it was decided at some point that some of my photos would be part of a 3-person photography show at dean jensen gallery in milwaukee. i got the idea in my head to drive there from nevada, and bring my brother back with me, camping and skating the whole way. so you know, i did the one thing that would ensure this happening and bought a shitty car on craigslist. it mostly worked. i had like 6 months to get it all good for a 2000 mile drive. lots of help from friends and many hundreds of dollars later, the odds did not look in my favor to even make it to utah [according to the guy who smogged it]. i would have loved to take that gamble, but once you costanza that hard you dont want to double up on it. plus missing the art show would have been outta the question. i didnt battle dust and doubt for months on end to not get to actually SEE the prints on the wall. my brother was down for a much less glamorous and idyllic plan b, which im grateful for. so i parked the car [eventually resold it] and purchased a ticket for amtrak - yes, the long and slow way home.
on october 13th i walked out of my apartment and hoofed it the 6 or 8 blocks to the station...
[from this point on most of the text is transcribed directly from my journal. i would have scanned them but its difficult to write smoothly on a moving train and im already askin a lot of anyone by writing more than a twittersworth of characters]
walked to the train pit, fast paced. a woman was sittin pretty on the top edge of the cal-neva parking garage, her feet on the top of the big neon and metal A. cops and medics kept a distance. she was sitting upright, facing the sun, not moving and as far as i could tell not talking at all with the officer who was on the top level.
great big all around
in the pit we pulled forward - smoother the ride in town compared to out here past lovelock. bottles of cheap booze littered the tracks. i think about drinking and what it signifies in mankind and how it will steal you. into the wilderness the bottles give way to the occasional rusty bucket. high desert liquid transport vessels, done and done.
into the night, maybe winnemucca? flip on some classic green day and my eyeballs find something good out there. glowing in the twilight under huge bulb grids are 4 baseball fields. set up with the home plates all pointing in, like shane rawley's. rolling past a small stadium lit in the night is never not going to feel magic, special, significant. hope that never wears of. the vibes from field of dreams run deep.
people are out for smokes while we wait. a girl in yoga pants does stretches while she puffs on a cigarette. black lung ballerina, do the body mod shuffle.
through small towns of utah with visual access to peoples yards - homes right along the tracks - i realize how universal car trouble is. probably half of these properties have a car in the weeds, behind the fence, up on jacks, without tires or under tarps that have also begun to deteriorate. maybe if you got the room for it, out here in the middle of nothing, it just makes sense to hang onto it. where else would it go? and how would it get there? towtrucks in the weeds too. car trouble and financial trouble are probably synonymous in most cases.
"im gonna get the belt"
-a mom in the seat immediately behind me
cant help but think of graffin's line from the bad religion song 'individual'
"procreation without gain or purpose"
2 families of 4 young kids EACH are behind me and i am hanging onto my sanity by just a thin bit of hope and persistence. was not easy to sleep in this chair. i think i am part of some cruel social experiment - like the stewardess stuck me here on purpose to watch me suffer. fuck this. oh what do you know, theres an 'aiden' in the pack.
snuck into a much quieter car in front, settle in for a relaxing day of mountain creeping along the colorado river. i keep missing shots. its us, the river, and 2 opposing levels of I70 across the way. things keep lining up but i cant anticipate the filtered light and the quickly changing scenarios. in and out of dark tunnels blown into rock all day, finally winding down towards denver. first a crawl along suburbia, where the houses are built impossibly in the image of the rockies - each could house 20 people but probably max out at 5. these are homes like ive never seen - how is something so enormous kept so artificially pristine? many have roofs of solar panels, and the neighborhoods run at least a few miles. i notice how closely packed they are, the opposing porches line up in a way that gives me a weird adolescent tingle.
going fetal on 2 chairs. wake up in iowa nebraska front tooth humming. body vibrating. farmland hues, lush and dying for november. iowa is a stumpy cheese block or chunk of pie seen sideways if wisconsin is a mitten. so much dried corn under moody sky, im back in the polaroid light.
get audio recordings of train sounds for super 8
message on hwy underpass
fugazi 'instrument' is the adequate soundtrack for passing by rail over the mississippi river - iowa into illinois in the beauty of a grey october day. from the rusty bridge the town of burlington iowa appeared as a tight mound of all red brick buildings. all but one - a big white one, probably a post office or police station. maybe its the tea talking but im glad to be here, feeling good in the familiar landscape and much like myself. you cant cross a river like this and not feel something.
