Archive for March, 2008

Because I Can, VII


2nd, I Hate to Say It, But It’s What I Was Hoping for


I knew 2nd was the best I could do. I don’t like 2nd, but in this case there was no chance for first. Everyone in the state who cared knew who was going to get first, it was a forgone conclusion.

Oh yeah, what am I talking about? Yeah, that detail. The IPPA (Illinois Press Photographers Association) iBOP (Illinois Best of Photojournalism) awards for 2007. If you are a photojournalist in Illinois, this is the contest you enter. This is where you get recognized by your peers.

First place this year for Feature Picture Story was going to go to Scott Strazzante. He did a piece about 10 years back on a farm that was being sold and turned into a sub-division. This year he did a follow up piece on that sub-division. The result is a series of diptychs, “Echos of the Past”, that is simply amazing. They are well thought out, conceptual, poignant, informative and non-judgmental. Some of the best PJ work I’ve seen in a long while. It’s also been widely talked about amongst journalists, photojournalists, photographers, not to mention published in the Chicago Tribune (Scott’s employeer) and National Geographic, just to name two. It will in a few years make a great book. I’ll buy one, no doubts.

So, suffice it to say, getting first for Feature Picture Story was out. The competition in this category was for 2nd (or as I prefer to call it, first loser). I got 2nd with the Summer Love series (you know, the underwater images). I’m pretty good with that. I haven’t had a chance to see the other pieces that placed yet. I didn’t get a chance to go watch the judging this year as it was done down state. But if this year is similar to previous years, it means I did some good work, this tends to be a strong category.

Also for one of the individual images from the Summer Love series I got 3rd place in Pictorial.

All and all, a pretty good day.

I look forward to seeing the winners in all the other categories when they get put online. You can see the list at least here. Congrats to all the winners. I personally look forward to enjoying the fruits of your labor, and thanks for sharing, especially, thanks for sharing.

Because I Can, VI


Random images from the last week or so. Some work, some not, some finalized, some still being debated on. Just a whatever throwing some imagery up kind of post.

Because I Can, V


Still feeling this one out. Not sure if it says much of anything or not. Hmmm…

Long Live the Simple Joy of the Company of Good People


I have a long rant on my company’s piss poor communication skills. I don’t have time to write it right now as I have to be able way early to drive a long way. Plus I just don’t feel like focusing on it. I want to enjoy life, be happy. Instead…

I got to hang with 75 people of all ages today who gathered outside the Art Institute to have a pillow fight.

You know what, it’s not your job that’s important, it’s not some item or such, it’s the simple company of good, happy people. We are, ultimately, almost all of us, that, good happy people. We just forget. Take pleasure in the company of those around you, don’t worry about what they think of you, hint, they think you’re good, you’re cool. (FYI – if I know you, I do as well. You are worth a lot to me, even if it’s been too long. That reminds me, gotta call Becky.) Enjoy it, do something simple, have some fun, but most of all, be happy.

And if you’re totally lost, smack em’ with a pillow. You know you wanta.

It’s going to be weeks before I get all the feathers out of my clothing.

That makes me smile.



This is just a few quick grabs from the last few minutes of a friend’s birthday party. I normally don’t go for cute, lovey dovey crap, but hey, we all got to branch out every once and a while.

Anyhow, this is the birthday girl Nora, and her man toy, Jason. They’re good together. I like them together. She is so out of his league. And yeah, they make me want to puke also, but you still have to give them credit, they are cute together, even if disgustingly so.

I also probably should have edited this tighter, really one or two would’ve done it, but I’m not going to right now. It’s late, and I’m tired. I’m also not so sure on the sepia toning, haven’t done it before, but for some reason it felt right. I’ll change my mind in the morning.

Another Night Out


The attached imagery was inspired by a night at a Blackhawks game with Zeepdoggie and The Gringo, during which we hung out with Billy “Kick em’ in the Neck” and his brother Dave, who I hit in the nuts with a folding chair.

When I sum it up in a sentence…it sounds worse than it actually was.

You Brought a Knife…


You brought a knife to an Axe fight?

The problem with modernity, is that everyone is so safety conscious. I used to be able to walk down the streets of town, and find someone, at least one someone, some times a few, who would be willing to engage in a perfectly fun and friendly axe fight.

Not anymore. No one axe fights. It’s too dangerous.




Why a picture of a building? Yeah, I take lots of photos of buildings, this building though I’ve dreamed about for about 13 years now.

I was first in this building back when I was assisting for a magazine and we were doing an in-house ad, “these are the people that read this mag!” Yeah, whatever.

