Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In Absentia

That would be me. I’m the one who hasn’t’ contributed a word since the French Elections. I mean, what kind of a blobber is THAT? I ask you! I plead mild diversion: I had a big commercial job which took me out of the loop for two weeks, and which just finished last Thursday (the 18th). I know that with all the doodads now available (Editor’s Note; I do NOT own a Blackberry) there is supposed to be no time when you are really able to be out of touch, mentally, if not physically, anymore. But when you are rising early, working all day trying to be an artistic person, or even a commercially artistic one, it is difficult to find those few minutes to jot thoughts down which others might find amusing. It’s true that I don’t really stop SEEING.. or at least I try not to, during those busy times.

On a flight out of Atlanta to Boston ten days ago, I exercised one of my primary travelers Points of Information: that if you end up sitting midway or or the back of the plane, and you are laden with photo crap,the kind of bags which most photographers are somehow obliged to schlep with them.. cameras, lenses, laptops, etc., you are much better off just sitting your can in the seat for an extra two (countem’, two minutes.) while all those slow pokes behind you deplane. Then, slowly and with precise unhurried movements, you stand up, stretch shoulders, legs and arms, and gently reach up and grab all that photo crap down from the overhead bins. Over the years, I acquired a number of really unfortunate and severly annoying neck and shoulder muscle twists and pulls by trying to rush the process of putting up and taking down bags from the overheads. In the early eighties, especially when traveling with all my 35mm gear, PLUS my traveling computer (if you are under 35, take note!) which was a 32 pound, 26”x16”x9” OSBORNE with a whopping 64K of RAM, it was a major effort to stow and recover bags. Often as not, in a rush to avoid the evil eye from fellow travelers, I’d rush it, and Pr-r-r-r-roing…. Something would pop in my neck, arms or shoulders. Then one day I timed how much extra time it would actually cost me to wait until the alte kachers, and moms with baby carriages all left the plane. It was, in most cases, something under two minutes. At that point I decided, since Ill be waiting at least ten minutes and maybe much more in the luggage area, why not just wait till they’re gone, and take down my gear at my own sloth like, healthy pace.

Since 9/11 and the wave after wave of new rules about what, who, whom and where you can schlep bags onto airplanes, things are kind of simplified: there are all the things you cannot bring on board anymore (my saddest to be banned is the Swiss Army knife: those multiple blade beauties were the solution to more problems than you imagine, and frankly I would feel a whole lot safer on a plane if EVERYONE had a Swiss Army Knife, than no one except someone of ill intent.) It does become a challenge to shoot FILM in the age of digital, since you cannot check film (everything gets xrayed by the Film killing machines, if it goes in the baggage hold), so carrying film, and gear remains the biggest single challenge.

Last week I was on a job which took me from New York to Atlanta, Boston (where I had a rare chance to see Jordan and her roommate David for dinner), back to New York, and then a couple of days in rural Minnesota. (All that airplane boarding is what made me think about the carry on saga.)

How's that horizon! Alexandria, MN
There is one amazing thing about western Minnesota (and I guess the Dakotas, too, though I haven’t really ever worked there.) It is big sky country, rather like the Montana plains further west. Vast fields of agro businesses punctuated by small towns, the kind which still rely on Volunteer Fire Departments. It is something to behold, one of those crisp blue mid-west skies, after a couple of weeks of working in the city. It’s very striking: lines of trees, puffy clouds you could top a Dairy Queen sundae with, and the occasional body of water. I was working at a lake which we called # 7289. In a state with ten thousand of them, someone has to start numbering them somewhere, and I figured that labeling ours #7289 was a heckuva start, and that eventually the Powers that Be in St. Paul would appreciate my organizational skills. And of course, no matter where you travel in this country, you always end up at Walmart. Buying AA's, a sweatshirt with hood...

maybe just a four pound bag of Beef jerky. (You have any idea how big that is?)
And of course once you actually buy the stuff you need, there is always the opportunity to get work when you pass through those amazing Portals:

Hourly work? I just might say YES!

I contrast that with the newest of the New York sites, the Apple Store on 59th St. and Fifth avenue. You cannot image that even in New York, a store which remains open 24/7 would attract such crowds. I had to buy a couple of small portable hard drives, and as it was just a short walk from the apartment, off I went. It was just stupefying. Hundreds of people of all ages, including a lot of single digit age kids with their “I’m trying to figure this out” parents, occupying virtually every piece of display space. And there is plenty. But the most striking thing of all, perhaps, is the building itself. Situated in the plaza in front of what used to be (or is it still?) the GM building (or is it the Nextel-Kellogg-Winston-GM building now?), it is a series of crystalline monoliths, with one big illuminated Apple logo floating in the middle. If you were in the Mother ship, coming from another world, it would seem a very logical place to set down your space craft for a visit.

So, I suppose it isn’t much of an excuse, but it’s the only one I have. The week following, which blobs shall follow, were an altogether different kind of voyage. Stay tuned, because like me, you just never know what will pop up next. We’re just sayin…David


Anonymous said...

But Doctor David, the masses want to hear Speech, Speech, Speech.

Did the graduates actually pay attention?

Audrey L. was very surprised to learn that she now must address you as Dr. D.

Anonymous said...

I owned an osborne too,and a kaypro portable. Portable meaning, if you HAD too, you could move it.

Right arm is 6 inch's longer than the left thanks to 1979.

Still have a few 5 1/4 disks around. Those suckers fly pretty good. The dog loves them. My wife not so much.

Good to see you back online.

But where's the speech?

looking forward to intellectual enlightening banter consisting of or abounding in pith.

Cheers and Congrats.