Monthly Archives: October 2007

exhausted in san francisco

25 october – burbank airport

“bag check!” too tired to explain or protest. “what do you DO?!” they ask, confused by circular light bulbs and gadgets. “i’m a… photographer…” i say, catching myself with how much i mean it…. i’m a photographer. i capture moments. i have weird things on planes. i do too much. i’m a photographer….

i’m exhausted… i’m ill…. my throat is swollen, my head stuffy, wet eyes. i shouldn’t be traveling but there is a couple in love in san francisco and they’re having the best day of their lives tomorrow and i’ve agreed to be there for them and so i go….

shawn pulls up to drive me to the airport. my landlord bats her eyelashes at him and calls him prince charming. i call him one of my best friends, a mirror, a kindred omnipresence who is always there for me. so when he asks if i’m ok, when he places his palm to my chest and tells me sternly to relax, i listen. i close my eyes and try. the heat of his hand lingers and i realize how off-center and exhausted i am. he feeds me at the airport and sends me on my way. “one day of resetting,” i assure him, “that’s all i need.”

a weekend of weddings, one after the other, two plane trips apart in two days…. i can do it….

acceleration happens and i’m pressed to the back of the seat. as we take off, i’m amazed at the blanket of soot coating the sun like armaggedon. smoke from the fires surrounding us, like clouds but more toxic. a sadness, a sympathy, people lost their homes this week, their pets, belongings, things. most cited photographs as the first thing they grab when they have ten minutes to evacuate.

head to plane window unblinking. the air clears a bit as we head north. desert gives way to city. clouds part and i descend in san francisco….

sf, philly, nj, nyc

7 october – san francisco
between two white pillar candles at the department of spontaneous combustion. odd shaped ice cubes and a dog that begs for a lion mane haircut.

today i shot a party overlooking the city. little girls ran from my lens in princess dresses giggling mad, waiting around corners for me to catch up. babies with orbs for eyes and pristine wood floors.

the blue angels flew above us as part of fleet week celebrations. we all gathered on the multi-tiered deck and held our ears as they thundered above. the art and furniture in that house were insane. there was a painting made by an elephant OF an elephant.

today i awoke in the victorian mansion in the asian room, snuggled close against brady. we held hands, two little bodies in such a big bed. i fear waking before dawn in that house. creeping around searching for light switches makes my eyes stretch wide and i get spooked.

he left early to rock the download festival and i took a beautiful girl to a park for yoga portraits. yesterday i played photo studio inside the mansion. mindful of antique floors and ancient delicate baubles. high ceilings create more freedom…

8 october – flight from san fran to philadelphia
snow-capped mountains, uplifting beats with sitar and voices. i slept only an hour and am now on my way from sf to philadelphia… yesterday i had outdoor shoots, one of them for a company of bouncy castles. brady met me at the marina and we sat on black velvet by the water watching the blue angels. we both hadn’t seen their air show since we were little. later on we played at sf decom, reconnection with familiar faces, outrageous outfits in a park. lists and rules and security and schedules and people taking my photo without so much as a word and the cold forced me into a car and i stayed there shivering as everyone loaded out. once back at the victorian mansion i packed quickly and soaked up last moments together with brady, celebrating our love in the dark for hours… and now radiohead is the soundtrack and all below is parched earth giving way to green fields as i traverse the country. i hope i experience a thunder storm back east…

9 october – pennsylvania
dawn in the mist of valley forge. dense cloud cover, thistle, scampering deer and high grass. torie and i adventure on thru old towns to visit her friend, freedom an hour north. she takes us to an apple orchard where we duck under heavy branches of ripened fruit, step over a carpet of leaves and bright red apples until we felt unguarded. freedom undressed and posed like eden for me in the orchard…. her full back tattoo of a tree, complete with roots was inspiring. perfect harvest rows gave way to a small hidden river. i soaked my ponytails in the cool untouched water to carry the experience with me thru my shoots today in philadelphia. violin now as we journey back to civilization… corn stalks, talk of pumpkin ale and devil’s thorn… a beautiful misty morning with new friends…

13 october – philadelphia
“DELIRIUM!!” he says poking me accusingly~ his urgency makes me laugh… the soundtrack to labyrinth blares in speakers over the bar. rushing and doom and rolling shotgun blasts. 2am after the masquerade ball.

i stare into the dimly lit face of the lead singer from Qntal mesmerized. the sounds that come from this long-haired woman, the passion she stirs… i can’t even speak to her… but the woodland gang, they are like family now. being with them is like time attaches, perforating the moment before when last we shared energy with the moment currently at hand. there is always a senseless playful frenzy that ensues at the end of our events together. jumping hugs and cackling muse flickers. but tonight is the halfway point thru the weekend. the frouds have already left and tomorrow finds us once again at the convention center for the 3rd day of faerieCon, an expansive room of conversation panels usually reserved for banker types and other structured things. vendors and harsh flourescent lighting make for distraction.

