Tuesday, May 30, 2017


One thing I’ve been trying to elude to lately, but haven’t really wrapped my fingers around the neck of, is purpose: that something missing from what you’re doing now.  We do what we have to do, or need to do, which is generally what others want us to do, and that’s fine; that’s life.  “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.”  I can’t help but hold on to a little bit of ego, which is why the Zen thing really didn’t pan out for me. I was so force fed my greater purpose when I was growing up, and I was so beaten over the head with how talented I was over the course of my life, that I can’t help but feel like I am on this planet to accomplish something extraordinary.
That’s just my thing.  It’s always been my thing.  I love working with people creatively, and hearing their stories, because I love people.  I do it creatively because that’s where I’m most comfortable.  I prefer nudity because that’s when people are the most honest.  The mundane aspect of life and work and all the other stuff doesn’t simply bore me, it makes me angry.  Life should be more than this, shouldn’t it?  I must be a victim to the severely misguided romantic movement, because I just want something grand to write about, but I have never gotten the opportunities that I continue to see people get and not appreciate.  Some would say that’s what I’m doing now, with the opportunities I have, but pointing at something greater.  I didn’t get to where I am by having been born, though.  No one just up and offered me chances of a lifetime.  I’ve spent my life making the most of what I have access to and working the best I can, left feeling the constant emptiness of not being good enough.  I have begun to ramble, drifting off into one thousand and one different irrelevant directions.  I guess I just still have that lingering belief that my life would serve a greater purpose.  I’m stupid enough to think that I have something greater to offer the world than what I do on my little mountain.

Stupid shit.

What am I going to do, though?  People take me way too seriously, but, somehow, they don't take me seriously enough to just understand what I'm doing.  It's like everyone just sees the photos, but they forget what I've been writing for the last seven years, because it's basically been the same constant argument written in different ways.  I constantly find myself at a loss for words because I've been repeating myself for the better part of a decade and no one seems to understand anything that I'm saying.  That's just on these blogs; on a practical level, going through my stacks and stacks of journals, I've been repeating myself for decades, and...nothing.

That's fucking depressing.

I adore the few that take the time to read through my ramblings, but they are few and far between; little glimmers of distant souls around the world.  In the practical bigger picture, I don't exist.  I'm nobody.

I don't know.

Beer Epoch

  This was our first big holiday weekend at the brewery/kitchen where I've found myself.  It was crazy, but the kitchen handled it a hell of a lot better than we did in our St. Patty's opening weekend.  This weekend really solidified us as a kitchen, and we locked it in, even with being short a key prep cook, and I'm pretty proud of that.  I really felt like it was us against them for the first time here, while normally I just feel like it's me fucking everything up, one of my bosses venting at me, then me venting at the kids in the back.  To be perfectly honest, considering the amount of money we made this weekend, it wasn't even that hard, which is a completely insane thought to me, but that's reality for me right now: I am finally starting to understand things that have been way outside my element for a while.  I doubt anyone cares, or even noticed, where I was at in all of that, but everything worked, and I was a part of it.

 After my shift on Sunday, enjoying some beer that I helped make and taking a post-chaos deep breath, the wise, old brewer who allows me to follow him around very candidly and randomly asked me if he was teaching me all this shit for me to just leave.

I very candidly said, "maybe."

I will get a pretty good glimpse of my worth very soon, and the thought of that terrifies me, because I'm not really sure how much I'm worth to anyone.   I've always just kept showing up for work and done as much as I can, but I know there is more I can do; there is always more we can do, especially when trying to perpetually prove yourself to people who have plenty of applicants lined up who can do what you do, with a much better attitude.

While I feel like the Universe has given me plenty of opportunity to see that I belong here in my little mountain town, it also feels, to me, to be giving up on everything I've ever wanted, considering I've spent most my life trying to escape.  This job brings with it a bit of an identity crisis.  I love brewing, but I'm not a brewer; I hope to be.  I love cooking, but I'm not a cook; I can do without the stress of a high volume kitchen.  There are a lot of decisions before us.

 I am actually writing this with a lot of accidental sadness because I feel a little doomed; I am already thinking about heading out into the great question mark with my beautiful little family and having to start over again.  This place is comfortable for me, having spent most my life here since I was 12, and all the absolute shit that I've survived here.  I am not focused on the better that it can be, but it will always be a kind of mud puddle to the small pond of the greater ocean of possibility.  I do love this place, but, more than anything, I need to exist comfortably with my family.  Worse case scenario, I know I could get a job in any kitchen or brewery with the teachers I've had here, and I am incredibly grateful for that.  This sadness and introspection, this epoch and paradigm inquiry, is also a side product of my turning 40 in less than a month...so, there's that.

