Jul 30, 2010

Go Big or Go Home

Top to bottom, right to left: Shreddy Mercury does the Dark Horse at Lucky Chengs, Dying Cletus, 
ATC sits on Mama’s lap at Ocean’s, Mural Art at after hours party tranny bar. 

I went to NYC to shoot the beloved US Air Guitar Nationals last week. My plan was to shoot Fung Wa at Lucky Chengs on Tues, the Nationals at the Fillmore on Thursday, fly out to Michigan on Friday and shoot a wedding on Saturday. Everything went swell until I got to the airport on Friday amidst nationwide torrential downpours… ended up on a tarmac for 9 hours, in the air for 4 and did an emergency landing in Indianapolis during the races. No hotels, no cars, no food, nothing. I had no choice but to stand pathetically in the rental lot asking each traveler with a reservation if they were going to Chicago. I got lucky with a hedge fund guy from SF. He traded me a ride for keeping him awake and we drove through the night. It turns out he’s on the board of a non-profit in SF to help emerging and mid-career artist fund personal projects. No joke. I dropped him off downtown as burnt out busses were being thrown over the Columbus bridge for the filming of the Transformers movie. This felt accurate. I continued to Michigan with my second wind and arrived an hour before my wedding. This was, by far, THE closest call of my career.

More art, ATC with Rucker and Thundergland (what is on your face?), stiff dickens fake punches me in the face,  Me and NYC Natty Hays deep in the jungle. 

Here’s the kicker. I was so delirious that I formatted and wrote over a 16 Gig card spanning the entire performance portion of the NYC trip. I thought I copied it but it was gone. Not only will I never shoot a 16 Gig card again… I can’t go out like this! This was supposed to be “my last year,” but it’s not. I had beautiful wedding shots but no Air Guitar. Devastation. I tried every kind of recovery software known to the industry. Canon doesn’t even have recovery software proprietary to the new Raw files from the Mark IV. I let go of the hope to recover these images and informed the USAG commission that I wouldn’t make press release deadlines so they could make other plans. But….I didn’t stop trying. I called an old friend. Today, I’m dropping my card of at the Chicago Police Department forensics unit. “Last year,” the specialist I spoke to explains, “the city of Chicago cut budgets deep. The CPD and feds merged their forensics units.” This meant job cuts but military technology for little guys.  At retirement age this guy was back on the beat and misses challenges like these. He’s excited and hopeful. If this doesn’t work he says, “There’s always the CIA.” At this point, if I can’t win, I want to at least have fun. I’ve never worked together with the CPD, the feds or the CIA. I’m hoping to convince at least one of them to compete next year.
My favorite sandwich, red white and true,  National Champion Romeo Dance Cheetah, and, (say it with me)….
Hot. Lixx. Houlihaaaaaaaaaaaan. 

May I also add that when I got to the Amtrak station in Kalamazoo on Sunday, the train was delayed an hour and a half. Unable to fathom further travel pains, I grabbed my bags and dove onto a Greyhound bus that left minutes after I sat down. We got to Chicago in less than three hours with more stops than we make on the tracks. I am NEVER taking the Amtrak again. The bus rules!

Jul 8, 2010


Took the 360t back to Michigan for the 4th of July. Back roads mostly and the interstate when I felt like flying.

Got a little hungry and followed signs for "glorious berries" along Red Arrow hwy. 

Met my brother and nephew at a produce stand near the Jericho station at Airport Road and M43. We rode into Kalamazoo together. Henry never got tired of watching me out the window. Squinting in the sun, he smiled ear to ear when I passed and strained in his car seat to look out the back window when I'd fall behind. Henry jumps off of Mark's porch into his Dad's arms. 

John Ripple oils my chain at his shop before I get back on the road. It worked out nicely to front load my pack so I could put my feet on the back pegs and lay down on the gas tank. 

I hauled ass for an hour and a half but broke down outside Valperaso, 50 miles east of the city. I pushed it a ways to get underneath an overpass and out of the sun but before I made it, somebody pulled over ahead of me in a Chevy Astro. Trying not to hear my Mother's voice and keep my head on straight, I eyeballed every sticker, memorized the license plate and scanned the dude head to toe. "1975?" he nails it. He's 60 something, an ex marine, and a Vietnam vet. Off the bat he's the bossiest stranger I’ve ever met. He's nice but a know-it-all and kinda irritated about something. Maybe my attitude. I stand my ground because I don't like people touching all over my bike just because they had one once. He was asking me all kinds of questions and I was trying to cool my jets because I might need his help. My bike wasn't hot, I had gas and my battery was charging above 13v but it still wasn't turning over. When I couldn't get the fuel lines off the filters to see if they were clogged, Ed cut them with a pocket knife. He was trying to be a marine but I was pissed. He offers to take me into town. He moves his wood chipper onto the top of the bed he built in the back to make room for my bike. I'm stalling. I mean, this is a horror movie script. With one wheel in and one wheel out of the van, I balked and said "forget it." He turned to me, bike balanced on his thigh, and said "Look, you need to decide one way or another. We can do this. If you commit, this bike will be in the van in 30 seconds." He could be bat shit crazy but at that moment, it was just a choice: in or out. Soccer Mom's and Harleys were blowing by me like I was roadkill. You gotta know when to fold em. 


We fought half the time but he drove me all the way back to the city for good karma and a picture. He rode off waiving the polaroid, laughing and yellin' down the alley. He was already working on the story he was going to tell his friends.

Jul 1, 2010

The Simple Life

Sometimes things seem impossibly complicated. This morning they were quite simple. 

Miriam is currently listening to: "One Hundred More Than One Hundred Times" by Judson Claiborne from the Album Time and Temperature