Cross This River

Flower
Cross this river.

I’m sitting on so many drafts of posts it’s getting kind of silly. My phone is full of voice notes, my notebook full of scribbles and sketches, my brain full of ideas.

The truth is, I started writing this post exactly a week ago. I forget where I was at the time, all I know is that right now I’m laying in a bed in Hudson, MA, typing this out on my Kindle Fire (which I had to root and side-load the WordPress app onto, among other things), while eating a tiny sandwich. In the time between, I flew to Las Vegas, photographed an amazing model, drove to Los Angeles, photographed the same amazing model (and a bunch of other stuff), hung out with my brother, got invited to Palm Springs for New Years, and flew the redeye back into Boston.

The Darkened Skies V
The Darkened Skies V

I should probably be filling this post with all kinds of insights onto the valuable lessons I learned on this foray. Things like being amazed at how sometimes age has nothing to do with maturity (in both directions), that my brother and I continue to discover things in common (we both continually push ourselves, trying to find our own breaking points [neither of us have]), and that I might actually like Santa Monica despite it’s association with Los Angeles. Really though, I not in much of a recapping mood.


The quickest way to get over a woman is to climb on top of another. – Marc Mercury
Some things we don’t agree on.


My Tumblr pages have been keeping up lot of the regular day to day stuff. My current host hasn’t upgraded the PHP or MySQL on this webserver, so I can’t upgrade to WordPress 3.3 yet, which is driving me crazy since it has Tumblr integration. That is actually something I’m really looking forward to and is one more step in aggregating all the outlets named in the last post back here to //dropslash.

Mercy
Mercy

I’m, of course, working on a 2011 recap post. It has been a hell of a year, so expect that to be full of all kind of fun lists and anecdotes and recaps. There is still some writing to finish in the meantime. I’m also working on multiple photo sets, including the aforementioned Vegas and LA shoots. I’ve also been trying to keep up with the December Bohemea Photo Challenge. I’m a little behind because of travel, but I’m working on getting caught up and filling in the gaps. That gallery is below.


Project: BoChallenge – December
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157628242239117″]


Angel, angel, what have I done
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

The Eyes Of Disarray: Pt.2

Brooklyn Sunset
Brooklyn Sunset

So, where were we? I’m more of a “spur of the moment” or “stream of consciousness” writer, so there’s a lot to keep track of in recap style posts. When I first started writing this (Pt. 1), I was on my way to Syracuse, NY from Santa Cruz, CA to visit a dear friend. It was going to be some quiet time to get some work done, relax, and get organized a bit. I’m picking this post back up at Pt. 2, sitting 17 stories above Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, NY, after a snowstorm caused power outages that are preventing me from heading to Boston, MA sitting in a Starbucks in Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, NY. I’ve been talking to people about heading to LA. Work may be taking me back to Seattle. I have some plans for this upcoming New Year… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Monument Valley, Utah

This was an unexpected side strip. It was 10:30AM, I had just finished breakfast, and I was getting ready to settle in and knock out some writing and photography work. I had a lot to get done, a lot in my notorious backlog, and was looking forward to a down day after the drive from Yermo, CA to Holbrook, AZ. I had just opened my laptop when I got a cuff on the arm followed by “Grab your gear, you’re already holding us up.” I had no idea what was going on and that frustrated me a bit. I don’t hold people up, I don’t waste time. Anyway. I wasn’t even in clean clothes, but I figured we couldn’t be going too far. I grabbed my basic photo gear; my 10-22mm, 28mm, 50mm, 70-200mm (I knew Barry would have his 24-70mm and 14mm fisheye, among others), tripod, remote trigger, etc. I suppose at any point I could have asked where we were going, but by this point frustration had begun to creep in and I started not to really care.

If you’ve never driven to Monument Valley, UT from Holbrook, AZ, it’s about a three and half hour drive across the desert and wastelands. Now, that’s totally fine under normal circumstances, but these weren’t quite. As far as I knew, we had no supplies (I’ve been stuck in the desert before with no water. It is not fun.) and no plans to get any. That is an easily fixable situation though, so long as there are places to stop along the way (there were). What was not fixable, was being in the confines of a pickup truck cab (the truck is actually really comfortable) with no escape from the endless onslaught of cigarette smoke. If you’ve read the first part of this story, you know my stance on the whole thing. No need to rehash it here. I probably breathed in more carbon monoxide than oxygen on that ride. I didn’t do much to alleviate my mood. Luckily though, I was about to get a chance to purge that with more fresh air than any person could ever breathe.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Now, as I’ve said before, I’m not really a landscape guy. I can appreciate the majesty of nature, beautiful sweeping vistas, the glory of nature, etc. but there have been very few times in my life when I’ve been truly awestruck by the beauty of nature. One was the first time I drove clear across the state of Texas. I didn’t understand the meaning of “Big Sky Country” until that moment. Another was much more recent, but it’s the fishtail end of this story, so remember these few sentences, I’m going to reference them later. Anyway, we got to Monument Valley and were immediately met with a view of “The Mittens”. If you’ve ever seen the classic John Wayne western, Stagecoach, then you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, and were born around the same time I was, then you’d probably recognize the view from Airwolf (although in the show it was called “Valley of the Gods”), since that’s where Hawke and Dom’s secret base was.

