Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sports Report

I hate watching sports on television. Don’t get me wrong. I hate watching sports like I hate smoking cigarettes. It’s a bad and addictive habit.

I hate football most of all. Not so much for the barbaric stupidity of the game or the barbaric stupidity of the hype that surrounds it, or even because of the stupid fucking announcers, but because it is played in the fall on beautiful weekend days. If I spend a late October Sunday plunked down in front of the tv watching one game after the other, and possibly even the execrable pre-game show, instead of going out and enjoying the weather, I feel like a totally useless pile of shit.

But there are exceptions. There are certain games that are worth watching, especially if they are played on a bad-weather day when there’s really not that much else to do. The rare football game, or possibly world series baseball, and quite a few college basketball games are good, especially in the tournament. The NBA, however, pretty much always sucks because of the open cheating by the league and its refs. It is marginally better, at best, than professional wrestling.

Soccer has never really been an option, and I consider that a good thing. It’s not like I need another sport to feel bad about watching when I could be doing something more productive and/or interesting. But the World Cup soccer tournament has become one of my favorite sporting events and it’s nice that it only comes round once every four years.

Today’s Brazil - France match was an example of why watching sports can on rare occasions be worthwhile. Of all the major sports, it is most difficult to score in soccer. The entire game is set up to favor the defense, so it takes a near perfect combination of passes resulting in a perfectly placed kick in order to score a point. When this happens, the sequence is often genuinely beautiful. It can even have a fleeting feel of transcendence when everything is perfectly placed. It can be art.

Yes, I know, there are a lot of boring matches, but that is no less true in our major sports. I think the obvious reason why the American beer guts don’t like soccer is because they don’t get a chance to see it. As mentioned above, my name is Chuck and I am a sportsaholic. And although I manage to keep it in check and spend my autumn Sundays hiking above the Hudson or taking the kids on some kind of adventure or other, I understand what sports watching is all about, and in that regard soccer is just like anything else. The same fat losers who sit up at night watching ping pong on ESPN and claim to hate soccer have just never watched it.

And when the World Cup rolls around, like the playoffs in any sport (except the the NBA), some matches reach the highest level of organized competition. And today’s match between Brazil and France was one of those examples. Unfortunately, the other match between England and Portugal really sucked and I was very much disappointed that England lost. Not that I really cared who won for any rational reason, but I figured that France would beat Brazil and the other two semifinalists were Germany and Italy, so were England playing France and Germany playing Italy and the winners playing each other for the championship, it would be like World War II redux. The possibility that George Bush might consider the lack of an American presence as a setback in the war on terror and bomb the finals would have provided additional drama. And still, if France and Germany win their semi-final matches, watch out. A victory for either of those teams could be construed as a victory for terrorism.

And finally, I'll just note for anyone living in the New York metropolitan area or planning a visit, if you like watching live soccer and have a corresponding appreciation for great Mexican food, I highly recommend going down to the Red Hook soccer fields some Sunday, having a burrito or a plate of ceviche and taking in a good match in the proper atmosphere.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Howling at the Movies

I rented Howl's Moving Castle because Spirited Away is my family's favorite movie. The kids love it, watch it over and over again and the adults like it very much as well. And outside the family, a lot of critics think it’s one of the better movies ever and it was the highest grossing Japanese film in history.

Myself? I've never watched Spirited Away. One of its main characters is a creepy old lady that totally freaks me out. I shudder every time I walk through the living room and see her on the screen. She is very, very disturbing and I want no part of any movie with a character like that in it.

So, as you can imagine, I was wary of Howl's Moving Castle and became extremely uncomfortable when very early in the movie a witch turns a young girl into an old lady. I was ready to bolt for the bedroom and the comfort of the drugs, alcohol and the computer, but I steeled myself and gave it a few minutes. Fortunately, it turned out that Sophie, the central character in the film, was not a creepy old lady. It took awhile to see it, but she was actually quite beautiful.

