Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The warm light of the rising sun may show infinite possibility and the means to make the machinery to fix anything.
Or the introspection can go horribly wrong and reveal the ire and thorns of just how fucked up the current state of affairs really is. The strange thing is the worst of days often have the best sunrises and the laughter in the distance is always hyenas closing in.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Through the halls, overheard around cubicle walls, barely standing without gasping for a fat-laden breath, a cascade of treacherous morons and eager buffoons, permanently ensconced in some fear-soaked wet dream positive that if they try to be as lazy and dumb as possible, carry on the ritualistic drudgery of an existence where the only purpose is to make money for large corporations, then they will be rewarded in the end.
The sad part is no one actually benefits and everyone is painfully aware but oddly happy to comply. It's as if they stop reading the owner's manual right before the part where it says not to grab the spinning blade or get a necktie caught in the paper shredder.
If there ever was an American Dream, it died a long time ago, maybe in the 1950's, maybe in the 1930's. Maybe it never existed at all, but a layer of the cruel joke played on the proudly ignorant and compliant Americans too concerned with Ed Sullivan and wondering if their neighbor was a Communist.
Here we are, in the eleventh year of the New Century, struggling to regain the modern society we had before World War II, painfully unaware of just how much of our lives was given away to just a few people for their profit and amusement.
I must admit to the allure of a high-speed burn across an expanse of dusty former sea floor, with the image of this dreadful, spine and soul-less suburb fading behind a cloud of dust, a roar of an engine and the thump of KMFDM.
Friday, February 25, 2011
It's the opposite of places where everything always works out or has the potential to, like New York, Austin or Block Island.
"It's all temporary," I reassure myself. "I'm only passing through, so maybe lower your standards."
Bullshit. However, I need to take into account my definition of temporary is measured against a different meter than other places. I can't accept that and can't stop wanting more, wanting to do better.
The days are counting down until my high-speed burn to the high desert in Nevada for a high speed burn away from the world, with 50,000 of my closest new friends.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Combichrist "God Bless" is good for this. It's clearly a cheap manufacturing job based on what bands like KMFDM, Meat Beat Manifesto Front 242 and Ministry did 20 years ago.
Sometimes my snobbery must be set aside.
The Leon Creek Greenbelt is astonishingly nice for this horrible, culture-less and lifeless suburb, but its a joke compared to what one may find in the civilized world.
When I was in New York, I had pictures to post every day, I always had something to write about. Here, not so much. Every day is the same.
I try not to bitch about it too much because no one dragged me here, no one forced me. Hell, it seemed like a good idea to leave New York City. It wasn't of course. My leaving involved a Swiss girl for the most part, and probably some other excuses. The move was only meant to be temporary, but three years later I'm still here. The job I started in July gets worse every day -- I never worked with such petty, unprofessional, immature and clearly self-serving people anywhere. I'm sure one of those idiots is monitoring this and three months from now some complaint letter or "report" will surface, detailing every word of this. By then this will be a memory and I'll have to go back to read what they mean.
I'm sure it's some sort of subconscious thing, but it seems every attempt or means to return to NYC is derailed or something comes up.
Today was pretty fun, but I think my standards for fun have lowered, or maybe I'm so used to the boredom that anything is exciting. I think a move will help, but there is more to the story (and I'm going to get into the details) and it's more than just signing a lease somewhere.
The job thing, oh yes, the job thing. I lost count at how many times I sent a resume and cover letter -- changing it for each job -- to some distant place for a photographer job. I sent the things but I really don't think anything will come of them. Maybe that is part of it, maybe I need to be more positive.
One of my excuses for not moving (other than the more important aspect above) is the "what if" I'm hired elsewhere and have to break a lease. Also, I don't want to settle here, I don't want to just give up and commit myself to a life of not living, but just waiting to die. There is no life here, no culture, no personality. Nothing.
