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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 i…

every picture


It was too easy. At one point it seemed like there was an accordion player on every corner, or every underpass dodging the rain. I stopped taking pictures of them, these old men with grave expressions and a little cardboard box on the ground at their feet. The songs tended to be happy ones, nostalgia for the passer-by. Something from a Soviet cartoon, or a children's song.

Some say that every picture we take is a self-portrait, a mirror image of the person behind the camera. I want to agree, and when I do I understand that maybe I see myself as that old man looking out at the people, ignored. Maybe just for that moment. In the next, I am a child with a fresh drawing I am sticking on the door of a refrigerator. I am the chalk drawing on the pavement, the scrawled name on the wall.

There is something so metaphorical about the street musician - the giving it away, the humility of it all, and the occasional reward from a stranger. Great musicians started this way, busking for loose change. It may be the path to glory, or if all else fails, a bowl of soup. Somehow, this image sums all of this up for me - the hope, the ugly truth, the wish, the endless defeat, the fresh possibility.

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