Ha ha, I bet your thinking, yea, another movie where the seemingly ugly character's inner beauty shines through in the end. Well, perhaps, but there is no glass slipper, no changing into a swan, no revalatory moment, no epiphany, no crescendo of strings in the soundtrack while everyone recognizes Sophie's inner beauty and they all live happily ever after. Howl's Moving Castle is far too sophisticated for that kind of movie staple nonsense. Hayao Miyazaki has proper respect for the intelligence and artistic sensitivities of children.

I say proper respect because both Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away are not movies you could pitch to a Hollywood studio as children's movies, yet children love them and happily watch them repeatedly. Yes, I know, that may be true of classic Disney movies, or recent Pixar films, but Miyazaki's work is significantly different than the standard American forumula. There are no cute sidekicks, no rousing battles, nor even tragic deaths á la Bambi.

Miyazak's work is about story and character, yet it goes deeper, it engages the child in a realm between dreams and intellect, in an abstract reality that only a few adult artists such as Miyazaki and Roald Dahl have been able to interpret but which almost any child can immediately understand.

Yea, you’d think that when a young girl gets turned into an old lady at the beginning of a movie that the rest of the film will be about how she tries to undo the spell and regain her youth. But such is not the case with Howl. There are scenes in which Sophie indicates she would like to have her youth back, but she’s not on a quest to achieve it and that plot-line is not the driving force of the narrative.

I wouldn’t describe any of the particular themes of Howl, and there are many, as the driving force of the narrative. The story is set in a European-ish land with towering Alps-like mountains in the background. The time is vaguely early twentieth century. The roads are populated by steam powered automobiles and slow-moving propeller driven flying machines fill the skies. A senseless and brutal war provides the narrative arc, but Howl is not a movie about war. Nevertheless, there is talk of war in the beginning and then the war begins and gets worse, taking its toll on the characters as the movie progresses. The movie ends when the war ends and the war ends as a result of the actions of the characters. Yet, as I said, the movie is not about war. War merely provides the external framework.

Howl, voiced by Christian Bale, is a wizard. Howl’s castle is, as the title indicates, a moving castle. It moves around the wastelands and is occasionally spotted by the townspeople who believe that Howl eats the hearts of beautiful young women. Sophie is a young, plain girl voiced by Emily Mortimer. She is turned into an extremely old woman voiced by Jean Simmons by the Witch of the Waste, who is indelibly voiced by Lauren Bacall. Calcifer is a fire demon voiced by Billy Chrystal who provides a particularly understated performance by his standards. Calcifer is enslaved by Howl and uses his power to heat, move, and hide the castle. Madame Suliman, voiced by Blyther Danner, is the King’s sorceress. Her dog is an important character as well. Turnip-head is a scarecrow who hops around and helps out Sophie at key parts of the film.

So what’s it about? Hard to say.There is a war, but it’s not about war. There are questions of beauty, but it’s not about beauty. There are issues of vengeance, but it is not about revenge. The themes of community, loyalty and betrayal are present, but hardly omnipresent. It’s a complex story told with genuine respect for its audience. You can come to your own conclusions regarding what it's about, but I think you'll find that even if it's about nothing at all, it's extremely good storytelling.

All of those themes are handled with quiet depth. Miyazaki never overtly draws attention to any of them. Almost everything that happens in the movie is open to a variety of interpretations. It bears repeated watching. It’s not like Pokeman. I don’t think the kids’ brains are rotting a little bit more with each viewing. The opposite is more likely true. As far as I'm concerned, they can watch it as many times as they want.

The narrative arc of the character of the Witch of the Waste is illustrative of the movie’s sensibility. Her growth and transformation as a character is one of the genuinely interesting elements of the movie. She is a fearsome monster in the beginning. Alternately beautiful and double-chinned scary she is contemptuous of Sophie who she describes as a “tacky little girl in a tacky little hat shop” and turns her into an old lady out of petty spite.

