Tuesday, June 29, 2010

money saving tips for starving artists #4: 'plant' a weed garden

who says gardening isn't an expensive hobby? honey, here in new york, the mere act of walking five blocks could bankrupt you. so what happens when spring comes around and you just don't have the funds to buy any little baby tomato plants or new soil etc? embrace those weeds that start cropping up in last year's tomato planters. they are green and they are alive! there is even a huge element of surprise when they start poking their green shoots up--who knows what they will look like? endless hours of pleasure.

so jade started watering our weed garden. i thought it was cute. but hey, look at these pretty flowers! photo by jade 'the weed whisperer' townsend
i do realize this post could be construed in a completely different, more lucrative way. but being one who gravitates toward poverty, oh and fear of arrest and authority, that's really not the kind of weed garden i'm after...

Friday, June 25, 2010

tips for starving artists #3: DON'T think you're clever when it comes to parking in new york city. you WILL be towed.

apparently the cops here aren't big on logic and leniency, so perhaps i should have gone with that whole 'shadow of a doubt' rule of thumb. but it was late. i'd worked ten hours AND watched an emotionally exhausting usa world cup game. and do you know how frustrating, ye out of towners, it is to circle the same block 22 times looking for a spot, hoping that some brooklynite might decide to leave the house at 11pm, hence clearing a spot for me and the boss's truck? the answer is very. extremely. hair-pulling-outingly frustrating.

on lap 23 i finally succumbed to the the wild yet very logical seeming temptation of parking at the newly defunct bus stop. of course i know you can't park in a bus stop. $115 ticket and a guaranteed tow. but this particular bus route has recently fallen prey to mta budget cuts, hence the sign on the damn sign that reads: THIS LOCATION IS NO LONGER A BUS STOP. THIS SIGN WILL BE REMOVED SHORTLY. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.

so no bus. no reason not to park there, right? totally and perfectly logical. and yet, in this overly competitive parking climate, still the defunct bus stop yielded three gorgeous empty parking spots. i totally knew i was in the right. but why in new york city should i trust that logic and kindness would trump the blind ecstasy of a cop and a tow guy finding a truck in a bus stop?

in short, the damn truck was towed. verified from a good morning text from the boss, the following am. in short, my day was ruined. wouldn't it be a nice idea to place the tow pound at least a couple of miles from a subway stop? i mean, it's pretty difficult in this city to find a location that is MILES from a subway stop. but the fine folks at NYPD managed to find it. i left the house in the sourest mood, eschewing jade's offer of a meal. must punish stupid self! and be cranky! trekked through the blazing heinous sun (no, summer is not really on my good side right now) to the pound. and why, might i ask, does all of new york city have to be completely torn up with massive, big loud machine construction?!

at the tow pound i signed away the rights to my first born child and did a big tap dance that included tears to win the right to pay for and pick up a towed truck that was not registered to me. miraculously, it worked. you better believe i'll be photographing that sign and fighting these fines. but in the meantime, i can't really recommend dipping into the upcoming rent scrapings for such a brilliant endeavor. take heed, poor and creative parkers!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

my best impression of boxcar bertha or notes from my business trip to cleveland, part 1




after a prolonged battle with technology and banging my head against the idiocy of copyright laws (iphoto will only allow you to export videos using music you've downloaded ILlegally--tell me how THAT makes sense), i present to you a less than perfect slide show of photos not set to the right song (though this one is beautiful), and edited choppily. at this point i just have to throw in the towel and post these....oh, and now i see that youtube degrades the quality of the images. grr...will repost elsewhere and send link!