Maybe it's unfair to compare Austin and San Antonio to New York City. I don't care, I'm doing it anyway. Looking back, the best two years of my life were in NYC and I really need to get back. Leaving is easy, returning is difficult.
For a while, I was shooting a lot of film pictures. Some of them were panoramic pictures from an awesome camera that shoots 360-degree panoramic pictures, spinning on a handle and powered my a mechanical drawcord-powered device. I shot pictures with the Soviet Leica copy Dave gave me when I left NYC (It's my favorite camera) as well as the two Nikon n90s's I have (they both have the MB-10 battery/vertical grips with lithium AAs).
The past two days, I carried a digital SLR with me so I don't add to my film developing pile. I prefer film and film cameras for a number of reasons. I'm neither anti-digital nor afraid of technology, I just prefer how the cameras work. I don't know, maybe if I had a Leica M9 and a new Mac laptop I would think differently about digital.
One unchanging law of the universe is your camera matters about as much as your bike or guitar. As long as they work (ok, a broken camera isn't as good as a working one). An artist or professional can get whatever tools to work, finding the weaknesses and strengths and make magic.
I think there are many suburban wedding photographers and fans of HDR and photos of cameras and American flags who would argue that their new pedestrian, disposable plastic piece of shit of the week camera makes their crappy photos better. Look at Flickr for plenty of proof of that.
I just need to get out of here. It doesn't matter. Maybe I can just go to the airport, get on the first plane to wherever isn't here and just not worry about it any more.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This specific day, December 18, 2010, was an average day in Austin. I stayed at my friend's place in the northern end of the city and rode downtown. It's about 12 or 15 miles from her place to Cesar Chavez and Congress Avenue. I ride there and back and all around in between.
I normally stop by Juan Pelota, the cafe inside Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop on 4th and Nueces Streets for a chai. Sometimes I buy bike stuff, sometimes the chai, sometimes both. This time I bought some Gore Wind-Stopper gloves (they actually had my size and they're very comfortable) and a copy of Rouleur magazine, issue 20. It has a feature about Japanese Keirin that is just awesome -- great photos and wonderful writing giving some great depth into a rather secretive and exclusive sport.
I finished my chai on the patio as I gave the hefty magazine a perfunctory look-through while being distracted by the goings-on around me. As I began to leave, I saw a woman with Christmas lights on her bike walking it onto the patio. It was a green Surly Crosscheck with battery-powered lights wound around the top tube. She said they were from a ride or something earlier as she flicked the switch on the battery pack in a small, black seat bag.
After I left Juan Pelota, I rode around a bit, took a few photos. I rode past a Royal Blue Grocery on 3rd Street. It was more like a small urban grocery store than the other one across the street from Juan Pelota and I never knew it was there. I sat at a sidewalk table and looked a few things online. This location doesn't have free wifi like their Nueces one does, but that didn't matter much since I had the Sprint 4G mobile broadband thing with me. I decided I needed a hotdog and remembered Frank was right around the corner, confirming it online. I rode over, walked in and was seated immediately. The waitress was outrageously gorgeous (even by the high Austin standard of hotness) and very nice. For some dumb reason I had a bacon-wrapped hotdog with cheese and a side of poutine. Delicious, delicious regret.
I rolled myself out of there and out to my locked bike on the sidewalk. I thought I needed some coffee to blast all that grease and starch through. I remembered I've been meaning to go to Halcyon for a while. They have good coffee and make a motherfucker of a chai (yes, two in one day). The place has free wifi, a heated patio, comfortable seating that is loungy on one side and more like a bar on the other.
As I walked out to the patio with my coffee, I saw two people walking to a parked car on the Lavaca side of the place. The curb is very high -- maybe shoulder height if my memory serves me well -- and the car was parked close to it. The girl who was going to be the passenger waited as the driver moved the car out a little. I leaned over my locked bike (there are a few easy to lock places on the patio, which is really a wide, elevated sidewalk) and said she could come up there, jump over the railing and land in the passenger seat of the car through the sunroof. But I cautioned to aim carefully as to not become intimate with the gear shift. Yea, I got a sideways look for that ...
