Life goes by

Totally committed to the fifty-bucks

I didn’t want to write this entry— the “Stop Police” photograph started it. Then I got the notice to renew my hosting and realized I was totally committed to the fifty bucks. That phrase means something more to a Frank Zappa fan.

Turn it down! . . . I’m calling the Police! . . . I did it. . . . They’ll be here shortly!

Sometimes I think of this web site as my garage, where I tinker with building things, and perhaps manage to stumble my way through some tunes. In Zappa’s tour de force concept album Joe’s Garage, Mary— Joe’s girlfriend turned crew slut— enters a wet t-shirt contest to earn fifty-bucks for a bus ticket home. Following in Ray Davis’s footsteps, I’ll offer a limited time sample which also explains my other favorite phrase— “an ice-pick in the forehead.” Both phrases ran through my brain today. I’ve got privacy issues. No, there isn’t anything I want to hide. I get nervous when other people hide things. Nothing good comes from secrets— from my experience, at least. I don’t like silence either— I’ll often start talking just to break it. I can tolerate and sometimes enjoy silence in the wilderness, but if there’s someone else in the room I’ll start jabbering just to keep from feeling insecure. And I’ll discuss just about anything. There are no taboo subjects for me. I can make people uncomfortable easily with my willingness to reveal myself. Remember that Kristofferson/Joplin lyric about nothing left to lose?

If you don’t like confessional blogging, or personal disclosures, please don’t click the more link. Just listen to the funny sound byte and move on. I moved a lot of bytes around today and it made me want to write down some history now that I can remember the dates more clearly. Life slips by.

It’s wet t-shirt time again!

One of the hazards of writing in public is that when your eyes get wet— people can see right through.

The City of California City photographs (it actually says that on the sign visible as you enter town) were taken in 1989. I used to drive from the San Joaquin Valley to this desert town, inspired by its sheer oddity. It was summertime, and I was making progress in documenting this “planned” community that was once the fastest growing city in California, reverting into a desolate wasteland of abandoned housing developments and redundant labeling. The project ended abruptly unfinished as the summer ended. The decade that followed was a blur.

In the winter of 1989 I started experimenting with infrared flash photography. The success I had with it made me stop driving much farther than the local bars. It’s hard for me to date daylight photographs taken after that— they were few and far between. When moving some boxes around today, I stumbled on a box of 3 ½ inch floppies. I haven’t used them in years. I looked and saw that they were the letters that changed everything— private letters that changed my life when they became public.

The first one is dated January 8, 1995. A public conversation on the art forums on CompuServe went private. By January 12, we were in love. I think over 10,000 words were exchanged in those four days. The pile of disks spanning seven months totals around 12 megabytes. I hadn’t looked at them since then. We were both found out, by prying spouses, and while my ten-year marriage was mortally wounded she managed to recover hers. Having this star to fix upon, I can start to put some dates on things.

Jumping backward to the signpost in the desert, I remember that I worked on Invisible Light until mid 1993. By this time I had one man shows in several galleries, and was having some success. No sales, mind you, but when people look at your photographs with wonder, you do begin to feel like a success. So this means that a good friend of mine attempted suicide in 1994, and as he was my current project I documented the scars then. It had to be before the letters, by at least six months. So that means the Songs from the Valley Towns series of 2 ¼ work had to be late 94 or early 95, before things just fell apart. I know I didn’t make many photographs except of blues bands, while things moved on. I couldn’t bear to be away from my e-mail that long. All activity came to a halt when the affair started.

Those letters were what turned me from a photographer into a writer, really. I was doing everything I could to hold things together for the seven months it took to extricate myself from my marriage and begin to travel across the US. That means that I first came to Arkansas in August of 1995. The relationship was probably completely over by January of 1996, because I know we were still talking through Christmas— I remember wrestling with the tree. And I remember her leaving all my belongings in the tool shed.

I was jobless and homeless for a few months—I got a job at a photo-lab and then an apartment fairly soon as I recall— I wasn’t in shock for that long. I fixed up a darkroom in the apartment, and my first Arkansas photographs would be from summer or winter 1996. I think I kept trying for the first part of 1997, but I wasn’t getting much of anywhere. Once the basic necessities of life were satisfied, I think that’s when my mind really began to fall apart. I went back to school in the fall of 1997 as a 39-year-old freshman.

That means that I must have created my first home page in 1998. I found out very quickly that the University really didn’t teach all the skills I needed. I need to know how to use PhotoShop and PageMaker and such, and I started teaching myself HTML. It had to be 1998, because I “borrowed” the Adobe software from a guy I worked with at first, and I was fired at the end of my first year of school for a secret. The owner was having an affair with someone who worked there, and was sure I knew. I didn’t— and if I did, I wouldn’t have cared anyway.

After that I scraped by on loans and odd jobs at the Native American Press archive. The camera only came out a couple of times after I entered school. I just didn’t have the time anymore. I can’t stand to let anyone else process my film or make prints. It isn’t my photography unless I have total control. Now that I’m a paid-slave grad assistant, I have even less time to mess with it.

I’ve been writing with increasing ferocity since I stopped making photographs. The emotions must vent somewhere. Public actually seems safer to me, because I must answer for what I say. My first personal site was put up primarily for photographs— I had 5 megs of space to work with, but I annexed my ex-wife’s 5 megs too. It must have been 1999 when I bought my domain name at doteasy. Then, I had 20 megs to fill. I think I paid $15 per year at the time. It must have been 2000 when I finally learned to type. The staggering thing about discovering those letters was realizing that I wrote at least 6 megs of text typing two fingers at a time.

In February 2001, I started keeping a web log of sorts. I generated each page by hand, coding it during my first class in HTML. I taught as much as I learned in that class; it was good training for grad school. The summer after that, I shelled out $50 for my first year of real web-hosting and installed Greymatter in August of 2001. My content was much more manageable and I felt so liberated because I had 200 megs available.

Now, I’ve got to go up another level. At last check, this site was 185 megabytes. Surprised? Pictures take up a lot of space, and there are many pictures here. For the next year, I’m going up to 300. This site has become like my memory, and it has a much better search engine.

Those e-mail letters hit me like an ice-pick through the forehead. I really need the fifty-bucks you know, I’ve got to get home. And home is somewhere I’m not quite sure of— don’t mind me, I’m just shaking my tits.

My heart feels safer in public not private— I’m totally committed to the fifty-bucks even if it costs a little more.

2 thoughts on “Life goes by”

  1. Sometimes I wish I were totally transparent, or at least translucent. I have no desire to be mysterious. I’ve found both pain and joy are easier to bear when others know what you’re carrying.
    In any case, we’re often more embedded in community that we know. Nets make for safety, but they also mean others have a line on you.

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