and expected nothing in return.  I never saw rage or violence from my father, but I did see enough frustration and anger to respect him.  When I did something stupid, he would briefly explain why it was stupid, what the result would be, call me a bone-head, and tell me to stop it.  The only thing I was afraid of growing up was disappointing my father, which was expressed by a simple glance.  My mother made the decisions in the house, and he followed her.

I learned the pride of providing, and have always done whatever I can to support my family, because I love them and I want to, not because it's my job as a man.  The first chapter started with the statement that women just wanted to be loved by men, *cringe*, and ended with men needing to be loved and freed from the patriarchy, and there were some unexpected tears in between.  For the first time in my life, how I felt about the system was completely validated.  Bells' approach to patriarchy immediately pointed out that men are emotional time bombs, suffering constant emotional repression from the role that is demanded of them, which I have experienced first hand.  When I started blogging in 2009, the one constant note I got was that I talked too much about how I felt, and that most of my emotional rambling was unprofessional,  while female models' and photographers' blogs, riddled with emotion, were celebrated and coddled, mostly by men, who were simply playing out their patriarchal protective and dominant role.  The only real readers and followers I got over my almost decade of unnoticed and demeaned emotional rambling were women, because it is socially acceptable for women to feel and support emotion.  I could easily argue that the only reason I haven't "succeeded" as a creative is because I respond to the patriarchal roles with two middle fingers.

My blogging exploration into emotion and self discovery was also on the coat-tails of my second marriage unravelling by the firm gripping hand of patriarchy, and my struggling to be a part of it.  I spent my teens and twenties trying desperately to play a character that contradicted my nature, and that came to a head when I became an abusive "man", fueled by gin, whiskey, and self hatred, flailing miserably to figure things out.  Just shy of 30, my wife, who at this point had been driven to wander off to other men and bars, refused to come home one night, her excuse was that she was afraid I was going to kill her.  That seemed so absurd to me at the time, but I immediately stopped drinking and recognized that I was the problem.  A month later I accidentally killed someone, and every single thing in my life became a catalyst to change, obviously too late to save my marriage, and I honestly had a lot of work to do on myself, and still do.  God fucking bless my second wife for letting me experience that first hand, not that she "let" me do it, but she could have easily called the cops at any point in the entire year leading up to that, and she didn't.  I needed to see the fear and hurt I caused, in someone that I loved too much, but I didn't even understand love at 30, because the system never allowed me to.  Testament to the kind of woman she is, she hunted me down three years later, saw my blog, and sent me a message saying that she forgave me, veiled beautifully behind "I don't hate you anymore," and I regularly apologize to her now, veiled cleverly behind me making fun of the stupid shit I did.
So clearly this book brought up a lot of things, and I have already been blessed with so much more understanding, but I'm not sure if it's in the way that was intended, by someone who doesn't know me.  This shoot went beautifully.  I did not take many photographs, as there was a lot of getting comfortable time allotted.  By the time everyone seemed to settle in, two had to leave, but hopefully this opens a door for more shoots like this, and I am overwhelmingly grateful to everyone who showed up and helped this happen, because I can tell you from first hand experience, if I would have reached out to people and tried to make this work, it would not have, and that's not me being negative; that has been learned from a lifetime of trying, being forced to do it the wrong way out of necessity, suffering trying to do it the right way, then finally just giving up and settling for "professionals."...and if I don't get reads, shares, or attention because my feelings don't fit into the patriarchal system, I believe all of you are familiar with what my middle fingers look like. =)

Friday, August 31, 2018

κάλλος

So often in my life I have found myself under attack because my philosophy accidentally contradicts my work. My reality has never coincided with my wants or beliefs, id est, I believe that being human makes us beautiful, and it is our faults that make us human, but reality keeps anyone who has any features that don’t fit into our temporal aesthetic ideal from having any willingness to model, so I have to settle for those who have the confidence to pursue modeling, specifically fine art modeling, or those who are close enough to the unrealistic ideal to be comfortable allowing me to shoot them, which is often like pulling teeth, because EVERYONE has issues, mostly absurd, and I am often baffled why people can’t just be who they are. Chalk it off as ignorance on my part, but I do my best to live it. I’m just me: good at some things, great at a few, and horrible at most, especially when it comes to social interaction, by the standards that were set in place by the same society that instituted this destructive aesthetic ideal… so am I wrong, or are these unrealistic ideals absurd?…because I’m just me. 

 We are all born beautiful, and are conditioned to waste most of our lives trying to be or achieve something external that we are told is beautiful, but are, in reality, losing grasp of the very beauty that we were born with.

Beauty is not something you become, but something you are. Attitude is more important than attribute; attribute changes with nature, but when attitude remains, beauty remains. True, genuine beauty is standing naturally naked in front of the world, with the confident attitude that says, “this is what my body looks like. If you don’t like it, stop looking at it.” It doesn’t matter what you look like, and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or what social armor you’re hiding behind. All that matters is who you are.  It is also not about seeing anyone naked, or anyone seeing you naked; it is about being natural and naked and human, not needing to hide the things that make you human, because those things make you beautiful, and are a roadmap to your soul.  With that attitude and confidence, you can achieve the most beautiful aspect of this fleeting human experience: aging gracefully.

