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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 …

suitcases and guitars (on my way to where)


I have passed it hundreds of times. A suitcase under a thick layer of dust sits outside an apartment door across from ours. The only fresh marks are accidental, someone brushing against it exposing the old stiff leather. Maybe it is empty. Maybe there is junk inside that never made it to the garbage trucks downstairs. It was invisible, but I would like to think I would notice if it went missing.

Standing in the hallway, camera in hand I look down the stairs, their banisters shining in the late afternoon sun. To the left is the suitcase, and now I finally see it, the ironic metaphor. The people that never go anywhere are behind that door.

And then, on the way to the new market where they sell thick cuts of ribeye, where the floors smell of ammonia and sweet coffee. Here is a balcony, just a few feet off the ground. Closed in, as is the tradition here. A place to store sleds and boxes of books. A guitar hangs crooked from a wall staring back at me. The cold is terrible for an instrument like this. It will warp the neck, make it almost impossible to play or keep in tune. It stands like a trophy, like all of the guitars in the corners of teenager's rooms in those films from the 80s. Unplayed, an empty boast.






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