Random Aside: Airwolf.

Anyway. The view didn’t really blow me away but then again, I’m not big on the average views of things. I don’t like taking photos of things anyone else can take a photograph of (this is why I like photographing people), static things. I prefer to find a different view, a different perspective, if possible. Fortunately this is exactly what Barry had in mind. Twenty minutes later I would find myself in the back of an off-road rigged Jeep Wrangler, firm grip in the “oh shit” handles, bouncing across the valley floor.

Right Size
Right Size

This is where it all started to become worth the trip out there. The views from the valley floor, the far outlaying corners, the vast open expanses of nothingness; this was truly breathtaking. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love the desert. It’s clean to me. It’s dry and barren and simple. It burns away everything except the core of a being and even then, if you can’t adapt, it will burn that away too. I jumped out of the Jeep deep into the valley and just walked alone for a while. I explored by myself, able to see the valley how I wanted, able to experience the vast nothingness alone, and able to photograph what I wanted to. There is beauty, to me, in that kind of desolation. Being able to see into infinity in every direction and not see another living soul. I’m sure there is a metaphor in here for how I was feeling at the time (and, to a point, still do), but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t really want to leave. I could have wandered into that desolation without any care for being found. Then I remembered that I’m still planning to visit Mt. Everest, so no disappearing into the wilds until that is off my list.

ANYWAY. It was a pretty amazing experience. I took a lot of deep breathes, did my best to purge my poor lungs, knowing that there was still the ride home ahead of me. That went about as well as the trip there, though I was in a slightly better mood. Back in Holbrook meant dinner and attempted sleep before pushing through to Albuquerque, NM the next morning.

And away...
And away...

And that concludes the side trips. Remember, I’m still on the road at this point. Living out of the same suitcase that carried me through Paris.

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM. I’d been here plenty of times in the past, on tour, but nothing particularly memorable stuck out. We arrived on Thursday; Stephen would be arriving from Santa Cruz and meeting up with us on Friday. We took a look at the convention space, got parking settled for the RV, and finally got checked into a hotel, which was a simple luxury at this point (the last hotel I’d stayed in was all the way back in Seattle, the night before I left for Olympia, and it was terrible). I was able to unpack a little, air out my clothes, take a hot shower, and get caught up a little on photos, which by this point had been stacking up considerably. Apparently the place to eat in ABQ is Rudy’s BBQ, so that was the next stop (we would visit more than once on this trip, thus would begin the Banana Pudding Saga).

Not The Banana Pudding
Not Banana Pudding (P)

This would also begin my early morning Friday quest to get my new business cards from the USPS, who are probably the most infuriatingly inept organization run by actual nice people. The short story is that they decided to not deliver my cards to the hotel because… I dunno. It’s a hotel? That doesn’t make sense to me. All I know was that I was tracking the delivery status like Prince Humperdinck following a falcon on a cloudy day and one minute it was “Out for delivery” and the next it was “Undeliverable: Return to sender”. Not even an option to redeliver, I mean, seriously? I was 25 yards from the hotel front desk. By that time it was close to 5:00PM, which means I was SoL. I called, got run around, and decided that the best way to get my cards (which I needed for the show the next day) was to go to the post office first thing in the morning and try and intercept them before they got shipped back. This would lead to a 6 mile walk across Albuquerque, 2 different post offices, some incredibly helpful USPS personnel, and eventually getting my cards. They were printed by MOO.com and they are beautiful. Not how I was hoping to spend what would have otherwise my first morning to sleep late in weeks, but it had to be done. Mission: Complete.

Cards
Cards (P)

Rock The Ink 2011

My next goal for that Friday was to build as much of the Anatometal booth as possible before Stephen arrived. This was old hat for me and building a single booth was pretty low key compared to some of the elaborate events I’ve produced in the past. I had a basic grasp of the booth from the tear-down in Vegas, so I managed to get about 75% of the structures up before Stephen waltzed in (Hi Steve!).

Miss Rock The Ink 2011
Miss Rock The Ink 2011

The show itself was… a show. This was much more of an “everybody knows each other” style show than Las Vegas, more of a family and/or community feel. I was introduced to lots of great folks, all very “friends of the family” style. I became a sort of unofficial official photographer (something to note for later) which was interesting to me because I was still a sort of “outsider” in this whole thing. It was also interesting to observe because even though this event has happened for a few years now, it did not seem particularly well organized.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that to be mean, it’s just an observation from someone (hint: me) who has professionally produced special events for a long time.