on a van in warren county:
dane's heating and cooling
forbidden ode to the rust belt
senior pictures should be done in settings and conditions that are relevant to the individual. if a kid works on a farm they should be sitting on the tractor, or among the tools. if a kid works in a library why not show them in the stacks? imagine the senior portrait of a dungeons'n'dragons enthusiast. we know where the skateboarders should be. if i was in the biz still id be pushing for these types of unique portraits that reveal more about the individual in more interesting and accurate ways.
if youre ever in galva, il theres a front yard miniramp along the amtrak line, on the most eastern edge of town. its red and i bet its metal. [i drew a sketch of it]. probably 8 or 12 ft wide, half that length is 3 or 4 ft high, the other half possibly 6 ft high. the transitions are bigger so its pretty mellow on the low end.
looking at a skateboarding photograph taken by another person can be a lot like watching someone else play tetris. in your own eyes and mind the illogical oversights and lack of your particular brand of daring can be maddening.
across the great flat land, its hummus farts for all
due to delays i had to run like hell to make the connection in chicago going to milwaukee. unfortunately this meant my bag didnt get there with me. it came up on the next train later that night - kinda nerve racking since i had a super8 camera and a couple boards stuffed into a big military duffel bag, which isnt usually how i travel [two backpacks, the second strapped to me frontside]. gets me to thinking about what i learned about train travel, information you may one day benefit from:
-bring ALL your own food including bags of tea or other caffeine. there are cold water spigots in every car so instant cold cereals are easy. plus the snack bar will give you free hot water
-bring an extra jacket or blanket
-pick a seat far from young people and groups of old people, who battle for first place at making the most noise
-pick a seat that lines up with a big open window. it gets old having to look to either the front or rear of a hanging curtain divider
-bring tons of stuff to work on like tedious experimental sewing projects
-the observation car isnt really all that much better than the normal cars view-wise but they will temporarily relieve the claustrophobia of being on a train for 3 days
-the observation car has areas which allow you to stretch out more comfortably in the middle of the night than the passenger cars
-no matter how old i get, its still fun to pee on moving vehicles of any kind
-stare out the window and clear your head, its fucking glorious
dropped dad at work in union grove, piggly wiggly. that place has to look funny on resumes. drove into downtown racine, got coffee. its wet outside, no DTP today. started taking photos. signs, markings the first 3 significant things of the day. MUSTARD TIGER may be the new 'pink cactus autumn gold' which i am so glad to have found. using it as a guide through aesthetic decision making. [note: i later discovered upon googling the term that it is some kind of meme joke or something. this detracts from its radness now because of course everything has to be a reference to some fuckin internet-bred inside joke of the week. but at the time it was a shining beacon].
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WHITE CARS
sometimes composition makes me sweat. lines, shapes, balance, surprise, a floating car. what do you claim to know about the world? what one element will make or break? how accurately can you figure the atomic weight of context?
back when this was a tree fort i went up there with a girl. we were in the middle of doing something that wasnt quite homework when a mouse ran by.
did people understand wide angle distortion when it first appeared? do you like my sewing project?
up shitts creek with a turd for a paddle
the aforementioned facility formerly known as shane rawley's, where many a sunflower shell lodged itself into my pre-teen gums as i squandered the hours waiting for a chance to prove myself.
anyways like i said, i was getting into the graveyards...
i worked at a coffee chain for 2.5 years. every monday i would haul into the store 2 towering pallets of what i affectionately began to call FUTURE GARBAGE, and i have not been able to ignore the truth of that matter ever since. scarred for life, in a good way. and hopefully on the track to make art about it, which hopefully will make some kind of difference, in some way, maybe.
as with any group of images you might refer to as a 'series' the big hangup is this: is it ok to make uninteresting singular photographs in the service of a greater body of work? this as well as the simpleton stunt-factor of the photo series is why i tread lightly. regardless, there they are - the trashcans of racine cemeteries, with a few milwaukees thrown in. cant say for certain whether this will continue or stop here, but it sure seemed like a good idea at the time.
a few other non-garbage graveyard images...
