The afterglow of pure resplendence…

There is a story here.
There is a story here.

Santa Cruz, California. A city of particular significance for me for more than one reason and a unique place unto itself, not really like any other I know. That became even more apparent when I went to name the Flickr Set “Santa Cruz: Street” and realized that there isn’t really any actual… street. It might be time to overhaul those sets into more all encompassing titles. Nearly all my shooting here has been on the beaches, although I plan on heading over to the boardwalk before I leave. I’ve only been here about a week, but I’ll be gone before the weekend. There’s only a short time to finish up what I want to do here. But, the people here are great. I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with strangers about all sorts of things. People always seem quick with a smile, a wave, or a hello. Reminds me a bit of Hawaii, but I think that’s just surf/beach culture in general. It’s been nice.

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz

The one thing that won’t include though is what I originally came here to shoot, which were engagement photos for my best friend. Yes, he’s still engaged, and to a marvelous woman at that. The timing just isn’t right. They have a TON of stuff going on and since they weren’t really planning on engagement photos to begin with, they’re not exactly high priority at the moment. No worries though, the wedding is still a year out and that is the far more important matter. Besides, I won’t be anywhere far enough away to not make it back here whenever I’m needed… well, as far as I know. I still have my eyes on Everest.

It's a big ocean.
It's a big ocean.

I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations recently with folks I didn’t really expect to have them with. I’ve been feeling distanced from people recently just due to personal growth, unfortunate circumstances, and a couple other random things, so it’s always a unique change of pace to talk with people outside my usual circles. One of the topics of conversation that came up was the act of holding on to other people’s secrets, people who keep secrets in general, and general levels of trust. Everyone hides something (that’s no secret, ha!), but it’s always interesting to see who entrusts who with what, and why. I am the bearer of many secrets for my friends and I take that responsibility very seriously. As do I also know the same of those I have entrusted with mine. Later on, I proposed the idea of a relationship where-in no secrets are kept, but that idea was shot down pretty quickly. I maintain that it is possible, but there has to be a level of trust that a lot of people are not capable of. There was a brief discussion about the semantics of “keeping a secret” and “selectively omitting information”. Things can get convoluted pretty quickly, which is why I think most people avoid talking about it in the first place. The elements of risk and danger involved can be overwhelming sometimes.

Everyone has a little secret he keeps… – MC 900ft. Jesus

What is a man but a miserable little pile of secrets! – Vlad Tepes Dracula

I will say, though, that I am exceptionally lucky to have someone I do not have to, and don’t, keep secrets from and can trust with mine. That is extra-ordinarily rare to find in a person.

Waiting for the right moment.
Waiting for the right moment.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently and am still finding myself distracted and generally uneasy. The sleep thing doesn’t really bother me, since I’ve always fought with insomnia and am perfectly capable of running on very little sleep.

Another unfamiliar ceiling – Shinji Ikari

Well, that’s all for Part 1 of Santa Cruz. I’ve been up all night and I should really try and get a little sleep. It’s been productive insomnia though, so that’s good news.

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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.

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Paris: Bastille Day

Paris: Bastille Day - Parade
Paris: Bastille Day - Parade

Just a gallery post about photographing the Bastille Day Military Parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris and Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (The White Picnic) at The Palace of Versailles.

The Parade shots aren’t really the parade so much as they are leading up to the parade. We were there really early and decided to not get caught up in the massive crowd that was forming. We got our shots and decided to head to Versailles instead, as to not be late for The White Picnic. Those shots are coming soon.

Equipment Notes:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 60D
  • Lens: Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
  • Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM

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Paris: Comic Con 2011

Paris: Comic Con / Japan Expo 2011
Paris: Comic Con / Japan Expo 2011

So, I went to the 2011 Paris Comic Con/Japan Expo.  It’s essentially the same as San Diego Comic Con, only 90% of the attendees speak French, there is a strange obsession with One Piece, and everyone is hopped up on Coke Zero.

Also like SDCC, it’s pretty much impossible to find and actual comic books. Tons and tons of manga in the Japan Expo side, but nearly all the floor space of the “comic” area was dominated by video games. The only place I found real, actual, comic books was in Artists Alley, which was more like “Artists Island”, a tiny flotilla made up of folding tables floating off to one side of the floor.

In any case, I’ll let the photos tell the tale. You can view them all here, or directly on my Flickr page via this link.

Equipment Notes:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 60D
  • Lens: Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
  • Lens: Canon EF 35mm f/2
  • Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM
  • Flash: Canon Speedlite 320EX
  • Flash: Canon Speedlite 580EX II

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Paris: Gay Pride 2011

Paris: Gay Pride 2011
Paris: Gay Pride 2011

Just a gallery post about my time spent photographing the Paris Gay Pride 2011 free concert in Place de la Bastille. It was madness everywhere, but in the best possible way.

Equipment Notes:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 60D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM
  • Flash: Canon Speedlite 580EX II

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New York: Street Photography

New York City: Street
New York City: Street

I spent a week in New York City (I lived there for 12 years), visiting friends and family. I love wandering the streets and photographing what I happen across. There is no place quite like NYC for pretty much anything, including street photography.

Equipment Notes:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 60D
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM
  • Flash: Canon Speedlite 320EX

 

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