The people I talked to did mention some issues that had arisen just before the event started, like a major venue change, but there were some location independent aspects, like social media and photography coordination, that could have been handled better than they were. It’s not the fault of any single person, but general production planning and event execution. On the upside of that is it’s easy for me to see where those gaps are and with a little planning assistance, the next show can be off the charts. So yeah, shot a lot of photos, met a lot of amazing people. I certainly look forward to being involved with Rock The Ink in the future. I suppose we’ll see.

The Road Back

So, with RtI 2011 behind us, it was back to Santa Cruz. The ride back was pretty much the ride there in reverse, with less side trips. We were on a schedule, so there wasn’t a lot of dilly-dallying to be had.

All The Damn Vampires

During my time in ABQ I’d made plans to head to Syracuse, NY via Boston, MA depending on how travel back to SC panned out. I ended up driving back to SC with Barry in the RV, which was a similar enough to the trip down that it doesn’t require great explanation, so I’d be flying straight to Syracuse through NYC. Before that though, I was going to have another one of those breathtaking landscape moments.

Barry
Barry

I really only had a handful of hours in Santa Cruz before heading to San Jose Airport to catch the red eye to Syracuse, via NYC. Luckily we arrived just before Golden Hour so, aside from a few errands, I was able to head directly to the coast to shoot the sunset. Barry knew a couple of spots that were just spectacular.

Santa Cruz Sunset
Santa Cruz Sunset

I watched a beautiful sunset on the coast, then to dinner with the Santa Cruz folks. It was a beautiful way to wrap up my time on the west coast. After dinner I was off to San Jose airport to catch the red eye to Syracuse, NY after a layover in New York City. I’ve been hesitant to return to the east coast given the time of year. The weather in the north east has a way of trapping people here and that was the last thing I wanted. I boarded my flight and tried to get some sleep.


And I feel that time’s a wasted go
So where ya going to tomorrow?
And I see that these are lies to come
Would you even care?

The Eyes of Disarray: Pt. 1

This is going to be a long one. I’m really far behind on a lot of things simply due to the craziness of my recent travel and shooting schedule. So, if you’re content to read it all in one go, grab a cup of coffee, a snack, and let’s get caught up. I’ll wait.

Good to go? Alrighty then.

Mario Barth’s “Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth”

BTSOE 2011

AKA: Amazing People, Terrible Lighting.

This actually happened about three weeks ago, which is crazy to think about since it seems like I was just there. I was invited down to the Mario Barth’s Biggest Tattoo Show On Earth by my best friend, Stephen, who was working at the show with the company he works for, Anatometal. His boss, and owner of Anatometal, Barry Blanchard, is a bit of a photog, so the offer was extended to come down and shoot for the show. It wasn’t an actual paid gig beyond what I can license out, but it was worth it for the people I met and the shooting I was able to do. I had a lot of exclusive access to show happenings, so that was a good time. I shot thousands of photos and I’m still trying to process the backlog of them all. The odds of anything significant coming out of them are low, but it did lead to some other opportunities and potential work.

BTSOE 2011
BTSOE 2011

I’ve been disconnected from the body modification scene for a while. I first got pierced when I was 16 (ears/tongue/nipples) and tattooed when I was 18 (my 2nd day after moving to NYC). It’s been part of my life for a long time, but my involvement in the community fell off drastically when I started touring for a living and especially now that BME‘s “IAM” (an amazing social network that existed before social networks were even a thing) has seen its last days. There just isn’t the time to devote to it. My arms remain unfinished and I’ve removed a lot of my facial piercings and while I don’t really see the need to get any more piercings, I do want to finish my tattoos, and get a few more.

BTSOE 2011
BTSOE 2011

Being in Vegas, though, made me realize not just how disconnected I’d become, but also how much the entire industry has not particularly changed that much. The events are still kind of gimmicky and a lot of the industry still deals with a lot of cliché and stereotype. Granted, you kind of have to be when so much of the business is based on the general public. While I do not doubt the creativity, talent, and artistry involved, the whole industry could still use an injection of professionalism and organization. Administrative bodies like the APP have gone a long way with that, but given how old the trade is, I’m surprised it’s still as slap-dash as it is. I do love the people though. The unique expressionism, attitude, and overall acceptance of the community is amazing.

BTSOE 2011
BTSOE 2011

I got to meet Bill Tinney and his wife at BTSOE, which was a huge highlight. He is an incredible photographer and old hat to a lot of these events. I got some great advice from his wife over the weekend and I’ve taken it all to heart. It offered me a bit of an unexpected perspective change and I am certainly grateful for it.

The Monday after the show, I had a long talk with my dad about life and business and travel while I waited for the bus back to LA. It was right on time. I jumped on and headed back to Los Angeles without incident. Not bad for $25.