6am friday 11th of june 2010

train stopped in rochester. first we thought we'd get caught. paranoid from yesterday's experience. yesterday we hopped the wrong train and ended up headed back toward new york. it was still gorgeous though. the four of us sat and slept on the back of a grainer car, looking down gorges to rivers below, teetering on bridges you'd think couldn't support these metal beasts. but they do, so what's four more people?

apparently someone at a railroad crossing spotted us and called 911. really? 911? big roll of the eyes to the 'if you see something say something' society we run with. or against, i suppose. and just like that, the new york state police and the ulster county sheriff awaited our arrival at the next crossing and stopped our ride. the anti-cruise.

so we packed up the sleeping bags we'd been huddling under and got out. they let us go, warning us we'd be on CSX's trespass list, and attempted to seem tough. but really they seemed embarrassed to be wasting everyone's time. the sheriff rummaged in his squad car and pulled out a laundry bag to help us pack up. and we were on our way. we walked the "three miles" toward new paltz feeling that classic disgust from all of those passing by in their empty suv's, by walking, by being dirty, by carrying backpacks, we are marked, reviled and feared. it's ridiculous, meaningless and as easy as putting on a costume to assume this role. the world is a bunch of pretense and bullshit.

but right now we are living high. four hours after our little bust, we made it back to square one. the rail workers whom we had dodged and hid from previously pulled us up from hiding on the tracks and hooked us up with our own empty boxcar. better than a room at the ritz carlton. they propped the door open for us, gave us a ride in the back of their work truck through the quiet strands of trains and we climbed straight up off their truck into the waiting car and waved good bye. they loaded us up with water bottles and rail lights. there are incredible people in this world. and then there are those who call 911.

the train is moving full speed now, hence the difficulty with the pencil. rochester rolls by. we see the old kodak building, which is beautiful, because kodak is all i know of rochester.

duke draws on the boxcar door--a full shanty town aflame. it is one of the central images of the cleveland show--the whole purpose of our trip.

sarah rests, brett plays the banjo. he's learning still but the sound is intoxicating. i take pictures. loads of them. they will be repetitive and boring but this moment is so special. which does nothing to encompass it.

last night i peed in a ziploc bag. i would have gone over the edge of the open door but duke and sarah had set up their sleeping bags there, leaving us to marvel at the stars, the hills of nighttime trees glittering with fireflies. the first of the season. fucking magic.

i didn't expect this triumph. the first day was discouraging. we got a pretty late start. it was pouring rain. duke drove us to albany in his truck. duke and sarah up front, brett and i in the back, laying on tires he'd gathered as bumpers for his sailboat--a tarp shielding us from the pouring rain--and johnny law. three hours later and miraculously we weren't drenched.

the first night, which i mentioned, was tough. we had to cross a field of knee high grass. by the end of it we were soaked toes to thighs, with the rain steadily working on catching up on top. at a clearing, i stole into an old caterpillar and changed into dry socks. not smart--because then we had to cross a deep and mucky stream and then bushwhack through some insane jungly forest. at the yard, sunset was on. we hid in the phramites before darting into the yard gravel, which are little boulders. ground unstable.

we climbed up and over the first track, but then saw a csx vehicle, panicked, and ran low. with the heavy gear i carried, i flet like i physically couldn't make it over the tracks. i had fallen to my knees. and oh, i am not a child anymore! but still, the truck rolled toward us. so i hefted myself over the tracks, ignoring the huge pain in my knees, and rambo log-rolled down the track, backpack and all. ridiculous.

the rest of the evening continued in this fashion--me pushing my body to its physical limits and having to go still further. in order to cross between trains, you cannot just duck under their hookups. the train strands seem constantly to shift. we saw creepy 'ghost' train cars rolling remotely down the tracks to join the strands. and when they did, there was huge rumbling and jostling. careless people are apparently killed this way. so you have to climb up metal rungs on the side of the cars, shimmy across, then back down the rungs on the other side and jump down to the gravel. with 30 lobs (or whatever it is) on your back. we did this no less than forty times. while it rained on us. near the end, i was increasingly cranky, internally. quiet externally. i had developed some kind of abdominal cramping. be it gas, or more likely a result of the physical straining--climbing with wight like a monkey--and being so muscle-clenchingly cold. it made me wince with every ladder step. i'd say i was close to miserable, saved only by the excitement of attempting to hop trains.

finally we found an open boxcar--a dream--and climbed inside. i remember the boxcar kid books i used to read when i was a kid--the magic of inhabiting your own world in there. it was after midnight. we'd been monkeying between trains for six hours. the boxcar started to move. we yelped with joy. it slowly moved through the yard. then back to the other side, where it sat. by 2am, exhausted, unsure if it would move again and without a clue, we crashed out for three hours, literally freezing with the wet feet shoes legs pants. the works. but actually slept a little.

more journal and photos to come...