The next time we meet the witch is in a very strange scene where Sophie and the witch are walking up the stairs of the castle to see Madam Suliman. The stairs are steep and long and there appears to be some kind of magic spell that makes them exceptionally difficult to climb. As the witch climbs the stairs she huffs and puffs and sweats and begins to shrink. Her double chin quadruples until she is little more than a blob of jelly and it’s difficult to tell where her 16th chin ends and the rest of her body begins. Sophie taunts her as they walk up the stairs, saying how happy she would be to help if only she were younger, but the witch says she only knows how to make spells not remove them. But as the witch transforms into an ugly blob of huffing and puffing jelly, Sophie transforms as well. She goes from mildly taunting the witch to feeling sorry for her, even asking one of the King’s attendants to help.

When they make it to the top, Madame Suliman strips the witch of her powers and she becomes a helpless old lady. Suliman explains that that’s what she really looks like without the benefit of magic. I won’t give away the plot details at this point, but Howl shows up, hijinks ensue, and they escape the King’s castle. Sophie brings along the witch and becomes her protector and nursemaid. During this time the witch goes through another transformation. Although she remains old, she becomes beautiful, but as with everything else in the movie, her transformation is not that simple.

Note that with the witch’s transformation, two major characters have been transformed into ugly old ladies and become beautiful. And their beauty does not come from obvious changes in the way they are drawn. It comes from the way they act. Miyazaki pulls off the nearly miraculous feat of getting us to see the same thing in an entirely different way. And I stress again that there is no hammer blow involved. No character is saying “wow look at how the old lady has changed. These changes, and all the other important themes in the movie happen unobtrusively and naturally in the course of the narrative. And again, what Hollywood studio would even consider producing a movie with two ugly old ladies as main characters and no clear moral lessons?

Yes, dissertations likely will be written on Howl's Moving Castle, but don’t be afraid. It’s a pleasant movie to watch with your brain turned off. It is well-paced with no dead spots. The animation is consistently great and nearly transcendental in many scenes.

But I’ll give Miyazaki the last word:

"Personally I am very pessimistic," Miyazaki says. "But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can't help but bless them for a good future. Because I can't tell that child, 'Oh, you shouldn't have come into this life.' And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making."

Perhaps this is why he tells children's stories. "Well, yes. I believe that children's souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations. It's just that as they grow older and experience the everyday world that memory sinks lower and lower. I feel I need to make a film that reaches down to that level. If I could do that I would die happy."

I ask if he feels he's managed that already and he chuckles and shakes his head. Nor does he feel that film can be employed as a force for good. "Film doesn't have that kind of power," he says, gloomily. "It only exerts its influence when it stirs patriots up against other nations, or taps into aggressive, violent urges."

This is a black diagnosis indeed. But then, inexplicably, Miyazaki's mood lightens. Perhaps it's the sunshine, or the cigarette, or the fact that the interview is almost over. "Of course," he relents, "if, as artists, we try to tap into that soul level - if we say that life is worth living and the world is worth living in - then something good might come of it." He shrugs. "Maybe that's what these films are doing. They are my way of blessing the child"


I'm a consumer, baby, so why don't ya kill me

Don’t worry, if I don’t change my consumerist ways, my wife will take care of that.

But today was a bit overboard. I’m on a serious Hayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿) kick and ordered the DVD box set of the 14 movies his studio has released. I’m currently working on a post about his most recent film, Howl’s Moving Castle, but it’s coming along slowly.

Then I read an article in the Guardian about Nouvelle Vague and am downloading their music off ITunes as I type. Apparently, they do Bossa Nova versions of classic underground 80’s music, which sounds like my kinda thing. I haven’t lost my appreciation for the lyrics of such songs as “Too Drunk to Fuck,” but can’t really stand the guitars for long stretches like the old days. And I love Brazilian music, though I generally prefer Tropical to Bossa Nova, it’s not like that big of a difference. So I’m optimistic.