BTSOE 2011
BTSOE 2011

So yeah. A long, introspective bus ride both ways, through the desert. It provided further affirmation for me though that my personal values seem to exist in a space that is just not aligned with the majority of people I know. It doesn’t affect the work that I am able to produce on a technical level, but the longer I’m around people in a “professional” setting, the more I find I have to just isolate myself and work on my own level. I was kind of hoping it was just the result of working around people I’d never worked with before (aside from Stephen) and who are from a completely different industry. It’s not that there is no common ground, just highly different values and operational procedure. I end up hearing the same thing I’ve heard my entire life… “Why are you so serious all the time?” The post right before this one expands on this concept. Little did I know this would come up again, in a much more exaggerated fashion, a couple weeks later.

So, like I mentioned, it was a long bus ride through the desert back to LA from Vegas. I’ve made that drive many times in my life. On the way back, they showed “Despicable Me“, which I’d never seen and thought was pretty funny, “500 Days of Summer“, which I’d also never seen and didn’t particularly enjoy for personal reasons, and “When In Rome“, which I have, amazingly, seen before but cannot remember where. I listened to my usual podcasts and did a lot of staring out the window.

Back to the City of Angels

Hollywood Sunset
Hollywood Sunset

The bus actually got back to LA early, but then the LA Metro (if you can even call it that) was having all kinds of delays, so that pretty much canceled out any progress that had been made. I hoofed it back to Michelle’s place in Hollywood and got ready to jump over to my brother’s condo in Santa Monica for my last few days in LA. One of the last things I did in Hollywood was do some light wardrobe shopping in an attempt to reconnect with myself. It sounds silly, but reshuffling my clothes a little has gone a ways towards making me feel more comfortable with myself.

Marc
Marc

My brother is an interesting guy. I have no idea how he affords to live the lifestyle he does, or how no woman has yet managed to kill him for some of the relationship decisions he’s made. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but as we’ve grown older, the bond that is brotherhood and family has pushed aside our differences. All in all he’s a great guy and I really enjoyed my time hanging out with him. His new condo is incredible and I’ve never explored Santa Monica all that much. I spent some time on the beach, staring at the ocean, shooting some photos, and spent the rest getting packed up and ready to fly back to Santa Cruz. I culled a lot out of my suitcase and considerably lightened my load. I would have to hit the ground running in SC, since I was immediately departing on a 3 day drive to Albuquerque, NM for “Rock The Ink: 2011“.

The Road There

Fish(eye) in the desert.
Fish(eye) in the desert.

Originally I was going to fly to Albuquerque, NM and meet up with Stephen and the Anatometal crew for Rock The Ink: 2011, a convention that Anatometal is heavily involved in. The offer was extended after my initial introduction in Las Vegas. When I mentioned flying down, Barry (the Anatometal owner) instead suggested that I drive down with him in his massive “house on wheels” RV. All I had to do was get to back to Santa Cruz. Well, it sounded like an adventure so I grabbed my camera, booked my ticket back to SC, and was on my way. It was going to be three days through the desert, not even a blip on the radar compared to my touring days, in a completely ridiculous vehicle. What’s the worst that could happen?

Now, don’t get me wrong, Barry and his 2nd in command, Tod, are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Great senses of humor, hospitable, generous, and fun to hang out with, Barry and I can wax photographica endlessly. The two of them represent a wealth of life experience I only hope I can one day achieve. There is one massive caveat though…

Looking Back
Looking Back

The two of them smoke more cigarettes than I have ever witnessed any human beings smoke in my life. I had an ex-girlfriend who smoked a lot, but these two put her to shame. Driving down the road, it’s no big deal. Just pop the windows open and it’s fine. I’m not a complainer and smoking in general doesn’t really bother me that much. My extensive touring experience has given me a pretty thick skin. I know how the road works. Where it killed me though, was at night when the RV is parked and closed up. I know now what it must be like to try and asphyxiate yourself in a garage. I’m not about to ask or tell a man to not smoke in his own house though.

I was willing to overlook the catastrophic effects on my health, but the damage that cigarette smoke can do to my equipment had me really worried. The gear I travel with, my camera, my laptop, my clothes… are all I have (yes, the same argument exists for my health). While I do hold the philosophical opinion that everything in my life is ultimately replaceable (with one, critical, exception), the practical reality is that I am not in a position to just be willy-nilly buying new things if they get damaged or destroyed. I understand that everyone’s situation is not the same, I only ask that they respect mine. Yeah, not so much. I did my best to keep my gear sealed up tight, but it was akin to fighting the tide.

Side Trips

On the way down to Albuquerque, we made two real side trips and one minor one. The first was a scant ride over to an abandoned water park outside of Yermo, CA. The second, a three and a half hour drive from AZ to Utah, up to Monument Valley that would push my tolerance to its limits. It would be the first of two times it would happen on this trip.