Friday, June 18, 2010

i see a handsome check in your future.

and here i find myself dealing these cards again. it's strange how natural it feels.
once upon a time i managed a metaphysical bookstore. this has become a joke tagline. but it's true, and at the time i was very serious about it. well, not serious enough not to be able to poke fun at the crazy people it exposed me to. at some point i vowed to write a book detailing the characters who walked in on a daily basis.

there was cranston the beared copper jeweler who professed his love for me via a frighteningly sharp copper pokey necklace, begging me to come away with him and his dog and his trailer. i passed, only to be not-so wooed by the man who would come to 'clense' the shop with his didgeridoo. he was fond of 'doo-ing too close to the girls, perhaps in hopes of exciting them.
then the aliens from the vega star system just walked right into the shop--imagine that! looking totally human yet carrying a staff that touched the ceiling, they offered me a spot on their ship. among these customers, it was almost uneventful when tom waits walked in. almost. my gay boyfriend at the time jumped up to not-so-subtly change the chanting monks or tinkering fairies or kokopelli pan-fluters to the portishead cd i'd contra-banded into the changer. just so tom waits knew we were cool. uh-huh.

most of my time at the shop was spent with various forms of divination. i read astrology, drew angel cards, and dealt a whole lot of tarot cards. tarot was a language i'd learned from the owner of the shop, who treated me as her 'god-daughter'. she was my spiritual guide, my teacher, mentor, inspiration. she gave me readings, i gave her readings, and i gave the whole town of sebastopol readings at the annual celtic festival.
tarot and writing were the therapy that brought me through my adolescence and young adulthood. i consulted the tarot at every turn. unlike the hocus-pocus fortune telling reputation it garners, i used tarot as a tool for contemplation and understanding of decisions and emotions.

but then i had a strange falling out with this woman who i'd loved and trusted, who'd called me daughter. she wrote me a letter telling me sarcastically to have a nice life. suddenly, these tools seemed powerless and false in my hands. i put all of my cards away for nearly a decade.

then last week i got an email from candi. she and her husband have employed me as teacher's assistant, as expense report writer, as photoshop consultant, as photographer. so naturally when they were looking for a gypsy to read tarot cards at their 11 year old daughter's birthday party, they turned to me for ideas.

i can do it!
really?
uh, well, i think so.

so off i go, dressed in maria's impressive belly-dancing costumes, looking like a first rate gypsy. kind of funny to revive this skill in such a diminutive way. i told myself that i don't believe in the cards anymore. but i think i was just hurt and needed that decade away. i still think of the cards as a tool for self-discovery rather than fortune telling, but let's see what the 11 year olds think. nervous!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

fallout! computer rage!

twice blogger didn't let me submit this comment to my last post in response to genie's comment so out of frustration i just post it as a post:

ah, shucks, genie. you're so sweet and ridiculously talented yourself!
i admit lately to being on a lazy iphone photography spree. and i don't even have any of those apps everyone's rocking to make the pics better, but i've been very pleased.
and yes, must give props to rosanne pennella. she is a great instructor! http://www.rosannepennella.com/

she teaches weekend seminars in different cities i think through nikon and pop photo. i highly recommend!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

that magic hour

my photography teacher always said that the key to beautiful photos was to wait until your shadow stretched longer than your body. last night as jade, his brother kip and i walked by bryant park we noticed that our heads had crossed the quite broad 6th avenue before we'd stepped off the curb. beautiful magic.
then i spread my legs for dramatic flair.

Friday, June 4, 2010

unexpectedly bad smells of my life 1-4

1) dead flower water
2) sun heated nyc garbage
3) steamed brocoli water left on the stove all night, covered
4) tar

go ahead, add yours.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010