The bands covered are:

1. Joy Division
2. Depeche Mode
3. Tuxedomoon
4. The Clash
5. PiL
6. Dead Kennedys
7. Sisters of Mercy
8. XTC
9. The Cure
10. Modern English
11. The Undertones
12. Killing Joke
13. The Specials
14. Josef K.

The snotty reviewer at Amazon described it as “ironic dinner music for the new millennium.” I would never use the term “new millennium” and the music’s pretty much as ironic as it gets in it’s original form. Frankly, I’m just hoping for some good dinner music. I’ll let you know.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chucking out the competition

Anyone who read my Mermaid Day post below may be interested in checking out the Village Voice photographer’s coverage of the event. My first thought was that it was pretty weak. Then I thought, well, it’s tough to go to an event you’ve never covered so I shouldn’t be so fucking critical. The photos aren’t technically bad. But my feelings of collegial warmth didn’t last long. The Voice photos show only one aspect of the event. I’m not even talking about art. They fail as journalism. At best they are tourist photos. It’s probably more accurate to describe them as publicity photos.

And that’s what photojournalism has mostly become. I worked at a photo agency for several months before the 2004 elections and saw literally tens of thousands of photos come over the wire. The elite photojournalists covering the campaign happily framed their shots just like the set designers anticipated. Without exception they provided the campaign with heroic images of the candidate against dramatic backgrounds that were every bit as scripted and framed as the biggest budget Hollywood movie. The Mermaid Parade is not so well-staged, that’s a big part of its beauty, but the photographer’s intent was the same.

Am I any better? Perhaps not, but this particular post isn't really about me.

And all Mermaid Day photos are interesting on some level. If you want to see more, here’s 1521 Mermaid Day photos that people have uploaded to Flikr.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bad Things in the Forest of Light and Shadow

I watched Rashomon, the Great Movie Classic by The Legendary Director Akira Kurosawa again and didn’t like it any better the second time. I thought the story was weak and the acting bad. Visually, I thought it was very good and the sound was well-done, but for me that was not enough to carry it. So that’s my shallow review of a film that is considered by leading critics to be one of the great films of all time. What can I say?

Well, for one thing, Rashomon is one of those films that is more interesting to read about than to watch. The Wikipedia link above provides some great examples of how people can spend way too much time analyzing a piece of art. Kurosawa says that light and shadow were main characters in the film, but he says nothing about what their characterizations signified. One prominent critic finds that light represents the bad and shadow the good whereas another prominent critic finds just the opposite and both can make coherent arguments to support their position. Me? Cool use of light and shadow, is all I have to say about it. I don’t care what it means and would like to think that Kurosawa didn’t settle on some black and white meaning either. If he did, he at least had the artistic skill to leave it open to interpretation.

The story is told by four separate characters -- the murderer, the dead man, his wife, and a man who claims to have witnessed the crime, and none of the stories are the same. The plot is simple. A dead body is found. A criminal is apprehended. How did the dead man get that knife in his chest? That’s the mystery.

What does it mean? Well, duh, you may say, that story structure’s been done a hundred times. Like everything else, it has even been referenced in the Simpson’s (Marge: “you liked Rashomon.” Homer: “That’s how you remember it.”) Is it worth anything that Kurosawa did it first in Rashomon? Again, it’s interesting to read about, but watching the movie, who really cares?

Same thing with the cinematography, but I answer the question differently. Some of the techniques used in the filming of Rashomon were revolutionary. Is that worth anything? Again, it’s interesting to read about, but watching the movie, does it matter? Well, it doesn’t matter who did it first, but it matters that it’s done so well. The forest scenes where the camera is pointed directly into the sun are incredible. The rain scenes at the gate are insanely good as well. Rain doesn’t show up on film when you point a camera up against a grey sky, so they mixed black ink in the water so the rain would be visible. Interesting to read about, but when watching the movie, the visual element is all that matters, and the downpour at the gate is sublime cinematography.