What have I done with my life?

I see my first born about twice a year, which is always attached to my mom being in town and forcing it to happen.  She just turned 17 and is another example of things in my life that I want to have at least a little influence over, but have none...

...and it's my fault.

It's always my fault.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ayn, Zen, Poe, and Trivial Expectation

 “Most men have inner conflicts of values; these conflicts, in most lives, take the form of small irrationalities, petty inconsistencies, mean little evasions, shabby little acts of cowardice, with no crucial moments of choice, no vital issues or great, decisive battles—and they add up to the stagnant, wasted life of a man who has betrayed all his values by the method of a leaking faucet.” - 75

I feel so lost sitting around and waiting for things to be how people around me tell me they’re going to be.  Obviously things will never be how I think they should be.  What is the value of my point of view, though?

 I keep arguing how beautiful things should be, but I am met with people asking why I’m so negative.  Well, open your fucking eyes to a reality outside of what you’ve been fed by a machine that only gives you worth relative to what you are accomplishing for the machine, one that will chew you up and spit you out in a heartbeat, or lack there of, if you don’t continue to fit into its greasy, geary, automated process.  Altruism is an ideal fed to you by a machine that wants you to keep turning its gears.  I want to believe that good for good’s sake works; that selflessly making the world a better place to live in benefits the universe in some way, but…well…maybe I’ve just yet to see it work the way think it should work, based on my own delusion, and complete idiocy, apparently. 
 I think that asking this species to be even remotely selfless is the greatest mistake any philosopher could ever make.  We are not inherently good or bad; we are inherently selfish; we are inherently delusional.

“Common-sense values and conventional values are not the same thing; the first can be justified rationally, the second cannot.  Even though the second may include some of the first, they are justified, not on the ground of reason, but on the ground of social conformity.”  - 102
 Logic and reason were always presented to me as concrete absolutes, not as subjective delusions, but even absolutes can be destroyed by practical rhetoric, not platonic circle-talking, but actual fact defining.  Every single thing in this plane of existence is negated by the very definition of “thing,” or lack there of.  We created all these things, we processed all the frequencies of existence, gave it all form and definition, then proceeded to waste our existence bitching and moaning about it.  Man’s life is man made; man’s existence is so far beyond our understanding that we fumble and trip over ourselves to try to define it, instead of just being the frequency that we are trying to map out, but that makes no sense to us… this intelligent species… lacks the ability to just be.  There has to be a reason and definition for every little fucking deep breath and sigh.  Why can’t I just breathe?

 “The nineteenth century was guided, not by an Aristotelian philosophy, but by an Aristotelian sense of life. (And, like a brilliantly violent adolescent who fails to translate his sense of life into conscious terms, it burned itself out, choked by the blind confusions of its own overpowering energy.)” - 95

I am choking on my reality of everything.  I’m tired; just in general; fuck work, or kids, or relationships, or anything that people use for excuses: I’m tired; I just want to sleep; I could sleep for a week; I could sleep a lifetime; I could never wake up; I could dream a life like this one, but strange and broken up, fragmented into temporal, random misfiring of memories and projections, fears and joys, alternative realities relative to how we actually define reality: life is nothing more than interpreting what we think is reality, based on how our mind is conditioned to perceive it: life is a dream; life is a dream that we are allowing other people to control out of accidental, pedestrian influence.
Most of us live in a perpetual selfish delusion of worth and importance; our own dream; trying to exist in someone else’s delusion.  I am falling into the dream within a dream; “all that we see or seem, is but a…”

“O God, can I not save one from the pitiless wave?”

I feel so lost sitting around and waiting.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Apostrophe

 Now is the Winter of our discontent, 
made idle summer by this sun of wild.

A definitively vain statement, but what is writing, other than structured, hopefully somewhat humble, vanity?  

Humble vanity; modest selfishness.
 I am, however, the son of this place, so I am allowed some mild vanity and artistic license in my little mountain town, even if it does involve the Bard, whom I don’t compare to at all, but was one of those epic creatives that I always strived to live up to in my painfully mundane childhood.

 The opening line, for whatever reason, is one I’ve been repeating over and over in my head, along with the others: namu dai bosa, che mala fortuna, immer etwas, aufgeben, nana korobi ya oki, la vita e bella, tabula rasa, et fucking cetera.

