Twenty seven years ago today on Halloween night I was planning on staying home. Living on the fringe of the Castro district in San Francisco, it was an unprecedentedly crazy night to be out and about. A last minute invitation that afternoon changed my mind and my life. It was 1982, hope I did the math correctly, and I headed to my favorite thriftshop in the Mission for a costume.
Charlies Angels and Farrah Fawcett were everywhere including across the front of my outfit that night. Red boots and a leopard coat completed the look and I stepped out on a hot date starting out on my favorite barstool up the street. I was the party animal those days, youth and stupidity went hand in hand in my life back then. There was nothing I liked more than dancing the night away to the BeeGees or Donna Summers and I have fond if not blurry memories of those San Francisco nights.
I had been at the bar for less than an hour when someone taped me on the shoulder and said, 'your house is on fire'.
The exterior of the apartment building was being painted and apparently the painters had left cans of oil based paint in the cellar around the furnace that ignited and roared up the air shafts. It being Halloween night there were no parking places for blocks including in front of the fire hydrants. A ladder went up from one of the 5 trucks to one of the windows to rescue an old man who had stayed in for the evening and as they carried him down the ladder he had a heart attack and died. I stood in the street, watching the flames leaping out my windows for about 15 minutes before we decided to head to another neighborhood bar over in Noe Valley. I cleaned up on sympathy drinks that night and the pain of losing everything but the costume I was wearing wore off as the night wore on.
The next day the tenants were allowed back into what was left of our apartments. What wasn't scorched was soaked and I gathered a few things with a little help from my friends. Life went on, in a different neighborhood and I gradually rebuilt my life although it took many years to get over the trauma and drama.
Looking back I realize that I was in a state of shock for weeks, but it could have been so much worse had I not decided to go out that night. There were definetly some angels watching over me and I don't think it was the one on the front of my wacky costume.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Back a few years ago, my friend Johanna asked me to please help her Dad out, an architect and architectural rendering artist by trade, the economic slowdown had taken its toll on his assignment work.
I have known Joe since 1982 and have always admired his watercolors of residential and commercial buildings as well as the way he lays paint to paper and makes it look fresh and vibrant, his paintings of buildings in the midwest where he lives are especially spontaneous-just like him. Joe is old school in technique, but totally young at heart, especially in spirit.
Recently, he sent me a disk of his new work and I designed and created a Powerpoint presentation to send to potential clients and last night uploaded a new website.
Take a look via the link below, and drop him an email via the contact link on his site, I'm sure he would love to hear from you, business or pleasure!
Monday, October 26, 2009
"So many times I read about art directors/photo editors talking about the photographer's vision, talking about how it's not the style of the photograph but about the moment... forget post processing, forget about lighting... forget about technique... when does the photographer push the button.
As Cartier-Bresson called it "the decisive moment."
.....from an excellent blogspot called the Strobist.
My photographs have been like my kids and one goes astray or as has happened multiple times in my past, stolen in a random robbery or burned up in a fire, I feel the loss more than what should be the norm for a picture.
This past week thanks to Facebook a photograph of mine resurfaced, not just any photograph, but one I grieved and held in my mind for years. I had lost the box of my photos and negatives years ago in a fire that burned my apartment building down on Halloween night 1982, pictures from a rock concert we traveled to from Brooklyn at Watkins Glen, New York ten years earlier. An estimated 600,000 rock fans came to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Raceway outside of Watkins Glen, New York on July 28, 1973, to see The Allman Brothers Band, The Band, and the Grateful Dead perform, we were four of them. I still have my original ticket. ...and very few memories of what turned out to be a insane weekend. Rain, mud, cold and I can remember people setting the porta potties on fire for heat. I remember a huge thunderstorm and being unable to leave, because everyone had simply stopped their cars on the jammed roads and walked the rest of the way. I remember having only a flimsy blanket and no rain gear, standing on a rain drenched hill looking down on a concert stage barely able to see the band playing. We rigged up a tent from a chenille blanket I had thoughtfully brought to sit on, hardly rain proof -but good background prop for the picture burned in my mind. I remembered that decisive moment, snapping that picture of Klaus and until last week I longed to reconnect with it to see if it was as memorable as I recalled.
Reconnecting with my old college friends via Facebook that are living on the East Coast has been sweet, one of them, Claude Pidgeon who was one of the four along on that concert trip wrote me what he remembered that I didn't.
"We were in my 1967 Lincoln Mercury Park Lane Braughm. It wouldn't start for the trip back. A hippie mechanic stole a distributor cap from a farm vehicle in the field behind a barn, and the car started right up. We made a shelter with bent saplings, your blanket and lots of hay from the field we were in. There were four of us. I know that you, Klaus and I were there, but I don't remember who #4 was. Very cold, wet, lots of acid...Who was with us?
Here and now, 36 years later, none of the three of us can recall the fourth person. I have thought about this picture for years, and when it popped up on Facebook on Klaus's profile last week, I did the happy dance and felt like throwing a welcome home party... if nothing else to embrace that decisive moment in back in 1973.
More pictures click here
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This season is the time of the year I used to drive North when I lived in San Francisco and visit a friend living in Merlin. I would relish the rainy weather that brought out the rich earthy smell of the woods, the pumpkins that decorated all the porches and I loved sticking around for Halloween to see the kids in their costumes, wonderfully engaged in a world that revolves around fantasy and trick or treating for candy.
Its a magical time of year, especially in Oregon, and the changing maple trees here are reminiscent of my youth and growing up in Pennsylvania.
Yesterday I went to mail a few packages down at the Wilderville store where Laura and John were hosting their annual pumpkin carving party. While I was walking around taking a few pictures, Maggie jumped out of the car window I had absent mindedly left down and was instantly surrounded by costumed girls soaking up her endless love.
Then off we went to recycle and pick up a few things at the grocery store feeling like we had just taken a quick trip to Disneyland.