It’s just the opposite with the story. If we analyze it like English majors, the story is great. It plumbs the emotional depths of human tragedy, at least from a male perspective, depicting one of our worst nightmares. A man and his wife are waylaid by a bandit. He is tied up and she is raped in front of him. Then he is murdered. We’re never sure what the sequence of events were, but each of the tellings is heartbreaking in its own way. In one, the woman enjoys the rape and asks the bandit to kill her husband. In another, the man wants nothing to do with her because she was raped. In the other, it’s a comedy of errors. Then the ending goes off on a totally different tangent and you can make of that what you will.

I’d skip the critics though, myself included, and decide for yourself. If you want to read something intelligent about it, I recommend going straight to the source. Before filming began, three of Kurosawa’s assistant directors came to see him. They had read the script many times without understanding it and asked him to explain it for them.

“Please read it again more carefully,” I told them. “If you read it diligently, you should be able to understand it because it was written with the intention of being comprehensible.” But they wouldn’t leave. “We believe we have read it carefully, and we still don’t understand it at all; that’s why we want you to explain it to us.” For their persistence I gave them this simple explanation:

Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script portrays such human beings–the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave—even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem. This film is like a strange picture scroll that is unrolled and displayed by the ego. You say that you can’t understand this script at all, but that is because the human heart itself is impossible to understand. If you focus on the impossibility of truly understanding human psychology and read the script one more time, I think you will grasp the point of it.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Today's Featured Blogs

I recently discovered the “Next Blog” button on blogger and now I spend a small portion of my downtime clicking to random blogs. I only read a few blogs on a semi-daily basis, all of which are left-ish political, the majority of which are funny. And sometimes I click on the links at Eschaton where I find little more than a political circle jerk, everyone discussing the same topics, typically the White House talking points, from the same perspective. That’s all fine and good. Everyone should have essentially the same opinion on what that cabal of lying murdering scum we call our government are doing to this country and most of the rest of the world. I’m happy, in fact, that people care enough to write about it and find an audience. And although it saddens me that the best of the left-ish bloggers are doomed to disillusion and failure, and that the worst of them will turn into that which they most hate, I sincerely wish them all nothing but success.

Still, I need more. I need art outside of the political. I need literature beyond the noble tradition of skewering the puffed up and the powerful. And these are the things that I find when I click the “Next Blog” button. Oh, not every time, to be sure. Not even once out of fifty, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes I find great writing. Sometimes I find art. Always I find humanity. Out there among the hordes, the forty billion or so people who have started their own blog, usually having no idea what to do with it, the people who put their diaries on-line, hoping, fearing, that anyone will read them. Finding that rare combination of people who have interesting stories to tell and can express themselves effectively is, for me at least, a genuinely awe-inspiring experience.

Anyway (removing finger from back of throat), today was a good day. It’s possible to go for weeks without finding anything the least bit interesting and then today I get two great blogs in a row.

Green Eyed Brunette is a southern California woman. She is having problems with her marriage. She and her husband are seeing a counselor. She likes to write about sex. She writes very well and her little escapade with vasodilators is hilarious.

That horrible fucking gel ignited me on FIRE (not literally, but it felt like it) and since it was on my lips and I was wrapped around his cock…you guessed it. Let’s just say that it was a very disappointing experience for all involved and ruined good night of sucking him off.

I find the whole marriage counseling thing interesting. I’ve never seen the point of it myself and can’t imagine how it could ever possibly work, but I guess it must for some people (mustn’t it?). And I especially don’t see the point in it if the couple is young and there are no kids involved. I suppose there could be financial issues, or religious nonsense, but for the most part who gives a fuck? Of course I know that the fact that I don’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there, just saying...

And as a neutral observer, I have to say the marriage prospects don’t look good. The guy doesn’t want to have sex very often, but wants a kid. I always tell people who are having relationship problems that they should get married, cause that might solve their relationship problems, and if marriage fails, they should try having a kid. It’s scary how many people actually take that advice.

