27 April 2005

hooked

I'm not sure when it began, the somewhat obsessive collecting of found photographs. I do remember when the habit kicked into high gear though-- we were in east atlanta at a great little junk shop called 'craptastic' (a name so wrong it can only be right), happily navigating our way through stacks and piles and boxes of stuff (aka crap). as always, hoping to unearth something worth all the unearthing. I had just decided against purchasing a pair of authentic seventies platform clogs (clogs that also doubled as roller skates: CLOGS AS SKATES, PEOPLE) when I spied an open suitcase in the corner. the sign taped to the side said 'ADOPT A RELATIVE, TEN CENTS' and there were hundreds of old photos inside, mainly snapshot-style/photobooth portraits of men. I spent the good part of an hour deciding which photos to take home with me and the ones you see here were (are) my absolute favorites. they continue to stand out in a collection that now rivals all collections. I fell in love with the faces and good lord, the style-- effortless style for days, what I imagine it must be like to be smooth, the very definition of the word cool. kind of tragic that they had no one to treasure them, no family memebers to lovingly pass them down through the generations. with this, I was hungry to collect. I snatched them up wherever and whenever they could be found: an antique store in illinois, a flea market in italy, an abandoned box at a swap meet. anywhere and everywhere I traveled, I looked and looked and always managed to bring at least a couple home with me. I am certainly not original in my pursuit here-- people have been deep in this gig long before I hit the scene. and I have only begun to scratch the surface of the resources out there (if you're at all interested in vernacular photography, take a lookie here, here and here). the appeal is universal-- I think we are unable to resist the anonymous nature of these photographs and how engaging they are to the imagination. the story, photographer and subject are all unknown, leaving the viewer to come to their own conclusions (or not) regarding said discarded snapshot. plus, there's the aesthetic-- rich looking sepias and silvers that are hard to come by today. and I think people love the idea of rescuing these unknowns from an eternity in the local landfill. I don't know about you, but I can't stand the idea of my family photos lost in a sea of slimy garbage somewhere. that being said, I cannot save every lost photo I find. I have had to narrow my search (and collection) and find myself especially drawn to those that showcase individuality and personal style, relationships and odd little details. special bonus points (dingdingding) if I find personal handwriting on the back. I am hoping to share them here every once in awhile. too good to be hidden away in my cigar boxes, too good not to share.

it pains me to say that 'craptastic' has long since gone out of business. I do regret passing up those platform clogs/rollerskates (I'm begging you, dear reader-- share the vision and imagine the GREATNESS) but at least I didn't turn my back on the contents of the suitcase in the corner. here's to photographic orphans everywhere and two bucks well spent.

25 April 2005

enjoying



every once in awhile, ava becomes obsessed with a particular song and will demand it be played over and over again. while this normally drives me nuts, I can't help but secretly enjoy her latest fixation-- classic eighties tune 'happy birthday' by altered images (take a little listen here). since ward and I share a car, we find ourselves spending more time than we'd like on the road (lots of driving back and forth between home and work, running errands and blah, blah, blah). what this really means is that we are listening to 'happy birthday' about 73 times a day. ah, but I am thoroughly enjoying ava and her little rock-out sessions. I watch her through the rearview mirror as she dances in her seat and tries so hard to get the words right. she is in her own little world, looking out the window, singing her song. I purse my lips together tightly to keep from giggling because I know how sensitive she is-- if she thinks I am laughing, she will immediately become self-conscious and this great little scene that I have been joyously witnessing on the sly will come to an abrupt (and tragic) end. "can you make it louder, momma? get it LOUDER!" she says. I ask her to say 'please' but I am smiling as I crank the volume up.

