Somewhere Else To Be

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INT. STARBUCKS – SEBASTOPOL, CA – EARLY AFTERNOON

A man in his early 30’s is sitting in the back corner of the café, staring at his computer screen while sipping coffee. He has headphones in and is fading between where the music takes him and where he is at the moment. It’s obvious he’s been there a while (banana peel, napkin, empty sandwich bag) and is struggling with what he’s trying to write. This is because he’s trying to write about where he is, and he’s not even sure how he got there.

Well, that’s kind of a lie. I know exactly how I got here, but to get into it is to recap the entirety of 2012. Fortunately, that’s what this post is for.

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What You’ve Always Done

I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon; and here at last, I discover a strange truth.

It’s time for me to step back again, my friends. The path of slow, steady, decline I’ve been on these past couple years is simply not sustainable. It’s not to say that all my decisions have been poor, or that good times were not had but, currently, I’m in a place I never, ever, wanted to find myself back in. The situation is not good for me, and it’s especially not for those close to me. My actions, and lack thereof, have lead me here and it’s now my responsibility to make things right. I am sincerely sorry for the hurt and heartache I know I’ve caused.

So with that, I’m getting on a plane (in fact, when this posts, I’ll already be on one) and falling off the grid for a few weeks, at least, starting today. I’ll pop up now and then, here and there, but for the most part I’ll be without my computer, the internet, and, most likely, my phone. My first step is to break my dependence on hyperconnectivity, re-inject some mystery, and rekindle my wanderlust. I have got to stop filling up who I am with the lives, hopes, and dreams of others. I have got to start doing something differently or the cycle I’m in is never going to end.

Maybe it won’t work and that’s just not who I am, but I have to try.

Full of Fire and Mystery

It's only when I lose myself

South Carolina. Not exciting, but occasionally beautiful.

Although I am finding myself not particularly fond of the South, the light does fall here a bit differently from the North. For the first time since Paris I’ve also noticed the clouds conspiring to compose stunning, brilliant, skyscapes. It’s hard to compare though, since Paris has a way of caressing your soul into such a state of bliss the way no other city I’ve ever experienced can. You become aware of each waking moment so much more intimately. It’s such a strange sensation of euphoric, aimless, wandering and intense attention to all the details occurring around you. Speaking of Paris, a photograph I took there was just featured in a CNN.com special report about the city. You can find that here (#4). I’m working on some more projects, which is proving interesting because I can actually observe my photography and associated skills improving, especially my proficiency with Lightroom 4. Last year I attempted some photographic pursuits that were a bit out of my league. I’m slowly setting into styles and techniques that are coming to define my work. Something I’m planning to continue into this year, but a bit buffered by the realization that to truly shoot in the style I find most compelling and beautiful, I really need to move to either full frame or medium format. I know the Canon 5D Mk.III/X is so close and I’m doing my best to wait patiently for it.

MB - Faded Memories II
MB - Faded Memories II

Fun fact: My natural reaction to overwhelming external oppression is to fight back and persevere no matter the cost. I do not concede easily, if ever, and typically face severe challenges with a determination unbound, if for no other reason than to see how much I can take. To find the breaking point that always seems to elude me.

Fun fact: My natural reaction to overwhelming internal depression is to escape. Not so much to run away from it, but to leave, to wander, and to isolate myself. I usually use this time to plummet into the depths of why I’m feeling that way. To immerse myself in all that is with the belief that by experiencing those things their most raw, most consuming form, I can decipher the “why” and climb back out stronger than before. It doesn’t impact my ability to function, but it does change my demeanor. These are the times when I am most focused on escaping and either being alone, or surrounded by people I do not know, and who do not know me. This has been one of the underlying motivations behind my endless wandering for a long time. It is a part of that search. That’s probably why my sense of “home” starts to develop when I’m generally feeling pretty good about things. Those two feelings are just tied together in me. That’s also why “home” isn’t any particular, physical, destination for me.

