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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 …

Albino (part one)


I began writing Albino two million years ago. I had an editor then, who lived a few blocks away. We would meet for breakfast on Avenue A, quietly forking into home fries as we discussed the structure of the story - the economy of objects. A dollar bill was not just a dollar bill in this story, it was connected to thought and action, to music and transformation. This was the story that told me there was a whole book to dig into, mining for diamonds in the backwaters of America, turning over the ugliest rocks to better understand relationships between fathers and sons.

Last week, I stumbled across a call for submissions - not for a journal, but for a podcast where the work of new writers was read aloud. I thought back to a reading I had done of just the first few pages of Albino - a messy hero's journey,  a young man and a guitar, a man with loss and regret, a man that still had something to lose. That reading went well, enough that I felt a strange elation stepping off the stage in my engineer boots, drinking whiskey later that night at the Cedar Tavern, still feeling those goosebumps from behind the microphone. So, without much thought I went back to that place, in our Moscow living room. I sent the mp3 file to the editors, and moved on to the next task at hand. A handful of days later the email came, that I was going to be their next episode and then as the conversation unfolded, the next three episodes. I got their answer on the playground, with V making imaginary strawberry cakes in the sandbox and N just inches away. There is nothing like sharing good news with the people you are close to. It is their victory somehow, as much as yours. I still remember those empty days, when the victories were so hollow  - and how I celebrated them alone.

Here is part one of Albino, from a collection of short stories I will somehow put out into the world this year, called Papa on the Moon. My thanks to the good people at Sunday Night Stories, for their interest and support in this awkward, personal tale.




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