My Stratford is still slowly destroying me.
I am not a fan of most of Shake-spear’s work, especially the drawn out dramatic histories like Richard the three.  I do somewhat relate, though, to this soul who “cannot prove a lover,” and is “determined to be a villain,” not so much as I relate to being “deformed, unfinished, sent before his time into this breathing world, scarce half made up.”  The main reason why I have always been so detached from those who would be, could be, friends, and have willingly suffered the miseries of solitude and isolation, is because I have always felt so completely out of place in this world where everyone else seems to fit into the puzzle perfectly fine.  When I discovered that most people were just faking it, trying desperately to be what they’re told they’re supposed to be, I immediately refused that, and detached myself from what was expected of me, if only to say “fuck you, fates.  What are you gonna do now?” 
 I am still somewhat heartbroken hearing people’s stories.  I compare my own life to other’s on a regular basis, and realize more and more that I didn’t really have it that bad, but I already knew that and still refuse to accept it; my beef was always in being forced to deal with mundane comfort when I wanted an epic tragedy; I need something to write about.  I can live vicariously through other people’s tragedies, though.
…and this epic swan of Avon, whether I like it or not, will always be a huge part of my life, having played so many of his (or their) penned characters by accident.  Most of my story revolves around some act of some play of some epic.

Oh my, there is a lot to decipher there; 

Bill would be proud.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I have never really been a fan of tattoos, but I have always been a fan of people’s stories.  I don’t think I really have a negative view of permanently marking your body, per say, which is a work of art unto itself, but I have an incredibly negative view of the reasoning behind most cases which I encounter.  I have seen one too many tattoos that were excused by such asinine statements as “I liked the design.”  Sure, ok, it’s a cool design, but what does this permanent ink on your body mean?  Did you think that out? or were you just drunk and had a friend who drew up a cool design and had a decent grasp on the process? which is a story in and of itself, but most don’t realize that. 
 Things can also be reinterpreted later as you learn a meaning, or the meaning can also be so personal that you don’t feel the need to tell anyone about it.  It only really matters to you, because it’s your fucking body that you just potentially disfigured with something that means nothing.  Personally, I have two Chinese symbols on my forearms, and when someone asks me what they mean I usually respond with, “something in Chinese,” and walk away, because I got them for me, 22 years ago, and they mean something to me.
 Not only do I have to translate the words to people who ask, but I have to define those words based on the Zen Taoist philosophy that I live by, and I usually leave out an important part of the story, in which I pulled the symbols directly out of a Taoist meditation text that Ive been reading for 15 years, and even less hear about how I acquired the text or why I started reading it.  
I have also seen plenty of cliché “spiritual” or “social” tattoos, like peace signs, or ohm symbols, or the traditional tribal tramp stamp, et cetera.  Things like that will likely be obsolete or embarrassing in a very short amount of time, unless you, again, quickly give it some deeper meaning that will last a lifetime.
 I don’t mean to pick on my last relationship, but she had an ohm symbol on her hip, because she was fed some sub eastern religion, easily translatable as a cultish scam, by her high school boyfriend’s mother.  She connects the symbol with her connection to the woman, so it means something to her, but, while she can define the term, like children can recite a bible verse, she had little to no grasp on the deeper meaning and significance of ohm, or eastern religion for that matter.  Regurgitation is not understanding, but I’m talking about tattoos.
 This is also personal and mildly embarrassing.  When I was 17, searching for meaning in my life and the world around me, I fumbled across a t-shirt on a clearance rack at a store in my little mountain town.  On the back was an artistic rendering of the Fibonacci spiral, and across the front read “Sacred Geometry,” with the company logo and name in the center, Präna, still alive and well (www.prana.com).  I hadn’t been exposed to any of these terms in my half-assed, primarily ignorant education, and after some investigation, well, my life and philosophy were pretty much changed forever, so when I turned 18 I got prana tattooed between my shoulder blades.  Not just the word, mind you, but an exact rendering of the company logo, not even thinking about it.  That’s like a fat kid getting the McDonald’s arches tattooed on their back.  While the average person seeing the tattoo wouldn’t know that it’s a company logo, I know, so it is forever ruined by my knowing that it is accidental advertisement for a company that I respect, but also can’t afford to purchase products from.  Maybe I should talk to them about some kick backs.  Honestly, I would give my left lung to have that shirt again.  Anywoo, I too am a victim to stupid decisions in my ignorant youth, but the actual meaning behind it is beyond significant for me, so what do you do?
 I really didn’t mean to rant so much about tattoos, but I wanted to relay how I really feel about them.  Ultimately, I’m a purist and a naturist: your body was exactly what it was supposed to be before you started changing it, whether it be tattoos or plastic surgery, to name two different extremes.  I do, like I said, love people’s stories, and anytime someone has chosen to map out their story through art, on self or not, is a beautiful thing.  You could really blame Ray Bradbury for how I feel about it.  I hated reading in my youth, despised it, but there were certain books that, in my being forced to read them, left an impression.  The Illustrated Man was one of those books.  Engrained in my creative philosophy is the belief that, not just tattoos, but each scar and stretch mark and freckle and whatever, carries with it not only a story, but a life, potentially documented and lived out by the only soul on the planet who knows it: you, the silent author; you are all dormant authors of your own realities, living in a kind of perpetual writer’s block, maintained by a system that is fighting tooth and nail to keep you from realizing your potential.
 So few realize what it means to evolve past what is expected of you, to venture into your very own creative reality, and the infinite possibilities that lie there.  Some people simply don’t have a creative drive, which completely baffles me.  I honestly don’t know if it’s something that certain people just aren’t born with, or if it’s conditioned out of their minds?  I want to believe that our collective unconscious exists to perpetuate these beautiful things that help us identify who we are and why we exist, but most people are just happy with a blank canvas, scribbled on by someone else.
 Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this dilemma, and in this morning’s reading, after Ayn completely destroys pretty much everything modern (including photography) as being art, she wrapped up a painfully long chapter with something that really hit home: 

