Smile though your heart is breaking.

I needed this picture.

The news is grim, getting grimmer. The virus is growing exponentially in New Orleans. I live in a country in desperate need of a leader. Many people, most not from NOLA, are trying to blame the mayor for not cancelling Mardi Gras. None of us knew. We certainly had no direction from the president or even FEMA. I’m not the mayor’s biggest supporter. I stand with her this time.

I followed my own advice. One day at a time. Doing what I do. Making art.

I started tinkering with the base picture which is a very tightly composed and cropped picture of a rose. You’ll see other versions of it eventually. I added the little tiny flowers on the lawn. You’ve already seen those. I started  working on the color, brightness and glow.

I started smiling. I started laughing. This picture is so whimsical that it brought out my hidden happiness. I hope it works for you.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.


Life on the surface.

May.

Bill Gates and the surgeon general agree. We will finally see a turning of the tide in mid to late May. But, but, but… only if everybody in the entire country does the right thing and self isolates.

After seeing pictures from around the country, I don’t believe that will happen unless the president declares marshall law. Many people are just plain stupid. That sounds harsh. Don’t endanger my life and I won’t call you stupid.

I think the newness of staying at home is wearing off. If we have to stay home until sometime in May, we will probably look like people coming out of a bunker during WWI or WWII.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

In New Orleans businesses are hunkering down. Grocery stores are taping off six foot areas at checkout counters. They are building plexiglass wall between the checkout clerk and the shopper. Many businesses will not take paper money. Many business will not survive.

Me?

If I am going to the store, buying gas, or going to the pharmacy I wear rubber gloves. I don’t know who or what touched the very thing I want. I certainly don’t know who touched the keypad or nozzle at a gas station.

A photographer colleague did a video about despair. It’s very good. If you aren’t there yet, you will be. It more or less describes a hopeless future. The only way through is something that I’ve written (I knew I understood something, so there.). One day at a time. Or, as we say in the rooms of AA, if need be, one hour at a time. Or, one minute at a time. And, stay focused on whatever it is you do.

Because my mind was scrambling some things, I followed the advice of another blogger. Create a schedule similar to the one you used in early times. You know. Three weeks ago. Follow it. You’ll do what needs to be done and maybe a little more. You won’t be lying on the couch watching cartoons all day.

One more thing. Get dressed. You’ll feel a little more real even if time has no meaning. I liked wearing my pjs the first week. Later, I realized that I spent way too much time sleeping or watching television about nothing.

The picture. I put the smartphone down on the ground. I moved it around while looking at the LCD and made a few variations on a theme.

Stay safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.

One more thing.

Say a little prayer for a friend of mine’s father. He is a little older than me. (The father, not the son.) He is a Vietnam Veteran. He’s one of those guys who never really came home. That’s sad enough. He has CoVid19. He’s on a ventilator. About 12 hours ago he had less than a few hours to live. I have no idea if he made it through the night.

My friend lives in Bloomington, Indiana. His dad lives in Fresno, California. Even if he could get there, he wouldn’t be allowed to see his dad. He will never get the chance to say goodbye.

That’s just horrible.


All is peaceful and calm.

We need a break. All of us.

I know. Nothing has changed. In fact, it’s getting worse. The United States is now number one. That’s not a good thing. The virus grew by almost 50% in one day in the state. The deaths in the city are growing by leaps and bounds. The governor sounded as stressed as I’ve ever heard him.

That’s enough.

It’s Friday. Time to rest. Time to relax. Time to think. I know, those pastimes are normally left for Sunday. But, time has no meaning. Days pass without anyone realizing it. I sit down to work at noon. Suddenly, the all seeing dog taps me on the leg. It’s 5pm. Time for her evening walk.

I spent some of the time creating this image. It’s quiet. Calming. Peaceful. It wasn’t easy to do. I made more mistakes than usual. That didn’t matter. I had the time. I wanted to play a little. That’s the thing. Time. It’s meaningless.

Stay Safe. Care for others. Enjoy every sandwich.


Seeking stasis.

I had a really weird thought.

That’s nothing new. Most of my thoughts are weird. I’ve said in the past that nature always seeks stasis. Nature does not determine the rightness or wrongness of a thing. She just wants balance. When something gets out of equilibrium, she solves it. It may take time, but balance is restored.

Do you see where I’m headed with this?

I have no idea how CoVid-19 began. I don’t think anybody understands it. The prevailing theory is fairly simple. A human ate some tainted meat from a wild animal which was purchased in a wet market in Wuhan, China. There really is no one to blame except that I would never think to eat pangolin meat.

