Seemingly unconscious of my presences there is a moment between silence and mid-note that my lens captures Randy’s silhouette. He rehearses, then pauses to contemplate a melodic and rhythmic pattern – as he continues to rehearse Randy fills the room with waves of invisible sentiment. To the ear its blues, cool, romantic and yet a feeling of expressing pensive sadness. The rehearsal room tuns blue.
“I’m not sure if it the zest for life that I have or just the carbonation… my friends say that I have a bubbly personality. Oh geez ! People that say you have a bubbly personality… chances are you’re ugly…I don’t think I’m ugly, I have a great smile, a positive attitude and I’m a Gemini. Did you know that we Gemini’s are gentle, affectionate, curious, adaptable, with an ability to learn quickly and exchange ideas, the downside is nervous and indecisive….wait a minute, indecisive…Coca-Cola or Pepsi ? Oh ! it’s not important. The only thing I don’t like about being a soda jerk is the paper hats. I mean they tear easily after you sweat and they never fit right. I don’t throw my paper hat’s away I keep them and make origami zebra’s..you know, the strips on the hat and all…”
Life in the City of Angels: Find Your Speed, Maintain Your Velocity, Keeping it Up and Keep it Consistent
“Holy shit man ! My legs are killing me and I hate these fuck’ing crutches, I’m sick and tired of this bullshit man ! Where the fuck did my life go? Believe it or not, I was young man once, full of piss and vinegar, wild hair and just fuck’ing crazy at times, but that was when I was a young man once. I stole motorcycles, drank beer before I was 16 and howled at the moon, I was a chick magnet reeling them in like bees to a honey pot, I was the stud, brash and brazen, but that was when I was young man once. I smoked Marlboro Red’s and worn button fly Levi’s jeans and combed my hair with Brylcreem. I had a need for speed with asphalt scares to prove it, but that was when I was a young man once. I sacked grocery at Safeway and bought my first car, a 49 Ford. It was my Hot Rod with stolen Baby Moon Hubcaps, Roll-and-Tuck black leather seats and a Hurst shifter topped with a pool hall 8 ball…do you want to drag and hear my Glasspacks? I was reckless and insane at times but beer was my friend when times got tough. Let me tell you this, I never wore a watch because I had all the time in the world, but as I grew older, or should I say when my body grew older, I lost some abilities to do as I please. But deep within me is a spirit that is harum-scarum and ready to fight…. even if it’s with the aid of these damn crutches. I was a young man once full of piss and vinegar.”
“Hey man ! It’s all about infinite reflection isn’t it? We ask for an eternal embrace after our rite of passage, but like string theory it’s always about getting the right vibe. The vibe man, the vibration of energy from someone who believes in the third eye… Jesus! I sound so woo woo or stoned. Which reminds me, back in the day I use to watch wonky Dance Fever on tv while stoned….popping Tootsie Rolls and caramel popcorn, man oh man! Maui Wowie! Good shit back then.
Jesus! Dance Fever man, hosted by that baby face and swarthy Adrian what’s his name of T J Hooker and Captain Kirk. “Where no man has gone before.” Oh yeah, been there in the cerebral abysses man, damn near didn’t come back. Got to go man, have a date at Pink’s Hot Dogs, peace brother.”
Sitting here in La, La, Land I can see how you would believe that a gluten free diet and drinking green veggie smoothes is the answer to all your worldly woes. It’s a lie sweetheart, what really works in this world is a pack of Marlboro red, a cup of coffee and a buttermilk donut. Listen sunshine, there is no guarantees in life, this is it, this is all you get. Honey, you and I are living in a temporary parking lot between Nativity Lane and Sunset Boulevard.
We are the little people, faceless and sad, we accumulate at a bus stop near Sunset and Sad, as you can see we wait for a bus that will never drew near. We are surrounded by the artificial glitter of the Stars, which provides the illusion of certain happiness which seem more real than where we are. We see the failed sitcom stars and the whole fragile scene as the dumpsters are filled with broken dreams.
Architectural photography is not my first choice for an assignment; I’m more of a run-and-gun photographer. But from years of overseas and domestic assignments I came to the realization that the kinetic structure of my knees are deteriorating and the pace of my stride is slowing. I live in my past as most men do my age, but reality is insidious and has a way of redirecting ones life. In a conversation with my brother Mark we discussed reinvention, evolution and acceptance as we age. I’ve witnessed him overcome incredible odds in La La Land (Hollywood) to becoming a very successful Producer while all along maintaining his integrity – which is the cornerstone of character. He now lives in the great Northwest freeing his spirit from the tragic and deviant characters of Hollywood. As T.S. Eliot said,
“We shall not cease from exploring,
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
How appropriate, only recently has Mark rediscovered his passions that have lied dormant for several decades. One of which is using his hands to build and create – he is the only man I know who has built a home from the ground up.
