Art stuff, blog

Scary piece

In thinking about my friend, Patty, going through chemo, and ready to face the sickness associated with it, I found myself gathering image parts from the web, cutting things out, and modifying them. I needed to work with images I had not made, but with parts of pictures I found that could become part of it. An anon reprint of a witch photo, a flower, some handmade paper, some background and writing of mine: I added these and made up the whole.

As a photographer, I feel funny about using found images but ironically, I do not feel funny about isolating a subject and taking a photo. It reminds me of when Lucho and I were in the pampa of Chinchero and he was painting a tree. The man from the hut nearby came out and demanded Lucho pay him, as that was his tree.

I suppose it is because the image is made of parts I did not create that it is disconcerting to me but then every photograph or painting is made of something out there that one did not make. A creation is an interpretation with a new meaning, not a rip off. I think of Robert Heineken’s magazine page work and how he created something with a meaning and aesthetic entirely new, made from a piece of paper with images on both sides, NOT his images.

I sound like my own apologist. Anyway, I love taking bits and pieces and turning them into something else. I suppose all collage artists work that way.

In any case I am adding the photo which even scares me.

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blog

Notre Dame is Burning Down

As I type. My thoughts this last week have revolved around the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Order to Entropy. Today on CNN I watch a 12th Century structure, a magnificent world icon of architecture, burn, crumble, and plummet to the streets below. It is painful for the French, but shocking to this viewer (who has never been to Paris), as a metaphor for the fruitless efforts of humanity to withstand inevitable destruction and decay, be it sooner by fire or later, when the Earth itself gets fried to a crisp.

My existential crisis is coming to grips with that. I seem to have gained some perspective, given what I have learned about the nature of matter and the universe. The arrow of time moves in that direction. Here today, gone tomorrow. By no means is that statement cavalier. I am simply adjusting to the newness of my lessons. Humans make wondrous things, creation being something that sets us aside from other living things on our planet. We achieve marvels in art and architecture, music, literature, and science. Partially we create from a conscious need for self-expression, or from an unconscious urge, or perhaps another for a attempted glimpse at an eternal life. How many more reasons may there be? Unknown. I wish to make my mark, but am very uncertain of any success. It does not diminish my drive that I have no personal gain, other than a sense of satisfaction that I have done something I think communicates itself to another.

Notre Dame is far more than the sum of her parts, even of what were her parts. The impact of awe upon her visitors may have been transitory in the scheme of things but it was there. In six billion years, no. But, for a time, the deep impression of marvel upon millions was enormous and real. Why humans create is absurd and beautiful. Perhaps even more beautiful because they are impermanent.

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blog, sex, Sexy stories

Sexy Stories from Lima: #2

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I apologize for the delay. The Trump/Clinton debate so upset my humor and constitution that I needed to avoid all social media, really social anything, for a minimum of 24 hours. On with the stories.

A friend of my cousin, a young married woman in her 30’s, Señora X, let us say, purchased a cell phone for her 5 year old daughter so she could communicate with her from work and such, putting her daughter’s nanny in charge of the device.

Day before yesterday, Señora X borrowed the phone for a minute to look up a number she had forgotten and found a series of pornographic images of the nursemaid, taken in Señora X’s own bed as well as in her own underwear, spread eagle to tantalize the anonymous recipient/s. Outraged, she immediately began a search for a new nursemaid but, as is rather typical of Limeñans, has not fired her until she has found a convenient replacement.

Curiously, yesterday, at a well attended luncheon in their home, Señora X’s husband passed around the same cell phone so all their guests could ogle the infamous photos, the maid (unaware, of course) being a server.

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1, blog

Here, There

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Lately there has been a good deal of death among my friends. (And, by friends, I mean the people that I am really connected with on social media as well. I have come to care very deeply about their lives.)  I am of an age where perhaps that is not unusual; but, it has caused me to consider mortality and the afterlife and what I suspect is true. To say “believe” is too strong, like the faith of rabid evangelicals, closed to other possibilities.  Yet, I am open to the strong inclination I have to suspect that those we lose are still around us.

I do not think that an absurd idea. In considering all the things we cannot see and still rely on, from radio waves, the spectrum of gamma and infrared rays, the miracles of telephone, television, wifi, etc. that we accept so casually, why would we conclude that the energy a person possesses, their soul, if you will, just evanesces to nothingness?

I sat alone with my mother when she took her last breath; unconsciously, I had started to breathe in tandem with her, until she stopped. I waited and heard the unforgettable rattle, rat-tat-tat, rise from her chest. I still felt her presence but, after about 15 minutes, her body was just a shell. She was not in it anymore.

She and those I have loved and lost are around me, even my sweet little pets. I have stories to tell you, readers, but I do not want to share those here. I can call upon them to sit with me, help me, guide my way. What some call coincidence is a sign to watch, something that reveals itself that we may not recognize immediately.

As a message to my friends numb with the pain of lost loves, take heart. The nature of the relationship has just morphed, like water changes from vapor to ice, the same and different.

 

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My Shady Bent

I have always been attracted to stories about the Mob. We have a farm in Southern Illinois and, down there for summers as a kid,  I heard first hand accounts about men like “Black Charley,” the Birger and Shelton gangs, and Old Shawneetown’s Helen Holbrook. Friends pointed out the roadhouses used for bootlegging, prostitution, and notoriously poor behaviors. These tales were the stuff of local fascination. Even respectable townspeople discussed them, awe mixed with a hint of local pride.

