Category Archives: photography

a healthy sense of detachment

NewYork_2012-04_April-5“For [Europeans] work was not an obsession or even, it seemed, a concern. And the notion that a person should subordinate himself to a corporation, especially an American corporation, was, to them, laughable.”

“If you are a self-possessed man with a healthy sense of detachment from your bank account and someone writes you a check for tens of millions of dollars, you probably behave as if you have won a sweepstakes, kicking your feet in the air and laughing yourself to sleep at night at the miracle of your good fortune. But if your sense of self-worth is morbidly wrapped up in your financial success, you probably believe you deserve everything you get. You take it as a reflection of something grand inside you.”

“There was a deep behavioral connection between bond trading and takeovers as well: Both were driven by a new pushy financial entrepreneurship that smelled fishy to many who had made their living on Wall Street in the past. There are those who would have you think that a great deal of thought and wisdom is invested in each takeover. Not so. Wall Street’s takeover salesmen are not so different from Wall Street’s bond salesmen. They spend far more time plotting strategy than they do wondering whether they should do the deals. They basically assume that anything that enables them to get rich must also be good for the world. The embodiment of the takeover market is a high-strung, hyper-ambitious twenty-six-year-old, employed by a large American investment bank, smiling and dialing for companies.

And the process by which a take-over occurs is frighteningly simple in view of its effects on community, workers, shareholders, and management. A paper manufacturer in Oregon appears cheap to the twenty-six-year-old playing with his computer late one night in New York or London. He writes his calculations on a telex, which he send to any party remotely interested in paper, in Oregon , or in buying cheap companies. Like the organizer of a debutante party, the twenty-six-year-old keeps a file on his desk of who is keen on whom. But he isn’t particularly discriminating in issuing invitations. Anyone can buy because anyone can borrow using junk bonds. The papermaker in Oregon is now a target.”

“My father’s generation grew up with certain beliefs. One of those beliefs is that the amount of money one earns is a rough guide to one’s contribution to the welfare and prosperity of society…It took watching his son being paid 225 grand at the age of twenty-seven, after two years on the job, to shake his faith in money. He has only recently recovered from the shock.”

—Michael Lewis, Liar’s Poker, 1989
Recommended to us on yoga hike by Miguel
We got a lot of good stuff that day

Steel-welded Sculpture, The Sun God, by J. McKeon

9E71: a time out

home-1Last week Mar and I saw a play (Rx at 59e59. Very cute). I haven’t seen her in years and it brought me back to our Time Out days. Her photography is beautiful. Like me, she’s not particularly commercial, though she leans toward fine art and I toward documentary. The cover image at right (mine) is still one of my favorites. I was in Uzbekistan when it was published and didn’t know it made the cover until I came back and saw it in a bookstore.

Jpeg is back Monday, thank god. I missed him, but in a nice way. He’s classy enough to call regularly, not use the “ah, oh, yeah, there’s no internet here” line on days we don’t speak, and didn’t need to pick up a Russian prostitute to keep him company on his travels. Respect, gentlemen. That’s all we ask.

Danchik likes to analyze why I stop speaking to people, just cut them out completely. It’s not that I’m angry or upset. It’s that I’m done being angry and upset. After I’ve explained that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable (e.g. lies and inconsistency), not once but ad nauseam, and it’s clear he’s incapable of basic civility, I lose all respect. A line is crossed and I am done. I never really know where this line is or when it will appear, which is perhaps what causes confusion (“she put up with it before. What’s the problem now?”). Sooner or later, clarity descends and the person’s little world seems both toxic and boring. I’m no longer able to look past the trite and unnecessary excuses and lies, justifying them because of the person’s obvious pain. I finally see my own behavior as aiding and abetting, and I’m done. Danchik doesn’t get the respect thing, and he doesn’t get why I haven’t cut him off, a self-proclaimed asshole.

“You’ve always been good to me. Well, maybe there was a short time you weren’t, but you were a baby and I let it go.” Behavior that is understandable at 19 is not acceptable at 25, and definitely not at 49. And that’s the issue. The bottom line is that Danchik is good to me. We have a history. As Bij would say, “He’s family.” I can’t say that for those I can no longer be bothered with. (No, I’m not talking specifically about you. You are typical. You are one of many. And that is, actually, the bottom line. It’s not all about you).

