~ ” They’re running all the meat off those heifers trying to catch them.”
~ ” My doc has a green thumb. Everything he touches grows.”
~ “Dr. Prince. Confinement causes a speciality. Wood sawed at fifty cents per cord when not professionally engaged.
” Anyone can tell from her looks that you never carried a lantern when you courted your missus”
~ “How can you have faith in that watch without good works?”
~ “Do you want these monkeys mounted? God no – my wife would raise hell. Just have them holding hands.”
~ “She made a soup of tails and tongues. It was the only way she could make both ends meet. “
My grandfather, TW (Thomas W), had a Maine manner of words – simplified, youthful, poetic, insightful, profoundly wry, & self deprecating. He was a long time lawyer by trade and amongst his stores – I found a small black binder with entries in TWs fluid hand.
It is a non-descript notebook & but from what I can discern – it is a veritable stream of consciousness, thoughts, and anecdotes neatly jotted, more than likely, during court time. I suspect, when one would observe our beloved counselor, it was assumed he was taking notes of great relevance to the case at hand, when in fact, it was everything from absurd comments uttered during trial, guiding principals of life, drafting jokes, commentary on Calvin Coolidge, to short missives and reflections on home.
Here I will endeavor to share some examples that exemplify his wit, wisdom and vibrant perspective.
A gallery the clearly illustrates a simple sampling of my creative A.D.D malaise. There are a great many more undocumented offspring. I do try to stay focused and tune a certain approach, medium, palette, or design – but fail miserably after crafting an initial prototype. Economics have provided some guidance – and I have been a bit more disciplined over the last few holiday seasons to create productively -but have found I will most often just fall back and define and conclude an endeavor based on the immediacy of what materials I may have on hand and for it provides at that specific moment and time.
The “full” (and evolving) gallery can be found HERE
It was around 1978 that my closest buddies (Rob & Dave most notably) and I became immersed in film and fascinated by the prospect of creating our own Super 8mm masterpiece.
We had already spent a number of years experimenting with tape recordings when we were all but 12 or so. Crazy, spontaneous, clunky, non-scripted affairs that reflected our love of Monty Python and the last gasps of radio comedy and storytelling. Our high pitched awkwardness belayed our time and creative focus – trying things such as recording on real tape, flipping the physical tapes, and recording with a secondary device to produce a backwards layers. Our breakthrough was finally using Realistic hand held microphones – and have the amazing privilege provided by condensers and the metronome glories of audio meters.
Our playtime in these years seeded a desire for new canvases ~ new methods ~ new mediums. By the time we hit the shores of high school – we felt like sophisticates pop culture art mediums. Experts in music, the history of film, the nuances of classic radio all the way back to The Shadow and Dick Tracy. High school afforded new avenues of exploration and Film was the epitome of an academic, elective lottery win.
Our final assignment was a homemade 8mm production. We had all grown up with some amount of 8mm interwoven into the family archived fabric. Whether the blistering obviousness of reflector lighting, the hand wound mechanics of cameras, the diminutive smallness of reel stacks in a cabinet, or the strange haunting silence of sharing such films with others. As with our audio years ~ our scripts and storyboarding was all but non-existent. We composed the core assets in real time – leaving assembly & storyline flow to the final *director* (as we could rightfully call ourselves in this case). Each of us 3 created a unique vision and each of of 3 became the extras and actors for execution. Our neighborhood was a short walk from the last Green Line stop of Riverside outside of Boston- and we spent countless, liberating hours exploring both it, as well as the venues and experiences it could transport us to. At the time, as it was *end* of the line – it was used as a repository and yard for repair and cast offs. It was a gritty, unsupervised, old fashioned, and potentially dangerous by modern parenting standards, but *the tracks*, its surround ghost machines, mechanical misfits, oil, grease and heat were a boundless adventure land for teenage boys. To this day I can remember the smell of the rails and the tar soaked ties – and their worn, cast metal smoothness.
Like using our backyard for location – Rob created *Terror* as embedded below. I hope he forgives me for posting
Tammy & I stumbled on the Northern Ambassadors student choir as we meandered back into the Piazza San Marco in July 2011. They paused on their entry into Basillica and presented this lush, spontaneous rendition by a simple, unpretentious group of America kids.