This creates an interesting conundrum in the modern, networked, world. Not so much in the way that it’s difficult to disconnect, but more that in doing so you risk falling so far behind the rest of the world. I suppose for a while that’s fine if the internet is not something you, and I hesitate to use this word, rely on, but for the contemporary wired world just a few days out of action can have far reaching consequences. So the question starts to become “How do you step out of the stream without surrendering the necessary momentum?” As someone with extensive social media connections, it’s become an important consideration. Then again, it could just be a skewed sense of connectivity, but at the pace our world moves now-a-days disappearing from social outlets is a quick way to obscurity. In my line of work, especially at the start of a new business venture, vanishing from social outlets is tantamount to a digital death sentence.

JM - Faded Memories
JM - Faded Memories

Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea. It’s tough to justify dropping off The Grid when that same system provides so many vital resources for successful ventures. So this is the current crossroads. In the past few months I’ve felt that pull to “escape” more strongly than I ever have, but given the current trajectory I’m on I can’t really afford to back off if I want this whole thing to succeed. Well, at least as I see it. I mean, I could be totally wrong and vanishing from the world to wander the far east or criss-cross the country on a motorcycle, disconnected from everything, may prove to be exactly what I need. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to Paris.

In the meantime, there is plenty of external work to keep me busy, things are looking up in that regard. I wonder though if I keep sidelining and chipping at the internal rather than just “reset” it like I usually do, that it’s going to just build up. Of course, this is not taking into consideration the idea that it can all be defused by a totally different scenario, but that in an of itself it a totally different topic.

Did I need to sell my soul
For pleasure like this
Did I have to lose control
To treasure your kiss
Did I need to place my heart
In the palm of your hand
Before I could even start
To understand

Far, The Wind It Will Take Me

Coming Home
I'm Here

The phrase, as it goes, is “No reason to stay is a good reason to go.” and, well, I’ve once again run out of reasons to stay. I had a handful goals in mind when I got back to Massachusetts, my reasons for being here, and while I didn’t quite get them all in order, they’re in decent enough shape for me to move on for the time being. Shadows from the last year are still drawn a bit too long and as much as I’d like to just be through with them, I’m not. So, I’ll do what I always do and keep searching for some place new.

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Stopwatch Heart

Cambridge
Parks

It’s 2:00AM on Saturday morning as I started writing this. I’m sitting on a few drafts of posts; Part 2 of Playing With Power (Part 1), Part 3 of The Eyes Of Disarray, (Part 1, Part 2) along with one of my infamous compilation posts covering a huge range of topics. Per usual, I’m writing and creating faster than I can draft so instead of firing out updates here on a regular, almost daily, basis, I tend to just collect them until I can sit down and get them all ready for posting. Ideas usually come to me hard and fast, followed by short stretches of intense inspiration, and if I don’t capitalize on the moment they all just get backlogged until I get that next wind.

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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?

Your smile is a thin disguise.

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

I’ve been sitting on a huge post draft that goes through all the crazy travel I’ve been doing recently. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Santa Cruz, Albuquerque, and back again. I’m currently on the road back to Santa Cruz. I’ll recoup there for a few days and decide where to next.

Unexpected Places
Unexpected Places

Part of that post was devoted to my recent trek to Albuquerque, NM from Santa Cruz, CA via RV, to shoot photos for Rock The Ink 2011 and then back again. It’s been a trying experience on more than one level, far more so than any tour I’ve ever been on, regardless of duration or circumstance. I’ve been on some pretty bad tours too.