21 April 2005

V to the O



what more can be said about someone who has been known to spend hours helping his niece set up wildly elaborate polly pocket scenes? about someone who willingly (and quite enthusiastically) attends experimental dance performances with his sister? much more, naturally. so blessed to have brothers who inspire me endlessly: nate (known to many as dj dust of mars ILL), who amazes me with his creativity, his music and skills as a turntablist, and von (yup, V to the O), who blows me out of the water with his vision and raw, magnificent talent as a designer/artist. von (in the photo above that I took a couple of years ago while visiting him in new york) is the brother I'm talking about today. he just finished construction of his website (take a little looky here). I know just how it feels to labor so intensively over something for such a long amount of time, to have so much of yourself invested in something. it ain't easy. I applaud him for seeing it through and putting it out there. so if you're reading this baby brother, you should know how proud I am of you. your brilliance shines like a thousand suns.

(oh, and by the way-- ava misses her polly pocket partner in crime)

19 April 2005

dress-up shoes


photo I took of ava in cinderella dress-up shoes, halloween, 2004

I can't seem to stop buying dress-up shoes for ava. I think it has something to do with the insatiable childhood need I had to adorn my feet with the most glamorous shoes I could get my small-town hands on. these days, little girlie dress-up shoes are so fancy and sturdy. when I was little, they were fairly plain in color (no glitter, no feathers) with only the slightest heel. mine always snapped in two after about three minutes of prancing around my room, hips akimbo, singing and dancing to k-tel disco records. my dear cousin kristy was my crafty partner in crime and we were always looking for ways to score shoes, ALWAYS. as we got older, our taste became more evolved and refined (holding back laughter here) and we often found ourselves at woolworth's, digging through bargain bins piled high with plastic candies-style high heels. you know the ones I'm talking about -- olivia newton-john made them famous when she wore them with her black satin/leather outfit at the end of the movie 'grease'. the eyes of little girls everywhere glazed over at the sight of those bright red spiky-heeled mules. I can still remember the sinking look on my mom's face as kristy and I teetered out of the dime store in our new faux candies. there we were -- in our short shorts, knee socks and high heels, strutting (and wobbling) down main street, giddy over our $3 purchase.

I guess that's why I get lost in the girlie dress-up aisle of target. I have a very difficult time saying no to all those shiny little shoes with the jewels and sequins and feathers. too bad they don't fit me (don't think for one moment I haven't tried, people). it's been years since I've owned a pair of real dress-up shoes. my obsession has transferred itself to old-school/vintage-style sneakers (adidas, anyone?), with the occasional clog/wedge/mule thrown in for good measure. I live in flip-flops and dr. scholl's during the summer. it wasn't until just recently that I lost my senses over what I would deem the most perfect pair of dress-up shoes (for grown-up girls) EVER. a couple of months ago, I was at betsey johnson salivating over clothes that I couldn't afford and had no place to wear. then I spotted them -- deliciously sparkly and ruby-colored (pictured at right in turquoise). I felt nine years-old all over again. and there, right in the middle of that hot pink boutique (with poor ezra strapped to me in the baby bjorn), I kicked off my sad little black rubber sandals and slipped that shoe on my foot before the tiny horrified sales girl with the asymmetrical haircut could offer me the 'proper size' (or, perhaps another shoe?). I ignored her strained smile and wondered how I could justify blowing $200 on my dream dress-up shoes. true, they're not really anywhere near the style that I tend to rock these days, but PLEASE. don't think I wouldn't find ways to incorporate them into my everyday living. maybe doing the laundry, going to the post office and changing diapers wouldn't seem like such a chore if I had these to strut around in all sassy-like... in the end, I was able to salvage what was left of my common sense and left the store without the shoes. I figure I can drool over the photo of them whenever I like. just the very idea that they exist keeps the little girl in me alive.

17 April 2005

you (light up my life)

I am in love with this man because:

he allows me to do things like place random green lampshades on his head.

he allows me to take photos of him with random green lampshades on his head.

he never (EVER) burns pancakes, eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches.


I could go on and on here, but the above items definitely made the top ten. more of this list to come as I uncover additional adorably humiliating and sweet photos to post of the one I call LOV-ERRRR.