It was an amazingly beautiful performance – made all the more moving by the sheer history & spirituality of the locale (pigeons & all). Fortunately, we had an opportunity to speak with the director (Mr. Swingen I believe) – and it turned out this group was comprised of students from Montana & North Dakota – and hence we were able to discern their identity when we got home ot the states.
While we missed the begining – we still wished to share.
Gorgeous & poignant.
Yes – its that time again. As I am sure is a familiar exercise for most ~ I once again pull out my tattered, well intentioned and very familiar list of yearly objectives so as to meet the arbitrary line of demarcation that is New Years. I cant help but wonder why I torture myself with the self revelation that few items are ever soundly removed ~ but rather return like persistent, perennial weeds of partially framed focus. Despite this doomed repetition, I will play along so heartily that I will even belief I can meet these objectives myself. So as to counter said pragmatic Corey ~ the following is a vastly more realistic portrayal of personal targets for this upcoming year 2012. It must be duly noted, as well, that I am more than pleased to put 2011 in the rear-view ~ it was an unrelenting turbulent sea of fog and reactive adaptation. Bring on the calendar based thresholds as catalysts of change & motion.It is time.
Things I may actually get done :::
- Getting back into an aggressive gym regimen with the 1000s of other people eager to work off the obsessive holiday eating
- Taking a nature walk 2 times a week
- Reducing/eliminating my photographic focus (pun intended) on intriguiging architecutual elements and replacing it/them with a greater concentration on the uniqueness of people
- Writing more regularly
- Get my hands in the dirt more frequently
- Reduce the amount of outwardly expressed words in my daily life
- Digitize and share important archival stuff (images, stories, papers, etc)
- Oodles of personal relationship stuff that I dont wish to share with the internet universe
Things I hope to accomplish but probably wont :::
- Be more patient with others
- Eat healthier
- Be less opinionated and judgemental
- Get back in a band
- Travel less
- Stop immitating Dick Clark on New Years Eve
Being fortunate enough to have a well wooded, but modestly sized, house lot brings a number of subtle benefits that most home owners would look on as a suburban nuisance. Winter and the annual visitations of Nor’esters invariably cast a variety of oak, maple, pine and poplar throughout the yard and make for persistent early spring assemblage of sticks, branches & other exceedingly stubborn fall leaves. While certainly annoying ~ like the seemingly endless discovery of balsam needles in one’s home that step well into the subsequent holiday season ~ there are times when I cant help but be thrilled by the sheer breath of available inventory that can be utilized to spark the news years creative endeavors.
This particular bench was a byproduct of a particularly aggressive and windy winter ~ that afforded just the right dimensions of raw material to take my Lincoln Log experience to a new level. I had never sketched, nor crafted any of the classically styled “twig” furniture, although I was very much an admirer of the design aesthetic. In typical, spastic Corey fashion, I grabbed a pencil & notepad and jotted down some ideas as I walked around the yard with a tape measure ~ reviewing my abundantly stocked yard waste with new-found creative interest. (who the hell knows where my original notes end up….but I can surely attest they are not with me any more) I figured most joints would be best served by dowel joinery to reduce the stress requirements on my usual standby construction companion~ Mr. Drywall Screw. After framing with the main spans ~ I hand-cut corner edges to ensure uniformity of line and then capped the base bench seat with a red oak planks from my local Home Depot. A quick run of a router smoothed the edge surface of the seat area plus a few rounds of spar urethane to lock up the weather proofing.
Utimately, this humble creation, made its way as a holiday gift to my Mom & Dad.
Probably not very smart to design a bench for elderly parents that was freakishly heavy and more worthy to be in the decor of Scottish Highland participants
Projects like this are uneven and out of square on almost every dimension known to man. As such, I began to question if my garage floor was even flat.
Bark on? – Bark off? – I think only Mr. Muyagi knows for sure which is best
Last spring – I took a first ever camping excursion to the Old Lyme area of CT. While certainly not the most challenging or rugged areas for an outdoor escape ~ it was an amazing feast of my humble Nikon & me.
