30 June 2009

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

In the classic fable, the hound excuses his loss to the hare by announcing: I was chasing my dinner, but he was running for his life. In greyhound racing, the hare is mechanical, and electronically controlled, but it is still a powerful motivator.

I printed this image on my mother's birthday card...her birthday was near the end of March. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, she did not live to see the first of April. I didn't take the photo with the intention of using it for her card, but chose it after I started thinking about how much faith she had put in "luck", and how we are all in a desperate quest to avoid the inevitable. She wasn't interested in "running" anymore, and when I took these photos at the eventually demolished greyhound park, there was only one hare still firmly attached. I knew they had been taken as souvenirs, but I decided to take it as a sign that she wouldn't give up, or at least not 'til I managed to get there. She did wait, and when I returned to the race park after her death, only the dogs' shapes were left, and they were on their last legs.

She moved to Florida before air conditioning was a given, and wore a white shirtwaist to work, with white seamed nylons, sensible nurse's oxfords and a starched nurse's cap, whose design and shape identified her school affiliation. In what must've been a suffocating and humid environment, everyone was still expected to look crisp and professional.

Polio was a significant threat, without apparent cause, and it seemed only bad luck could be blamed. To a young nurse in fifties Florida, luck seemed to be all that separated the successful from those who struggled...whether with bills, or for breath, in one of those monstrous iron lungs.

I once heard luck described as the great social equalizer, and when she was hired as a private duty nurse by a wealthy family whose unlucky son had been stricken with polio, she understood both her fortune, and her responsibility. When the power went out, the helpless patients panicked, and all personnel were summoned to manually operate the primitive ventilators. It was Florida, land of hurricanes, so this was a common occurrence.

On her days off, and they were days because she liked working nights, she would scrounge through pockets and cushions for cigarette money, and sometimes head for the dog tracks. When I was young, her Florida sounded glamourous, with cocktail dresses and matching pumps, cigarettes, shocking pink lipstick, and trips to exotic Cuba, pre-Castro.

The old track is now history, and my mother lives on in my bones....the new track has virtual betting, a smoking ban, and efficient toilets. Waste water will eventually take care of the unnatural landscape. The classic track reeked of stale tobacco and mildew, and parking was more important than grass. Desperation also has a certain odor, and it will soon creep into the new establishment.

I drove my mother to the old greyhound park a few years ago (it's just three miles from my home)...I was exhausted, struggling with a houseful of visitors and a mouthful of sutures. My son offered to go to a race with her but neither calls nor websites yielded reliable race times. The place was open, but seemed lifeless and dreary, and the attendant still couldn't confirm a race schedule. My mother hesitated, made a face, and then shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. I knew she was disappointed, but I think it was more than disappointment. I think it was recognition of time's advancement, made visible.

29 June 2009

i am pleased to announce that a limited edition of this print is available at the online gallery:

the publisher has a unique concept. the piece will be available for one week, or until it sells out. friday is non-profit day, and all sales that day are donated to a cause/charity of my choice.


26 June 2009

the day, that moonwalk, died...

the words below are not mine, but i think they express the sentiments of many:





















S..... called me last night in total shock and dismay after hearing about Michael Jackson. At that point, the reports were conflicting -- one channel saying that he had died, others saying that he was in a coma. I tried to calm her a bit by saying that maybe he hadn't actually died, but I also told her that it didn't sound good. A cousin sent me a text message expressing her shock. She's a cousin I rarely hear from, but I know why she reached out to me. It's because we all grew up listening to Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. We danced to those songs and knew all the words and we were as dazzled by Michael's talent as everyone else in the world. And when something like this happens, you naturally want to reach out to others whom you believe feel as you do for the shared experience of grief. I know that Michael Jackson had his share of weirdness and strange behavior. I know that he was not perfect. But his contribution to the world of music, his legacy and influence are unparalleled, in my opinion. And, he also epitomizes for me, the notion of a person, particularly a black person, that some felt needed to be brought down a peg or two. The way the Calif. police treated him was despicable in my mind. And, the way people turned against him and seemed to take joy in his troubles was also troubling. I think that he was a troubled person, a lonely person, and the stress of having to deal with everything, including the ugly byproducts of fame, was just too much for him. The word is that he probably died from an overdose of medication that sent his heart into arrest and it seems that he was taking lots of medications in this last phase of his life -- probably to deal with physical pain, which was more likely the result of psychic pain.

Early this morning while I was out walking, a black man, probably in his 30s, was sitting on a box crate on one of the corners, and he had today's paper in his hand. He greeted me as I was walking by and said "man, that's something about Michael Jackson." I continued walking, but shook my head and said, "yeah, I know. Too sad." At that point, he pointed to a picture in the paper with the words "The King" and said "they said Elvis was the king, so now why call Michael the King?" I said, well, Michael was the King of Pop. And, he said, "oh, I see, Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll." Interesting encounter, I thought.

22 June 2009

and the bride wore...drum roll, please...converse!


it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...will you be mine, will you be mine?
marriages and nylon...fragile as tulle, rugged as a parachute.

06 June 2009

three score and five years ago...

utah...almost an afterthought. 
omaha...a critical link 
gold...objective of the northumbrian division  
juno...3rd canadian division
sword...3rd (british) infantry division

"for the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best."
                 
                                                                viktor e. frankl



"Before you can blame an individual for their choices, you have to make sure they have the same choices as everyone else."

Bix , the fanatic cook.