Archive for March, 2008

a challenge

March 31, 2008

bus stop butts

I took this today on my way home. In case you can’t tell, it’s snow. I think it’s the snow that’s been piled since November. This particlar pile is at a bus stop where I waited for a bit today. I wait there quite often.

Today was one of those days I thought would be super productive–but by 2, I was exhausted. I didn’t leave then though. I had office hours and some other things to do. I took the photograph at 5:19. Picture me with a backpack, shiny rainboots, rag wool gloves, a big umbrella I inherited with my office and a large bicycle pump I bought between my office and the bus stop. Can you see it? Can you see the look on my face when I saw the butt-filled snow pile? This picture really does reflect how I felt by the end of the day.

But the picture also indicates something else. I’ve been wanting to take a few more shots. I realized today that I messed up on the dates of some photography classes I was going to take. So I’m on my own a bit here. I need a motivation that involves debt. Here’s the commitment. I’ll take or find a picture each day in April that reflects what I’m feeling, doing, or seeing. Maybe I won’t post each day. But I will get the images and post them all. I’m curious to know what people think. And I’m into fictions of communication.

By the way, I owe this idea to my friend Cecily, who tried it on her site, Such Sweet Hands. There’s a link to the blog portion under “I know people who write stuff.”


Yeah, no kidding

March 31, 2008


no lifeguard

I took these on Saturday. Before I went out, I saw kids in shorts. Pretty much no one was wearing more than a light jacket. People here are aggressive about claiming their spring. Their zeal has a kind of truthiness to it. It was a sunny 40º. It’s going to snow tomorrow, maybe wtih thunder included. What a treat.

I must admit that I really needed the walk. I’ve felt a bit like a hamster on a wheel lately. I’m not hearty enough to go without a jacket, but I could open it a bit and leave my scarf behind.

By the way, the pictures are of a still-icy Lake Mendota. There were a few other people walking around and the deeper water near the shore is not iced over anymore. One guy had dropped a fishing line. Another guy approached me from a different end of the landing. He was a little excited because he had seen an otter. I couldn’t find it. That would have made my day.

The Joys of Endless Winter

March 10, 2008

funny-pictures-angry-cat-snow.jpgIt are snow

Last week I got these from someone who I’m pretty sure actually likes me.  So I hope it’s safe to assume he’s not trying to torment me in any real way. I’m also pretty sure he could not possibly know how often I’ve been in the “You lied to me” mode regarding the weather here. But hey, I’m tougher now–at least physically–though the rest of me is a wreck. Today’s 27º feels balmy.

Does the picture need a story?

March 9, 2008

Elliott’s old house

I knew this house. The porch had rattan furniture with big soft flowered cushions, so soft that my uncle came home late one night to find a neighborhood woman sitting there, enjoying the limited evening breezes. The security door wasn’t there. It had a wooden screen door that made a satisfying knock each time it fell closed. The biggest room in the front of the house was for sewing, this most favored machines being the old pedal-powered black Singers. Spools of thread hung from the walls, but not just small ones like the ones in stores. The living room had flowery furniture on delicate wooden legs. Oh, and there was a parquet floor. The kitchen had a handmade table and bench. Butt grooves were beginning. Upstairs held an always-bright pink room with twin white beds and a dressing table. There was an always dark room with heavy drapes and a big bed. And there was a teeenaged boy’s room with a velvet painting. I think it was a tiger. The stairs creaked.

The lot to the right wasn’t always empty. My sixth-grade classmate, Curtis and his family lived there at one point. I even remember my pre-school classmate Frederick living there with what seemed like an amazing number of brothers and sisters. The lot on the left was empty for longer. My uncle parked his flatbed trucks, which I called “fence trucks” there. In the backyard, I learned how to catch pheasants if I ever needed to hunt for my own food. I saw a German Shepherd named Thor adopt a litter of kittens. Some summers I ran around there nearly every day.

At least a half-dozen of my dreams every year take place there. Often I’m wandering around at night looking in the shadows for someone else and imagining that someone might be watching me from someplace in the neighborhood, but not coming outside to join me. Other times, it’s sunny and bright. I’m approaching the house, but something is not quite right. Sometimes it’s that I have a cell phone and it’s 1978. Sometimes I’m with friends who have never seen this part of my life, no matter how I tried to convey it. Sometimes I’m with childhood versions of acquaintences and friends, while I’m an adult. Then there are the times when I’m walking around in the dark with people I know to be long-dead.

In only one dream do I make it as far as the porch. I can never get back in to the house again.


March 6, 2008

Obey Giant Obama

Thank you Shepard Fairey. I’ve loved you for a long time without ever knowing your name. Madison is all about Obama. But I didn’t come across this picture in the real world. Somehow it came up in my internet wanderings. I recognized the style immediately and flashed back to first seeing the Andre the Giant posters, the ones that said “Andre the Giant has a posse,” in downtown LA when I used to look for abandoned and semi-abandoned buildings to take photos. Several of my friends had or have those graphics on their stuff. They’re the wallpaper on people’s computer screens and phones. Stickers found their way onto all sorts of cases. People always seemed to have cases. As far as I can tell, the only stickers here are bumper stickers. No one bothers the two construction fences in this town. I’ve never lived in a place where people really post no bills.

Imagine my surprise at being made homesick by an Obama poster.

generation gap

March 6, 2008

Shirley Temple

Three of 90 students have seen at least one of her movies.

Perhaps 20 of 90 have heard of her at all.

Teaching a history of images becomes difficult when there is no common ground on anything before 2000.

Fear is powerful.

March 6, 2008

I’m always afraid of what happens if you stage pain for an audience full of people who mostly don’t understand that pain at all. I’m even more worried about things that may make that pain palatable. I’m going to see The Bluest Eye on stage tonight. The poster image is not the one from this show, though the script is the same. I’m curious about what my own reaction will be–especially because some of the fundamental parts of myself seem to be missing now that I’m here. What’s left often seems grossly distorted.

another normal

March 2, 2008

One of the regular guy shoes in Spain is the gold or silver sneaker with asymmetrical laces. Folks seem to prefer the ones with super flat soles. To my American eyes, they look like track shoes. But I suppose they’re actually football-inspired.  The ones in the link seem directed toward a few different sports.  But as in the U.S., people were wearing them to do their urban hanging out.  People in cities walk around a lot. So as you can imagine, these shoes don’t look good for long.It seems to me that wearing a shoe like this implies a desire to put together a look, something that many American men avoid. If that’s the case, I approve–not so much of the shoe itself, which I don’t particularly like–but of the effort.

This post would make a lot more sense if I had a picture of their jeans. The men there wear much better jeans.  But one can’t go around taking pictures of jeans with an eye toward expressing a superficial opinion in a public forum at a later date.

March 1, 2008

my very own icicles before they became gigantic and deformed

If I can’t get out of the cold soon. . .

March 1, 2008

It’s been so cold.  Sometimes I thought I could not bear going outside.  There were warnings against going outside. But I had to go to work.  I don’t know what to do if I’m cold in 5+ layers.