There was some time to think about this with Jpeg out of town. I say it because I’m relieved I broke a 5-year string of bad luck (disingenuous, selfish men) but also because bad behavior seems to be a dating trend in both women and men. I own my misery—it wasn’t bad luck. I let poor behavior continue, and chose to ignore the reality for what I’d hoped was there. Or put up with bad behavior because I felt sorry for the guy. It’s fucking hard to be close to someone, and I’m sure I will always fear it. But I will no longer choose men with whom closeness is impossible—for recreation or relationship. It causes dreadful problems and more pain than simply facing my fear of intimacy and the hurt behind it. But it’s familiar. And easier. Easier to look outward to solve problems than within. Not just for me, but for many.

Take this depressing blog, “Uptown-Lowdown,” about a young woman’s adventures on the dating site OkCupid. My gawd. She started off genuine and endearing, but then somehow got wrapped up in the need to exude freedom and cool, and she lost her voice in the process. It reads now as if having deep feelings for someone and risking vulnerability is wildly unhip for either gender. “Women can be douchebags, too!” Wow. I think most of us got that awhile ago. The need for young women to flaunt it seems to indicate just how far we haven’t come. Or just how scared we all are. Better to justify excitement about a guy in his FULLYPAID invite to Jamaica than to admit vulnerability and excitement the person himself. Sad times. Sad times.

Further, it is amazing how poorly behaved people are willing to be, in writing, in an age that such behavior can be published at large on the internet (and I’m not talking about a dating blog). It’s especially shocking when such people have PR as their first and only concern. But then, in an age of narcissism, nothing should come as a surprise.


i want my (love stories)


Oh shut up. Whatever. So I wanted to write them in August but I’m still getting to the stories, still waxing on about this addiction-to-lust meme, and not even consistently. You should be used to that by now. I’ve been wanting to write the next bit forever, but this, then that, then that, and more that came up and in the course if it, changed what I have to say.

The fabulous news is that I’m almost up to date with my digital photo archives, a project I started in January of 2009. I’ve selected from over 20,000 photos, tagged over 10,000, and put over 5,000 online. I’ve finally reached this summer in the archives, and once I’m through the UK pics, I’ll be up to date. And I only need four more birthdays to have all 366.

I am happily shocked that things are coming together. Ten years ago I was troubled by the fact that my photos seemed to tell one story, and my words another. Though I was tour guiding abroad, where you’d think it’d be pretty easy to illustrate a story with travel snaps, my photos didn’t mesh with my writing. They were saying different things. Shortly after, my acupuncturist told me that my yin and my yang were not in sync. In other words, my masculine and feminine energies? “Not on speaking terms,” he said. They didn’t come together. Not a subtle metaphor, is it. While masculine and feminine dichotomy seems a bit cliché, there is truth to it. But more than that, we have so many identities and stories within. How do they mesh? Do they harmonize? Fight? Or not even communicate?  Maybe that is (they are) part of what inspired me to organize my photos into a tagged archive, so that I can pull up a shot that illustrates my words, and bring together different parts of my life and self. Even the little flickr plugin (in the column at right, which pulls from the archive) charms me with its collection of different moments in my life, different parts of me, all true and sharp and real, thrown together at once.

My original intent with the love stories was to share some happy tales I came across when I visited the UK in August. The last few posts introducing the topic were more about post-modern confusion between lust and love than the successful romance and love that these stories convey, but they brought up some interesting conversations.

I went to see Sam’s spectacular play last week at Ars Nova. It made me laugh. And it made me wonder if some of the pretty hilarious dating stories I have from the last few years shouldn’t be shared. Sam advised, “I think you should definitely write the narcissism-&-modern-lust stories; so many people would relate, and appreciate, and it would be a Great Good to the world.”

Yes, maybe, Sam. A Great Good indeed (what more love and encouragement can a girl ask for, right?) But I’m not sure if I want to dwell in them. You know, the negativity. Nor I do want to jinx something so lovely and nice and new that I don’t dare mention it. Nor do I like the profound irritation of knowing that people read what they want to read—even though the text is write there in front of them for reference. Some just see what they want to see and make it all about themselves instead of stopping for three minutes and considering what another has to say. Generally annoying, sure, but even more aggravating when it comes to matters of the heart. But, unlike the corporate-minded, I will not punish the majority for the transgressions of the few. At least, if I don’t write the narcissism-&-modern-lust stories, it won’t be for that reason. I promise.

A final note: I’m moving my site over to another server, so it might be up and down in the coming weeks as I fix stuff. Just come back later if you can’t get through.

the air of elsewhere

Uz_2000-05-06_Karakalpakstan_012All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they’re not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his “speedboat” there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they’re looking through you to somewhere else they’d rather be.

It is impossible to intervene.


— Russell Brand on Amy Winehouse