it’s my second day in london…. a perfect day until a speaker fell on my face.. a day filled with arriving artists rehearsing, soundchecking, hugs and giftiez with the dolls. brian liked his brick-patterned tights and amanda seemed to like her stripeys. the venue was the sickest place i’d ever shot in… a huge round echoing chamber, 300 years old, crumbling brick exteriors, renovated interiors, posters of historic concerts that happened there; debbie harry, the doors, jimi hendrix. it used to be a train turnstyle, where at the end of the line, the train would get turned around. but the history since the renovation made my trigger finger itch to get the show on….
i watched and waited for hours… soundchecks and preparations. jet lag hit and i fell over onto my camera bag and stayed still for 20 whole minutes. i fell asleep there without ear plugs on the floor in the production room in the middle of soundcheck. i awoke as emily, the tour manager, was rolling with the punches, having to re-do the entire schedule an hour before showtime. i left the room so she had space to think and i dressed in the girl’s bathroom outside where people from france knew me… so surreal….
on a whim yesterday i began planning a trip to paris in a few days… i was so excited to hear it was only an hour and a half from london, but now i debate the cost and my current injury situation… weighing it against the excitement of a new country, one i’ve been fascinated with for ages.
coils properly secured into my ponytails and patent leather dress on, i hit the long line outside, met up with polly and shot such beautiful brigaders lining up around this epic venue. inside before doors opened, i helped orchestrate a photo shoot for the press where fans pressed themselves up against glass windows. the giddy fans, the ones i used to be. the show began quickly, a succession of perfect entertainment, the best dolls show i’ve ever shot! i was even more in love with them for gathering such talented people, for inviting me over to shoot it all. it was a playground for me, there was no where else i belonged that right there, stage right snapping away, zooming in across the stage to amanda and singing her words back to her. i’ve shot many dolls shows but there was something about tonight, the energy there, the crowd, the number of brigaders, the talent, the way it all flowed from one stage to the other… it was kinetic, it was special….
5 songs into the dolls set though and i got smushed by a speaker… i was walking behind a stack of speakers, shared a smile with the sound guy and then BLAM! incredible pain across my face. a speaker had fallen on my freakin face! i couldn’t beleive it…. i did a quick body scan which tested positive for pain. i knew i was hurt. blood dripped down my face. i didn’t want to interupt the show so i did my best to gracefully exit to backstage, hand up to my face and fingers coming away wet with blood. i screamed then. the paramedics told me i needed stitches… a funny thing happened then i felt that i had the power to negotiate this… i slapped my knee… “NO!” i said just plain NO! i got them to agree to just superglue my face instead. i couldn’t feel 3 of my teeth and worried they were messed up. then my foot began to throb. getting angry felt good just then. i got all american for five minutes and huffed all big that i’d sue the venue… adrenaline was coursing thru me, i knew breath was my only option for centering… so i stopped… i breathed… i felt better…. the fierce chemical bursts were receding like a tide. when i could think straight i apologized for being a brat but wondered how the FUCK a speaker could fucking FALL on me?!?!? shooting shows at least a few times a week for years now i suppose it was overdue but i needed to know just who was responsible for this? why weren’t they secured?
so off to hospital we went, my face swelled and bled, my foot turned blue, 2 of my teeth gained feeling. polly and i took photos on gurneys. i tried to find dead people but no luck. the security guards raised eyebrows and pretended to ignore us, me with my coils in my hair and high boots. i caught my battered reflection in the mirror… what a mess… rock n roll… polly and i agreed that this was all very punk rock…. there was blood and wine on my lens, i was in an emergency room in a foreign country in patent leather, fishnets and smeared eyeliner with a bloody face… she warned me against shooting tomorrow night again… i cut her off, no way in hell i’m missing that show…. “edward ka’spel will be playing…. i love him… i’m going…”
xrays and nothing broken, taped up my face, gave me crutches and done… my second day in london…
sunset at brighton pier in england… one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen in my life…. black charred structures in ruin, one an intricate victorian burnt out skeleton pulsing with the decomposition of sand and sea, the other a body long dead on its side. the sky a myriad of color, pinks and yellows…. when the reds came, the pan pipes began… and then the people came… and then the swarms of starlings came… and we all stood and stared… someone commented that this was the lowest tide ever in brighton, that there is never this much sand, just stones. i took my shoes off then and ran into the surf. my bruised foot absorbed the frigid temperature, froze the pain long enough to do a few cartwheels. a man drew circles in the sand with a shovel. a child stood timeless within them.