Green Eyed Brunette reminds me of Some Watery Tart, although I’m not so sure t hat they really have that much in common beyond being southern Californian women, which reminded me of my experiences with southern Californian women. Those experiences were mostly painful when I was just a seventeen and eighteen year old from Hicksville run away to L.A., but in later years I’ve known several who I learned to like quite a lot. I am not the kind of guy that your typical southern California woman is attracted to as a lover or marriage material, but we can get along quite well when they are married to good friends of mine or in a Platonic relationship. I don’t mean Platonic like laying in bed talking about Plato after sex Platonic, but the kind of Platonic where people don’t even think about having sex together.

In the very next blog I found Gotta Be Me, who has a few relationship problems of her own. Let me pause here to note that I am somewhat uncomfortable doing the “Next Blog” thing and reading the intimate details of people’s lives and then sharing them with a wider audience. On one level, we can say that anyone who puts the intimate details of their lives out in such a public space has no reason to complain when others read their thoughts and link to them, since linking is the nature of the blogosphere. And although that is true, I am not an asshole in that regard and have already deleted a few posts when asked. And I have my some morals in this area. Although I have spent a lot of energy ridiculing right wing idiots on the internets and elsewhere, I have no desire whatsoever to ridicule the people like Gotta Be Me whose writing I find so intriguing. That said, I’m a little uncomfortable with linking to her particular relationship problem because it is, frankly, a bit ridiculous.

Still, that is not my point. For me,Gotta Be Me’s relationship disaster is a good story and a good story told well. It’s not worthy of a novel or a screenplay, but it could certainly be a very funny or moving scene in a novel or a screenplay. And the deeper you read into Gotta Be Me, the more interesting it gets. I never would have suspected that the naive-sounding young girl who made the unfortunate marriage proposal on a whim could have a gonzo-violent crystal meth history.
Two years ago on my birthday (July 2nd) my boyfriend at the time, who was also my drug dealer, and I were living together. We were out of drugs and I wanted him to take me out to dinner. Of course, he did not want to get out of bed because there was no meth to give the needed energy to step out of the bedroom. After a few hours of checking around we discovered that there was none to be had and I continued to harp on him, Please, Please get out of bed and take me somewhere, it is my birthday, please?

...I stormed out of the house, determined to have a happy birthday anyway, with or without him.

Along the way, I immediately starting getting phone calls from him.... The messages were horrible. It was like something out of a movie:

"Do you hear me bitch? Do you f-ing hear me? Do you hear that noise" (crashing noises in the background)

"That is your precious piano"

"You fucking bitch, you fuck with ME, see what happens?"

"You just couldn't leave me alone, could you? Well, happy birthday bitch!"

Now that is a great story and she tells it very well. It could easily be a scene in novel or movie and I think it could even be the basis of a short story or a play or possibly a film.

But of course these stories are not fiction, they are real life with real people suffering and overcoming, or not. It is me, and through me, you, who are the voyeurs, the detached readers of these narratives. I think it’s a great thing that people write their experiences, and that they write them well. Is it right that we read them? And comment on them?

You tell me.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

No Tuna -- Mermaid!

Yesterday was the annual Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. I discovered it by accident the first summer we lived in New York. I was with the kids at the beach when all of a sudden a large group of people in decadent sea creature costumes and a band with a lot of horns and drums playing funky Germanic carnival music from the twenties swarmed over and around us and started dancing in the water while a fat guy dressed like Neptune held up a sign that said “Summer.” I forgot all about the kids and took pictures for the next half hour. Man did I feel bad when I realized I’d lost my children among a bunch of drunken revelers, but I eventually found them splashing around with some girl dressed as a giant lobster with tits for eyes, so all was well. I’ve photographed the Mermaid Day parade ever since.

