006: Karen and Jenna and Brianna [and Penguin Prison]

“I’ll stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or we’re making mistakes. I want your midnights, but I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day.”

It’s hard to talk about the holidays, without talking about depression. Unless you’re lucky and privileged, then just decorate the house, Karen, and have those cookies ready for when the hot chocolate is done. 

There really is two realities to every holiday season, one birthed from looking at, and one birthed from being at. The majority of Americans have experienced or live in one of those two realities. I’m sure theres a third version of the American Christmas experience, but I’m unaware of that one at this point of my life. 

I wanted to do something more long form about the season, but honestly, I was too busy to give it the time it need to breathe life into this year. And now we’re past the ball drop, most of the feelings are gone, and the words I want to write really need to be brought out during those six weeks where the eyes are everywhere, and no one is watching. Those dark days illuminated by envious green and red lights.

I will eventually write about my personal relationship with the holiday, and while I have a lot of emotional baggage regarding the season, and while my current opinion is constantly changing and evolving, this is not the year. 

I’m going to reserve talking about the year I had, purely out of guilt, and a sense of responsibility not to add to someone’s else misery this winter. I’ve been that guy before, who had a mediocre or basic year, or maybe even a bad year, and the influx of subtle comparisons you deal with from Thanksgiving until New Years is rough. Stuck at your job all year, turned down for a raise or promotion? Not too bad really, but when you sit at a table of people who went on trips, bought cars, took time to learn a new skill, you feel lesser so you retreat to the bathroom. Instagram is there to show you a year recap of your favorite travel blogger or creative, showing their entire year’s highlights in seconds. Shit. You worked all year, paid the rent, or maybe didn’t pay the rent a while. You’ll pay your parents back, it’s cool. When you Make It.

New Year’s day comes, your family left, you shake it off, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and round up and do it again.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe there’s a Monk marathon on USA and you are busy becoming one with your couch. You masturbate to some random scene for a minute with Tony Shalhoub’s muted face moving about in the background on a larger screen, but you need more of a distraction, and the moans of Jenna and Brianna provide that for moment before you come back to reality.  It’s 11 am and your ‘friends’ are still sleeping off last night. You should probably take a shower, the eye crust is annoying. Nothing is open really, though, so why, just nowhere to go, the half box of fish sticks in the freezer is fine. The couch is comfy. And frankly, the third act is about to begin, and you need to know how everything unfolds. 

Days like that will happen. And everyones end date for those varies. And that’s ok. 

Anywhos, here’s some pictures of Penguin Prison from August:

NW: NJPW WrestleKingdom 13/New Year’s Dash

NL: “Daydream Time Machine” - Wooing

NR:  “Photographs” by Mark Seliger 

More tk….

005: Power [and Public Practice]

“Maybe the mind works differently in different people, but my father believed the true means of communication is the picture. We are bad at talking, bad at remembering language, and bad at spelling, but we are just great at remembering pictures.” - Walt Kelly

Words versus pictures is the  Unstoppable  Force vs. Unmovable Object storyline of our generation. Social media and the new journalism rules of the modern era paint the picturesque trend that the walls and pottery of Egypt started, and the iMessages of today continue.

I’m not a history major, nor am I much of anything more than a soul attempting to be curious when my nature is to but survive, I can’t speak to the history of lines and light, and why they pierce the brain more than the imaginations drawn by san serif. I know they do, and I know I’m drawn to the romance that an image can speak a volume that my mouth or my pen or keyboard can not. 

Nick Ut’s “The Terror Of War” communicates the realities of war more than a thousand letters from the battlefield. Kevin Carter’s “Starving Child” tells us more about the hungry and the unfortunate than is convenient for a first world citizen. The Times Square snap by Alfred Eisenstaedt gives us a years long romantic timeline in merely a second of a glance. The Tank Man photo shows us strength we can’t even comprehend cultivating in a gymnasium. 

In the facts fighting emotion category, emotion always wins. Emotion isn’t logical, nor peer reviewed. The fact that America isn’t in the top 10 of almost any major quality of life measurement, means nothing when Beyonce hits that one note at 6:05 on Super Bowl Sunday, or when a daughter of a firefighter nails the National Anthem for a Yankees Game Seven. 

Emotion can be exploited, and we’ve seen it in the pulpits on Sundays for all our lives, and on the national political scene for longer then we will ever acknowledge. Emotion is a serious power that can be harnessed, and used to attack, the damage of which, not to exaggerate, can be felt for generations. 

So we as photographers, and directors, and crafters of the image need to be wary, and not yield this grand power lightly. Documentation, creation and distribution of the chosen frame has never been easier, and when a visual strikes that emotional volcano, the creator can no longer control the flow of its lava. 

Here’s some pictures of Public Practice (St. Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY)

NW: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

NL: “On Veut Juste” - Gnarrcissists

NR: “Crazy Like A Fox” by Liam O’Rouke 

More tk…

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