at night at the masquerade balls, i skulk around in the wings of the stage. earlier in the evening last night, i felt brian froud watching me before he took to the spotlight, his one eye trailing the fae, the other gazine on me and i stopped fussing with f-stops to walk over to him. “you were my first inspiration” i told him then. “i am blessed now with many but you… you were my first…” and we stared at each other smiling for some time before his name was called and he stepped up to the microphone. the first time i was introduced to his work was in nyc… i was in art school working at a production house. in a conference room on a circular table was an original 1970 edition called the ‘land of froud’. i flipped thru it and felt gravity pull me to sitting. i spent two hours staring at the illustrations. i stole the book and have it to this day… froud opened me up to so much beauty, contemplation, humor and insight that i consider myself living in a hazy dream that i can call him my friend now. that we waltz in front of movie screens as labyrinth starts to play, that i can greet him by kisses all over his face, that he is part of my life…that WOODLAND is part of my life… for years now…. thru various viels of trepidation mean so much to me now… because i can truly be myself with them…

19 october – nyc
a hilarious shoot in the rain of central park. it downpoured the second we began and eventually opted to reschedule on my next nyc trip in the spring. the deserted park was a strangely saturated form of bliss… mostly because it’s been six years since i experienced rain in nyc. i let the tendrils of my gauzy sweater get heavier and drag… my shoes filled with water. i wandered into an upscale restaurant for a glass of wine and a puddle formed around me. all i could do was laugh…

heading home now to pack up…. trains pull into the station and the platform bounces. humidity makes my hair puff up and i hover over my camera like a mother hen. my shoots last night ended near midnight and after a violent game of boggle with my sister, i slept for 2 hours, waking up into this blanket of homesickness…. i’ve been traveling for nearly a month… i think i’m ready to go home now…

20 october – flight from nyc to la
i trace lines on the printed map of my crumpled airline napkin of all the places i’ve been this month. cowboy junkies plays in my ear and my heart is soft, satiated… i experienced autumn, spent time with family, picked an apple off a tree and enjoyed it at sunset in my hometown. i met my sister’s new puppy, got tucked in by my father at bedtime, swung on swings on the beach with holly, was a guest speaker at my old high school, laughed myself stupid until 5am, played with kindred fae at masquerade balls, saw roosters perched in tree branches, smelled cider donuts, found lost keys, spent an evening with brian from dresden dolls without my camera, walked slowly in the rain in central park, touched the walls of edgar allen poe’s house, stared into the eyes of a soap corpse at the mutter museum, played boggle violently, fauned over artists’ work at the faerie convention, got hugs from strangers, shy smiles from vixens as indigo lights whirled on dance floors, soulful fluid chats with a tribal orb magician, too much wine, bellysore laughter and countless adventures up the east coast with holly, one of the only people in this world that can match my pace.

our days often began at dawn and ended full and late. i had spent nearly a week in philly before she arrived from boston. i stayed with torie, a sweet girl who clearly had no clue what she was in for inviting two faeries to stay at her house. we left porn on her bed, dyed hair and glitter in her sink, a wake of wine corks and laughter at all hours of the night. the period of B.H. (Before Holly) was spent getting to know her and also acclimating to philly as well as shooting like mad at the PEX warehouse.

lee, who owns the space, gave me a key and a tour by flashlight. it was like the house in fight club with water dripping thru floorboards all spooky and a dusty hedonistic vibe. i was terrified to be there alone before my models arrived. i sat under my lights hugging my camera behind bolted doors in a crime-ridden area of town, in a city that i had been warned on the plane was the current murder capital of the country. models, dancers and bands would call from outside, i’d take the flashlight to the breaker switch to flip the garage door on and slowly the metal gate would open revealing various cars with inspiration in bucket seats, new friends to know and shoot. down the door would go and we’d all be safe in our temporary playground, vast space, tall ceilings, perfect for photography.

all the shoots went well but my favorite one was a dance troupe, shakra. i put them in the old spooky elevator, them with their wild hair, spiked goggles, faux eyeballs. we were on fire with ideas and backgrounds found by creeping around the various levels. the natural light pouring in thru diffused windows and creature stances rocking sexy hips and hair tendrils like snakes. the warehouse was made for them.

one night i arrived for a fire shoot with lee to thank him for use of the space. various spotlights were on and there were people rehearsing, abstract words came from their faces. i had heard that PEX was a hub of artists like the brewery in downtown los angeles but to see it was beautiful. i felt i belonged there that night and i didn’t have to hide under my softboxes anymore. lee and i played with fire… i lit him harshly, captured him on staff and shirtless against weathered walls of his creation. lauryn had come down from new jersey to assist some of my shoots. i would look up and catch her shooting from the balcony overlooking our circus of flashies and fire. lauryn, who is 16 years old and currently attending my old performing arts high school program was a joy to have around. she reminds me of how i was all those years ago… i’m getting more accustomed to having assistants now… it means alot to me to have people there that are getting as much out of our time together as i do… that they care about my work and my models…

