Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It Never Goes Away

DB, corner of 38th & 8th Avenue -"what is he doing??"
It never ends. It’s not really a bad thing, but so far, at least, it never ends. I’m speaking of that amazing energy which drives people forward every day. In the city you see it multiplied by hundreds, thousands of times, every day, nearly every moment. On the way back from the Contact offices to the subway to get home last night I took out my little Panasonic camera (remember the days when I would have said “I took out my Leica…”), the tiny digital one which provides most of the pictures for this Blob, and just looked at the rain/snow glinting streets, perfect chromatic reflectors of the red, green and neon lights which were livening up 8th Avenue. I wanted to be a part of it, somehow. Was I thinking that I might actually take a picture which would have enough legs that people unknown to me, in places far away might want to see it and be enraptured? Probably not. But it’s there, nonetheless. That energy, that desire, the wish to create something of my own which reflects that moment of beauty. Beauty doesn’t, of course have to really be beautiful. A squished packet of cigarettes, a smashed beer can on the street.. all these things can take on their own measure of beauty when the beholder is someone who sees past the obvious.

Ice on Lake Champlain
But what never ends is that desire to always add to, extract from, be a part OF, that visual world which we make our ways through. Sometimes it’s just the oddest damn thing. Two weeks ago, flying into Cleveland after a February snow storm (oops, Snow in Cleveland in February.. an oxymoron?)

"Play Ball!" Well, in a couple of months, I guess

I looked out the window of the little plane to see the way the snow had defined the houses of a neighborhood in even more crisp ways than normal un-snowy daylight views would express. It was as if we’d dropped a visual sharpening filter on the houses, in the form of a light coating of snow, and it made them all look so much more orderly. But last night, it was the walk to the subway, the bustling along 8th Avenue. In the shadow – well there was no shadow, but if it fell it would have hit me – of the new New York Times building across the street from Port Authority there were people all headed somewhere, even if many of them were seemingly set on slow Idle instead of Manhattan Haul Ass.

Do you think they have a nice place to go sledding?

I look forward to that 3 block walk when it’s evening because the city is changing itself – morphing from a business-y world into the pre-soiree get ready for night time and maybe we ll even party a little world. The Village38, a Korean deli of the first order on the corner of 38th & 8th Avenue, has a row of stools and counter next to the window, so that breakfast/coffee/lunch/snack eaters can gaze at that HDTV known as ‘the sidewalk’ while they munch and sip. At promptly 5:15 every night, the munchers are displaced by a group of dozen or so slurpers. Men, mostly Hispanic, mostly in their 20s and 30s, mostly looking like they have done a very honest day’s work, lined up shoulder to shoulder as if they were at a casting call for a Heinken commercial. The 16 oz. cans look like bowling pins. The ‘guys’ are having their end-of-the-day brewski before heading home, and though I don’t regularly take attendance, they have the look of Regulars. You can be sure it isn’t their first time in those seats.

Last night I shot, as I often do for lack of better subjects, pictures of myself. Hey, I’m near by, don’t cost much, have ‘just the right look’, and I’ll even sign my own Model Release. I was doing some blurry things.. 1/8 or ¼ second exposures, holding my arm out and moving camera and me at the same speed, trying to blur backgrounds while keeping my face sharp.

The Church on Final Approach, Burlington, VT
I got a few strange stares: you know, those “what in the HELL is HE doing” kind of New York looks. But while I suppose I won’t ever make a book jacket with these images, I have at least fulfilled in some minor way, that every day, ever lasting desire to try and make something of what I see. I don’t really love the pictures, my face is a bit awkward looking (as in “Gee, Dad, you have a very small head…” Jordan K Burnett 1999, 2001, 2003,2004,2005,2006,2007) but I love trying to see what a simple walk to the 42nd street subway will get you. The one little joy which digital photography provides is the ability to see quickly what you did (or as Kennerly has said.. “the great thing about digital is you know right away when you screw up…”) I know that eventually these images will probably end up in a digital shoebox somewhere, longing for someone to come along and say “Sheesh, what was HE thinking?”

The crisply snowed on houses, Burlington,VT
This morning I flew to Burlington, VT, en route to Plattsburgh NY for a speech tonight.. and out the window of my little propject plane, the snow had, yet again, created a nifty little quilt. I only wish the plane glass were a little better. But it's good enough, right? We’re just sayin…David


Anonymous said...

Imagine if you started spinning around 38&8 with that speed graphic.

There's not a college course in the world that could teach what you have David...Thanks for the view...

P.S the NG Florida shots were great too...

Anonymous said...

I agree with m_harding..but I probably wouldn't recommend doing that dance with the Graphic! I also get the 'what's he doing' looks as well..but that's okay..at least I know what I'm doing,even if those who see me with a tripod and cameras ask,"Are you taking pictures?" I'll probably eventually slip into digital..at least I won't be going into battle with a New Orleans lab, who "claims" they sent my stuff out..This would 'have ' to be a roll of 120 that I could not go out and re-shoot..so I'm pissed..
Nice self-portraits..I'm doing that sometimes with my cell.
I'm ordering the Chronicles tomorrow. Take care,bud!

Anonymous said...

"when I would have said “I took out my Leica…"

David, you could still have said that if you bought the Leica D-lux3 instead of the Lumix :-)
Great gadgets though...
Fun to experiment... instead ofschlepping with the Pacemaker.
Take care,