“There is no place for whim in any human activity—if it is to be regarded as human.  There is no place for the unknowable, the unintelligible, the undefinable, the non-objective in any human product.  This side of an insane asylum, the actions of a human being are motivated by a conscious purpose; when they are not, they are of no interest to anyone outside a psychotherapist’s office.  And when the practitioners of modern art declare that they don’t know what they are doing or what makes them do it, we should take their word for it and give them no further consideration.” - 70

 That kind of applies to a lot of things, not just art.  Well, when art is life and life is art, the choices you make are your paintbrush, and the repercussions are what ends up on your canvas.  Too many of us live by whim because it’s easy, then we find that we’ve wasted our lives.  “Not all who wander are lost,” to those who find purpose in it.  Whether you wander or not, those who find comfort in their temporal, meaningless whims, are so lost that they will never be found, and, sadly, will never even realize that such a thing exists, but will live a lifetime feeling like something’s missing.

Most times I feel almost victimized by needing to write.  I keeps me up late, and it isolates me from my family.  My need to read, to make up for lost information and inspiration does the same.  I love my life and I love my family.  My current conundrum: loving where I am, but wanting to disappear with a typewriter, my camera, and my piano.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Abre Los Ojos

 I had planned to post something a bit more significant yesterday, but was left emotionally debilitated after a brief encounter with wasted potential.  I sat around all day, staring at the wall, holding my little baby Eroica close and fighting breaking down into tears in disgust of what society and religion do to this potentially beautiful species;
 namely, what parents, influenced by said institutions, and fueled by inherently selfish motivation, do to their own children.  I was victimized by it just as much as everyone else, but I've been fighting it most my life, and it breaks my heart, it tears the very intricate fibers of my soul, to see it continue to happen to those who seem to put up no fight at all, fumbling on like mindless drones in society's consumption machine;
 with as much energy that I have invested into getting these potentially beautiful souls to see the painfully obvious, a little part of me dies, my very hope in humanity, each time I realize that there is nothing I can do about it.  Yesterday I wallowed in that.  This morning, Ayn was there to kick me in the face; to pull my waning heart out of my chest and show it to me; to make me realize my sense of life, and remind me that I need to stop trying to get other people to understand the beautiful world that exists in my mind, when everyone has their own individual sense of life, whether it be shaped by delusion or reality, fear or duty, hearsay or fact, et cetera, it is what it is, and they have to figure that out for themselves.
 "We all got something important to say,
But talking's a waste of time."

  ~ Cry Baby
I was also stressing the aftermath of another recent shoot, worried about the sheer stupidity of ignorant reactions to something as base and simple as the human body, when I'm just trying to show people how beautiful they are, and how beautiful this world that we live in can be.  The last paragraph of this morning's chapter, Art and Sense of Life: "When one learns to translate the meaning of an artwork into objective terms, one discovers that nothing is as potent as art in exposing the essence of a man's character.  An artist reveals his naked soul in his work-- and so, gentle reader, do you when you respond to it."  - 34

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gypsy Rose

 ... from Amish, Pennsylvania.

Didn't see that one coming, did ya?