I moved from the Lavaca side to the 4th Street side -- the place is on a corner and has some funky and wonderfully dangerous stairs leading down to the street corner. They are round with a pole in the middle. I sat at a table on the edge of where the radiant heaters reached. I had my coffee and magazine and was almost reading it. Two girls and a guy -- all dressed in Austin "I need to be seen here, dressed like this" uniforms -- sat down sort of next to me. The guy was a very gay hair dresser at Bird's Barbershop in Austin. He had coping issues. The two girls sort of repeated what the other said. They all held on to their predictable stereotypes with heroic tenacity.
"I need to be single for a while. I need to drink whiskey," said the hairdresser about dating a guy 20 years older than him. He was sort of upset about it and everything else not fabulous. He told one of the girls he couldn't even handle his little dog and had to give it to a friend for a while. At first I was trying to ignore them, but then I was completely eavesdropping, it was too crazy and funny not to.
A different guy walked up the worn concave steps from the street with a cardboard box in his arms. I saw as he walked up the stairs a large trophy protruding from the top of the open box. When he got closer I saw either a wig or a human head taking up most of the space around the trophy. He walked into Halcyon.
My paper coffee cup was empty for a while before I went back in. I had no intention of staying but I figured I would I would check out the inside of the place and see what their chai was all about.
Guy at Halcyon said chai is similar to the Hebrew word for life after I told him it was the Arabic word for tea. I told him whiskey comes from a similar Gaelic word meaning water of life. We both learned something. The chai came with two animal crackers and they had soy milk.
I took a seat on a couch after resting my chai and it's large porcelain cup and saucer on the table without spilling a drop from the cup, which astonished the hell out of me.
The chai had the multi-layered, spiced and smooth flavor I expected but without the syrup-like consistency of the chai from Greenbeans Coffee. Starbucks chai can be a little weak. Juan Pelota, the coffee and gift shop in St. Davids Trinity Center and Halcyon do it right.
At some point I went to South Congress to look for Christmas presents at the small art thing there on the weekends. I spoke with a few people, bought a few things. I spoke with Jake Bryer, who had a very busy table selling photos printed on wood blocks of different sizes. He runs a gallery with photography but limits whom he represents to a geographic area around Austin. I packed everything into my well-worn, 10 year old Timbuk2 canvas messenger bag and headed back to the north side of the river. I think this is when the gastric assault began.
Some hours later after inspecting the nearly-finished Pfluger Bridge and the surrounding area, I headed over to the Nueves location of Royal Blue. Of all the photos I have of everything when I'm on my bike, I don't have many of the bridge, at least the end of it. I'll work on that. I went in looking for rootbeer and chocolate. I don't remember the brand of root beer, but it was good. Not IBC, Virgil's, Milligan's Island, Maine Root or any I remember. I washed it down with a Kinder Bueno Bar.
Inside two girls were doing some sort of last minute gift shopping. They wanted to buy the very large jar of pickled red peppers on the counter. An employee said they use that stuff for their mayonnaise, but maybe it was for sale. He asked the other employee to try zapping it to see if it was in the system. It wasn't. I suggested some sort of large cured meat product to one of the girls as they kept brainstorming for ideas. She asked the first employee about a large salami (no, not in a porno sense, although that would have been funny) as I walked out the door with my snacks.
I relaxed watching Austin go by in the quiet intersection of 4th and Nueces Streets as music played overhead. I headed back to my friend's place shortly after.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Several groups hold various organized bike rides for different reasons; from the last Friday rides that center more on partying in dark parking lots to the two different Tuesday night rides. One ride is mostly fixed gear riders with a loosely-planned route, while the other is more "cyclist" and heads south east around the Missions.
Bike World and Blue Star as well as other groups have rides. It's possible to go on a different group ride every day, some days have two or more rides.