a few days later holly arrived and all was faerieCon schedules and blissful adventure. many familiar faces from faerieworlds in oregon but quite an adjustment to being together in such a sterile environment as a convention center. brian froud and i spent alot of time together this trip…. what often starts as chatter between us grows into these serious yet comical discussions. one of his eyes glares out in a different direction… i am convinced that he experiences life like how we experience 3D glasses at IMAX; an overlapping mix of blues from this world and the unpredictable hues of red from the world of the fae. the scope and energy of the worlds we interact between are always with him and there is something within me that matches spirit with him effortlessly, knowing he understands the fae place within me… when he calls me small, i violently remind him of my wingspan and he laughs. when we talk of inspiration of things unseen, it is a safe place…

at night after the convention days were masquerade balls. i dressed as a bad faerie for the ‘good faeries ball’ and for the ‘bad faeries ball’ i dressed even worse… “white, i just can’t do it!” i told emilio. the stage was my priority, capturing performance and all things spotlit. the end of the nights came too soon and always i craved pizza. kelly from woodland and i stirred up wicked games on our last night together. we instigated whoever was left standing by nights end. “what happens at bad faeries ball, STAYS at bad faeries ball!” was our motto the next day as i sprawled out my exhausted body on every available horizontal surface… the floor most often, then chairs pushed together and eventually a table. i just could not get it together that day, yet still i shot a fashion show and countless performances. hugs goodbye to the froud crew and wishes until next we are together in our summertime vineyard in oregon….

holly and i packed up to explore new jersey… we had dinner with my father and awoke early the next day to drive to my old high school. i counted on my fingers how long ago it was that i went there and was shocked to realize that i graduated high school the year lauryn was born… so much had changed there. i had to sift thru old costumes hanging up in the old acting room to find the graffitti i had left the day i graduated. it says my name and ‘FREAK’ and the year i left. still there fading in the dark behind crinolin and sequins of my past. i talked to the kids about passion and following it, about putting all eggs in one basket and not compromising. i was impressed with a freshman that wants to become a record producer, a sophomore that wants to be a script writer.

on a break between classes, i took holly into town. there was a bank, a 7-11, train tracks and a bagel place that is famous for their french toast bagels. “that’s IT?!” she laughed, “yup, welcome to farmingdale.” i spent 13 years there before defecting back to new york city, where i was born, where my first impressions of life formed. those first five years of life where the sprouting fire hydrants in summertime, the river of traffic, playgrounds carved out of urban rushing things and my holly hobbie playhouse were all the rage. the only places i ever identified with in new jersey were manasquan inlet and a tree in the backroads of howell, named the ‘robert smith tree’ because of the familiar twisting of its branches. both of these places were on our roadtrip itinerary and i was grateful…

on the way to manasquan a pumpkin patch caught holly’s eye. we made abrupt turns to get there. corn stalks, goats that looked like jerry lee lewis, cows with rude tongues, lines of bright mums, clusters of happy scarecrows and beyond all of it in the distance was the pumpkin patch that we craved. on a weekday it was almost barren and our cameras did play. onward to the beach where we collected seashells with faint lavender streaks and swung high on swings in bright afternoon sun. we had lunch in town and got lost on the way to an apple orchard that i used to sit on my father’s shoulders to reach the apples. we pulled into the orchard just as the sun began to set and we split up instinctively, lost in our own thoughts. i found a space to sit very still. it was in the middle of perfect ripe rows and i could hear the heavy fruit falling around me. we eventually found each other and sat together for some time at the edge of the orchard overlooking a distant pumpkin farm talking heart things…. and then i remembered my tree…

danny and i named the tree when we were little and each time i visit it, it’s like seeing an old friend. my favorite book still to this day is ‘the giving tree’. i used to tuck myself up in the bottom shelf in the library in elementary school to read it, hiding it behind science books to find it again the next week. my tree became the tree and i was the boy… a timeless story of life phases and shifting desires as time passes. my tree is in the middle of an open field across from a small stream where swans hide. there are fox holes all around the base of the tree and scampering unseen energy upon approach. everytime i see it, i am humbled by its beauty but that day, as it raged against the last fiery moments of sunset, it brought me to tears. i called danny from the base of the tree and told him how i was feeling, as if only if he heard it, would it be real.

we drove on to nyc the next day… holly’s breakfast of a large redbull and coffee completely backfired on her. some squirrelly anxious spirit took over my sweet friend as we traversed bridges and highways. we set up my studio at my sister’s apartment in brooklyn and went to serendipity where we lost our minds in frozen hot chocolates. a visit to dylan’s candy bar, a walk in central park and other wanderings and i was struck by how managable nyc is when it’s not 100 degrees out like it was on my last visit in july.

the rest of my time in nyc was a blur of photo shoots, sister time, and old friends. exhaustion lurked behind every quiet moment and finally descended when holly left me to drive back to boston.

i try to sleep thru the rest of this flight… brady’s face strong behind closed eyelids… a few more hours and i’ll be home… for a few days at least…