Yermo, CA – Abandoned Water Park

Decay
Abandoned Water Park

Barry and Tod had been talking about this place since Vegas. It’s just off The 15 near Yermo, CA. I was hoping for a bit more urban decay than I got, but it is still an amazing site for shooting photos. I would love to get some people and models together and go back and do a proper shoot. This trip was mostly exploratory for me, but I did manage to get some fun shots in. I have a much better idea about the site now and will definitely be returning.

Ok, that is enough TL:DR for now. Part 2 will be inbound shortly.

And the worst part is…

This update is really just a collection of half-written posts and notes from the past week or so. It happens from time to time. I just get too busy to put together anything of significant length, add photos, etc.

BTSOE 2011: Heather Conlin

10/03/11:
And now.

It’s been a hell of a weekend. Well, it’s been more than that. It’s been surreal, strange, heartbreaking, exhilarating, disappointing, and everything in between. I’m standing on a precipice that represents a great many things. My professional career is headed to a place I didn’t anticipate. Ok, that’s not totally true. I’m well aware of my skillset. I know how to use the tools I have and I certainly know how to adapt and pick up more. There is very little that is beyond me, or that escapes me. When I made the decision to alter my career path I knew that it would just take hard work to get to where I wanted it to be. I knew what I had to do, the pieces that were in play. It’s really just a matter of motivation. As a good friend told me recently “I don’t know what it is about you, it’s like you’re a weird nexus of opportunity. It comes looking for you, it finds you and it’s like you don’t even have to try.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. I suppose in a way it is true, but it is also because I leave myself open to those possibilities. I don’t always capitalize on them. I don’t grind everyone down, tooth and nail, to wring every possible outcome out of them, I kind of just make myself available and see what happens.

Paris

In the six months or so though, I stopped doing that a bit. Especially with people. I stopped making myself so available. I stopped just “seeing what happens” and devoted myself to going after what it is I really wanted. It was a huge shift in how I approach people. I let my guard down, gave up my armor, and showed someone who I really was underneath all that. Unfortunately, I now stand alone without that armor. I’ve been told I’m not allowed to put it back on. That I can’t live life like that. I’m not so sure. It’s devastation and reform, but every time you have to rebuild, you just become more and more of a shell of what you had when you started. It’s extra-ordinarily demotivating.

10/04/11:

Friends

The truth of the matter is, I’ve been a photographer for as long as I can remember. My grandfather, and his daughter, my mother, were and are passionate about photography and it’s role in our lives. I grew up around cameras. As I got older, I was always the person in my circle of friends with a camera. I used to keep Kodak disposables everywhere, always ready to capture our antics. I took photography courses in high school and learned the basics of not just photography, but also how to use a dark room to process film.

The first time things really changed though, was in 2001. I bought my first digital camera, an Olympus Camedia C-700. Though archaic by today’s standards, it opened up a whole new world for me. A couple years earlier, I’d started using Adobe Photoshop 5.5 to create graphics for my websites and to mess around with scanned photos. This new ability to have an all digital workflow drastically changed how I approached photography and the artistry photographic manipulation. From that point on, I was never without a digital camera.

This convergence of passions; photography, computers, technology, and creativity started to lead me into totally new directions. The power of these combined things enabled me to truly immerse myself in the mediums and really explore possibilities.

Los Angeles

10/05/11:

It’s a cold night in Hollywood, for the second night in a row. I can see my own breath, but then again that may be due in no small part to the hot grande Pike w/ vanilla I’m drinking right now. I’m sitting outside in the West Hollywood Gateway Plaza. There is a waterfall behind me and it reminds me of Mexico so many months ago. My netbook clock says it’s 9 hours ahead of the correct time, which makes me realize I haven’t opened it since Paris. This city, Los Angeles, seems to never change. Neither do the people in it. I was discussing with my brother how New York City is always changing and if you can’t keep pace, it will mercilessly chew you up and spit you out. NYC will not wait for you, ever. Los Angeles never seems to change. It’s like a byproduct of the insincerity that underscores the people who live here. Millions of people forced to cling to fake lives, just to survive. No wonder it, or they, will never change.

I was standing outside Angels & Kings a few nights ago and I witnessed the following scene.

A guy grabs a girl by the shoulders and looks right at her. “No, really, I think you are great.” He then turned to his friend standing next to him and said “Psstt, not really, I fucking hate her.” He then looked back to the girl and said “That is LA. Here’s what New York is like’” Same motions, grabbing her by the shoulders, looking into her eyes, and saying “I really fucking hate you.”

I laughed.

Steve Jobs. That is a post for another time. His death has affected me much more than I thought it would.

There is lots more going on, but that’s all I have time for at the moment.

What forever means…

At this time last week I was preparing to leave Paris, FR, after 3.5 amazing months there.

At this time this week I am in Seattle, WA preparing to spin after having spun my final set at BedlamBedlam, a new store opened by one of my close friends, Suki Valentine and her husband, Shea.