back into the graveyards of west racine. pulled up to a can where a sleeping cat lay. was barely moving, at first figured it had been let there to be taken out with the trash. i talked to it, and when it slowly turned over i saw it was a raccoon. something about its tail didnt look right and it could only sit up, was unable to get up on its hind legs. it was fat and fluffy, couldnt determine if it was injured, sick, or in labor. it showed no hostility towards me. i forced myself to get out and take the garbage can photo next to it. called information. phone dead. borrowed pharmacy phone book and called all the vets. none took raccoons. some even made special statements in their recordings that they do not help raccoons at all. left messages with 2 DNR workers. had to leave it there to recover or die on its own. that reality haunted me as i continued into other cemeteries, to look into other trashcans.
on the way home from work one day i was telling dad about what i had been doing all day and he thought we should go see where my grandparents are buried. a big downside to living so far from home is you dont always make it back to say goodbye properly.
while we were there he also showed me where nancy's family is and eventually located the spot his bones are destined for
the day of the show came and i went to milwaukee
it was finally dry so i went to my favorite place
i still cant believe you guys got those library benches there
tims gnarly videos
giving tim a run for his money that day in the "i cant believe what im seeing" department...
took a hobo shower in the culvers bathroom and went to the art opening...
INDEPENDENT PHRASES AND SUBORDINATE CLAUSES
heres a handful of installation shots taken by jon horvath...
after the show i drove north with cole and dad. this time was a more direct north than usual, with a few westward jaunts. our destination was sturgeon bay but we had a day or 2 to get there. first night was... man i forget where. woke up next to a decommissioned cricket van apparently.
sturgeon bay seems an unlikely spot for a hot new cement park...
so new the grass isnt in yet. everything so smooth and crisp... a bowled corner with fresh black steel pipe i got an easy 20 feet on - has anyone even grinded this yet? the parks a very strange mix of plaza, transition, and weird blobs including a raised up snake tube with a raw terra cotta lip. overall a 9 out of 13. one things for sure, it kicks green bays park in the balls. cole beat me to the pop shove it fakie and 5-0 grind.
curious to see how the newer batch of homeland cement parks will hold up in the next ten years, especially given the 4 month long arctic blast this part of wisconsin gets, which you could feel in the air - wisconsin octobers are doomy like that. the highschool behind my rock'n'roll is abandoned. probably a fully stocked darkroom in there.
hard to believe this things up there. so glad the world is coming around to giving us what we need. im sure this town has found out by now they are on the 'destination skatepark' list for the midwest. cole on a brand new but very late birthday board/wheel setup.
i think by now its safe to call it a chester grind
cole has a musical electric toothbrush
we scoped out a junk store in algoma. i bought a bright yellow hat.
monument to slapped wrists and abstinence
more disc golf. there was so much disc golf, its hard to keep in order. heres a bunch of disc golf from at least 2 separate outings...
course was next to a junkyard, one of my new favorite kinds of places
offshores at 40 knots, basket on a lighthouse, surrounded by a lake - the eternal mulligan
this photo reminds me of looking at baseball cards. specifically photos of pitchers. i was always fascinated by the way certain photos were just weird or freaky. you could compare it side by side to ones that looked really cool. even at a young age it was clear that newer cards had better shots of pitchers [better shots in general i guess], and i thought 'why did they pick this weird shot of nolan ryans tiny blurry arm? maybe they ran out of film? maybe topps stadium club had a deadline to meet?' some guys had style and some guys you couldnt even look at. if a dudes got a bunk delivery im trading him, but if your arm and leg make a huge muscley S shape on the card thats a keeper. it would be fun to shoot mlb on film and try to make your own baseball cards. cant help but wonder how all of that fed into my love of examining and making skateboarding photos.
the nikon d70 came out in 2004
went up to new berlin to hang with mom
got there early, had been out skating so i got clean. charlie is the mellowest lab.
stopped to shoot some super8 that a 6 year old boy would be stoked on
time to bounce
into chicago. the train station was super crowded. people were playing music. there was a pigeon flying around in the waiting area, kept landing and hanging out between everyones feet. got on the westbound.
bro. its a looooong haaaaaaul.
slideshows, episodes of eastbound and down, and the dude in front of cole having a super loud and at times suspect phone conversation.
roundabout this time you dig out 6 fuji prints...
as a group i like them best, in spite of the fact they are all 'safe' which is the way you have to do it when you have just a 10 pack.
i love me a few days of solitude but it was much more fun to have this guys company on the ride back
yeah you gotta get rid of this car