It’s an old CTA substation up by DePaul. I was a block away for a shoot today and just happened to be walking by it. There are three buildings of it’s design in Chicago-land. This one, which is owned by a well known sculptor. Another in Oak Park, which I’ve also been in, humorously enough, which is owned by another well known artist and occasional sculptor. (Both work a lot in metals, hmm.) The third is on the south side somewhere and is apparently an industrial business of some sort. Metal work I believe. (hmm…)

Why do I love these buildings? Good question, thanks for asking. Starting from the front, if you go back to between the first and second window, that portion of the building is living space. 3 floors of pretty good size living space. The rest of the building is wide open. It’s an empty space. It also does have rails between the upper and lower sets of windows which hold an industrial strength winch, for lifting and moving CTA “L” cars.

If/when I get one of these buildings, I’m not entirely sure what I’d do with it. I might turn the open space into a giant studio space, it would rock. More likely, I’d turn it into a forest. Plant a couple of trees, get some birds, a few animals, and have my own Eden in the city. I always want to escape the city and get to the woods, but it’s hard to find the time. Imagine just coming home to it. It’s a large enough and well enough lit space to hold at least 3 large trees and some smaller foliage. Maybe a little pool, by little like 15 feet round with a stream.

And remember that industrial winch on rails? Imagine using the bracing of that, removing the hardware, putting in a sheet metal floor with small holes punched in, so you could see below you, and were able to look out over the forest. That would be my main living space. A bed, a bathroom (bathroom, no doors, just curved semi-opaque glass) and a little relaxation area. All open. Just my tree house above my forest in the city.

I dream of that space, I have for a long time, I always will. The details of getting there I just don’t know, but it’s a dream, I may find a way, but part of the joy is in having the dream.

Okay, so of my three “big” dreams, that’s number two. Let me give you a run down on one and three also.

Three is the least likely. Quit everything, move to Hawaii, surf in the morning, take pretty pictures of nothing meaningful in the late afternoon. Just escape the rat race, escape responsibility. It’s my escapist, won’t happen, and wouldn’t want it to happen dream, but it gets me through those tough days.

My number one dream, I’m pretty sure I can pull off. It’s going to be a few years, but I’ve got the initial plan, it’s just doing some foot work, and when I decide to do it, which I get closer to every year, I can get everything together in under a year.

I’m going to get myself a canoe, a bunch of supplies, cameras, solar cells, tent, sleeping bag, all that good stuff, and I’m going to canoe the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson. It’s a little under 4,000 miles. I figure it will take 9 to 18 months. I’m not going to worry about just doing it. I’m going to use it as a conduit to explore the country and understand myself. I’ll blog the whole thing of course (it has some good book potential, and blogging might be able to provide me with a modest income while doing it, not to mention I’ll need to be journaling in some fashion, so why not do it publicly). I’ll probably make it a largely one way communication though, only one person with my email address, no incoming cell phone, all that good stuff. I’ll occasionally invite a friend to join me for a week, but not many, and not often. Mostly, I just want to meet the people on the central artery of this country. Talk to them, get to know them, document the river. The escapist aspect has been noticed also.

It’s a very doable dream, not easy, but definitely doable. The key is going to be getting to a point where I have nothing, or little, to leave behind. I’m not saying that is a good thing, but the closer I get to there, the more I see this as a viable option. I’d put 2 to 1 odds that I do it, someday. My best guess would be five years.

I’ve had a lot of serious life lately, and that’s fine, the last year has been wonderful, and horrible. If nothing else it’s been meaningful, and I wouldn’t give it back for anything. On the other hand, it has been hard, some days very hard. So I do what many people do, I escape into my dreams sometimes. Maybe I see my dreams as being a little bit more doable than most though (outside of my moving to Mars dream, that’s really unlikely.) I guess I understand having to do stuff in life, and I support it, but maybe those dreams I have, the dreams you have, maybe I just see, believe, they can be lived, if we want to live them. Saying that makes me want to leave next week, but I’ve got a few more good years, then I’ll be gone, and why not? I always wonder, why not live your dreams? Nothing stops us but us, and a strong enough desire to fulfill the dream.

Because I Can, IV


The photo is from a fund raiser for childhood cancer research. Fireman shave their heads to show solidarity and raise money. Good stuff. They actually offered to donate a $150 for me to shave my head, I just couldn’t this year because…well, I couldn’t, it was too important to show support for a friend of mine. Next year I’m going to go in with full faux-hawk though and see how much I can get. For a decent dollar donation, I’d give in.

My other good work from this week I’m sorry to say, I can’t show you. It’s from my current long-term project. Someday it will be shown to the world at large, but not today. The work is good, it’s hard, it’s painful, it’s joyful, and loving, it is what it is, but most of all, it’s good, I’m happy with it, I’ve given a lot to this project, and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

The rest of this is all personal, read if you please, don’t if you won’t. The world is a confusing place. This year is absolutely excellent. I’ve hung with, talked to, lunched with, otherwise gotten to know excellent person after excellent person. It’s a renaissance of life, it’s a dream, my work is hitting like it has never hit before. The last year is nothing short of amazing. I’m tired, drained, exhausted, and so in love, not with anyone unfortunately, but just in love. I’ve seen and felt so much caring, so much wonder this year. I’ve also seen so much go wrong, so painfully, so horribly, so cruelly wrong around me. I wish the world was a better place, a better place to good people, I wish the universe could show the love to the people around me that I have for them, but it doesn’t. Good people suffer, sometimes horribly and cruelly and pointlessly. I don’t understand it. All I can do is give my love, as much love as I have to my friends who so richly deserve all that I have.

