I was passing through Union Square Park yesterday…rounded the corner on the northeast side of the park when I saw a man with one puffed cheek blowing on a trombone. His body moved as if it was trying to push and pull notes hidden deep within his chest.
He told me that he was working hard to master his tone and wanted to get some playing in before the sun went down.
Last Spring my buddy Aj and I were in Seale, Alabama for an art, architecture, design and music event. Throughout the day there was a slow hum of folk or old-timey music. As the sun began to set a new noise emerged. A long-haired duo consisting of drums and a guitar had taken the stage. Their bodies moved like a set of fast crashing waves as they created a brand of funk that caused a mass of people to run to the stage and dance.
Ilan and Jake are gypsy rock/funk nomads who have been touring America for the past year and a half in search of playing music and recroding albums. When they are not camping, staying with friends or acquaintances they spend the night in their coversion van that goes by the name Daphne, which is highly organizied, compartmentalized and strategically packed with musical insturments, books, a typewriter, tapes and all the the things you would need to be creative and to live.
These fellas were touring the Northeast and had some time to kill so they stayed with us for the past week in Woodstock, using the barn as a place to practice and write music.
I was struck by their confidence and dedication to what they are doing. They told stories of sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots, detailed accounts of the cast of characters who had invited them into their homes, stories of playing gigs at pizza joints, the Whiskey A Go Go or being commisioned to play a private party on a river in the Shenandoah Valley.
Their objective has less to do with “making it” and more to do with making potent music with a healthy dose of adventure.
I was passing through my hometown of Syracuse Indiana last weekend, when Johnathan Roger Vernon Heckaman, one of my oldest friends in this world called me and informed me that his boat had re-gained integrity and that we should take it for a spin.
Northern Eastern Indiana is filled with water in the style of rivers, ponds, swamps and lakes. As a result it was and still is…but with less force, a popular tourist destination during the summer months. Rathern than simply passing-thru the tourists or “lakers” have family homes or cottages that are passed down from generation to generation. The “lakers” typically stay for an entire Summer Season. As a result there is an influx of new people causing the areas population to increase by about Fifty percent (this is not an exact figure) during the Summer Season.
John and I boarded his classic wood hulled 1962 Grady White Hatteras and set forth on our voyage to the sandbar. I never really considered the sandbar growing up because it was simply part of the local culture, but because I had not been there for about ten years I saw it thru a different lens on this particular trip. In the middle of Lake Wawasee there is a one acre section that gets shallow (about four feet deep) where people anchor their boats. It is essentially a lawless-pop-up bar in the middle of the lake where people are swimming, listening to music, talking, drinking, swimming, playing in the water…all while working on their sunburns.
When folks ask what Indiana is like I find it hard to describe, because our state doesn’t have Redwoods, impressive mountains or too many natural wonders. I am beginning to realize that Indiana’s charm lies in its subtleties. It’s moniker is “the cross roads of America” which lends itself to being passed thru and passed over. The well of Indiana’s character requires a long-look rather than a glance….and that well is never in question.
I know I’ve been slacking on meeting folks so allow me to introduce… Louis Mendes.
I was walking up Ninth Avenue in the rain. I was a bit disappointed because I was going to Penn Station, which isn’t so bad but it’s definitely not an inspiring place. I don’t think the Lightnin Hopikins bender that was consuming me was any help in that sentiment.
Just as I was about to round the corner heading east on 34th st. I realized that, while in a daze, I had passed a man in a black suit, black shirt, and black Fedora hat with a curled brim who was holding a Speed Graphic 4x5 Press Camera with an attached flash.
(The Speed Graphic uses a negative that measures 4x5 inches which is extremely large compared to 35mm not to mention the invisible digital file. This camera is one of the first portable or handheld cameras so it was the preffered camera of journalists in the 30’s-50’s. It’s not a particularly rare camera rather an atypical camera to see used on the street these days.)
When I realized what I had seen I turned around and started talking to Louis. As it turns out he used to shoot Jazz musicians back in the day and frequently travels to New Orleans to take street portraits. I asked if he would like to make a picture. He was charing 20 dollars for a single polaroid, which I considered a steal because a moment like this is few and far between with regards to the camera, the polaroid film, and a principled man like Louis.
He told me to crouch down and to gaze a couple feet to the right of the lens then it was over in a 60th of a second.
He asked me “You know what the only thing wrong with this picture is?”
I mentioned that my part of my shoe was cut off and then he replied ”no, the only thing that is wrong…is that there is only one.”
The portrait comes signed and dated with -New York- themed display case.
I am going to forego a description of this specimen and in it’s stead I will offer a glimpse of her genius.
A few months ago Alexis sent me a cell phone picture of her in a movie theatre bathroom along with a caption indicating the movie title.
I really loved this gesture so I asked her to keep sending me photos from the toilette when she went to see movies. While I do not condone her movie choices I do enjoy her expressions and background selections for the photographs. My personal favorite is the silver specked compressed black plastic door which is featured in the first photograph.
When not making my day with these photogaphs Alexis is a photographer and artist.
Check it out. http://alexisculver.com/home.html http://landlost.tumblr.com/
The list of movies, in order, from top to bottom-left to right:
While I have not personally met Lucy I did get a tiny glimpse into her life as a result of finding two trunks with some of her personal effects in them.
