Monday, November 24, 2008

A Weekend in the Tri-Cities

Lordy did I need to get out of town.

Pressure has been mounting lately and I needed a release. Luckily Panda was heading over the mountains for a business trip and was gracious enough to take me along. Funny thing about a crisis...you really learn who your friends are. Some deserted me, others became closer to me than I ever thought possible. It's been a really beautiful process where I've learned more about the people around me, and even more about myself.

Saturday was a very early start. After a night of Monarch we drove up to Everett and I played Marketing Manager while being memorized by Panda's Nokia pitch. We headed towards the mountains while the world was still waking and as we crossed over the pass we encountered pretty white stuff falling from the sky.

Lodging was secured after a stupidly long drive into Kennewick and food became the priority. Instead of playing the "what do you want to eat game" I let Panda choose as I was just a tag a long for this trip. Not surprisingly a Chinese food restaurant ended up being our destination and as we walked in right away I knew it wasn't going to be my cup of tea...so to speak.

It was in an old Pizza Hut building complete with the ever present fire pit, having been to expensive to remove apparently, still in the center of the dining room. The smell reminded me of an old pan washed in dirty dishwater from the night before. My food smell like that also. I didn't want to insult Panda, so I ate what was in front of me quickly. Little did I know he was feeling the same way as me and I learned a valuable lesson: shitty food is shitty food and I best speak up about it!

There was a couple sitting behind us talking to the waitress about politics. The man was obviously a regular customer and the waitress began discussing the recent election and how couldn't believe that we elected a man into office who doesn't care about the military. Mentioning that there had already been arrests for implied assassination aspirations, the customer stated "Well, add me to that list!"

We left nauseous, and ended up napping until the afternoon light faded. We spent the evening drinking at various places, making friends with the locals and Panda putting up with my endless drunken rants about life and family.

I awoke in the morning to such a horrible hangover. The likes of which I have never felt and hope to never EVER feel again. My head seemed to split in two, every sound made me want to vomit and a breakfast of eggs was so far from what my stomach wanted that I could hardly keep down the wheat toast. Lots of water, advil and Smart Water later I was able to finally function enough to carry on a normal conversation.

working the tracks

The drive home was upon us and the sun was shinning bright. It was cold, but lovely and the sky was screaming for a ND filter. Alas, I had none for my zoom but the trains didn't mind. I did end up adding a warming filter to this shot in post processing. It is pretty much exactly as my eyes saw the scene around me. I was very reminded of Arizona on this trip and memories of my mom would come flooding to me so strongly that I had to create make shift dams just to keep them at bay.

gibbon

These shots were all taken off the side of the freeway, down roads leading to homes that seemed to scream meth lab. Locals would just stop in the middle of the road and talk to each other in their cars. It was a bit surreal, and I wondered if they were happy living out there. Ignorance is bliss so I wondered, if they were happy was it because they didn't know any different?

empty tracks

I mentioned this before but I'm a bit enamored with railroad tracks and trains. Not in a "I want to build model trains" way or "texting the conductor" kind of way, but I just find them so lonely. The history that the rails carry makes me ache just a little.

hanging on

We continued on and off to the side of the road I noticed a paved pathway along the side of the highway in Yakima. Panda obliged my curiosity and pulled into a parking lot for a little walk. I took quite a few pictures, but honestly the memory of that walk was more important to me than I could even express in pictures. My main goal was for Panda to grab some shots of the sunset. It had been a while since he had posted anything on his site and he had been so great in giving me all his time that I wanted to see him indulge in his own passion.

rainier

The sun was down by the time we got back to the truck but it's light was still lingering and Mt. Rainer was back lit by the remaining colors. I loved that I was seeing the other side of a mountain that has towered over me for as long as I can remember. 

Dinner was had at Outback when we made it back over to the west side of the state. The waitress for another table was talking to her customers and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. She was a military brat, Irish Catholic who had served her time and decided not to re-enlist as she did not believe in the war and knew she would be deployed to Iraq. It reminded me of the comments from the diner at the Chinese restaurant and showed me the stark contrast between the east side of my state and the west. I was very glad to be back home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

of Montreal...

What a crazy band.

My friend Mr. Kool was adamant about me seeing this band with him. He asked me to go a couple weeks ago before my recent drama and I immediately started making calls to see if we could go for free. I didn't hear anything back from my contacts and then insanity hit and I withdrew into a cave to deal. I still received random texts from Mr. Kool demanding my presence at this event and a day before the show I received a call letting me know that my name was on the guest list and could I please interview the band before the show.

Oh, well...I guess so.

The day began crazy and my camera guy was M.I.A. We gave a quick tutorial to an editor who had previous experience with the camera and off we went to the venue, a new employee that I was training on doing interviews in tow. So I've got two newbees and a very popular band with an eclectic mix of musicians, performance artists and a air about them which I immediately recognized from my years in LA. They weren't messing around, and I was a bit nervous as to how this was going to go down. As I was running sound I couldn't take any pictures of my own.