14 April 2005

muscle memory


(photo of alexandra beller; photographer unknown. want to see more? go here.)

as I made my way from the subway to the streets above and headed down west broadway towards chinatown, I got a little taste of what my life might have been like had ward and I decided to make the move to new york back in 1999. it was october of 2003 and I was on my way to take alexandra beller's modern class at dancespace. upon arrival, I climbed the rickety stairs to the studio. I tried to ignore the fact that I was nervous but there was just no mistaking my shaky hands and the wonky feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had taken alexandra's class once before, but I think it's always an intimidating experience to take class in a city that is overflowing with amazing dancers. you never really know when you might be getting yourself in over your head. also, alexandra beller is a personal hero of mine (another story) and so I was doubly nervous. I had the sudden urge to flee, to run back down the stairwell and out into the noisy street. it would be so much easier to spend the afternoon wandering around the lower east side, shopping myself into a blissful little oblivion. but I am proud to say that I stayed and that it was well worth the torturous anticipation I'd put myself through. I was high for days afterwards (the class really was that good). and who could've known that it would be my last chance (for a very long time) to take a class like that? who knew that I was newly pregnant with my second child? I sure didn't.

now, ten months after the birth of ezra, I am starting to dance again. that's not to say that I just stopped moving entirely the moment I discovered we were going to have baby number two, but things slowed way down. I performed once more that fall and continued to teach for moving in the spirit all the way through my seventh month (oh, the poor POOR leotards that I squeezed myself into that last trimester- they never had a fighting chance). dance has been on the back burner, so to speak, simmering on low. until now, that is. and it is like being at the bottom of an impossibly steep hill that you know you have to struggle and sweat and push yourself to climb, because there is no other way to get to the top of it. there is no choice for me but to begin.

anyone who knows me well knows that dance is as much a part of who I am as the color of my eyes, my hair, the type of blood that runs through my body. I believe that movement is an amazing and powerful thing. I guess that's why I have studied it for so many years, cannot seem to get enough of it in my life. I love the way my body feels moving through space, working in class- the floating spinning sweating flying. I love how the weight of my frame gives me power, how my muscles and mind work together to propel my body athletically through space, love how my bare feet feel working the floor. I miss it all so horribly. so it's time for me to begin that long and undeniably difficult climb back up to the place I where I left off.

13 April 2005

costumes, the pope and death

so we were getting ready to have lunch the other day when the news came on. before I even knew what was happening, I found myself in the middle of a delicate conversation about death with my four year-old daughter ava. two very important-looking catholic officials (dressed in full regalia- cardinals, I think) were being interviewed about the funeral of the pope. and thus, the conversation began.

"momma, what are those costumes those guys are wearing?"

"um. well, those are special clothes they wear for their job at the church they go to."

"why do they look like that?"

"well, it's like a costume. I mean, a uniform. you know, special clothes."

so ava is now watching actual footage of the funeral. oh people. I don't know why I didn't turn the television off. all I can say was that it was unfolding before me like some sort of unstoppable wreck. of course, more questions:

"momma, who's that man? what happened to that man?"

"well, that's the pope and he was in charge of this really big church and he died. they're having a funeral for him."

"but what does that mean?"

"okay. well. when someone dies, they have something like a quiet party for them. so they can say goodbye to the person who died."

"but how did he die?"

"well, he was very, very, very, VERY old and sometimes people just die when they are old."

and I knew exactly where all this was going, knew the questions were going to keep coming, because one question about death (or sex) always leads to another (and another and another). and so I chose to continue to answer them as simply and honestly as I could. because what else could I do? plus, I want ava to feel like she can ask me anything about anything and everything. and then, in such a timid, heart-breaking little voice, she hit me with this one:

"so, is daddy going to be very, very old someday?"

(translation: is daddy going to die?)

"well, yes. someday. but not for a very, very long time. but everyone dies. we are born and we live and then someday, usually when we are very old, we die. it's just how things are in our world."

"so what happens when you die?"

(palpable silence)

"well. we believe that you go to a place called heaven."

"what is that? where is that?"

"okay, yes. well, it's way up high in the sky, far away from this world and it is very beautiful with all kinds of fun things to do and clouds (yes people I said that. I said CLOUDS.) and God is there."

