I couldn’t find the metaphysical thread to grab this weekend. I followed the signs and they all said, “Yard Sale“. I guess ’tis the season for gift giving which is the zen of gift making or buying which means the season when everyone sells all their stuff. Department stores open day and night and when you drive around on a weekend every corner has a sign that says “Yard Sale”.
Such a dilemma. I want to see what I need to see. I want the world to perform for me and deliver what I want when I want it and at my taste level. I don’t want to dig through other people’s buried crap to find what I need. Then I remember to let go and be apart of it all and appreciate what gets delivered. Sometimes being at one place with seemingly no significance to ourselves, puts us on a larger path of greater necessary significance to someone else, not immediately obvious to us.
Every store had a sale and every corner had a sign on it that pulled cars in from every direction for miles around. Sometimes it’s hard to make sense or see purpose in endless wandering that drags us around each day to places we think we shouldn’t be at; but maybe we’re all going somewhere important after all.
Maybe folks gather their wares to sell, to desperately raise funds to buy gifts for loved ones or maybe there is no hidden significance and some people just love to rummage through other people’s junk for buried treasure. I’m no different I suppose. Swimming through throngs of people everywhere and anywhere in search of an image taken for granted that will be my magic capture.
While some look in obvious directions, I hunt for picture and story gold where most others do not see. Sure, I admit I have a bit of an ankle fetish and love the way a woman’s calf tapers into a thin sculpted ankle. Sure, I’m often caught staring at stranger’s ankles. And sometimes I get surprised by what I see.
My eyes were open now and I could feel the surge of something magical happening, just didn’t know what. Wandering through a flea market, I came across a very nice woman who had her head crushed and her brain-damaged in a horrible accident. Despite the disfigurement to her face, skin and forehead, she still remained attractive.
Her accident did leave her with a strange obsession for Muscadine Grapes. Apparently, were it not for the healing properties of these grapes, her accident would have left her in a horrible state. She went on and on about how these grapes cure all types of cancer, which reminded me of a conversation I had with someone else about the healing properties of baking soda; apparently this too may cure cancer.
I like wandering around and listening to what people believe in. I thought that if grapes and baking soda could cure cancer, certainly another fruit or baking ingredient must be able to cure swollen ankles.
The next day I found myself on the beach. One boring picture after another of people from all walks of life.
Always the same, the affluent with their beautiful well-earned homes on the shore along the less fortunate sharing a meal with like-wise starving birds.
I watched as the bright sun removed the faces and bodies of the sunbathers leaving only dark shadows bending in worship to the tide.
Discouraged by my perverse beach grabs of squinting half-naked strangers on blankets, towels and in folding chairs… I proceeded to leave the dull dunes.
At that particular moment in time and in that odd place where I had parked my car, a new bather entered the beach. Hard to see in the distance and the bright sun, she looked like a strange blonde in a black dress, wearing a big sun hat while carrying the requisite beach bags. Like a desert mirage, I couldn’t see what was coming for sure, so I just raised my camera and started shooting her as she got closer.
She came right up to me as I shot and I immediately saw that she was not a she at all, but a fully blown, heavily adorned, real live pirate! His name was Scott and apparently he drove to this obscure north Clearwater Beach all the way from Orlando. He was praying the whole drive over, that there would be a photographer on the beach that could take head shots of him. Apparently he was auditioning for the lead pirate role in the next big Disney movie and he needed some great photos to bring in with him to his audition.
Astounded by the discovery of my purpose at this moment, I snapped a few of the swashbuckler. In my mind I smiled and thought of the Dreaded Pirate Roberts and all my favorite scenes in the move The Princess Bride. As I shot him, I asked if he had a sword and he told me of his mighty blade left at home, that came all the way from somewhere in the South Pacific.
He thanked me, thanked the Lord of course and I gave him my business card and we both went our separate ways.
After I left the beach, I made one more stop at an Art and Craft Sale that I found at a waterfront town on the way home. I grabbed this one shot of the strange Chinese Crested… not noticing at first that someone had painted its toe nails red.
This last shot… also at the Art and Craft Show, I remember catching the woman mid-yawn as I took it. I had to shoot it quickly because just watching her yawn made me yawn. As a matter of fact, I can’t even look at this picture now without yawning. Can you?
A few months ago, I committed a crime. Next to the chair I sit in to write, rests a little gray cube shaped ottoman. On top of the cube is a square black tray and in the tray mixed among various old napkins, a coffee cup and the TV remote controls, is a tiny little white dish. It’s a little butter dish that I stole from an infamous restaurant in Ybor City. Other than for its outstanding food, this establishment is most well-known for hosting the criminal elite of Tampa since 1905; who individually and as a group, committed far worse crimes than my humble lift.
This harmless theft of the butter dish from the restaurant table, pales in comparison to a level of organized crime that was rampant in the late 40s and early 50s throughout Florida, especially in Ybor City. One night, in the early 1950′s, just prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, one of the most notorious gangsters this country has ever known, knocked on the door of a little shack off a side street located within, the Cigar Capital of the World.
As the rain finished tapping on the tin roof of this humble workers home, the crime boss waited and a beautiful young lady in her 20s named Delia answered. He wanted to be sure that everything was all set for the Bolita Drawing that was to occur later that night. This was the equivalent to the modern-day numbers racket or illegal lottery of the day. Delia nodded and the gangster left her home and drifted back into the shadows. She closed the door and resumed her preparation for a fund-raiser she would be dancing at later that evening at a local club.