Luckily all went well. We had 4 of the members and a ninja. Can't beat that. With a meeting time of 8:00 that night I went home and rested my head a bit before heading out to meet Mr. Kool at the venue. Unfortunately his girl was unable to join us. The show was sold out and she wanted to come last minute. Neither one of us were giving up the ticket so in we went. Three $5 PBR's, a crash course in my new friends amazingly interesting life and two and a half hours later, the show begins.
 
of Montreal 4

We were easily able to get up front in the sold out crowd and I had a good vantage point to take some photos, but I had only my iPhone. I have no idea why I don't think to carry my point and shoot with me. My birthday gift of a new bag from the Panda has ample room. Perhaps it's the massive amount of batteries that darn thing eats.

of Montreal 3

The stage show for of Montreal is an experience. The aforementioned ninja had multiplied, as you can see above. Or maybe you can't...ninja stealth.We didn't get the horse that NYC was lucky enough to see, however there were many costume changes by the lead singer and elaborate performance art from their characters that tour with the band.

of Montreal 2

I watched the show through the viewfinders of other concert goer's camera's and was jealous that they were able to get such great shots. The LCD would light up with a zoomed in photo of the lead singer and I would be struck by the similarities to Bowie and Iggy Pop as he slowly transformed himself with every song he sang. By the time the show was over, he had been painted red by the characters and was jumping around the stage with a vengeance. The crowd was whipped up into such a frenzy that one the band members laid himself down on top of the fans to let them carry him around; he sucked up the energy that they gave off and returned to the stage to unleash it on the drum set.

I was impressed, to say the least. They have a new fan in me that's for sure. I was also impressed with the crowd. Very respectful for an all ages show. I liked the venue as well...so overall, it was a great experience. I'm glad Mr. Kool dragged me out of my self induced cave if only for a night. I also learned so much about him and it was nice to lose myself in someone else's issues for a little while.

And as an extra added bonus, a picture from my adventures halloween night with three grown men in footie pajamas. Always good times.

halloween

Monday, November 17, 2008

Broke And No Liquor

Damn.

Guess I'll have to supplement my wine addiction for posting and catching up on missed shows via crappy streaming video. Top Chef, check...Grey's, check...The Neil Patrick Harris show (oh, I mean How I Met Your Mother), check...I'm learning what I think is Japanese via Tudo.com. I can now recognize the character for no.

so fast

This caught my eye while I was out walking tonight. I climbed up onto a ramp leading into an abandoned building and waited for a car to pass by. I felt like a little kid with a snowball in my hand waiting to pelt it at an oncoming car and then run and hide.

What, am I the only one that did that as a child?

velvet

What I find interesting while walking the streets of my neighborhood is how safe I actually feel. I have a large camera in my hand mounted to a tripod and I'm just walking past homeless people down dark alley ways and deserted parks. I don't even look behind me while setting up a shot, I just trust that I won't be hurt. It's funny because I would have never felt that way in the city before I lived in Los Angeles. I know it's a false sense of security, but I feel like if it's my time then I can't do anything to stop it. Everyday should be a good day to die.

booth

I've been fascinated with photo booths lately. I'm not the biggest fan of this photo technically, but I'm glad I now know why. There is no way to draw the eye through the shot. It becomes stuck, there is no flow. Then again, maybe that's what I like about it. You are sucked in and there is no way out. 

I did a big loop around the hill, taking Pike down then the big Denny hill up. I've been a lazy ass lately. Haven't hiked in who knows how long, hardly move from the couch, don't walk in the city any more. I take the elevator up three floors to my office. I figured the hill would do me some good and boy did it ever. I was huffing by the time I got to my house. Time to start running again.

Man, I hate running

Saturday Wanderings

Today was a rally in my neighborhood for No on Prop 8. I could hear the cheering crowds in the distance and felt my heart ache a little for my friends in California who are affected by this. I wished that I could show them the solidarity that we have up here for them, but I think they could feel the love. It was radiating all over the city. Interesting too that Prop 8 is having an impact up here. I think it's funny how California is still relevant to me here, it's pull so strong that even the Santa Ana's affect me still. They were blowing last week and coupled with the full moon it created some tension that I'm still working out. I think yoga is on the agenda tonight.

floating

I haven't spent much time in the city since Halloween, so I was craving some Seattle time. Panda joined me on a quest for the Arboretum, which (note to self) is only 10 blocks from my house. Of course, we took the long way and hit up the Botanical Gardens first. Strange little place...and I do mean little. Maybe it's pretty during the spring time...it was pretty lame this time of year.

starburst

I'm still learning my zoom lens and I'm stupidly grateful that I haven't had to return it just yet for cash. This family thing has me strapped for the next week but I've been living well thanks to the bear so I'm not turning to pawning my stuff just yet!

duckies

The Arboretum, like I mentioned, is very close to my house and almost (ok, sorta kinda) Central Park'esque as you can drive through it in a big loop. We parked and walked the trail but with the cars driving by I was acutely aware of my location in the city. I also spotted larches at the end of their glory and cursed a little at them. Had I known that I could have walked to see these elusive trees instead of driving all the way up to Mt. Baker...oh grrr. Stupid larches.

reflection

K & P at it again, sneaking into things instead of paying full price. The Japanese Garden shouldn't cost $5 to get in...I mean geesh.