The Road
The Road

The biggest part of this whole experience has been further confirmation that my personal and professional values just do not align with the vast majority of people I interact with. I find myself constantly at odds with how people function and the choices they make. Their conduct. I’m not saying that they are right or wrong, just that they do not ever seem to agree with my own. I always do my best to maintain a strict sense of professionalism and respect. In any given scenario my tendency to overthink means that I constantly considering the consequences of my actions and behavior. I tend to err on the side of caution. I stay quiet and focused. I set parameters and do not stray outside of them for a given task (though I, of course, always remain adaptable to any situation). This usually results in people saying that I am “too serious” or “too intense” and that I should “lighten up” or “relax”. It is very rare that I am around people who work on the same level that I do, who will take things seriously. To me, that is professionalism (Note: It is possible to enjoy your work and still be serious about it. You can have fun while working. It’s a matter of retaining focus on the job at hand). On a personal level, it means that my default is to always consider the effects of my actions and choices. I typically will not cross boundaries that I feel could be potentially disrespectful, regardless of my personal preferences. As I said, I tend to always err on the side of caution.

The Road
The Road

I’ve found that a lot of people do not. The try to force attention to themselves, or are concerned only with their own personal preferences. I’ve also found that these same people nearly always feel that their “way” is the “best” or “how things should be” without consideration for others. It is especially bad when people aren’t even self aware enough to recognize that in themselves. This leads to the aforementioned “too serious” style comments. It’s easy to see where this is going. Given that my personal values hardly ever align with those of others and the fact that 95% of people I find myself around are focused solely on their own, it creating increasingly uncomfortable, difficult, and frustrating situations. It makes working difficult and that feeds into a vicious cycle of not being able to enjoy my work, so I have to focus more on the serious side in order to produce the results I want. This feeds back into me seeming like I am incapable of having fun or enjoying what I am doing.

The Road
The Road

I once read that you should always strive to team up with people who are your general equal. If the other person is more skilled than you, they don’t need you. If you are more skilled, you don’t need them. Granted, people possess different skill sets, so it’s really a sense of “equality” across the board. You’d never learn anything new otherwise. I’ve heard this same concept applied to relationships, but that’s a conversation for a different time.

The Road
The Road

This trip also highlighted that I just don’t get people sometimes. Well, when it comes to personal interactions anyway. Observationally, I am very skilled at deciphering people and their motivations. I generally understand people and how they work. As soon as the interactions turn personal though (beyond general formalities), I find myself not sure how to react. It’s not that I have expectations; I just can’t always correctly interpret people’s actions or intentions towards me. Since I always side with caution, I think people understand that as disinterest, which usually is not the case. I am constantly entertaining dozens and dozens of options/actions and their implications (this was previously outlined in a post about my natural ability to see “avenues of possible outcomes”, the ability to easily anticipate people’s reactions). Without a clear understanding of intention though, I’m never sure what course of action to follow. I hate feeling like I am “overstepping boundaries”. I’ve been told that this is a somewhat unfair strategy, since my actions/reactions are required to confirm intention. The idea of misreading someone’s intention stops me in my tracks though. I’d rather politely do nothing. Something to work on I suppose.

The Road
The Road

Another trend I’ve noticed recently is people abruptly ending conversations. This is especially true lately in digital communications. Email, text, IM, etc. A conversation will start, questions, answers, general talking and then it’s like the person at the other end just walks in the middle of it without any kind of warning. Now, I of course understand that people are busy, and have lives, get distracted, have things come up, but it’s been unusually prevalent lately. People dodging questions has been common lately too.

So anyway, travel recap on the way.

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.

Contact Defect

Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Boardwalk

I just recently plugged nearly 500 old posts from IAM into this site’s timeline. It is the only other real place that I have published a significant body of content. IAM is a subsection of BME, the Body Modification Ezine, a private community for people interested in tattoos, piercing, etc. I was originally invited by my best friend, Stephen, in 2002, and since then I’ve used it to varying degrees as a secondary journal. It used it a lot during the transition phases of this site, when posting wasn’t push-button like it is now. It was an easier way to keep notes and tabs on what was going in my life and connect with critical people, especially while I was touring. Recently IAM has gone through a massive overhaul. It was floundering badly in the face of the rise of social media sites like Facebook and it really needed an injection of modernization. Unfortunately what it go was some bad plastic surgery. The site is mess now. Tons of basic features are missing, lifetimes of connections were stripped away, and the overall UI is just a disaster. I don’t anticipate it lasting much longer as it’s userbase flees, so I just sat down and took the time to liberate all my old posts before they vanish forever. A lot of the best interactions on IAM took place in the comments though. I’m still working on getting those ported over.