Shea and Suki
Shea and Suki

I flew in to not just DJ the premiere weekend events, but also to assist with the actual store production in it’s final days leading up to the grand opening. It was a mad rush right up to the very last second, but that kind of executional environment happens to be a specialty of mine. I operate very well under pressure and the diversity of my experience means that there wasn’t a single task I couldn’t take on. Everything from electrical work, vinyl cutting and application, construction/carpentry, A/V, merchandising, social media roll-out, etc, the works, you name it. It was nice to put all those skills to use again and to know I’m as sharp and well versed as ever. Helping my friends is the best possible cause so I was glad I was able to put my skillset to use for that purpose.

Vinyl Cutting
Vinyl Cutting

On top of the production work, I’ve also spun a series of live sets for in-store events, created epic playlists for the store, and photographed the goings on (simultaneously DJing and photographic events is not easy, heh). It’s been a strange amalgamation of my past and my present. When I was originally asked to DJ for the store events, including a fashion show, I thought it might be a joke. It had been nearly decade since I was behind decks, during a time in my life that was a million miles from where I am now. The technology has changed dramatically (I used to record my sets on long-play cassettes) so it was a bit of a challenge to do everything digitally from scratch (no pun intended), but I pulled it all off in a pretty spectacular fashion and added a lot of new tools and techniques to my audio arsenal in the process. My musical taste has certainly changed since that time too, well, “expanded” I should say. That proved to be a bit of a double-edged sword.

Taking it all in.
Taking it all in.

It is unfortunately, painfully, obvious that I am just not part of this subculture any more (something I also experienced with the hardcore videogame culture in my last job). I’ve evolved as a person and while I still retain aspects of the subculture as part of myself, I’m certainly much broader in scope as an individual than can be associated with any one particular group. Yes, I’m of course connected through the music, in a way, but I’ve found that as I have changed, and that which I introduce those changes, it’s not often met with a sense of acceptance, especially when applied to something as rigid as a specific subculture. The image is rooted in tradition, no matter how “anti-traditional” the image is. People want what they are familiar with and straying from that, even into a space that is more authentic or situationally suited for the environment, tends to incite conflict. I’m not saying I’m some progressive or creative genius or anything like that, just that I try to encourage the evolution of all things. To be open to the possibilities that something unknown can work within the context of what you are familiar with. As an example, here’s a small sampling of the tracks I used for the BedlamBedlam reception set I mixed.

Satan (Live from Irvine) – Orbital
Still – Neotropic
Radio Babylon – Meat Beat Manifesto
Moya (7″) – Southern Death Cult
Ostia (The Death of Pasolini) – Coil
Papua New Guinea – The Future Sound of London
Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron
Ballad of a Paralyzed Citizen – The Faint
Chainsaw (Josh Wink Remix) – Skinny Puppy
Stopwatch Hearts – Delerium
You Can’t Go Home Again – DJ Shadow

I was asked to keep it generally down-tempo and low-key. This was a reception, not a dance party. I was billed as spinning Trip-Hop, Ambient, and Darkwave, and while I am familiar with all those styles of music, I am not really devoted to any one of them. Now, a lot of those tracks above are not any of those three styles of music, but when well sampled and mixed, they work into a marvelous dark electro-ambient landscape. More-so, each track was explicitly, deliberately, chosen for personal significance to the people in attendance. The opening sample in the live version of “Satan” is something Suki and I still reference to this day. “Assimilate” is an industrial classic and a staple of my old sets, the remix I used for this set fit the event but still was able to call back to those days. “Destroy Everything You Touch” is one of Suki’s favorite tracks. “You Can’t Go Home Again“, well, I’m sure by now you can guess why I put that in there. I can go on and on, but you get the idea. The entire experience was designed to have significance, even if it didn’t fit exactly into the genre scope I was assigned. To me, that is the essence of producing a meaningful set/event/photo/etc. A personal connection trumps guideline/genre confinement, especially when you can still operate within the boundaries of the theme. That is what having passion about something is. Well, to me anyway.

Stopwatch Heart.
Stopwatch Heart.

My in-store sets have been much different. Crazy uptempo, epic, sprawling, sets full of old and new. Although the store’s theme is “Goth” (which also usually bends backwards into 80’s, New Wave, and Post-Punk) I’ve been straying far more into Industrial, EBM, Synth, Electro, and even a bit of Metal. As it is, I’ve been banned from mixing The Misfits into my sets and that is extra-ordinarily disheartening to me. I’ve caught some flack for some of my choices (Southern Death Cult is ok, The Cult is not.) and some I’ve been able to sneak under the radar because they fit so well (Devils Never Cry, Bloody Tears) and I know how to mix them. Pushing boundaries like that was one of the reasons I was originally noticed and picked up by Nintendo (mixing classic Nintendo tracks into my cool-down sets). Pushing those limitations is progress and imagination.