I wrestled with some anger this weekend. I suppose it's normal and will pass, just as the sadness did. I'm taking a trip out of the city next weekend and I'm very excited. It gives me something to look forward to and makes it easier for me to get through the week, even if it is only to the other side of the mountains. This situaiton has been a good lesson in control for me. When to have it, and when to let it go. Sometimes you can't control events around you, but you can control how you react to the events. I think I'm learning.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hunter's Moon

two full moons

Last night the full moon was mocking me. It stared down at me large and clear; tempting me into anger, frustration, pity and sorrow. I decided to capture it and mold it into what I felt it should represent for once instead of letting it control my emotions. I put it behind a cage, forever at a distance separated by unending links and gave it a companion to inflict it's wrath on. Leaving me free to feel what I needed to feel without the added pressure of a lunar cycle I was able to let go last night and cry. I slept and this morning woke up with a new resolve.

Possessions are not anything I should be upset over. My memories are precious to me and if I lose a few pictures or mementos from my childhood it's ok. I still have my mom and that's what matters most. She will need to grieve the loss of these things, and I'll understand if she becomes angry with me for a time.

There are things I want to say like her parents were never there for her, the men she had in her life broke her down, the pain she suffers from medical issues caused her to get to this point; but honestly I won't make excuses for her. She has lived long enough to know better, and all mistakes she makes now are her own. I've never blamed her for mine and have always been aware that all mistakes I make are something to learn from; but they are mine.

I was reminded last night that all the wonderful things in my life hasn't changed over the last week and a half. I still have great friends, family support that not only comes from my blood relatives but Panda's amazing family who treats me like one of their own, a great job, I live in a beautiful city that I get to appreciate every day, a hobby that has turned into a true outlet for me and a love of music that lifts me up whenever I turned to it. This situation is only an extension of what I've been dealing with my entire life. Hopefully this time my mom will finally get the help she needs and appricate me for someone who loves her unconditionally.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A couple more...

I'm finally starting to get my voice back.

I credit a black and white bear, massive amounts of Gears 2 (shooting things always helps), and a strong will. Life is starting to get back to normal, Mom is in a safe and healthy place and after spending some money I should have all her affairs in order which will help her get better. I miss her, I wish she had talked to me before all this and I don't know where it will go from here but family is family. One day at a time is the best for now and I'm hoping that my hobby will keep me busy so that I won't dwell. Honestly, I don't know if I could have done all this without my best friend helping me along the way...words can't even express how grateful I am. 

Speaking of my hobby, I played around with a couple pictures I took on Monday at Gibson.

blown out

Strangely enough, I actually like the blown out center. I guess sometimes a no no in photography can actually add to a shot. The light bounces off the floor and casts the shadows of the guitars across the wall. When Val Emmich walked through this hallway he gazed upon the guitars like they were works of art, appreciating each string, fret and mother of pearl inlay. You could tell he wanted to pull down each one and pluck it's strings but he held back, which intrigued me but reminded me that in the end it doesn't matter how many people have seen you on TV or in concert or read your books, we are all just people.

backroom

The backroom was filled with guitar cases and I couldn't help but wonder who they belonged to, which artist had taken one of those guitars on stage with them, where each one had been in the world, how old they were and if one of my favorite songs were ever played on their strings. This photo I turned black and white, upping the blues and yellows then I added a sepia filter after.

I feel really lucky to have been able to just shoot anywhere I wanted in the showroom. I had full access to each area, each guitar, the pianos and recording studios. My favorite thing about the music industry in Seattle is that it's not an industry, it's a passion. They don't care about the money, they have no agenda, they just want to play. It's refreshing and also very inspiring.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Val Emmich

Fine, I had a cold.

Recent events in my life forced me to put down the camera and deal with some pretty intense stuff. It's not over, but I was given an opportunity today to pick up my Canon and point it towards a really interesting artist, writer, actor and all around nifty guy.

miking up

After a long night of apple martini's and Once More With Feeling in Tru Motion I was awoken by a phone call from my camera man who was on his way pick me up. UGH! I told him I'd meet them there and I threw on some clothes and made it to the Gibson showroom with time to spare.

val three

Val arrived alone and wandered around the showroom for a bit checking out all the guitars. I'm not sure if it's open to the public so it was really interesting to get a tour of the place.

val four

We got him set up and he played two songs for myself and four others, which was very cool.

val five

After the performance I asked him a few questions about his music, the novel he wrote and his role as Jessie on Ugly Betty.

what's up there

It was a great interview and he was such a nice guy. I highly recommend picking up his album Little Dagger and he will be playing tonight at El Corazon so if you're in the area go check him out. I wish that I had a little extra energy today to write more but I'm low on words lately. I guess that's the nice thing about pictures, when I'm out of words they can do the talking for me.