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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

night shoot

A poodle scatters across the ice, approaching me. It sniffs my boots in the darkness. I see it is gray, or maybe just a very dirty white dog. The camera is next to me, pointing up at some trees and a streetlight, some apartment windows out of focus behind it. I see an old man approaching and I try to say a quiet hello. The monitor is perched on top of the camera. I am shooting night cutaways for Blackbetty. His nose wiggles, as if he is sniffing the air around me. I stand, waiting for them to pass before I move on to the next location. He stops and says something to me. I think he asks where I am from. I have gotten into the habit of saying "Canada" just to keep life more streamlined. I cannot imagine someone on the streets of New York asking a stranger something like this. Well, I used to think that way. Maybe things have changed there too.

I try to explain that we live a few houses over. He asks what I am doing. I tell him I am making an art movie, just about life, about trees, sky, moon, streetlights. He does not buy it. He repeats a word, over and over "snimat" which I understand is "to get dressed" so I really have no idea what he is asking. He asks for my passport and my registration. The little dog is stiff sniffing my boots. I tell him they are back in the house. He pulls out his phone and is threatening to call the militia. 
"Fine, I am going." I explain, yanking the heavy tripod and camera to my shoulder skidding across the bed of wet ice towards the path that will lead home. 
"Unfuckingbelievable." I announce, to the trees. 
I do not look back. That is what guilty people do. 

At home, I call N and tell her what happened. She asks if I was shooting near some nondescript two story building. I think for a moment, yes that is close to where I was. "Well, you should keep away from there." She explains. "It is not an apartment building."  Of course I want to chew on this silliness, if it is such important building, why are there no guards? But it doesn't matter. I should have known better, and now I am thinking about the next time I go downstairs to shoot the snow falling, or ice on the tree limbs, or a scene of E coming home from school, or something else and that shitty little poodle and the old man with his phone perched by his ear as he calls the militia. That is how my camera gets taken, my favorite lens, my movie. 





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