I was taking a shortcut through the dormatory housing courtyard at NYU when I saw a dumpster full of old trunks and suitcases. I noted them and returned two days later to fish-out some of the items. Two of the trunks were to heavy to lift from the dumpster so I began rooting through them. I paid no attention to the items, only skimming them for envelopes and film-boxes that would reveal a bit about the person who previously owned them.
Upon returning home I read some of the letters, looked at the pictures and the paintings in the trunk. The trunk contained family photographs. My favorites include shots taken of her mother preparing food in a sun-lit Parisian apartment. Coincidentally there are photos of her father holding a child, who I assume to be Lucy in front of the statue where I found her trunk.
From what I gather Lucy was a television star possibly employed by CBS. There was a script from “As the World Turns,” some per diem vouchers, a chess board, Hebrew language cards, two paintings and quite a bit of fan-mail.
There is even a photograph of Lucy and Fred Savage as a young boy.
I think I just found my version of One Eyed Willies loot.
This post serves dual purposes. The first is to call attention to the value of mail or packages sent via USPS. I’m not talking about bills or junk mail, rather a thoughtful hand-crafted package that causes you to run from the mail-box to your house in order to tear an envelope open…wondering what treasures await.
The second is to brag about Jeremy Kennedy’s hand-made book titled “Cheerleaderisms.” Jeremy and I have started a Publication company that goes by the name Rebel Hands Press. I don’t mean for this to be shameless self-promotion but having the pleasure of actually touching this book for the first time last night I cannot resist a description. Number nine layouts of text and photographs, it is short and sweet, however it comes off as vast with it’s sense of humor, sincerity and craftsmanship (bound via heat treated plastic.) This book is pure pleasure to touch.
Jeremy and I met in Bloominton, Indiana. I had seen him around town but we never spoke. One night I went to an art show that he was featured in. I wanted to buy one of his paintings….One showing a shirtless Mel Gibson outside of a burning house from part 1 of the the Lethal Weapon franchise. The conversation ended with Jeremy threatening to stab my friend in the neck with a Bic Pen. Needless to say both me and my friend bought paintings. Eventually I commissioned J. Kennedy to make a painting of him threatening to stab my friend with a Bic Pen while simultaneously selling us two paintings of Patrick Swayzee going-shirtless outside of a burning house. The commissioned painting was titled as such….” J. Kennedy threatens to stab Micah LeMasters with a Bic Pen while simultaneously selling two paintings of Patrick Swayzee going-shirtless outside of a burning house.”…….Thus a friendship was formed and an ongoing artistic collaboration born.
What I’m trying to say is….Send more mail to your friends Folks.
Jeremy Kennedy Website: http://www.table-blue.com/
2012 is going to be an interesting year for this fella. With eight days down and 357 to go Jonas has undertaken the task of taking 1 roll of film every-single-day using a Pentax 67ii medium format camera. (in photo speak that is 10 frames per day)
Jonas has decided not to look at the pictures until the year is complete. His photographic style is straightforward with an emphasis on beautiful light. He is a maticulous taker of notes therefore he records every name, location and story that he encounters. Having known Jonas for the past decade I can attest to his patience and will with regards to a project with this longitude.
Keep in mind that this is not a matter of simply snapping 10 photographs and then calling it a day. The intention of this project is to connect with people and places, to collect an view of society, to document all facets of life. I was recently with a group of friends and we were all explaining how we had come to know each other. Through some investigation we realized that Jonas had been the thread to connect our fabrics.
This project is in the begining stages so there are varius ways YOU can get involved. Write Jonas and tell him about something interesting, commision/sponsor a roll of film, gift a roll of film….This project, in my opinion, has so much potential…and beyond involving a charity the end result is limitless and unknown.
Above you will see Jonas in action snapping a portrait of Larry in New York’s Washington Square Park. Larry lives in the park and watches the hawks that have nests in the buildings surrounding the park. If you have a chance to speak with Larry he will explain in great detail the flight and behavior patterns of his winged friends. He is the eyes on the park and most recently saw a hawk swoop down and prey on a black squirell.
Blake is my oldest friend on this dang earth. We met when we were 5 years old. The first time I went to his house I brought fruit rollups and we got caught up in a doorway both person moving in the same side-to-side motion, trying to get thru.. Blake had a bad ass blue and white bicycle, so he always got to be a police officer in the games we played.
Eventually we both moved to Syracuse from North Webster and lived a sling-shots distance from each other. We hung out every day and played a lot of ping-pong. At some point we started listening to Jay-Z, Masta-P and Biggie at which point we would sit in his parents hot tub smoking cigars after school. It’s strange to think that Blake has been related either directly or indirectly to every formative part of my life and visa versa.
Blake moved to Colorado 8 years ago…runnin down a dream he studied the rivers, fish and bugs and has become an accomplished fly-fisherman. He is becoming an outdoorsman and has recently taken up Elk hunting. He shot his first Bull last hunting season. Blake has more fun than any individual I have ever met. He is constantly on the move, going to concerts, making friends, exploring… Blake currently lives in Minutrn, Colorado. (The locals leave out some letters in the pronunciation so it sounds like Minern.)
I was in Vail a few days ago for a visit and Blake had a day off work so we decided to drive to Steamboat Springs and visit Strawberry Park Hot Springs which is a series of outdoor stone pools that you lounge around in… shifting between the hot, lukewarm and cold river water. I guess the Yiddish call this shvitzing. Although I cannot confirm this final comment I hear that the pools get pretty interesting after dark.