Category Archives: Photos

March

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…in which the author attempts to figure out where he fits on the spectrum, er, rainbow.

New York City

I insist that I had an awful Pride Parade that year. Sure, we were all supposed to be happy about the Supreme Court striking down DOMA. But the ruling came down in the middle of the week. That Wednesday afternoon, I had a Stoli Oranj and soda at Stonewall on Christopher Street and then a burger and another Stoli at Julius, a gay bar even older than Stonewall. Got my gay history on. But by the time the Parade rolled around on Sunday, it seemed all the DOMA decision meant was that “couples” –the kind that always have to remind you that they’re a “couple” –could make out with a leaning impunity, slurring things like “Our love is legal.” Because before Wednesday, the feelings you felt for this person were subject to a $50 fine and a summons. I, in turn, made plans to die alone in a bizarre DVR mishap.

Not everything was bad. I did get to boo at that mayoral candidate I disliked as she rode by looking like Cleopatra on her way to open a PathMark in Luxor. And I got to boo at that other mayoral candidate for his inability to take a decent junk shot. But after a while, it just felt like I was being pandered to by politicians and corporate outreach programs.

And the centerpiece of the Chipotle float was a skinny twink in a cowboy outfit riding a bucking foil-wrapped burrito. That appealed to many of my baser instincts involving jack cheese and bucking. But on every other float, the standard issue twink was provided with a whistle with which he could toot along to the Katy Perry vibrating out of rental loudspeakers.

And, it’s always nice hanging with friends at the Parade. My friends and I have a great place that’s not jammed up against a building, goes into the shade early, and is only a block from Julius where it only costs you the price of drink to use the bathroom. But one of the things about hanging with people is punctuality. People all need to be at the same place at the same time in order to hang. Texting does not count. Two friends, a “couple” crashing their way quickly from casual acquaintances towards being blocked on Facebook were over two hours late because of “train problems.” We all have “train problems,” but when I have “train problems,” I don’t answer a “getting close?” text with “stoped 2 get a beer.” No, you better show up winded and apologizing profusely for ruining the gay.

When a drunk Lesbian-of-a-Certain-Age tried to choke me with my Pride beads, I decided it was time to go.

Budapest

But at least I got to actually watch the parade, which is a far cry from what was afforded me when I showed up in Budapest in September 2009 on their equivalent of Pride. In NYC, we like say our parade is a “march,” with all the attendant meaning that goes with that word, but twink riding burrito. In Budapest, it’s so much a “march” that they don’t call it a “march” –it’s the 14th Gay Dignity Procession! Two years earlier, in 2007, far-right unfortunates attacked the 12th Gay Dignity Procession. Police then tried to cancel the 13th Gay Dignity Parade in 2008, citing “traffic.” The gays sued. They marched. Far-right unfortunates attacked the 13th Gay Dignity Procession. So for the 14th Gay Dignity Procession, the police came up with the perfect plan….

Berlin

Now you need to understand at this point that I prefer to travel alone. Continue reading March

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Photo 101, Day Seven: Big & Point of View

¡GIANT TWO HEADED T-REX ATTACKS MASSIVE BELLINI GLASS WITH BALLS!

I live in Columbus, Ohio. Other than the campus of OSU, there is nothing “big” in Columbus, Ohio. And I don’t have the necessary zeppelin to capture its size. Everything else is a respectable average. That’s what Columbus, Ohio is most famous for: it’s impressively above-average averageness. We have a nice skyline, but not one that shouts Columbus, Ohio, Manhattan of the Corn! Our highways are big enough to handle the necessary traffic, but this ain’t LA, Atlanta, or Dallas. Our zoo is famous, but the animals are all normally sized for their species.

I lay awake in my bed. Tossing. Turning. Little hamster spinning on its wheel. Big. Big. Big. What’s big around here?

I slept fitfully. I woke up early. Called in the back-up hamster. What’s big?

Then I noticed the water in the glass by my bed. The surface was rippling. The cat looked at me, said “Hell no!” and bolted under the bed. I went to the window.