Things are changing.  

Friday, August 24, 2018

Angst, Ennui, and Weltschmerz

Amongst my odd collection of literature is a text on psychology I found at a thrift store in the desert for $1.00, The Psychology of Normal People, from 1940, I believe (highly entertaining). It was in this book, if I remember correctly, that it was explained that a nervous breakdown had nothing to do with the nervous system. It was actually a mental breakdown, but people would not accept the fact that our minds were so susceptible to such a failure, so they called it a nervous breakdown in order for people to be ok with it, because our nervous systems are out of our control, so it’s not our fault, whereas we were ignorant enough to think that we have complete control over our minds, when most of us are victimized by it on a daily basis, and changing the structure of our thought process requires years, often decades of un-fucking hardwired behavior that is often put in place before we are old enough to sort out the useful shit from the…well… shit. A simple synaptic misfire can cause someone to put their work key in their home lock and wonder why their key isn’t working. Bigger relay problems can cause people to drive through red lights because they know, without a doubt in their stable and controllable mind, that the light is green, when it’s not.

Even the most brilliant people lose their keys, but it’s usually because they aren’t exactly where they’re supposed to be. Just the fact that we use so little of our minds baffles me, and it should concern you. Even the most advanced sciences will admit that we still don’t truly understand the human mind. We can map out probabilities and isolate specific responses, but when it comes to fixing shit everyone is still “trying’’, pretty blindly, and the side effects of most psychotropic trying make it far easier to just learn how to deal with it. At the end of the day, the greatest thing we’ve learned about the brain is that it is best to just leave it alone, but the obsession drive in this animal is to understand everything, so we keep guinea pigging whatever idiot is game to try, and selling detrimental snake oil to whichever idiot can afford to pay for it, for science, and we just keep digging a deeper hole of confusion. So what happens when you’ve burned enough focused-magnifying-glass sized holes in your mind and you don’t live in a world where this intelligent species is smart enough to understand it, much less fix it? I think I’m on the verge of a mid-life crisis, and there’s nothing I can fucking do about it to appease this unquenchable thirst for what I can’t afford and don’t have access to.

So much has happened in these last few months, and I have posted nothing.  I feel creatively lost and strangled by the world I'm stuck living in.  Right after our fire evacuation, we went down to the desert to shoot with Vik.  We had a great time; great talks; great food; but something is missing in my work, and my love of it.  I am standing on the edge of epic drop, deciding whether or not to jump... just in time for Nova to come through in two and a half weeks.  Maybe I'll find myself out there in the Mojave somewhere?

I feel like I've wasted another summer, and I am swiftly running out of them.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sort... of...

I decided to update my website by creating different series of photographs, based more on basic themes, instead of bulking everything into four folders, to avoid having 300 thumbnails to be forced to choose from in the Soul folder, which is simply nudes... the best of, over the last ten years.  Even in the "best of" folder, I still included a lot of photos that shouldn't really be in there, to create the illusion of an accomplished body of work, but now, in trying to create a series based on a kind of theme, I'm wanting to include photos that wouldn't even make it into the best of folder, so...

Now I'm knee deep in every photo that I have treated in the last decade and am completely overwhelmed.  I've spent all day sorting the folders on my website, which I haven't done in years, and I haven't even gotten to the unsorted folder yet.  The only one that is for sure complete is the Teru Teru Bozu page, which is only done because it was already a series.  I'm not only swimming in my treated photos, but I'm wanting to go back and look at all the ones I didn't treat, and even retreat the ones I've done.  It's nice to completely overhaul everything every couple years, but this is insanity.  Just the thousands of photographs I've taken of my wife in the last three years is daunting enough.  I don't have much time off to do this stuff, and when I do I don't know where to start.

I'm having a hard time stomaching Whitman.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Song of Myself

"I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content."
~ WW

Song of Myself was... long.  That's about all I got.   I didn't note much, and the notes all struck me in different ways, so I can hardly construct an entire post out of it.

"All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier."

 "There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
and will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now."

A lot of the passages are very open and spiritual, but a lot are also very rigidly religious, and I don't know him well enough to know whether he is simply citing what the people know, or if he was actually a very Christian man, which baffles me.
 One thing that has really bothered me about his writing is the connection of body and soul, as if they are the same thing.  I have never know anyone with half a brain to think that, unless they are referring to the body, and care of, being a reflection of the soul.  I guess I am still taking this voice in.  On the whole, though, my note for this work would be of the same tone as the Emperor's note to Mozart, as one who truly does not understand the work: there are too many notes.  This was just one 1,346 line poem of 84 works I've read thus far, but it was one that I was excited about, which might explain my mild disappointment.
"Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations and times all over the earth?

If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred..."
~ I Sing the Body Electric

We met some folks on our empty beach this time.