For sure, the conspiracists are out in force. I read that some of the black community thinks the whole thing is a plot to kill them off. Even if a cure is developed, they won’t be taking it. Because, you know, the government will be injecting them with poison that will finish the job. Back up the stupid train. Nobody intentionally wants others to die.

All of that said, what if nature wants more stasis? Mankind isn’t exactly earth friendly. What if nature needs to kill a good number of us off? What if nature thinks we are killing the planet and wants to get our attention in a dramatic way?

That’s no conspiracy theory.

Nobody is plotting to kill other people. It’s just a thought. It’s similar to something I said to my neighbor a few weeks before the virus became a pandemic. I was joking, but something happened that questioned my faith in man. I said, “God said, you people suck. I give up. Just watch this.”

Think about that.

And, consider this. We are no longer out and about. The whole planet has more or less shut down. The earth is healing. Slowly, to be sure. But, it is healing.

The picture. It’s just me trying to find my own artistic stasis. A balance point. It’s me creating art from a number of layered photographs. Or, at least, trying to. I still wish that I had the talent to paint.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Twinkle, twinkle…

It started with an email.

Wolf Kahn passed a few days ago. He was an artist. He painted like I wish I could paint. I’d never heard  of him. I read this obituary. He was an American treasure. Where  the hell have I been? I know about some artists, but not him.

That evolved into a discussion of the one thing that drove him. His work. He had a vision and he stuck to it for almost 75 tears. I poked around. I went to his website. I went to gallery sites. Sheesh. His calendars sell for between $40 and $75. There are almost no lithographs except for those made for a show. His work starts at an affordable price, may $400, but don’t let that fool you. Most of his work starts around $25,000 and rises from there.

Make no mistake. Money isn’t everything. In fact, at the end of the day, it might mean nothing. But, it means that collectors value your work. It allows an artist to support himself, his family and maybe some others.

The email discussion moved on. It was about changing direction, pivoting as they call it today. You are supposed to be nimble. You are supposed to be quick. Seems to me that pivoting around and around is just chasing the almighty dollar. No vision, no intent, no dream, is needed.

My friend didn’t pivot but he changed the direction of his career. I really never changed my direction. Still, we pretty much ended up in the same place. I cannot speak for him, but I can for me. That’s what the title of this post is about. How much time did I waste? That I still waste?

Hmmm.

I know I should keep moving. I’m actually a little frustrated that I have to stay at home because finally, when the chips seem very down, I have ideas. A lot of ideas. Oddly enough, they are pretty good.

How about you?

Stay safe. Care for each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Flight of fancy.

I was bored. Then I got inspired. That lead to a burst of creativity.

This picture emerged from the “stay at home blues.” I believe that art comes from somewhere else. Call the inspiration, God. Or, Buddha. Or, Ronald McDonald. Doesn’t matter. An artist  is lucky if he or she knows that they are just the conduit.

I say this because as y’all already know I’ve been experimenting with photographs in order to find my place in the art world, in the world, in the cosmos. Sometimes I think that I have it, but it doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I try to force it, but that doesn’t feel right.

This picture feels right.

I’ve always hidden from the word artist. After all, I came out of the womb as a photojournalist. Some people want to grow beyond that. I changed. Even though I continued to practice photojournalism, I started doing it in my own way. I probably still will. I enjoy it.

Enjoyment is the best reason to do anything.

This picture is where I want to be. It looks and feels like a painting, something that I don’t have the talent for doing. That’s too bad. It’s hard to get the images out of my head using a camera. This picture comes close. It took a lot to get here. You won’t see these every day.

What is it about?

As the late John Lennon replied when he was asked about the meaning of his songs, “Whatever you want them to be.” He said in six words, what it took me 212 pages to do in a dissertation.

I suppose that one could jump to the conclusion that it’s about CoVid19 since that’s what on everybody’s mind. It isn’t. At least for me it isn’t. If not that, than what? That’s a secret for now. Heh, heh, heh.

What does this picture mean to you?

That’s the real question.


Reaching to the sky.

We went grocery shopping this morning.

Old folks time is from 8am until 9am. Most people followed the six foot rule. Some didn’t. Some looked like they didn’t care. There was enough of what we wanted, but many shelves were bare. Given that I was about the 30th person in the store, that meant the store didn’t get the deliveries they needed. Luckily, we have plenty of toilet paper.

We have never shopped so quickly. Between the lack of some products and the lack of people, shopping took 20 minutes from door to check out.

