September 30, 2010

Sick of computers

Last month a nasty virus invaded this computer and it basically froze up. As I posted earlier, my kind roommate took it to work and got the whole thing cleared up by the tech nerds. It's all better except, now, I just tried to download photos I've taken recently and for some reason it's not working the way it always has. I can't download squat. And, I'm too computer illiterate to figure out what I'm doing wrong. The little popup says it can't recognize the files. It's 3:00am, I'm tired, I give up.
I went out and bought a 24-inch iMac a few months back. I still haven't figured out how to do anything it other than to turn it on and stare at the screen. I truly hate working on computers. They crash, they're confusing, they have 9 thousand systems you have to learn and relearn once you buy a new one. They're not "user friendly" by any stretch of the imagination. How does a person sit down in front of a new computer and figure all these things out? What each button (or series of button maneuvers) does? Do I just blindly start pressing shit hoping I miraculously press the correct combo to achieve the desired results? I just attempted to make a power point presentation on my iMac through the iWork program. I got as far as the first page. How does one learn this?
I'm venting... I'll figure out how to put photos up when I'm not tired and pissed off. God I friggin' hate computers. Here are some older pics I haven't posted. New ones coming.

Smoochers at Coney Island

Smoochers on a Bronx subway platform

Future "asphalt rash", Central Park.

Graffiti truck.

September 19, 2010

Only in New York

Two odd things happened on my way to work on Thursday, my last day of shooting during Fashion Week. I jumped on the A train headed downtown at around 9:20am and being only the second stop from where the train starts on 207th I got a perfect seat (rare to impossible 2 stops later). At about 181st street a Jewish kid about 17 wearing a yarmulke gets on and sits next to me. One stop later he taps me on the shoulder and mumbles something about Columbus Circle. I reply, "Yeah, it's about 6 stops ahead." He looks annoyed and said louder, "No, I'm scared I'll sleep through my stop, will you wake me at Columbus Circle?" I smiled and said "Sure pal, snooze out." Within seconds his head was tilted back, mouth agape and he was out cold. I'd glance over at him every once in awhile and he remained asleep the whole way. At 59th I reached over and gently shook his shoulder. Startled, he looked over at me, got his bearings and said "Thanks man" and quickly hopped off the train.
I continued on, getting off at Grand Central and stopped at my usual Starbucks inside the station. Standing in line the ambient music was surprisingly loud playing Aretha Franklin's "(You make me feel) Like a Natural Woman". Suddenly, with all the enthusiasm and perfect pitch of Aretha's real backup singers, the three black girls working behind the counter loudly sang the chorus "...Like a natural woman...woooman" leaving everyone in the place smiling.
Only in New York City.

September 16, 2010

2 Kentucky faces

As we were leaving, Jacob sat down on the steps to his trailer and I took my last few photos of him. I see such potential in this kid but this cynical voice inside my head tells me what will probably come of him solely due to his environment. This makes me sad. I can only hope I'm wrong.

At the Huddle House restaurant in Harlan, Ky., about 2:00am, I saw this coal miner and a buddy finishing their meal. I walked over, introduced myself and told him I was curious as to how deep in the mine he had worked that day. He seemed eager to talk about his job and said, "Oh, about 7 miles." Thinking he might be exaggerating a bit, I asked if he was joking, he wasn't. He told me that each day at the beginning of his shift, he and 9 other men climb onto a waist high electric carrier and ride this thing lying on their backs for 45 minutes down a 3 foot high narrow shaft deep into the mine. Once inside they're digging out coal in a "room" that is only about 14 feet wide and still only 3 feet tall from 3:00pm to midnight. He runs the scoop. Which is basically an electric go-cart (you also drive lying down) with a blade on the front that you scoop the coal with and load onto the conveyor belt. I literally had a panic attack as he was talking about being down there. We walked outside to the parking lot so he could smoke a cigarette and he popped his trunk to show me his gear. Tall black boots and his small belt mounted air tank which is apparently very cumbersome and no one bothers to wear. Again, I felt a rush of panic and extreme claustrophobia just hearing about his job. He ended the conversation saying it was very peaceful and fairly quiet down there. He added that it sure beat working above ground dealing with "all the elements."