Just yesterday - I experienced on those profound crossroads of choice , a point of inflection between my impassioned idiosyncrasies & my ever persistent analysis of pragmatic and rational response. It is often a self-induced conflict – brought on by the purposeful meanderings and explorations of a local garage sale or antique shop. In this case – it was a benign 1970s style Goodwill store – that sat in a high density retail enclave a few steps from my hotel in San Antonio Texas. Like a street corner hustler – it was adeptly and effectively located and handily adjacent to an abetting stop light, so that the powerful innocence of its draw would be repeated, and contemplated, and repeated, and contemplated, and repeated, and contemplated – each time I returned from the dictates of my days meetings. I would glance quickly – then avert – keenly aware of my personal weaknesses to lock eyes with that innocuous smiling siren of thrift. As a rule – the sheer level of my fatigue, lateness of day, or activity commitments to my work brethren – were sufficient inoculation to resist….but this particular day – I was blessed with an extra hour of unfettered and unencumbered time. But to a sidewalk junkie of cast-offs – an hour is more than enough for one to get into trouble- especially when you are stopped at a red light and scent of salvage wafts invitingly through the passenger window.
“Ill just stop in and see if they have any boots” – I rationalized to myself out loud. In fact – there was some truth to that thought (although it clearly shows that I am firmly footed in a state of denial..no pun intended of course) – as I assumed that, given its presence in the big ol’ state of Texas – that some of those local folks must pass them along to such institutions. So, firmly convinced that it was time well allocated, and encouraged by a protracted and lengthy stop light – I turned my rental in to the lot.
As I stepped towards the door – I was truly exhilarated and curious as to what I would find within. “What a fucking spazz” I rebutted to myself…fully acknowledging the freakish glee I can harvest from such experiences and responding to myself like a break time spectator standing outside the aluminum framed double doors, flicking ashes from their Marlboro, and responding to the ridiculousness of my excitement.
The store was pretty conventional fare – perhaps even on the side of well-organized as far as such places go. It was tidy, with good signage, racks and racks of clothing, with front sections of hard goods – and surprisingly vast.
I found the diminutive men’s section – and was immediately distracted by the sport coats. I have always found that perhaps *the* best & most consistent finds at thrift shops are mens sport coats and suits. It is evident that the good portion of the populace buys a coat with all good intention, or maybe an event like a wedding or funeral, only to have it languish in one’s closet for the next few years with the ultimate destination of the donation pile along with some hideously branded golf shirt. I swear (perhaps I shouldn’t even admit this ) but cant even remember the last time I forked out monies to buy a *new* jacket in an actual store. This approach to salvaged fashion removes all angst or concern regarding the delicate preservation of such attire . Bring on the java, the folded and stuffed existence of travel, the liquor soaked immersion of a night in a low ceilinged rock club – when all is said and done – I smile in appreciation, find another for a few dollars, and set mine, despite its well loved abuse, back on the path of reclamation. Mind you – I am not advocating buying Sears brand leisure suits (although that does give me pause) – but you would really be amazed at the pervasive quality and condition you can find on these racks for, in general, ten bucks or less.
Once I scoured the coat racks (unsuccessfully of course – otherwise I would be rambling on about the fine , attained selection) – I wandered over to the “stuff” area. Those aisles can almost always guarantee a glorious parade of garish Americana. It doesn’t matter what part of this country you are in – geese with bonnets, thick pine lamps, and Kinkade like framed prints are the common dominator that bind us all – and somewhere Barnum is chuckling heartily.
As I scan – I notice a small round table off to the side – and set away from the vases, old coffee pots, and cast metal trinkets. On it were 8 shoeboxes….with the bold pink & black 50s graphics of a Miami boutique.
Hmmmm – ok – now I am curious.
I crack open a box. Inside – there were 5 bright aluminum rectangular trays – with small, blue oval stickers announcing a modest fee of .99 cents for each . On top – a lined reference sheet with incomplete, cursive scribed notations.
