“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.”
“I just really want to tell you right now Enzo, that it is extremely plausible that you have created your own world and the illusion is that you are a neurotic mess because your mother was a neurotic mess. You think to much and feel to little, now go home and eat some prosciutto, drink some vino and take a nap.”
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.
The first time I saw my name in print was not on a “Hello My Name Is” sticker but in the American Alpine Journal on climbing accidents in North America. Which was not the kind of publicity I needed, after all I was the go to guy for remote and hostile location camera work.
California, Yosemite Valley, Half Dome Route
On June 4, 1988, at 1200, dispatch received a call from Wesley Walton concerning an injured climber on Half Dome. Walton had talked with people on top of Half Dome by CB
radio. At 1215, six SARSITE climbers and I were flown to the top of Half Dome starting at 1330. At 1443, Kevin Brown arrived at Big Sandy Ledge after being lowered 150 meters. He met David Banks, who had an uncomplicated injured elbow, bruised seriously enough so the he could not climb. Banks was raised the 150 meters arriving at 1545. Brown, Klotz (Banks climbing partner) and two Half Dome climbers who had helped jummarred out. All rescuers were flown out, ending at 1847.
Ranger Horner interviewed Banks later. He said that he had injured his arm/ elbow (After x-rays I learned that I had shattered my left elbow) in a slow, sliding fall on the pitch below Big Sandy on June 3. He was slightly off route and did not protect well. He fell about ten meters (about 33 ft.) and stopped prior to hitting a larger ledge. Banks was lowered to his belayer and then Klotz led the pitch to Big Sandy. Banks took an hour and a half to jumar to the pitch, which he did in a lot of pain. They were also hauling the largest haul bag ( which we referred to as the “Pig”) anyone can remember seeing. (Source: Dan Horner and Bob Howard, Rangers, Yosemite National Park)
Analysis: Banks and Klotz had each been climbing for several years, led at the 5.3-5.10 level, but had little wall experience. They had brought too much hardware and other gear, and their huge haul bag and lack of experience hauling meant long, tiring days. They were on schedule but had underestimated their daily food and water requirements by about half, however; and by time of the accident they were tired, hungry and dehydrated. In retrospect, they felt their condition made an accident “only a matter of time.” Two points:
By their own admission, they had too much gear; that’s not an argument for taking nothing.
To Be Continued…..
A sunset drive on the A72 near Rosebank, Scotland. Standing sentry are ancient elders of oak, silver birch and pine that border the country lane which is empty of all traffic. With the windows down the crisp air dashes about and fills the cab with aroma of turf, heather and earth. For a moment my soul is lifted from all of life’s complications and I slow the car to a crawl to absorb every second. To my left is the River Clyde, running dark and silent as the sun ends another day in the land of my fathers. I am home and received by the spirits and magic of Scotland and yet I struggle to believe that I just saw a unicorn on the banks of the River Clyde. It was a magical mystery tour and I can’t wait to go back because Scotland is in my heart and soul.
Believe it or not Angels “steal” 4% of the whisky in a barrel every year. They want to make sure it’s okay before we drink it. The “Angel’s share” or “Angel’s tax” refers to the 4% of whisky that evaporates every year as it matures in the cask. Once you bottle whisky, the Angel can’t touch it. It no longer evaporates. So with that said, if by chance your driving south on the A702 in Edinburgh and before you come upon the A720 Bypass you might just see an angel resting from an alcohol-induced slumber, don’t be alarmed just drive on and let him sleep.
Cheers My Friends and Have a Bountiful New Year.
Illustration by me.