BedlamBedlam promo
BedlamBedlam promo

In any case, it’s been an experience. Originally I was going to make Seattle my base of operations for a while. The start-up scene, tech industry, and creative environment are very strong here and there is a lot of great job potential. Unfortunately, the housing situation that was proposed to me did not manifest as planned and, well, I kind of need one of two things to get the ball rolling in most places. A place to live or a well paying gig. With one, the other can usually be secured very quickly. Without either, being particularly effective at anything becomes a challenge. So, with that, it’s time to move on. I definitely still feel that there is potential here though. I’ve made some amazing contacts across all different kinds of industries and I could probably integrate very quickly here, but now is just not the time. It’s been a good lesson in saying “No.” and understanding what I don’t want. Both of those being kind of opposite scenarios for me. The former in that I’m not going to just be ambivalent about things and the latter in the way that I do have such a better idea about what I want in my life, especially after Paris.

Lights Out
Lights Out

During the reception one of Suki’s closest friends asked me if I live in my own “Kyle World”. I asked her what she meant (I’m not fond of that phrase) and she clarified. She said that it seemed like I didn’t quite fit into any of the traditional group dynamics around me, especially for the store. That I seem to live outside of my given environment, observing or affecting it externally via my photography, music, work ethic, etc, but never becoming an actual part of it.

It was an interesting observation. In a way it’s true, given my natural adaptability and ability to play a role that is needed while still holding on to some base element of myself. Maybe I’m out of practice after Paris, where I was just able to be myself 95% of the time.

In exchange for a smile.

Self Portrait: Paris
Self Portrait: Paris

And so, here we are. My last week in Paris. So much has changed since even my last entry. Well, that was 21 days ago so I guess that makes sense. 3 weeks ago I moved from my original apartment, which I’d only rented for 2 months, to an amazing place on Île Saint-Louis. I wake up to the bells of Notre Dame now.

As you might imagine, I am not ready to leave this city (again). Let’s be honest here, the good ol’ US of A has seen better days. Every time I read news about the states it seems dire, for all kinds of crazy reasons. Now, I’m not saying France is in any kind of uniquely spectacular condition but if I’m going to call a place home in the middle of all these global financial crises, it might as well be somewhere I enjoy. I’ve come to love the people here, friends I’ve made, I love the opportunities this city presents (it really is an artists wonderland) and what the city itself represents. I love that as I continue to travel, I can do so from here much more easily than from the US (“travel” meaning “outside of the US”, I’ve seen 95% of America already). I have met some amazing people here and I want to meet more. I’ve integrated into this city well already, but it really is a place I feel I could be a part of.

Sure, I didn’t get a chance to do or see everything I wanted to. That is of course contributing to not wanting to leave. There are things I can easily do back in the states vs. here, of course, and some I cannot. I am excited about a lot of things I’ll be headed back to as well. I haven’t seen a lot of my friends in a long time. I’m going to be helping friends open up an amazing store in Seattle as well as guest DJing a few sets in the same city. Talk about nostalgia (I was a club DJ in NYC back in the late 90’s). I’ve been asked to shoot my best friend’s engagement photos in Santa Cruz. I’m meeting with a great friend and amazing photographer in LA about more photography work. I’ll be passing through NYC and Boston as well, and who knows where else beyond that.

Thinking about it that way makes it all sound like an adventure, and it is! It also means I’m going to be transient again. It means jumping back into the battle. It means a lot of stress and fighting and figuring out things day to day again. If there is anything I’ve left behind in my time here is Paris, it is my desire to go back to living like that.

There Is A Man With A Newspaper
There Is A Man With A Newspaper

It’s not that I can’t, or won’t, of course. I’m as adaptable as ever. I can and will make work what I need to make work. That’s just the way I am. There is something different though. Something that has changed. I’ve mentioned it before, it’s simply wanting to be where I am. It’s being in a place where I feel at home, supported. A place I care about. A place that frees me up to put my mind on other things. When I don’t have to constantly worry about where I am going to be next I see myself open up to so much more.

Plus, you know, I’m getting too old for all this. Ha!

I am much more complete from my time here. I have a much clearer direction about what it is I want, who I want to be, who I want to be with, and where I want to be. On one hand I feel energized, excited to put myself into practice, on the other I know leaving Paris leaves a lot of unknowns and I don’t like that.

You’re waiting for a train. A train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you. But you can’t know for sure. Yet it doesn’t matter. Now, tell me why?

I’ve had a hundred conversations in my head lately, but none that I can remember enough to put down here. I still stand by the idea that as soon as I can directly write via my thoughts on long, night time, walks this website will be a content powerhouse.

From a dream.
From a dream.

It’s easier to leave than be left behind, I suppose.

Well, that’s all for now. This post has been sitting as a draft for almost a week now. My Paris galleries will keep expanding even after I leave. I have a lot of photos from this particular adventure, eventually they will all be in these galleries. My time here has been too important for them not to be.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157627115150401″]

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157626737600553″]

Delays…

Even in the course of writing just this, I’ve delayed by three days. I’m now only putting this here for the sake of actually posting something.

