15: Swift [and selects]

Sorry Mr. Swift but there’s no radio

That likes to play the songs of your lowest sorrow

Just sing us a jingle and we’ll float you some bread

And all it’ll cost you is your heart and your head

Sorry Mr. Swift but you’re much too fat

And could I persuade you just to wear a cap?

I hope you forgive me and I hope you forget

The hurt that I’ve caused ya that you can’t feel yet

Sorry Mr. Swift I know times are tough

We all have plenty still we don’t have enough

I know it’s not funny so I try not to smile

We made you believe that we were worth your while

Sorry everybody for the things I said

Got a wife and kids and a gun to my head

So try to remember, try to hold it near

My name will go missing but the songs will be here

No don’t you feel sorry for I must pay my debts

Still feel like I’m losing but I’m placing my bets

 - Richard Swift [1977-2018] “Artist & Repertoire”, 2007.

Photographs by Michael Todaro, iPhone, New York City, 2019.

014: Monday [and Fever 333]

“If your everyday life appears to be unworthy subject matter, do not complain to life. Complain to yourself. Lament that you are not poet enough to call up its wealth. For the creative artist there is no poverty—nothing is insignificant or unimportant.”  - Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903.

My modern relationship with poetry is evolving. I wasn’t educated very well growing up, so my forced exposure to the greats is limited. Throw in an early 20’s avoidance of university, and I end up as a full blown adult, somehow, without dancing with the grand laureates of time. Honestly, my truest desire to learn about poetry was when I was 15, and thought I could use romantic prose to will unsuspecting emo girls into the cyclone of my dating career. A few attempts as memorizing Edgar Allen Poe later, I decided I would be better successful if I crashed my bike in front of the cute jogging girl, and she would help me tend my scrapes, and I’d have a real life female person to talk to. I gave up on this attempt as well, after two practice crashes returned data that I would have to probably harm myself more than anticipated in the original brainstorming session.

So this Rilke dude, I guess he’s famous and big shit in the written word world. The above quote seems challenging, putting down the gauntlet to the one who requested advice. A more modern version of the same statement, is a quote from an unknown orator, and more appropriate to the visual artist rather than the lyrical creator, is that “there is five great photographs waiting to be made all around you at any particular moment.” Whether it be a light and shape study of the pencil cup on your desk, or an intimate profile of the Bic you dropped on the floor a few days ago, it is your job, as a visual explorer, to find the story in the shadows, bring out the feelings from hiding in plain sight around you, and communicate that emotion to the correct audience. 

If we are to re-write the Rilke quote, for the picture generation, perhaps it would be stated as thus: “If you sense there are no pictures, then your sixth sense is not honed or educated. Do not blame the lack of gear, the location, nor the light, but only blame yourself, for you are simply not muscled enough to pry the frame from the air around you.”

Photographers love buts. Not the Nicki Minaj butts of the current zeitgeist, but the excuses we lament upon ourselves for bad images. ‘I would have shot a better, more interesting frame, but the autofocus on my crop sensor camera is shite.” “It was too dark the ISO is noisy.” “I forgot my memory card.” “The subject was late and then he was an asshole.” If photography is to be an honest exploration, and that is a conversation we can have at a separate occasion, we must first be truly honest with ourselves. Look in the bathroom mirror at why our images don’t communicate. Look deep into the eyes of the one holding you back. 

And now it’s Monday, time for the work to begin. Let us take a deep breath in the moment between us waking up and the sun rising, and prepare for the war of artistry we shall embark on this upcoming week. Let shake off the feelings of inadequacies and unworthiness, let us cast aside the shiny objects that are demanding attention at this moment, for us to allow focus on the greatest cause, our life’s work of an artistic journey. Let us not not accept last week’s excuses, and let us not craft new ones. The internal rants of the previous seasons can be closed up, we’ve listened to them, and now it is time to move on. The successes or perceived failures of the yestermoment are gone. It is a new week, a new season, and a new chapter on your journey.

Let’s go exploring. 

Here’s The Fever 333 from a few months ago: 

013: Tomorrow [and Titus Andronicus]

I feel like I have words to say, but I have no meaning behind them. The motivation for the typing of these projected characters onto this MacBook screen is born out of a desire to not think about the free time I have coming up, four days off of the day job means time to focus on the procrastination pile in the corner. It is night time in New York now, and while the kitchen needs cleaned, I did some dishes, but not all, I have a podcast to listen to in the morning and that audio company makes the chores go down easier. I am but attempting to create content in order to not think about the looming disaster of free time peaking over the mountain. 

I have four days off, and that means lot of my worst fear, free time. Yes, I have two shoots scheduled during that I don’t consider work, as well as a book I want to put together, and some marketing work I desperately need done (maybe save me that checklist entry and just hire me?)  But basically I have nothing to do which means a spirited battle against my arch nemesis. So I am here, writing “content” that lacks any real depth, in just one more attempt at me procrastinating the harsh realities of down time. 

I’ve used this space a lot to ask questions rattling around in my head, with little to no attempt at answering them for the reader, because frankly, I’m not interested in doing all the heavy lifting around here. I’m already a mildly bemused, slightly agitated, can’t-find-a-softer-word-than-‘tortured’ artist forcing my conscious to be interested in the more marketable aspects of life, why should I also have the other half of the conversation? You need to do better, reader, you lazy entitled fuck.

Perhaps free time is the greatest fear in my life right now. What does one do with it? So much pressure, give me break, just let me relax. Some people can relax in their free time, I am lacking in that skill set thus far in my time on this planet. When a free hour or two block comes up on my calendar, I generally react by audibly cursing, then wondering around worrying about what to do in that block of time until it passes and I have the next task assigned to me by my trusty calendar app. If I’m being really productive, I will move things around on my calendar while I have free time, moving the blocks around like chess pieces in a mad dash to avoid the checkmate of life’s unassigned block that hides behind every clock tick.

Anywhos, here’s some pictures of Titus Andronicus from the An Obelisk release show.

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