Dustin the coal miner.

September 14, 2010

More images from my travels

While driving deep in the backwoods of Kentucky I saw this guy sitting on his porch. I got out of the car and after talking to him for a few minutes, I asked if I could take his photograph. He seemed glad to oblige me and sat patiently while I fiddled with my camera and strobe. Down on his luck, he was suffering from a variety of issues and illnesses. After I was done I handed him $10. He smiled widely and said,"You know what I'm gonna do with this? I'm gonna buy me a big ol' joint," and then he chuckled, happy as a clam.

This is Travis

This is Onus. The only time on my trip I was actually a bit scared of a subject. While I was speaking to his 70-year-old brother Enus, Onus just leaned against this truck watching, listening, and smoking. Then, after I snapped a few photos of him, he walked over to his car, popped the trunk showing me a variety of handguns and rifles he had for sale. He reached in and picked up a .38 revolver. With a serious tone he said, "This one here killed a man...he committed suicide with it." It was a bit unnerving. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I glanced in that trunk. Vicco, Ky.

Jacob's sister with their happy Jack Russell. (Ky.)
Beautiful girl at the fair waiting to get on a ride. She reminded me so much of one of Sally Mann's subjects.
I photographed many animals at that Pennsylvania county fair a few weeks ago, sadly most of whom would be eaten shortly afterward. But this goat was a dairy goat. Someone (or something) had removed its ears for some odd reason. I couldn't find its owner to ask why. I'd never seen an earless goat before. It seemed happy enough.

I'm back... again

After nearly a month of computer problems and traveling I can finally add something to this blog. I took a week off and went to help my friend Nemo build a fence in his yard. While there I went to the Perry County (Pa.) fair. For two days I walked around talking with and photographing the locals as well as some of the "carnies." They were an interesting bunch. Most of them more than glad to take any fool's money who would easily spend $34 trying to toss a hoop on a bottleneck to win his girlfriend a $2.00 stuffed animal.

Almost as soon as I returned from Pa. I hopped on a flight down to Atlanta and then zig-zagged my way up through Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia, mostly on back roads. That's where you'll find some real characters.

Being late (almost 3:00am) I only had a short time to prepare a few images.

This is Jacob.
While riding down some random gravel road deep in Kentucky I passed a trailer. A woman was suspiciously watching our unfamiliar car drive by so I stopped, rolled down the window and asked her where the road went. I got out of the car, camera in hand and asked if I could snap a few photos. She seemed surprised that I wanted to and as I raised my camera the front door flew open and 4 kids stepped cautiously out into the road to check me out. The youngest and most shy kid was named Jacob. He took a liking to me after a few minutes and wanted to show me his tadpoles and new puppy. I felt an odd, unexplainable bond to this little boy. I couldn't stop snapping photos of him. He was smart, engaging, and inquisitive. We spent a good hour talking to the kids and Mom and taking photos. After I left I couldn't help wonder what would become of him. Odds are that he won't finish school, surely won't go on to college, and there's a very high likelihood he'll end up on drugs. Sadly, a probable scenario in that part of the country. I'm giving serious thought to offering to pay for his college if he ever makes it through high school. I don't know why I feel so compelled to save this little guy. He was truly a beautiful little boy.

This is Billy. He ran one of the rides at the fair. He told me he thought I was an inspector. Nice guy after he warms up to you; however, I wouldn't want to get on his bad side.

Proud farmer on his restored tractor.

While talking to a woman who was a dairy farmer we noticed 3 tiny rabbits huddled in front of a porta-john. It's was a miracle they hadn't been trampled. She put them in a box filled with grass to take home.

Another proud farmer on his vintage Allis Chalmers...or maybe a Massey Furguson...what do I know?

And, another.