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz

The real question though, I suppose, is “Why?” Why bear all that? Why make all that information available? Well, first off I didn’t drop them all in here. IAM existed before Twitter and Facebook, so a lot of the posts are akin to statue updates or tweets. There is no point in adding those kinds of posts. That would be like trying to consolidate that kind of social media into my post timeline here. It’s pointless. Anyway. I couldn’t really tell you why. A lot of it represents my raw opinions, but it is also an amazing chronology, especially of my touring years. There is still a lot of clean up to do around here, but part of rebuilding this space was finally consolidating all the weird, satellite, material I have floating around out there on the web. I actually learned a hard lesson when AOL Hometown (shut up) vanished since I was using it to host a lot of material. Photos, writing, docs, etc. I don’t want that happening again. I plan on using this site as more of a hubspace now, as I slowly start to link everything together. Flickr already hosts the images for this site, and is linked to my Tumblr, which I use as kind of a lightweight version this site. My tweets are there on the right and I’m working on Google+ integration. Google+ already aggregates my Flickr, Twitter, Reader, and YouTube. I tend to keep Facebook isolated and wrestle all the time with the idea of just stripping everything out of it and leaving it as an empty shell.

Bridge
Bridge

The simple fact of the matter is that we’ve come to live in a social world. Very little is private anymore, (not that it every really was) and what is private is always at risk of not being due to the ease of publishing information in a public space. I’d rather have control of it all here than out in the æther. This is especially true with Facebook and Google+. More so Facebook since they are so prone to up and changing their security settings and constantly make security and control more and more convoluted and complicated for users. It’s turning into an ADD nightmare and trying to keep it reigned in is getting more and more difficult.

This is also an expansion of the balance I’ve been working towards in my life. There is a massive amount of content out there, best to have it filtered personally here, especially as my perspectives change. I made a choice a long time ago to control this website, to publish personal material, and to have it be part of my life. This was long before words like “blog” even existed. There was no “social media”. The Independent Web was an experiment to see if private content producers could hold their own. To see if it was possible for a person to run a website, rather than a corporation. It sounds silly now, but back then it was a new frontier. It took a unique kind of person to do that, I suppose. I guess I was one of them.

We all grow up though. Most of the IW abandoned their sites, or have since converted them to push-button publishing. Even I have converted this site to WordPress, though heavily customized, which I kind of see as a betrayal of those early days. I’ve come to accept it as progress though. New tools to keep track of all the data that is flying around there now.

Meanwhile, I’m still in LA, hanging out with superstar professional photographer Michelle Star. There was an epic 13 hour shoot a few days ago that ended in a huge house party. Good times. The Hollywood Waste shoot is this Friday, with two more on the horizon. It’s been an… interesting time so far.

La Brea & Santa Monica
La Brea & Santa Monica

I’ve spent some time with my brother, Marc, who lives here in LA. We’ve had dinner twice and saw Moneyball. We talked potential work here in LA and he has some people he wants me to talk to, so that is pretty cool. It’s nice that the older we get, the more civil and brotherly we actually are. We have a mutual respect for each others lives.

This whole trip, since I’ve returned to the US, has been pretty interesting. I’ve garnered a lot of insight into how I feel the need to live my life own by experiencing the priorities and value of others. It seems especially… intense, given the time I spent in Paris, where I experienced a lot of what I know I want my life to include and be. I feel like a lot of my personal values solidified there, a lot of my wants and needs became very clear to me. Experiencing the values and lifestyles of others has only strengthened my personal convictions.

There are a lot of opportunities currently on the table, lots of potential directions. It’s going to be interesting how things turn out over the next week or so.