Back to toilet paper. None to be had. I still don’t get it. As a friend of mine said, this is a respiratory illness, not a field trip to Taco Bell.

We are finally under a mandatory order to stay inside. But, the lists of what you can do is longer than the list of what you can’t do. The biggest don’t do is congregating. But, we can walk, walk our dogs, go to the grocery store and so on.

That’s the CoVid19 story from the swamp. For today.

The picture. I’ll be damned if I can remember the name of this flower. I’m sure one of you will know. Somebody told me that it only grows in a sun tropical climate. No. No. No. When I was growing up in Long Beach, California my family grew them in what amounts to a side yard. In fact, they looked more healthy than these do.

All the rest. See it. Frame it. Push the button. Almost no post production. Mostly, I was trying to retrieve the detail in the flowers which was lost because the light meter read the shadows.


Workers tools.

The pictures. The pictures before my noodling around with words.

I found these two different pickups on two different days. I was going to try to build a little portfolio of them. Then, I thought why wait. The future is not secure. Really not secure. That’s not to say that everybody is going to sick and die.

No way.

It is enforcing something that I’ve known for a long time. When the opportunity presents itself, do it. Say yes to whatever comes to you. And, a golden oldie. He who hesitates is lost. That applies to making needed changes as well.

What did Bob Dylan say? He who is not busy being born is dying.

When I used to do a lot of street photography in sporty places, I lived by the motto, keep moving. I didn’t get hurt then, and I don’t suppose I’ll get hurt now. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t think tactically.

An example is grocery shopping. Most of the stores have started a policy of seniors only shopping from 8 to 9am. That’s also when the freshly re-stocked products are most available. We were going today. By the time we worked through our usual morning routine it was 10:30.

Nope.

Tomorrow is alarm clock time. The dogs who want to walk will be walked. We’ll get out of the house by about 7:45.

Please see below.

Sledgehammer.

So. What does “It Hit Me” mean?

I was reading something about the virus, our nation’s slow response and how the rest of the world is coping, which is to say they aren’t. In most places CoVid19 isn’t close to peaking. In New Orleans, it seems to be near doubling every day. I don’t think a lot of people are getting out of here unscathed. That saddens and terrifies me.

I used to say when something really bad was looming that I had a bad feeling about it. It’s not little things that makes me feel this way. The last time was the day before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. I’m feeling that way now.

I survived Katrina. There is no reason to think that I won’t survive this, except that the storm peaked in two days. I have no idea when the virus will peak. And, I’m 15 years older with an underlying condition. Mostly, I have to think, be careful, and keep my head on a swivel.

I still believe that we can overcome this and make a lot of things better. I really believe that we have to keep on keeping on. Do what you do. Make art. Make music. Go for walks. Love your family. Just be careful.

Stay safe. Care for each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


Beauty in endings.

The news from the virus world keeps getting bleaker and bleaker.

I’m afraid to read a story in The Washington Post about how the economy turned terrible seemingly overnight. It used to be that there was a big difference between what happened on Wall Street and Main Street.

Not this time.

Small businesses are crashing everywhere. Most have only about three months of cash reserves left. Many have less than that. Once they are gone they are never coming back. It’s possible someone could build something new on their ashes, but who knows if anyone will be in the position to do that. Not quickly, at least.

In New Orleans, the the Louisiana Music Factory closed. It was unclear in the article that I read if it was temporary or forever. It was more than just a record store. It championed local and regional musicians. Many musicians  played their brand new albums from a small stage inside of the store.

We also lost a man who was important to the second line culture. Ronald Lewis passed yesterday. The virus got him. He was 68. Before you ask, yes, I knew him. I’m pretty sure that everybody knew him and that he knew everybody. I am very saddened knowing that he will not be sent home properly. There will be no jazz funeral for him. We can’t congregate. And, six feet?Try six inches.

We have been asked to stay home except for doing essential things, like grocery shopping or picking up medicine. There are also certain professions that are essential. Mine is one of them. I can make pictures of a locked down New Orleans. I have a couple of clients who have reached out. I’ll do what I can. I’ll take no chances.

A friend of mine called today. He reminded me that we can’t think too far into the future. That we should only do what is in front of us. I forgot that. Me? The guy who comes from the tradition of one day at a time. Sometimes, you just need to hear it from somebody you know and trust.

The picture. I said that I would publish  bright, happy pictures. It struck me that there is beauty in passing. Without it something new cannot be born. Especially in nature. So, in its own way this picture is beautiful.

Stay Safe. Take care of each other. Enjoy every sandwich.