Dear God, I thought. The prophesy has been fufilled!

Giant two-headed T-Rex spies his (and/or) her nemesis, the massive bellini glass with balls…

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Continue reading Photo 101, Day Seven: Big & Point of View

Photo 101, Day Six: Connect & Tags

Roots and Runners: Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars…

I chose today’s subjects because today –June 15, 2015 –marks the first anniversary of a great man’s passing. There have been very few public personalities for whom, upon hearing of their death, I wept. Casey Kasem was one of them. He made me the music fan I am today. He taught me that all music was equal and deserved at least one listen. He taught me not to judge other peoples tastes [Well, not too harshly. But, c’mon gays, you can do a lot better. I know you can.] He taught me that no one doesn’t like having chart trivia spewed at them for no good reason. Each Saturday morning I listen to a re-broadcast of an AT40 from the 80s and one from the 70s on Sundays. I am a complete chart nerd!

I wrote many words about him last year when his crazy wife Jean stole his body.

So I felt the best way to honor the man was to feature things that keep their feet on the ground and some other things that keep reaching for the stars. Yeah, it’s totally contrived and hokey, but it’s my Long Distance Dedication.

Photo 101, Day Three: Water & Orientation

Four shots of Adena Brook. Columbus, Ohio

Adena Brook in the Clintonville area of Columbus was named after the Adena Culture which flourished in Ohio between 1000 and 200 BC. If you drive around Columbus and know where to look, you can still see some of their mounds.

Even though Columbus appears relatively flat and boring, parts of it are riven with ravines. Or ravished with rivulets. Below you can see the remains of an old dam that formed a swimming hole from back when Adena Brook and its ravine were a summer getaway. The pool below the old dam is still an important swimming hole for local dogs.

IMG_1929IMG_1930For the above two shots, I think rotating the camera allowed me to foreground the doggie swimming hole nicely.

The next two shots are a few yards upstream. You can still see the sides of the old swimming hole.

IMG_1917 IMG_1916Again, rotating the camera allowed me to foreground the old swimming hole and to allow the viewers eye to follow the creek. I think a vertical camera works quite well for composing shots where you want to guide the eye along a path.

Photo 101, Day Two: Street & Establishing Shots

roadhomelowshotThe Road-Like Path to Home

In the two months since I’ve moved in with my sister, I estimate I’ve lost twenty pounds. I don’t know the exact amount, but saying “I’ve lost twenty pounds” is more satisfying than saying “My fat clothes actually fit.” The main reason for this weight loss is that getting food delivered is not an option. In NYC, I relied on Seamless/GrubHub for the vast majority of my meals.

Now there’s no way anything’s getting delivered. My sister lives on a street that doesn’t exist. There’s a street sign of sorts, but it only lists addresses you cannot find on the actual street in the actual address. Basically, it’s a glorified alley. The city doesn’t even bother paving it properly; every few years a truck throws fresh gravel down.

When the moving truck from Brooklyn finally arrived with all my stuff, I received a frantic call from the driver: “I’m at the spot where the GPS said to go, and all I see is a steep hill. My men can’t do this!” I had to guide him through the five twists and turns it would take to get to the top of the hill and the “front” of the house, which is really the “back.” When the house was built in 1918, it was a summer home, built overlooking a bucolic ravine by a doctor from Bexley who wanted to escape the heat of the city.

Columbus has long since leap-frogged over this little cottage. All the cottages that once faced along the ravine have since turned around to face this little alley, leading to a street where backyards are front yards.

I love this street. It’s a little slice of country smack in the middle of the 15th largest city in the USA. When I have a car service drop me off after a night out, I don’t let them enter the street. Nothing is more magical than strolling down it in the middle of the night with a few drinks in you, smelling the lilacs and listening to rustling in the bushes.

The cat also loves it, even though she will never step foot upon it. When I lived in NYC, the only beasts that tormented my cat were the squirrels. Now she has nemeses not only among the squirrels, but also the chipmunks, the possums, the coyotes, the groundhogs, the foxes, and the deer.