i have never seen a more amazing sunset… ever. i have never seen starlings dance… no one knows why they dance each night at sunset there but there it was… so magestic, such a gift… they came from different directions and morphed into one huge cloud, swooping and channeling… i stared at them speechless, mouth hanging open… i wiped tears away to shoot…
there was fire in the sky then, brilliant flaming reds, bursting blues. i ran to find polly and we stood there hugging looking around in wonder only to scatter again like photo-mad marbles. just when i thought i couldn’t take anymore, fireworks went off in the distance… cascading birthday candles falling fast over flickering carnival lights on the victorian sister pier nearby, the one still holding memory, the history… the one still alive, a hazy mirage keeping watch over the dead one, the charred one that the starlings live in.
the sun finally set and the full moon was fierce. polly and i lit sparklers and did cartwheels til the dark told us we were exhausted and had no business standing upright… 10 hours sleep in 3 days, a trip to the hospital, jet lag… i’m done… such full days of living, of exploration… the body, like a scolding parent, begs for mercy…
(3 days later and here’s my non-speaker-dented side of face
& foot is a-rockin and healin quick-quick!)
west norwood cemetery
i lean against a decrepid family vault invaded by vines and time. i wring my socks out, a stream of morning dew falls into a fox hole. crosses and stars and squirrels unaccustomed to the living. high grass, gates broken and ascending ringing bells. i am here with ulli, a fetish photographer that i met last month in san francisco. i love my photographer friends. there is this unspoken understanding of time apart together in the name of kinetic exploring.
we met outside west norwood train station, took 10 steps into the cemetery and smiled as we parted ways knowing the maze would reunite us somehow. i climbed trees and watched him snapping away in the distance. i watched grave diggers and wondered about their lives, where they lived, what brought them to this calling, if it infects their dreams. i met the eyes of pale mourners in the backseats of limosines clutching limp tissues, a veil of life-pleading across their faces… and as i wandered the stones with dates and names that define lives that are over, i was reminded of how borrowed this time is… how important to live now, before dates and stones come for us… to follow our passions and not just bear the burden of waves and tides that make up the day-to-day… we are more than that and it makes me sad that most people are unconscious…
3pm ~ nunhead cemetery
headless statues, mossy and muddy. ulli warned me it is easy to lost. soon after, i did just that… i found myself disoriented among the stones, some of them cracked open graves as old as 1865.
nunhead is a spooky cemetery, sleepy hollow incarnate. thin old twisting pathways that darken the more curiousity worked its magick. as dusk fell, i followed one overgrown path to another denser one… to another… traversing thorns, brittle leaves and slippery dead tree trunks to inspect grave poetry and thick vines choking the words… strong snakes enveloped overturned angels… i soon found myself lost in a forest of graves… i only realized my situation as it was almost too dark to shoot in. i turned around trying to remember from where i came but there was no path… it was like the stories of dark faerie antics i was told while i was in ireland where only when the four elements were called on could i be released. i turned around again… there was this sound, the kind of sound that only breezes stir up… but there was no breeze… nothing was moving… i panicked like i used to as a child running from bogeys up the basement stairs. i jumped unthinking over stones to a clearing with one single willow tree, old as time. its loose whisper tendrils still and calming… i eventually found my out and sit now as dusk rewinds out in the open waiting for ulli… i am spooked…