Usually I take still photos but this year I did video and committed to producing a half hour of television for one of the local public affairs shows. This will be a good test of my incipient video skills. I knew the event, knew what to expect, and knew where people would be, and when. I had a plan for what I wanted to do and executed it as well as I could. Oh, it would have been nice to have a crew and a couple cranes, and some sound people, but I don’t have any of that and am past the point of getting paralyzed by my technological limitations. I just go out and shoot the damned thing, whatever it is, and make of it what I can.

Anyway, we’ll see how it turns out. I logged the video this morning and am capturing it on a different computer as I type. I took a lot of chances creatively and I see clearly all of the things I missed, and the editing will be a chore, but I’m optimistic that I captured the spirit of the event. Whether or not the public affairs show in question shows it or not is another matter since the spirit of the event is decidedly Bacchanalian. Or more to put it more bluntly, there is a lot of T&A.

And that brings me back to the never-ending question of photographic ethics. I genuinely love the Mermaid day parade and believe that it is an important part of the history of Coney Island, of Brooklyn, of New York City, the United States, and the human species, as well as the planet earth and the entire universe. For those humble reasons, I honestly believe that it needs to be captured in pictures so that future generations can know of it and although tI have no doubt that others are doing a bang-up job of capturing the event for posterity, I can’t rely on that belief so must create my own record, for the benefit of mankind. Not that I wouldn’t mind a little personal benefit, but that’s not my primary motivation.

But sadly, photographers are totally fucking it up. The attached picture of the dirty old man snapping a picture of the pretty girl’s ass only begins to tell the story. There are literally hundreds of guys with cameras focusing on women’s tits and asses. I always meet and chat with the parade participants at the beginning before they have felt the barrage of photographers and they are happy optimistic people. By the end they are mostly traumatized. There are a few who love being the center of attention, but for the most part the people who are there one year will not be there the next.

Yet I am one of them. I take hundreds of photographs and for the participants am probably indistinguishable from the perverts. That’s probably not quite true. I am likely distinguishable because I am not skulking around taking pictures of people’s asses, I am in the thick of it, taking pictures of whatever is in front of me, which is often tits and asses. That is the nature of the event and a lot of the people probably think that I’m the worst offender out there.

I don’t know if I can explain it in a convincing manner. I do not see the event with prurient eyes. I see it as beauty, as art. as a kind of life I find eminently satisfying. The beauty I see is in the faces. It’s in the costumes. It’s in the human interaction. Not in the crack of the ass or the curve of the breast. There is not the remotest chance that I am going to masturbate to any of those photos, which is what I imagine most of those guys must do. If I am successful, my eyes will mist over, or I might even shed a tear if I’ve got the proper buzz on, at the human beauty of it all. When I photograph a semi-nude woman, or man, the only sexuality in the image is whatever she or he brings to it. My camera is neutral in that regard.

If you have read this far, you can probably tell that I think a lot about these issues. Last year I was one of the asshole photographers. I consciously planned to be one and I carried it through. I photographed women’s tits and asses as if I cared, as if that’s what I was about, and I genuinely felt like shit. I also photographed the other photographers taking pictures of T&A, as well as the general beauty of the event. And the final product was meant to demonstrate the degeneracy of that kind of photography, but as far as I can tell everyone who saw it missed the point and thought I was just into nudity. What can you do? The photographs have to speak for themselves. I think that there would be people within a wider audience that would appreciate them, but a wider audience is not something I have.

Anyway, I won’t have the bandwidth to put the entire half-hour on line, but I’ll try to carve out a five to ten minute chunk in case anyone is interested. If you’re interested, stay tuned. I like the still photography for what it is, but the movement and sound in the video capture another few layers of reality.

Marching Orders

Speaking of Doormatocrats, Hillary Clinton makes a joke in the New York Times:

She also labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda.

It’s funny because she was marching lock-step with the majority as she said it. Not that anybody ever claimed she couldn’t march lock-step with the majority and chew gum at the same time, but still, it’s a wonder to behold.