Kim The Cat meets a deer for the first time.
Kim The Cat meets a deer for the first time.

Photo 101, Day One: “Home”

[For WordPress’ ‘Photo 101’ course, I will be posting an assignment a day for the next thirty days. This is the first]

kimottomanKim’s Ottoman

When I first got Kim eight and half years ago, it was to solve a problem. My previous companion, Sam The AIDS Cat, had finally succumbed to his condition. He may have been a very sick cat, but he was a good mouser. You need a good mouser when you live next to a large construction site in Manhattan. Guy would lay out five for me on a good night in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. When he passed, I told myself I would mourn for a couple months. But the mice kept coming.

The last straw was when two scampered up onto the above ottoman AND IGNORED ME. Being ignored by a mouse is a soul-crushing experience. I needed something to wipe those smug arrogant grins off their faces.

The next day I poked my head into the vet’s office that occupied the ground floor of my building, and I saw this beautiful Tortie with the most ethereal green eyes in the adoption cages. I went over and offered two fingers for her to sniff.

Bitch bit me.

“Don’t worry,” said the vet tech. “She’s a sweetheart… just makes a lousy first impression. All Torties have something slightly off about them. Has something to do with that mutation on X-chromosome that gives them their coloring.”

A paw came out from between the bars to swat me. “I don’t know.”

“Please consider her. She doesn’t have many more chances left. She’s been in a cage her whole life.”

The cat looked at me with murder in her eyes. “What’s her name?”

“Felicity.”

“Well, that’s sucks.” I put my finger back in. She nuzzled for a microsecond then chomped down. But there was a purr in the chomp, not a hiss. “I’ll take her, but I’m not calling her Felicity.”

After filling out the requisite forms, the tech told me I could pick her up in a couple hours. I went back upstairs. I had the satellite radio on, and Dirty Boots by Sonic Youth came on. And who’s cooler than Sonic Youth’s queen bee, Kim Gordon? No one. Felicity would now be Kim.

It was lonely with Kim at first. She hid under my bed for the first several weeks, but at least the mice stayed away because of her scent or maybe her bad attitude. Then one night I was watching a special on Chernobyl twenty years later. Apparently the place is overrun by radioactive feral cats. There was a lot of cat noises coming from the speakers. This piqued Kim’s interest, and she ventured out from the bedroom to see what the fuss was about. Without paying me a lick of attention, she hopped up on the ottoman. After about five minutes of me sitting in absolute silence she turned around and meowed at me.

She has been one with the ottoman ever since. It is her scratching post and her throne. It is were she demands spankings –a friend into the leather lifestyle opined that we had a classic S&M relationship. It is where she relaxes enough to show her belly. It is where she bites the shit out of my arm.

The ottoman is now in the guest bedroom of my sister’s home in Columbus. Things got tough towards the end of my time in NYC, and Kim was what kept me tethered to this earth. Only one piece of furniture was special enough to ride in the car out to Ohio, not in the moving van.

Her home marks my home.

SONG MENTIONED:

Photos of Alienation and Despair: A Primer

I’m in a lousy headspace today. The depressive side of my bipolar is at least half-rampant –if rampant happened to be the heraldic term for laying on the couch.  I’m just sorta perched on the edge, waiting for something that’s never coming. Hence, half-rampant.

So I thought I share some photos which I feel depict alienation quite well… plus instructions for their use by the lay person…

Enjoy!

Iron rusts from disuse water loses its purity from stagnation and in cold weather becomes frozen even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind. –Leonardo DaVinci
Black and white or sepia tone
The use of black and white or sepia tone, perhaps lit from a slightly skewed angle gives that feeling of decay. Color would just ruin this old, forgotten furniture, adding too much detail.  We cannot have happy yellows in a stifling Texas attic. This way the viewer can feel old, unused, and unloved.  Perfect for birthdays.