- New Mexico
- Key West
- Fiesta 1960
- Mother’s Flowers
- ….and on
Slides. Kodachrome slides. My beloved and obsolete Kodachrome. The complete collection of someone, unknown, disconnected & lost in the gleam of shinier generations. There were easily 500 or more . All housed in individual units that held maybe, 25 images or so. I turned the tray to the perpendicular side – and could push each slide out, it still framed firm in a metal slip, and held it up to the light. Gasp. A time capsule of continuous vibrance. The color was breathtaking and almost universally rich. Parades. Streetscapes. Soldiers. Canyons, Flowers . Cars. Catinas and Fairs. Southwest culture – complete in its arid, simply built, small town foundations. Mexican adobe walls – burnished & stencilled with invitations to tourists long before the invasion of super highways. Towering ferris wheels against the heated azure of the afternoon. An army of mirror clad baton twirlers back by a low slung hardware store. I felt an intensity of personal responsibility to save the unsaved. Interestingly – there were scant few *portraits* of loved ones or fellow explorers – and the image flows were well-composed and documentary. From what I could surmise -they were predominantly 1950s – with a well-trod bridge into the 1960s..then a slow trickle as late as 1970 but there, distinctly, the boundary of reflected time held firm.
Each shoebox had similar disjointed comments and locations – but strangely nameless- as if the photographer had always assumed his own immortality – and he would be there to share the images complete with personal, energetic and enlightened commentary, beer in hand, about the wonderful places, events, and nuances captured. My intrigue was tainted by a tinge of sadness – as a photographer *and* as an avid family archivist. This was a painstaking collection – taken at great expense of time, energy, care, intent, and passion. A companion to this person (or persons) adventures in life – and here they lay – on a dusty thrift shop table – surrounded by strangers.
I earnestly began to scan each and every tray of the collection – rapidly pushing through holders, and lifting my arm to the front plate glass to catch the declining sun, so as to review each image. ” I can save this collection from such disrespected obscurity”
The Archivist had arrived – buckled in – and pressed the throttle hard.
I began to stack trays in small batches based on unique content – while the curious Goodwill women swung by repeatedly – obviously thinking I had found *something* of tangible value. They would look down at the table and these small strange, aluminum boxes, scanning quickly as if to steal away the pups I had carelessly let stray too far from my care. Their gaze would quickly flatten – a bit dumbstruck, smoky and confused by this business suited man and his frenetic burst of sun-prismed movement. Even the hourly workers rolled through – pretending to straighten an item or two – looking more as if they were strait-jacket tailors about to service their next client. Mind you – my blitz was all of 15 minutes or so – but anyone spending 15 minutes looking at one, single, *something* at a thrift shop is bound to raise some flags of curiosity.
Ok – done…14 trays all told.
Combined and repacked – a premium hand forged set.
I lifted them – and stepped towards the aisles of the unexplored with absolutely no desire or intention to find something more – but rather to permit my aforementioned idiosyncrasies ample space for a wrestling match with my practical reason. The Pragmatist had joined our spontaneous archeological endeavor – and had taken comfort in a neighboring EZBoy recliner – spewing calm reason.
Confessionally – it was as a determined tug-o’-war as I have witnessed – and I literally paced along a few wide circles throughout the facility – as each anointed representative of my internal direction vied for primacy and control of my final actions.
:: “Will they fit in my suitcase?” I pondered…”I know – I will ship them back with the help of hotel staff”
:: ” I can’t take on the preservation of other’s history – I can barely keep pace with my own!”
:: “What am I nuts? – I’m not even from Texas!”
:: “I can’t leave these behind – they are like orphan dogs, neglected and poised for disposal”
:: ” “Maybe I can make something cool with these trays”
My internal debate became urgent, riotous, humorous and intricate . Point – counterpoint. Committed historian vs. time-strapped surburban father guy. It’s a very good thing the resonance of these conversations echo only within the narrow confines of my skull as I would assuredly be marked a lunatic. My only blessing is the sheer velocity in which such conversational analysis can occur. Sometimes all but a second or two – when expanded – perhaps no more than a few minutes time. Regardless – a conclusion is extracted – and once determined – the conviction is steadfast
Thus, a few back tracked steps – and I lowered the 4 worn boxes to the tables edge – as The Pragmatist pushed his way through the doors into the heavy blast furnace air of a late San Antonio afternoon.