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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

the dinosaur and the cockroach


I grew up on this fantasy that someone from my generation would write the next great American novel. Then it became the all-encompassing album. These structures, these great houses, the traditions I went to school to learn how to build  - they became dinosaurs in a handful of years. Do people still try to pull off this minor miracle, this speaking directly to everyone? Of course they do. There are always survivors - brittle, tough, unyielding die-hards that think this is still possible.

Plenty of catch-phrases make things easier to swallow  - "Three chords and the truth is all you need."  or "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." In truth, these are optiates, soothing pills to lesson the pain. Sometimes it feels like a curse, to be born in-between the end of something  and the beginning of something entirely different. At what point do you abandon ship, and try on a lifejacket? I am not a person who surrenders easily. One more catch-phrase hangs in the air - "No one likes a quitter." 

Maybe reinvention is the greatest obstacle for an artist. Nostalgia is a heavy load to shoulder. We all feel the hot sting of loss at one point in life. How to say goodbye to stories half-told? How to look at the world with fresh eyes? It is like getting a divorce. Everything you poured into that cup, it leaks slowly to the floor, wasted. Lost time, lost money, lost ambition. And then there is that low flame of embarrassment, for the nights you talked in a hushed voice about all you would accomplish, a drink swirling in one hand as the ice slowly melts. 

You choke on what you abandon. 

Of course, you can just keep on going with blinders on. Keep your nose to the stone, hacking away at that pile of dog-eared pages. Jot down lyrics on scraps of paper in the wee small hours of the morning. Yes, stare out the window while you are on a train thinking about the book you will write after this one, if the next collection of photos will be color or black and white, if that film title still works or if you need to cook up a new one. 







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