"well, how is that guy going to get all the way up there?"

"that guy? oh you mean the pope? well, we don't really know how it happens. maybe God reaches a big, strong hand down and takes us up into the sky. I don't know, mommy doesn't know. no one really knows."

"is God going to make that guy better?"

"well, no. because that guy has already died. but God has the power to make people better sometimes."

"if I get a big owie on my knee, will God reach down with his big hand and take me up to the sky?"

(dear lord, what have I done)

"no, because the owie on your knee won't make you die, see? so it won't be time for you to go to heaven yet. you have a long, long time to live before you die. but God can probably help you with your boo-boo."

"what are they going to do with that man now?"

and I just could not bring myself to tell her the plain truth here. that they were going to bury him. which meant that they were going to physically put his body into the ground. I just couldn't stand the idea of what might go through her sweet, bright little mind (and the questions that I might be forced to answer as the wheels of her brain worked overtime to comprehend that sort of reality) so I wimped out and sort of skimmed over it and talked more about heaven (pretty clouds! pretty clouds!) and just as suddenly as it all began, it was over. she became interested in something else (polly pocket-related, most likely) and was on her merry little way. I, on the other hand, was numb from the entire interaction. rendered completely speechless by the profundity of the conversation I'd just had with ava. did I say all the right things? should I have said more? less? my mind was racing.

motherhood. it's crazy. always throwing me curve balls out of the clear blue stinkin sky.

11 April 2005

photobooth

always had a sort of playful obsession with old photobooths. I don't know. there's just something about slipping into that private little booth with the adjustable stool and curtained background. your dollar bills are sucked into the machine and bright flashes of light fire and pop. at this moment, you have the freedom to be whoever you'd like to be-- you are both photographer and subject. afterwards, you wait as it miraculously spits out your strip and there you are-- goofy, fresh-faced, brave, ridiculous, tender, outrageous, sexy, odd, somber, mysterious, self-conscious, vulnerable. any of these things, all of these things, automatic and anonymous. who can resist that? digging out my personal stash (taken over the course of 34 years at dime stores and arcades all over the place) is something I find myself doing over and over and over. and I love to look at photobooth snapshots of complete strangers, too. vintage ones are best and I'm occasionally able to find them at the fleamarket (more than happy to rescue them from the bottom of a crusty old box). when I know I'm going to be traveling, I hit up the photobooth directory- a splendid little site devoted to locating them all over the country (because you just don't see them like you used to). the very thought of squeezing into a tiny booth with my family and taking home a souvenir strip or two (or TWENTY) makes me all giddy-like inside.

not too long ago, ward and I were dreaming about how we would spend a massive amount of cash if we had it. and seriously, I think I would buy myself a photobooth.

08 April 2005

ezra is CRAWLING

this week, I watched in amazement (and horror) as baby ezra made his way to a corner of the living room to demolish a neat little stack of our beloved books. I sat motionless as he proceeded to go after an unsuspecting collection of world globes in the corner (attempting desperately to fit each one in his mouth). now, a more seasoned mother would've swooped right in with the precision and speed of a professional to remove said child from potential harm. however, I chose to watch. the beginning of mobility... it's a fantastic thing to witness. the idea that he has discovered this and now has the freedom to explore the world on his own... it's deep, man. ava never really crawled. she sort of skipped right over that major developmental milestone and just started walking one day, so this is all new to me. and as excited as I am to watch my son in motion, I am also just a little terrified. gone are the days when we could just plop him down on a blanket surrounded by toys... my life has changed forever. this little cat can MOVE.

04 April 2005

la boob oscillator

when I am looking to dissolve any nagging feelings of frustration or anger, I get into my car (sans bebes) and drive. if it's nice outside, I roll down the windows. then I turn the volume up as high as humanly possible and play stereo lab's 'la boob oscillator'. I find it near impossible to wallow in my sour mood when this song is blasting. I cannot resist bobbing my head up and down while trying to sing along in quirky faux french. just say it out loud- LA BOOB OSCILLATOR. there, now don't you feel better? I do.