My job may pay like shit, welcome to the industry, it may demand brutal hours some, many, weeks, it may have, I don’t know, I’m scared to find out, removed much of my chance for finding a partner in life, but it has allowed me to see many things in this world, learn many things. One of those lessons is that nothing matters, nothing at all, except love.

I’d say this boils down to really three things. The love of creation, this is true to me at least, this is what is important to me. In the scheme of things it’s small, but it matters to me. The second is loving a good partner. I’m not good at making this happen, it’s just me. I’m not happy with it, but I’m resigned to it, I’m comfy with it. The third, and the one that matters, is the love of those around you, the love of other people. This for me is most easily expressed in the love of my friends. My friends know, I hope they know, I love them, I’ll fight for them, I’ll help them, whatever, they are my friends, they are my flesh and blood in this world, they are what matters. In the larger view, all that matters is each other. A building matters, but only so much as it matters to someone, in and of itself, it’s meaningless. A tree may matter also, but only in how it matters to a person. This is true of everything around us, it matters but only because it matters to someone, in and of itself, it’s meaningless, pointless.

Take a moment today, call someone you wouldn’t have, find a friend, share some time with them, and tell them you love them. We don’t do it enough.

As it’s late while I’m writing this, I’m going to lay back, have some more scotch, I do love my scotch, yummy, and watch some episodes of the Muppet Show. Good stuff.

Addendum: I finally found it! I finally found it! The basis, the start, the source of why Marvin the Martian is the Man, why I love Marvin. Go here. “Hareway to the Stars” When in doubt, go to time 3:12, watch the next 15 seconds or so. Genius. I want to be so cool. Chuck Jones just rocks the house. It’s all about Venus, it’s always about Venus.

Flight and Falling


The pics have nothing to do with the words. I don’t care. The pics are from Ameba’s current piece, “On the Edge” at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

I have no idea any more. I’ve totally lost any concept of if I’m flying or if I’m falling, as far as I can tell, there is no difference between the two. I’m overwhelmed on almost every side of life. I can’t handle it, and I love it. The contradictions in my life are constant, and thorough. I’m totally lost, and I just can’t stop myself from continuing to go, further and further. Reality is becoming a distant memory, unless where I’m at right now is reality, which I find hard to believe, but how would I know?

I increasingly see my life in terms of “Apocalypse Now”. It’s my all time favorite movie. It describes my life. Surreality every where, all sides. And I just keep getting pulled up river, pulled by some force I don’t understand. I don’t know who I am, both in terms of which character I would most resemble (I can make arguments for the Chief, Lance, and the photojournalist, but I want to be Kurtz.) and I just don’t know if I know who I am anymore. I’ve chosen to let go, or remake so many parts of me in the last year, it’s amazing, I’m happier, I’m a better person, a better human, but I’m not sure who I am, or where I am. This isn’t a bad thing, if anything, it’s a good thing. I’m just totally lost on the river. Whatever it is, it works, but it’s all such a swirl.

Because I Can, III


I’d like to note, here and now, I don’t know what day of the week it is. They change, the days, but they are all the same, they all blend into one day. I shoot, I edit, I hang (hanging is key, lunch has become key, anyone want to do lunch on Friday? Let me know.) 7 days a week, forever.

Hell and Heaven are the same place, and you never quite know which you’re in.

Now, if you would please kill Mr. Bond….


Okay, that’s maybe unfair, but I just had to laugh when I saw how this image came out. He was actually a nice guy from what little I communicated with him. And just to add to the humor, this was shot in a tannery, so that’s big raw piece of leather he’s working with.

Just Not Right


I would love to provide a full context for this photo, but I feel that the need to protect the people involved is more important, and there is no way I would type such a story onto the internet. (you know it’s good when I won’t discuss it.)

The vague story is that the woman was a judge for the Chiditarod, an urban Iditarod/shopping cart race/bar crawl. She was willing to let this gentleman, who wanted to win, leave early if he bribed this judge with what she wanted. What she wanted was not to be repeated in writing. Suffice it to say, it’s one of those moments in life where a man must decide between what he wants, wants so bad he can taste it, and what is right. It’s watching the moral soul of a man crack.

I love those moments in life.

If you want to know more, you have to ask me in person. It’s a great story, everyone laughs, everyone loves the story, and that makes it even more disturbing.