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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 …

bad impersonations


It is not like those exhilarating goosebumps from deja-vu. It is not a fever dream, or a hallucinatory vision. No, it is a wobbly record that skips. There is an overwhelming sense that nothing changes here, that the loop is long, snaking off into the distance but the repeat is always on its way back, an eventual act. The same tree seems to fall from the same wind on the same day. The same sale on juice or chicken thighs. The same upturned shopping carts, stranded by the side of the road. The same mud, the same puddles. The same sour faces. The same shuffling footsteps in the night. The same smell of mildewy carpets in dark hallways. There are times when I think it is all a slow movie and it is still winter, and I am just dreaming about a reluctant spring. That this world outside the balcony windows is nothing more than a bad impersonation. That I am dreaming my children growing, and they need new shoes a size bigger. That I am dreaming of a guitar that waits for me in the States, hiding in an old black case. That I am dreaming the headlines and the chatter, the spinning top that passes for conversation, the invisible board game and the players.


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