May 3, 2011

Mountains Beyond Mountains

Man wanders the dock searching for the hungry, Port of Carres,
approx 40 miles north of Port Au Prince.

"Perhaps it's done already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story. Before the door that opens on my story, it will be the silence. Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on. I can't go on, I'll go on." - The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett

I only know what I saw with my tiny eyes. Here I am, behind a camera again, with the protection of my sophisticated machines and the freedom to return home. I post this with reverence to Haiti and her invincible peoples who have endured the end, and the end, and the end, and go on, determined to begin again. 

 Children, Island de La Gonave. Medical Solar Mission, 2011

 Men rest in the sun from digging wire beds for solar panel electrical lines.

Patient stands in line at the medical clinic.

The staff photographer and I set up inside the church for late night post production hours on the first night. Before we settled in, we were informed of an emergency patient 
that was brought into the clinic after dark. 

 We got several versions of this boy's story, the most consistent was that he had fallen off his donkey, possibly carrying water. The island is made mostly of limestone and lava rock which is jagged and dry. He split his lip from his nose down and had several gashes on his forehead and legs. He came in holding his face, but did not whimper.

 The volunteer doctor tries dry sutures first, but the boy's tissue is too damaged to hold. He wraps the boys face in bandages and prepares to send him home. We follow the doctor into the supply room, he cracks open a beer and sighs, "I can't believe I didn't bring super glue." The writer on our team looks at him deeply, "are you serious?" The doctor stops the boy and the writer sprints to the church for his super glue that he travels with for his glasses that always fall apart. We are not the kings horses, nor the kings men. The writer left the glue behind and used grip tape for the next three weeks. 

 Alyce "no tears" Henson, post production, La Gonave, Haiti. 

Clinic attendees when not on foot.

This picture reminds me of growing up with Ruthie, my older sister. Clearly, I'm the cheeky scoundrel on the right keeping the intended portrait from touching the lense with a sweetness. 

Such a strong face for a man with an infection in his pinky. 


This boy, this face, I wonder.

Feb 11, 2011


"Lucky" artist: Stephanie Helguera

When I met Kristen I was sitting on a curb shaking off a rendezvous with the asphalt on a borrowed motorcycle. We carried on to Milwaukee then back and stopped on the south side for post concussion drinks at the treasured Bernice's Tavern. Our conversation featured my confident account of the history of starved rock and he called me on it. I wagered. Somebody had a "smart" phone and I had the story turned upside down. I lost the bet.
The wager was a real rabbit's foot keychain that the loser shot and skinned themselves. No problem. But, I couldn't bare to shoot one without eating it. So, I had to wait for the first freeze being that the cold would kill of any crud the bunnies picked up from romping in the alleys all summer. First I tried trapping but kept getting raccoons. You never know what you're gonna get. 4 months rolled by and no rabbit.
I couldn't stand the bet hanging over my head and my friend Stephanie was making these really cool layered paper motifs and I asked her to make me a rabbits foot as a promise gift. I love how it turned out. Might even get it tattooed on my eyelid. Meanwhile, I framed it and gave it to Kristen for Christmas. 
As I leave for Haiti, I am reminded that although we make our luck in life, carefully setting our duck's in a row, they soon begin to "shift and play games." One could use a little extra something in these circumstances despite preparedness. At the same time, I feel immense gratitude, shape-shifting and all, that the planet has afforded me another opportunity to see the world. In Haiti, in will be unavoidable to feel, to the bone, just how lucky I am.

 Be brave. M

Feb 5, 2011

Miles To Go Before We Sleep

Portraits of Miriam by Kristen in the back yard, Virginia Ave., Chicago, Il.

"The middle of nowhere is often a place where you can experience whole beauty because nobody recognizes you except exactly who you want, where you want. There is freedom in nowhere. Nothing is assumed and nothing taken for granted. Sweet is sweet; wet is wet; the road is easy and hard in waves because the present moment and the conditions of the moment." -- Ruth Doan

Feb 3, 2011

Breaking the Silence

I hear a lot of riders in the Midwest lament over an 8 month riding season and I was one of them, until now. Ice riding has got to be the most fun I've had since yesterday, the first real snow day I remember since the 8th grade. This blog is dedicated to everyone who hasn't moved to California.

Lake Okauchee, Wisconsin
This course was a loose interpretation of the Barber course in Alabama

I'm a calculated risk taker. 9 inches thick seemed....romantic. But in most cases with your riding pals, it goes something like this: You go, we go.

Big Bob's van needed a teensy push. If you know Big Bob, you'll take any chance you get to return a kindness from the long list of ways he's made your life more fun. 

 Kristen (right) and Dan (left), at base camp.

You gotta be careful with gear in your paws on this type a terrain. As Kristen would say, "It's slicker than cum on a gold tooth out here."

The first thing I was told was to trust my tires. Riding on ice feels like riding over a Chicago bridge constantly. But, you have more traction out here than you do on slab, and there's no oncoming traffic.

Joe, our gracious host and expert course plower, peels protective rubber bands
from this rider's studded tires.

I had heard of Paul, knew of his work and always wanted to meet him. He taught me how to pan, track and release for this type of shot on the fly and I almost got it. "Just like shooting skeet," he said. He also gave me an impassioned recommendation to stop looking at the back of my camera
and remember how to trust myself and shoot in my mind's eye. That meant a lot to me. I also appreciated the slap on the arm when he caught me doing it after he told me not to. Hard headed. Thanks Paul.

 There is no sign on my camera that says: The object in your viewfinder is a foot from your skull. But... I was working on that minds eye thing.

That's me having the time of my life. I bought this rocket-suit for four dollars at the Village Thrift last spring. The label on the inside reads: "Chiller Killer -- It's Springtime on the inside." I can't think of a better name for any piece of clothing and I couldn't think of a better use for it. I wasn't cold and I wasn't hot... AND I was wearing Packers colors in Wisconsin. Accidentally in style -- always preferable in the book of cool.

These dirt riders were just sick. They got ridiculously low and had amazing control.
They also had no problem passing you on the inside, a real test of my ability to keep my head in the game, which I appreciate.

 Big beard, Big van, Smart mouth, Big Bob.

 View from the bar on the bay; Aliota's Hideaway.

Hideaway regulars watch riders from the bay window.