I live near Chicago Heights, a south suburb of Chicago with extensive Mob connections. Big Al’s aunt lived in “Da Heights,”(as it is known here) and Al Capone was no stranger to the town in the 20’s and 30’s. The head of the local Teamsters told me about the soup kitchen Mr. Capone set up during the Depression and he showed me the house where Big Al would throw nickels from the balcony to the kids gathered below. He was one of those kids catching coin. Regardless of murders and mayhem, illegal activities, and wicked deeds, Big Al holds a fond place in my heart. Like New Yorkers’ soft spot for Gotti, many Chicagoans enjoy the notoriety Big Al brought, and brings, to our town.

In my high school, a Catholic school in Da Heights, many of my peers were Mob kids. The President of our Senior Class was a kid who wore starched shirts, black trousers, and a silk tie to school, in an age of madras and Beatle haircuts. He even wore a diamond pinkie ring. In high school. He  is now living out west, and doing well I hear, under the auspices of the Witness Protection Program. Another kid’s dad was a local lawyer for the Mob, found shot execution style in the trunk of his Lincoln.

Lately my allure for the Mob has surfaced because I am binge watching Lilyhammer, a Netflix series about an American mobster in Norway, played brilliantly by Steven Van Zandt.  My husband does not hold with my attraction at all. He grimaces slightly when I show him my extensive brick collection from dismantled locales in Illinois where legendary Mob misdeeds occurred.

Easily influenced, I think I need to temper my enthusiasm, somewhat.  Last night in bed, after I had watched a couple of episodes of Lilyhammer on my iPad, my husband came in to update me on the current winter storm warnings.

Hub: Hon, Skilling just said we may get up to 12 inches of the white stuff tomorrow.

Me: Fuck me. (Accent is on “me.” Mob version of “Dang.”)

 

 

 

 

 

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1, blog

shame on me

I really enjoy playing games on my computer, sometimes.  Gin rummy, Solitaire, Canasta, and Dominoes are my favorites. On the website where I play, one wins badges and gets tokens for accomplishing challenges. There are sound effects that accompany the games, like the shuffling of cards, and bugles blaring to celebrate a win. The graphics are very well done, colorful, cartoony but not overdone. One can choose an avatar to represent oneself that is humanlike, selecting facial expressions, skin color, eyes, hair (color, style, and length), weight, etc. There are avatars with disabilities and avatars in uniform. One can buy clothes and pets and different destinations for it to go with the tokens you win. I make mine look like a younger, slimmer me with cute dogs.

According to the site, there are over a million and a half subscribed players from around the world. It costs roughly 35.00 dollars a year and I have been a subscribed player since 1999. It is rather horrific to think of the number of hours I have spent playing games throughout the years.

As I said, I enjoy playing games on my computer, but only sometimes. During the years I have played, I have learned a bit about myself, not all pleasant. It takes me back to the times, I must have been about 10, when I dumped all the pieces on the RISK board, letting them fly hither and yon, when my brother was about to take over the world. Now I can only play with robots. I used to play with people, strangers, also members of the site, but that was awful. The competition was fierce and oftentimes people would berate and insult me if I won. It was too upsetting to interact with real humans.

So my time with robots has taught me how competitive and petty I can be. I have had to face that I do not like to lose, even to a robot, if indeed it is a robot and not some very underpaid illegal. My computer screen gets full of spittle from the spray of razzing when I win. If I lose, the robot is lucky; if I win, I claim skill.

It is dreadful to face one’s shortcomings, especially when one has no intention or desire to change. I am a bad loser and a bad winner. And, I am glad I stay away from other competitive ventures where I would only disgrace myself.

 

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eye strain, lately

I was embarrassed in Grad School to admit that I didn’t really like looking at much photography, the area of concentration for my MFA.  Many of my peers and professors, though, had to know about everybody, see as much as they could, like in the early 70’s when one had to know the names and albums of even the most obscure bands to keep up, to be hip. I kept up with some photographers whose work I liked but I really just wanted to concentrate on making my own work.

When I started teaching photo, I did have to study trends, examine historical and contemporary work, and be able to speak cogently about it to students. The last few years were exhausting, because of the massive quantity of digital work online. There were times I found something I really liked, smart work or work with heart and genuine conviction. But most of the time I was indifferent to what I saw.

I feel the same now, of photography, fiction, and music. There are occasional pieces that stir me but not many. I am even more selective in what I care to look at, now that I have left teaching. The volume of mediocre images is mind boggling. Most of it is blah: emotionless, diffident, nonpartisan. Does it matter to me that some win critical acclaim despite their shallowness? No. Almost every day I receive emails from galleries and online magazines showing work that has no meaning for me at all. I look away, like I do from anything on television (besides the Weather Channel), because it bores me to death.

Am I a cultural snob? Maybe. If I read the first paragraph of a book and the words do not hit me like hail, I drop it on the hard wood floor, thumping it, allowing the pages to fold over awkwardly, punishing it for wasting my time. Music doesn’t get much better treatment, a few bars and off it goes. Photographic works gets less than one second. Say something or don’t bother me.

I am about to start a new project tomorrow and I am very nervous, feeling I need to screw up the courage to start. I have not shot in the US in a long time. How will I relate to my fellow Americans, when I am so isolated here, so unconnected to my own culture? We shall see. I cannot put it off any longer. I must get to work. It would be unhealthy to do otherwise.

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