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The desert road after dark…

As I drive on the freeways and main roads of the desert I keep thinking of arteries. At night one can drive for ages on the long, dark roads and see nothing. Street lights are scarce, as are other cars past 10 or 11 PM. While one is driving, several times a car cannot be seen ahead or behind. There is nothing to look at because it’s so dark. When I barrel through the 10 west, I welcome the blinking red lights set on top of the windmills that prolifically adorn the landscape during the day. After full dark I can barely see them. The red flashing lights remind me of the lights on the cranes, at the ship yards in San Diego I would follow and track down, like a moth drawn to the flame.

When I’m driving I keep imagining I’m a part of the circulatory system of the human body. In the desert, the streets are so long and desolate I keep thinking I’m a lonely blood cell, cruising along one of the main arteries connecting the heart to the lungs. I think of the clusters of houses and shops, of civilization, as the bursts of veins and capillaries that feed the lungs, heart, torso and legs. When I think of New York City I think of a finger tip, where all the nerves are waiting to alert pain at any small cut or slice; where the blood supply ends and is focused, and close to the nerve endings. My ignorance of the circulatory system or entire human anatomy in scientific terms, combined with incessant thoughts of this analogy, brought me to the point of looking at images on google of the circulatory system. Upon a cursory examination, I think it’s not too far off, although, I don’t know precisely where this is coming from, if it’s that exact, or how the nervous system plays into this.

What I do know is my sense of time has slowed down, and my “nerves” are relaxing. The avenues in Manhattan and Brooklyn felt endless just prior to my exit, but they are short compared to the never-ending system of wide roads and highways in Southern California. However, the vastness of the West feels comforting.

What’s significant about the desert is that the diminished number of cars driving after dark (in the summer anyways), plus the lack of light, unite to create a super unrealistic notion of time passing. It’s the exact opposite to the speedy sensation of New York City. So what is a realistic notion of time anyways? Other than the seeming finality of death (depending on ones beliefs), time doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Yet survival does, more than ever.

Scenes from “Lost Highway” come to mind, where row after row of yellow lines fall upon one another. It’s hard to tell if I’m going the right way and my sense of direction, in real time, is even more vague than usual. I finally got that the mountains face the northwest, kind of. It’s really quite simple around here, I’ve learned my way around a little bit; I’ve found myself relying on my I-phone less and less for the GPS app. But driving the desert roads; it’s endless, almost mindless. But being mindless is impossible at this point in life. The point when one has realized there is no point but moving on, mindfully, driving carefully through the dimly lit streets, hoping that an incorrect turn doesn’t render one lost for too much time.

From an existential viewpoint, my life has always been a nightmare, a conundrum, a conflicting set of values and reality. The process of realizing ones capabilities, in my case, supercede my ability to achieve it. The concentrated desire to think through the metaphorical examples of my own experience, that spontaneously come to mind, is a recent developement. This brings me back to Dostoevsky’s peasant, who is “greedily hoarding impressions, hardly knowing why.” Perhaps he is still standing there, on the side of the road, staring into space. Maybe I’ll join him finally.

But of course I know why, at least partially. Is it not natural to think of the man-made landscape in a natural way, even if one does not understand that connection in intellectual or scientific terms? The visceral connection is made, implanted in the brain and the body, and knows something beyond intellectual knowledge. It is painful to try to explicate, but worth trying; a little bit. As I get a little older, the physical drama unleashes full knowledge of past emotional trauma. The pathways become fully revealed and the “wrong turns” begin to make sense, again, just a little bit. Only a little. Drop by drop the truth bleeds out, then the wound heals, leaving another scar. What is shed on the ground just simply dries and fades away, decomposes into everything else on this earth, on those pathways, sidewalks, streets and roads that illustrate time as the great equalizer. It is symbolic to me of all of that is unknown. My dad says, jokingly, if I stay out of Los Angeles, I will be okay. But I don’t know if I can, or if I’ll get bored. Maybe not, who knows…..

What happens in the back yard, stays…in the backyard…

The grey parts

As usual I have gathered my thoughts for a few days before being able to write.  I’ve thought a lot about this funny conversation I heard between two guys when I was walking Nova the other day.  There was three of them total, and they were standing around talking shit.  As I walked by I hear one guy say, “Yo, check it, I had two wives at the same time and they both knew about each other.” His friend replied, “Man, you can’t do that!” It kept a smile on my face for about 2 or 3 blocks.  In one way of looking at it; for one guy it wasn’t black or white, one way or the other, two wives are fine.  They other guy knows how difficult it is to manage one significant relationship.  Of course I’m speculating.  I don’t know why he really said that.  I should have lurked to peep in on more of the conversation. The bottom line is everyone has to make their own decisions and certain things put others into perspective.  Like when the unacceptable happens.

The fact is mostly what has been on my mind are Chemotherapy options.  At Bellvue there is heavy chemo and chemo light.  Heavy chemo takes 4 months and is what is recommended, bring my chances of developing a new tumor somewhere else in the next few years from 33 % to 15 %. With Chemo light you go 6 to 8 months and my chances of a re-occurrence is 21 %, or 22 %.  The oncologist is cool but very much against anything non-conventional.  I have to pick something, but I don’t want either one.  After having surgery and as I’ve been recovering, not to mention the drama of breaking my arm last fall, I feel like I’m in a big medicine machine and god knows what I’ll look like when I’m spit out.  Some people come back fine, some don’t.  How does one live in the grey area? And in many things in life.  Another way of looking at it is things like this; perhaps even most things don’t really make sense at the time.  It’s only after absorbing, processing and spending some time with the situation, that what is right for one begins to make sense.  And then through a glass darkly.  One will never know until later, for sure, what is going to happen.  With anything except the facts that one day you’ll die and your life will affect others whether you like it or not.  I’m taking a little time to weigh out my options, I want my body to get stronger too before jumping into a ring with Chemotherapy.  I can just see it, “Chemotherapy in the ring on the right corner and Ame Curtiss on the left.” Or, however  they talk about a boxing match, I can’t remember.