San Antonio is in nearing completion of it's planned 40-something miles of bike paths as part of a green belt around the city. The green belt doesn't include the Mission Trails.
Sunday I spent some time in the Leon Creek Greenway, accessing it through O.P. Schnabel Park, in the north west side of the city.
The trails pass park areas, ponds and trees. There isn't a car or street insight, which is a good change from the failed 1940s era policy of giving free infrastructure and subsidies to car companies.
More to come
Commute by bike
Saturday, November 27, 2010
On the maps there is an easy trail following the San Antonio River, but the reality is something else.
Construction and sloppy or missing signs make navigating the otherwise very pleasant ride a bit of an adventure. While I'm always up for an adventure or alternate way somewhere, the Mission Trail is just confusing.
The northern terminus of the Mission Trail is in the middle of downtown San Antonio, the otherwise abandoned former urban area. Across from the Alamo is forgettable tourist attractions and corporate restaurant chains, much like the "famous River Walk," the over developed area around the river downtown.
The southern terminus of the Mission Trail is Mission Espada. Along the way north to south, one will pass Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose.
The route runs along the San Antonio River and passes Stinson Airport and an aqueduct from the 1700s. The route is a mix of urban streets, physically separated paths and quiet rural roads. Navigating takes trial and error, but a map doesn't hurt either.
On a nice day the route is popular with polished and shaved-down cyclists, regular bike people and everyone in between. During periods of more extreme weather, bike traffic is reduced.
The Mission Trail isn't part of the 40-something miles of bike trails and greenway in the works in San Antonio.
Roger Christian, a local advocate for bikes and smart transportation told me some of the bike infrastructure here impressed "some folks who came down from Austin."
That impressed me given how advanced the bike infrastructure is in the city of the violet crown. The city is in the works of finishing the northern extension of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge over the Colorado River and now Cesar Chavez Street. Austin has numbered bike routes, and extensive green way and miles of separated bike trails and bridges.
In a recent election, the people of Austin passed Proposition 1, which adds funding for modern and sustainable transportation. The measure includes funding for bike lanes, traffic studies, a bike and pedestrian bridge around a portion of Lady Bird Lake and other measures. The proposition passed by about 55 percent.
I don't know how many voted.
The plans for San Antonio include various types of bike paths, including smooth concrete and maintained dirt, connecting Leon Valley, the southwest and northeast sides and other areas making it possible to travel around the city without riding or running on city streets.
I don't have completion dates, schedules or other information right now, but a simple Internet search will yield plenty of information.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I don’t know, they may be real people, but they may not be. Maybe only I can see them, maybe there are more who are only visible to you.
Pamela and Dave
Michele Bayard and his pinhole photos
Dave, never in the same jacket twice
Some people I saw nearly every day, and maybe have some sort of contact, as with Dave. Other people I only saw a few times, but from a distance and never had any contact.
The break dancers were good and an odd group of people.
They’re ghosts as well.
The break dancers
There were others who had multiple roles in Union Square, like me. Nick was a bike messenger but also a tattoo artist. He was from Philadelphia, and last I heard, had gone back there. As for me, I may have been a ghost as well, on some days.
I spent my fair share of time in Union Square while working as a bike messenger. One company, Dragonfly Courier, had me start and end my day in Union Square, roughly. The area I covered was surrounded by the square, so I returned there when things were slow.
Like Dave, I was also a photographer there. I mean, I was before NYC and after (I still am now), but it was one of my roles in Union Square. It’s how I met Dave and Mickey and Natasha and Kasha and other people whose names I can’t remember. I met the ghosts with whom I communicate because of photography.
Nick and me, our bikes and newspapers
Natasha, Hoop Girl Extrordinare
And then, there are the ones who passed through one dark night and never returned.
I have no idea what her name is
T shirts and art late night in Union Square
The girls sold shirts, the guy stunk
And of course there are the ones who drift about in their own world.