So what does all this have to do with Architectural photography? My assignment was to photograph an older building that is being refurbished, redecorated and rehabilitated. While editing the images I suddenly became aware of the building name, Keystone, which is the central stone at the summit of an arch locking the whole together. I think of the camera as my cornerstone, holding my perception of the world together with its steel, plastic and glass.
I have heard that Architecture is like frozen music and is assembled in light that fills an empty space. So, are we architects of our own life? We lay our foundation in youth with education and life experiences as we try desperately to avoid the pitfalls as we whimsically journey to completion. It becomes apparent as we age to measure the space and spiritual dimensions of our past, the games we played and the poetic inventions of our heart. For some of us, we did this without a blueprint and struggled, but quickly learned that for every new situation and issue requires new architecture. Unlike Rip Van Winkle who wakes from the glassy bosom of Ale to find that twenty years have past, I woke to reinventing with a solid foundation to breaking new ground.
As she posed and continued to smoke she tells me, “I have more than once made contact with the pavement and it wasn’t so gingerly either, the last time was at the corner of Fairfax and Beverly.”
She paused, took the last drag of her cigarette and dropped it on the concrete between her battered boots.
“Strange how the world looks from the ground up, I once saw an ostrich too.” She said
“All well, life has no obligation to give us what we expect.”
OMG ! Recently while tossing out artifacts of my past I came across this old advertisement for Bexel equipment rental. The camera which I’m holding became the game changer for broadcast television and gave me the world.
This is the back story of how I became the poster child for Bexel. During a transient stint in the early 80’s with ABC Network in Hollywood, asked by an ABC Executive Producer to come up with a better way of shooting video on location that would not disrupt her daily operation in the studio, have economic benefits and an incentive for more field production for her show. I presented in a show-and-tell my idea to the Executive Producer, fellow union members and ABC management. Next thing I knew KA-POW! WHAM!
In one fell swoop, I was brought up on charges by my very own union (NABET Local 57) the next day for introducing a new camera system called the Betacam (which was only available at Bexel at the time) I had stepped on the toes and embarrassed ABC management for lack of imagination. I was guilty of being the pipe bomb in their midst for embracing new technology that would ultimately change broadcasting forever. The Executive Producer loved the idea but in the eyes of the union, ABC management and with great resentment from my peers I had disrupting the status quo, I had passed the point of no return. So, I left my comrades behind with the shrapnel of old ideas. It was that camera, the Betacam which became my fast-pass to the world.
Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that I had just finished reading M Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled. “Rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path.”
The street… Hollywood Boulevard swarms with consumers in shorts, shorts, flip flops and cameras,
“Oh look it’s Boyz II Men star! Where’s the Biebs star?” The young girl wearing leopard skin leggings ask.
Nearby a panhandling broken man with a yellow stained beard shouts,
“Hey! Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got’s the gun” his words sing.
He waves at a woman of the one percent in a Bentley,
“She’s got hairpoo and shinny shins I bet”, his song continues.
Near the corner of McCadden Place and the Boulevard, outside a darken bookstore old school meets new schools. Kool-Aid drinker’s in blue woofing tickets to a falsetto religion.
“Hey man! What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here!”
They’re not amused with furrowed brows as the broken man with the yellow beard passes by.
Sauntering, shuffling along without stepping on a crack… “don’t break your mothers back” he mumbles.
Hey! Mayweather, he’s the coolest, never without his sunglasses. I swear he walks in a Holy Light, a man who could read the hidden messages in a test pattern.
“Nobody works on the Boulevard they only perform; this is their universe with no soundtrack”, He shouts then points.
“Look at that old Filipino face with a sign, he thinks Jesus is for sale.”
Young men nicely dressed selling trips to the hills to see the stars in convertible vans; “Maybe silver ash will bless the pilgrims as they pass” His song carries-on.
A woman wearing paper shoes from the Nail Palace next to the alley is stomping on aluminum cans. Watching is an Armenian man in a gray hat standing at the entrance of Geiger’s Rare Books.
“Oh my, the Pig and Whistle is open, time to cheer the life on Hollywood Boulevard my friend, will you buy? “