I’ve started reading Joan Didion’s book, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” I finally finished “Slouching towards Bethlehem and have as usual read been dipping into other books.  But with Didion’s writing, something feels incredibly appropriate. I have  a lot of preparing to do,  For what quite, I’m not sure it, I just want my ducks in a row as much as possible before getting in the ring.

The carrot hand

Lately during my walks with Nova kids have been talking to me about her. A few days ago I had my camera with me too and this sweet kid asked me if I was a photographer. My answer was some thing like, “Yes, I am…well, I take pictures of things.” I asked him if he every took pictures. He shook his no at first but then thought about it and said something like, “Yea, I take pictures of things sometime…a lot sometimes.” He told me about this carrot he had that looked like a hand with three fingers and a thumb. He told me he took a picture of it. Then he told me he still has it, I didn’t ask what the time frame was but told him he should take a picture of it again.

Recently I went to the Elad Lassry show at Luhring Augustine. At the MOMA’s “New Photography” exhibit, I liked his the best as well. I don’t want to discuss why right now because I already want to shoot myself in the head from endless discussions and writings about pictures and shows and what they mean. The pictures are just weird, like the carrot-hand. I am imagining the creature such a hand belongs too. Initially I imagined the carrot at the Lassry show; a small framed photograph, propped upright against a bright green background and slightly out of focus. Lately I have been cutting up my pictures and taping them around my house and taking pictures of them. I wish I had a picture of that carrot to cut up, but it wouldn’t mean as much to me if I didn’t take it. I’ll post some of those pictures later. They are weird, man.

I have been feeling like I don’t have any pictures to post as I have not been able to shoot as prolifically as I normally do, partially because of my arm being broken and subsequently mal-functioning hand. Maybe I have a carrot-hand now. Mostly now I haven’t shot as much because reading, writing and showing up for school has been eating away at my already bizarre sense of time and life. My life has been stranger than ever but I can’t write about that right now. I have a few portriat session lined up which give me some hope and there’s always my neighborhood. While looking through my drives for pictures of André and the Lion I realized I have so many pictures to post on a blog. I have so many pictures…I think this is part of why I am cutting them up….it also has to do with memory and all that crap….I post them later, in case you need something to look forward to. Maybe if I get weirder, smarter and more aloof I also will get a show at Luhring Augustine. Actually I like a lot of the work they show, not to the point of investigating each artist, but there are a few I’ve started with. Of course I delved into the world of Daido Moriyama to the point of getting my books signed at his show last spring, but he’s just rad. Maybe if I decide to really ruin my mental state and become an art writer or become more invested in high art then I can explicate just why I dig that gallery. In the meantime there’s always more pictures.

Book fair at PS1 this weekend

Come buy my booklets and check out all of ICP’s books.  There’s going to be a lot of great work.  I’ve sewed books for days with my gimp hand, and they still look great. I’ll be there all day Sunday either working the booth or walking around with my good friend Zoe who’s magically appeared from California…can’t wait!!!!

so come say hello if you get a chance…..

check out ICP’s MFA blog for more info and more pictures of mine and my fellow’s students work as well. We have an impressive bunch of bookmaker’s in my class.  Also, We will be having open studio’s at our studio just down the street on Jackson drive all day Saturday and Sunday.

Diaristic and photographic backtracking

I was having dinner the other night with a couple of old friends. One of them lives here in New York and the other in California.  They are both something like brothers, or the closest thing to a siblings I can imagine.  Another person was there I didn’t know so well and somehow the conversation turned to living in New York and I attempted to describe my feelings of apathy and disinterest with not only new York, but the entire world, or at least the places I have been.  I think I was trying to say I find the culture I’m surrounded by unsatisfying. I told him I feel unambitious.  My two old friends then pointed out how hard I work on my photos and my life and how much I seem to care about what I do and moving forward. I move forward through this chasm with some kind of intense passion not knowing what the point is. I am filled with love and with hate sometimes too. I love making pictures of my life and am so fucking sick of them too.  Editing pictures is just as tiresome as editing life and making decisions, each movement, question, decision involving a serious of steps that exhausts me.  I have too much to say and don’t know how to say it.   There is a small enjoyment creeping in so slowly though…how strange

That being said these photos for me are about deeply personal experiences and observations as well as the enjoyment of recording things photographically.  I am always introspective about my being and hopefully can one day translate my perspective to others who need to hear or know there is someone else who is a passionately disillusioned as they are. As fulfilling as it is to read about art theory and what photographs mean, I grow weary. What does this mean? It’s like a mathematical equation I don’t feel capable of solving.  Wait? Don’t answer that! I need to write for 50 years 8 hours a day to convey what i really mean to say.

The build up of pictures, life, stuff and memories combined with my own attempts of reconciliation with my past trauma and joys tend to leave me emotionally overwhelmed; like a pleasant purgatory that resembles a garbage dumb or half way destroyed building, where I’m wandering looking at articles of my life and those of others and wondering where we all make peace.  I want it to be simple, but it’s not…nothing is further from the truth.