It’s been a while. Not so much in terms of chronology, especially given this particular website, but more-so that so much has happened in that time. It’s also certainly not for a lack of anything to write, given that I’m sitting on about a dozen half finished posts about twice as many topics (though curiously, nearly all written on a train of some sort).
Self Portrait: Flash IIHere are some of those excerpts, just for posterity’s sake.

It’s becoming painfully obvious that I’m living a bit outside my means. Not financially, mind you, not at all, but more-so in a personal sense. I seem to have woven a complicated web of emotional entanglements and poorly defined relationships recently. Well, maybe not so much recently, but lately they seem to be coming dangerously close to crossing over, or worse, colliding (I use “worse” loosely, see below).

The worst part about all this really is the level of detachment I’m develoing alongside the intense levels of distress certain aspects are causing me. This is what I mean by “living outside of my means”. My highs and lows have been much more intense, ranging far outside what I consider to be my usual parameters.

And there is a good reason I will always consider myself the villain.

I do my sincere best to do the right thing. Probably to a fault, since often times I will undertake a course of action that leads me to do what I think is the right thing for other people and not just myself. I don’t do this out of ego (maybe a lie), or at least I don’t think I do (a lie, sometimes I do), I just usually want to see people happy, despite my own outcome. A lot of times the protection of that happiness means obfuscating the truth of something to preserve a fragile balance.

I never tell people the whole story. Well, that’s not true. I’ve told one person, a person who does the same for me. A person who was, is, worth the risk of standing exposed in front of. Without my armor. Without my safeguards against the world. She knows more about me that anyone else alive. She has my secrets in her hand. She is the only person who is not part of my overwhelmingly obsessive need to compartmentalize the people in my life. She stands above that. I should say she floats above that. To me she is an angel. She argues otherwise. It’s a semantic argument about perfection. But now I’m getting off course. Suffice to say, she is perfect to me.

Well, it’s now been 8 days since I wrote the above. I once again find myself on a train (a common theme around these parts), exhausted (I got about an hour of sleep last night), on my way back to Boston from NYC. The paragraph above was originally followed but an outline regarding trust, but it’s not really relevant any more. Suffice to say, above all things, sometimes you share a connection with a person that is simply too strong, too amazing, to really even be able to articulate in text.

In any case… (I have a brutal headache at the moment, which is rare for me.)

Angels Ritual: IAt the moment I’m in the process of, what has humorously becomes known as, buttoning things up in my life. At the moment it’s mostly just fulfilling the last of certain obligations. Some I’m just barely squeaking by, others I’m finalizing down to a T. I’m not sure which this post attempt will become. I know I’m going to stop writing this at some point before I finish and then I’m just going to have one giant post made up of other unfinished posts and that is just far too much quoting for me to deal with.

So, I decided to resign from my position of Event Specialist at Harmonix Music Systems. There is a laundry list of reasons, but let’s stick with “it just wasn’t a good fit”. It’s kind of a shame too, because I really do believe in this company and its games. Unfortunately, there just isn’t place for me there anymore. I’m not sure how I really feel about it, to be honest. The more I shift back into my freelance mindset the more I realize it was the correct decision. I had compromised a lot of personal and professional values for the job because I loved the work. As the work started to slide away, those sacrifices and compromises started to tip the balance in the other direction. I need to feel challenged, pushed, by my work. I need to be moving forward, learning new things, and testing myself. I had high hopes for the job as a potential career path but hey, things don’t always go to plan. My plans are adaptable though. Sometimes, it’s just time to move on. It was a decent year.
Troy's GlassesOf course, in a manner of speaking, that puts me on the road again. Well, makes me transient again anyway. It’s much more a lifestyle I’m accustomed to. The difference this time is that it’s not an end based on means, which is kind of how it’s always been for me (queue Wherever I May Roam). I actually have some goals set, things I want to do, places I want to see, and a person I want more than anything to be with. I’ve gained a bit of clarity on my own timeline, which is something I’ve never really had, and now I need to apply what I’ve made a living doing to my personal life: Meticulous Execution.

I’d be lying if I said I had a rock solid plan but, like I mentioned before, my plans are adaptable. Certain aspects of this plan though, are most definitely not. I suppose those are the goals. I have a path though, and waypoints along the path, so what matters now is how I walk that path.
That's the idea...So, in the meantime, there are places you can expect to find me in the next few months that do not include Cambridge, MA. At any given point you can expect to find me in: Paris, Los Angeles, Prague, New York City, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Rome, Vancouver, Santa Cruz, and/or London. Nothing is definite except for the fact that home has nothing to do with where I am and everything to do with who is standing beside me.

If you are even aware of this website’s existence, there is a good chance I may be in touch with you as part of a project I’m working on.
Reach.

It seems I've waited years for this day to end.