 

“He was an introverted kid, so I didn’t send him to his room as punishment. No, I took him to a party.” ― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale
The sad person in an otherwise festive setting.
The sad person in an otherwise festive setting lets the reader know how isolated you feel.  A great one for conveying introversion.  Pro tip: cropping the subject towards the edge makes it looks like he’s trying to escape. Gay Pride Float, Budapest, 2009.

 

“Most of us need something not to walk away from” ― Josh Stern
This photo combines three im
This photo combines three important elements: slightly off-focus, the subject is walking away, and if you look closely enough, it a graveyard. Pictures like this are especially effective if the person is no longer in your life –or even better, dead. Confession: I am still friends with subject, but I felt the need to include it because it’s a graveyard in Berlin, which has got to add six or seven alienation points. Pro-tip: it’s really easy to compose out of focus shots using the “zoom” feature on the iPhone.

 

“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” ― André Malraux
Obstruction
Am I the subject or is the plant? Does it matter? Feel free to let your viewer know you know you mock any investment they may have in you. Bonus juxtaposition! I am obscuring myself in the Philip Johnson “Glass House.” That gives the viewer an added shot of irony, which people love, especially when it’s is as obvious as possible.

 

“The world is a prison in which solitary confinement is preferable.” ― Karl Kraus
incarceration
Feeling trapped, say in a never-ending cycle of unemployment or meds or vanishing friends, then you should chose a sad of example of something that should be free… like you wish your dreams were.  Look at this ancient Wollemi Pine being held against its will at the Kingsbrae Gardens in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.  Don’t you think it’d be much happier romping with its fellow trees? [Bonus irony points: trees can’t romp; there is no escape.]
“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt” ― Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
sublime
See that mountain in the Highlands of Scotland. Beautiful? No, it’s sublime –just too damn big to be beautiful.  All it can do is threaten to come tumbling down upon that poor little house. By the way, the house is you and your dreams. Including the sublime in your alienation pictures really drives home how insignificant you really are. Pro-tips for New Yorkers: look at all those tall buildings. Tourists may find them beautiful; you should find them sublime.

 

“And pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked.”
Jane Austen
imperfection
One surefire way to convey alienation is to take an image everyone associates with joy and discovery, and then show it in an unflattering light.  This is how I encountered the Eiffel Tower when I visited it on a high school trip. Now the Eiffel Tower is ruined –hopefully, ever hopefully –for everyone.  This is why ‘US Magazine’ always shows us stars without make-up. No matter how pretty someone may be in the popular eye, they could always be much, much worse.  This technique also works well if you consider yourself well-liked –just focus on those people who’ve shunned you at any time in the past. You’ll be feeling like a smog-shrouded World Heritage Site in no time.
“Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.” ― Ben Casnocha
At
At first this picture of a cherub outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music seems like the furthest thing from alienation.  I mean, he’s a cherub; what’s cuter and more self-actualized than a cherub.  Now add the following quote from the Heavenly Maestro:

Welcome to Heaven’s Most Holy Orchestra! Here’s your triangle.

I honestly hope this helps you the next time you wish to illustrate your alienation. Take care.

PHOTO ESSAY: Folks at The Cloisters

One of my favorite NYC outings is to take the A Train all the way up to 190th Street and walk thru Fort Tryon Park to The Cloisters.  The Met’s outpost for medieval religious (mostly) art sits atop a hill in the most un-Manhattan part of Manhattan.  It’s still rocky and hilly up here, and a view across the Hudson presents one with the vista of The Palisades, which is a much nicer view than Weehawken.  There are trees, actual virgin forest.

But it’s not the view or the trees that draw me up here.  It’s not even the “suggested” admission price (though that helps). I go because it’s like visiting old friends. Yes, I can get lost contemplating palimpsest of a Pollock or drown in the cool blue ocean of an Yves Klein. But The Cloisters is full of characters.

And they won’t shut up. It’s like being at a wonderful cocktail party where everyone keeps dropping the same name: Jesus’.

They’re always happy to see you…

"Did you make it alright? I hope the A Train wasn't too much of a hassle."
“Did you make it alright? I hope the A Train wasn’t too much of a hassle.”

Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Folks at The Cloisters