 I don't think I need to mention my Amish connections at this point, then this girl shows up in my little mountain town, working at my little brewpub, mentioning her upbringing in Lancaster, PA.  I don't think I really need to explain my confusion.
 No, she's not he most misplaced Amish girl that ever existed, but she did grow up in a Mennonite school, which is where I would have also found my childhood, if such a thing existed in Southern California.  Her father escaped from El Salvador, jumped two fences and found himself in Canada, then met a severely religious woman and settled down in Amish, PA... where this one would escape from as soon as she possibly could.
 Her younger sister made a break for it first, ending up in CO.  She followed, but kept going and found herself here in CA.  I was dying to hear all the stories to go with the tattoos, and got an earful today, but there is too much to relay here.  Also, too much ground to cover with my camera.  There were so many little things that I only realized I missed when I saw what I actually captured after I got home, but a beautiful day nonetheless, accompanied by a beautifully rare fog rolling around to shoot in.

 These last couple weeks have been a bit surreal for me.  I am so used to no one wanting to shoot, for whatever reason. After spending over a decade shooting friends, then five years shooting professionals, and a couple years shooting only my girls, it seems strange that so many people are interested in shooting now.  I had really given up, but now I find myself with work stacking up.  Beautiful.  Lavanyamaya.
 Recently a friend posted a reference to an Ayn Rand work that I didn't know existed, or I would have read it in my solitude.  I've been picking away at it, but obviously don't have too much time for reading anymore: The Romantic Manifesto
 "One of the distinguishing characteristics of a work of art (including literature) is that it serves no practical, material end, but is an end in itself; it serves no purpose other than contemplation—and the pleasure of that contemplation is so intense, so deeply personal that a man experiences it as a self-sufficient, self-justifying primary and, often, resists or resents any suggestion to analyze it: the suggestion, to him, has the quality of an attack on his identity, on his deepest, essential self." - 4

 There are so many beautiful little bits in this book that I've noted, that I don't even know where to start, even though I've only just began to read it.  Though I do not completely agree with Ayn's social philosophy, her creative philosophy, with all it's 'pull no punches' and 'no bullshit' jagged points, seems spot on.  I absolutely love it so far, and further hate the world I grew up in for not forcing me to read it when I was a nihilistic teenager.
Ok, so, I got mildly sidetracked on this post.  Not too bad.  I've been wanting to start doing some more quotes from what I'm reading, but I haven't been quite sure where to fit them in.  I guess I'm just cramming them in between my story now.

This girl is a work of art on a work of art.

... and I still need to go through the pics from the beautiful last night in Joshua Tree.

My family sleeps without me.

I wish that would happen less.

Joshua Tree (slight return)

Tonight we got a free concert, and some amazing shots, a la Juls and pals.

More to come.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Shot in the Dark

 "There is no war without photography, that notable aesthete of war Ernst Jünger observed in 1930, thereby refining the irrepressible identification of the camera and the gun, 'shooting' a subject and shooting a human being.  War-making and picture-taking are congruent activities: 'It is the same intelligence, whose weapons of annihilation can locate the enemy to the exact second and meter,' wrote Jünger, 'that labors to preserve the great historical event in fine detail.'"

   ~ Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others - 66-67
 I have always referred to "shooting" when referencing my work, or potential work, with anyone.  No one ever explained to me where the term came from.  I don't really remember anyone in my creative life ever using that word that way.  To be perfectly honest, in hearing a captured frame referenced to as a "shot," it only made sense to me, literarily, that the process be called shooting, and I imagined that I thought that up on my own, though I never pretended that I was the first to use the word as a creative verb.

In a recent attempt to continue my inspirational reading journey, I fumbled across the quoted book, by an author I've been told to read, but hadn't.  I have even had her books sent to me, a la .pdf, which are currently sitting on my desktop, and I will probably never read them, because I need to actually hold a book in my hand.
In my search for actual books, Regarding the Pain of Others seemed to really hit home in my current life.  While it was incredibly informative, basically just reinforcing my personal views of war photography and war, it was all about war and incredibly depressing.  I was expecting something a little bit more about general pain in regard to being human, not humans being massacred, but I did learn this interesting little fact about where "shooting," or even "a shot," came from, which is also very depressing.

In my life, I have suffered a number of people wanting to shoot in the snow; I don't know what other word to use; but rational thought process always prevailed: if it's snowing, it's fucking cold.  If you're going to shoot in the snow, you naturally want to do it when it's not really cold enough to stick or stack (35-37).  We tried today, on a road we probably shouldn't have been driving on.  It didn't last too long (because cold and cold naked are two entirely different things), but we got some decent stuff.  It also stopped really coming down when we started shooting, so we got what the fates allowed.  C'est la vie.


Eileen Grubba yelling at Conor O'Farrell on set.

Conor talked me into being in a short he did.

I haven't done anything in years.

I had to talk threateningly into a phone and yell "fuck" a lot.  That was a stretch for me.