During the day she, like many others in her world, worked at the cigar factories. Delia was a cigar bander and would soon fall in love with one of the men she worked with, who was a cigar maker. He managed to earn a little extra in the evenings, betting on his prize rooster at the cock fights. The two cigar workers would marry, have two sons a daughter and launch a dynasty that followed them. But on this night, she had to rush out to the club where a random photograph was taken of the dancing volunteers crowded around a famous actor named Edward Horton, who also donated his time to the charitable event.
Delia stood just to the left of the famous actor and next to one of her best girlfriends. She rested her hand on the shoulder of another close friend sporting a very tiny mustache, as he sat posed in front of Mr. Horton. And this picture will be passed down through the generations along with stories of gangsters, close calls and good times in the old neighborhood. Later that night, more photographs were taken including candid shots of the dancers smoking those same cigars that they rolled and banded during the day.
Flash forward to 2013, I’m up the street from that same neighborhood, in downtown Tampa, the weekend before Thanksgiving. The shadowy figures of the past have been replaced with huge office buildings casting shadows on empty weekend parking lots filled with vendors on a Sunday morning. I had just dropped off my daughter departing from the Tampa airport and had to kill a few hours before returning to the airport to retrieve new arriving guests flying in for the holidays.
No gangsters or famous actors here today, just the dogs unnaturally adored by their owners and the view of a wannabe famous mascot promoting the local hockey team standing in front of a strolling rubenesque woman poured into a striped dress too tight to be seen in public.
Round and round I walked, looking for thrilling reveals and spontaneous moments to capture. All I could find was even more full-figured women dressed in bright yellow t-shirts offering to squeeze large lemons into lemonade and smiling college students working their way through school by selling Whoopie Pies. I decided to move on from the dull and delicious to find adventure in downtown Tampa on a Sunday afternoon.
It was surprisingly busy up and down the side streets. Workers were caulking cracks in parking garages while others painted flag poles at great heights.
Groping for spectacular images I had to settle for strange and bizarre decals unusually mounted to the backs of cross walk signs naturally placed beyond reach. I pondered the possibility of hi-tech drug dealers and pimps marking their territory with their hi-res branded images printed on adhesive backed stickers purchased at Kinko’s copy centers.
Defeated, cold and tired I decided to take in a movie at the historic Tampa Theater. Continuing to scrape the surface of the obvious, I grabbed frozen females in need of elbow grease and young dramatic boys fixated on flutes.
Suddenly the beautiful sound of music filled the air as the stage floor opened up at this old theater pushing through an old man on an old organ. I climbed up to the balcony to get another shot from a different perspective. Soon the entertainment ended, the floor of the stage opened up again and swallowed the musician and his instrument while I settled in up there to watch the movie of the day.
Hours passed, the movie ended and the weather changed from tropical windy to dark and blustery. I left the theater in search of adventure once again and was drawn to mischievous nymphs running through crops of tilted blown fountain stalks. Playing with my camera to adjust the light and speed, another odd traveler rode their bicycle through my field of wet white weeds. It could have been the mist from the spraying sprigs or a drizzle may have started to fall, either way I was compelled to seek shelter.
Frustrated, searching and starving for image and story… I looked up to see the Florida Museum of Photographic Art in the distance. I can’t stand photo galleries. The tension between the thought of how my pictures should be on those walls and the envy toward those people who are actually exhibiting… is excruciating and unbearable. And like a moth to the flame I’m drawn in to allow myself to be pulled by the continuous caustic conflict.
I entered the luring museum and rode the elevator up to the second floor where the gallery was located. The elevator doors opened in front of a desk where a thin, artsy man sat, taking money and repeating the pitch about the various exhibits going on. A tall athletic man and an exotic woman stood in front of me at the desk, making their donation to enter the exhibit. I thought they were a couple till the woman proudly pointed and declared, “ You see that woman over there in the exhibit poster? That’s our mom! She’s the pretty one in the middle smoking the cigar.”
That’s when it all made sense to me. My purpose for being there at that moment. To connect time and be a part of a special story. A chain of events that ended with me being at a museum at that exact moment, behind a brother and sister. I’m now a part of tale that began long ago with a mother who banded cigars and a father who made them.
Who knows…maybe in 60 years when I’m long gone and forgotten, this picture of a woman standing in front of a poster will show up in some creative person’s futuristic writing, telling a story about a frustrated photographer who was known for stealing butter dishes and how he wandered through the streets of Tampa long ago.
At my current assignment there is a wandering Chaplain. He has no office, no financial objectives to meet, no ROI; he just wanders the workplace in the early morning and late afternoon hours looking for souls to heal. He listens confidentially and his mission is to strengthen the spirit of the staff to enable them to remain engaged and stay productive.
It’s usually around 6 or 6:30 pm when he wanders into my office. The rest of the staff is long gone and I’m still deep into the fine detail of making things form or function better. He enters quietly and unassuming, always with a big greeting and no expectation of delivering or receiving any giant revelation. Inevitably an epiphany is discovered by our conversation that moves us both forward with awe, then afterwards he wanders off… back to his omnipotent no place in particular.
Last week he wandered into my office and we got talking about relationships and conflicts and how most offense is felt by the one who perceives themselves as smaller. The smaller one or the one needing the most, is not getting what they want from the other and this is the source of conflict. The perceived offender does not do or say what the smaller thinks they should and conflict ensues.
The wandering Chaplain said, “Look to yourself for what is missing in you. Look to what is incomplete, the insecurities and the need and want you have to be heard or seen differently and you will understand the source of conflict.” Then he continued with the point of it all… “Does the huge battleship get upset when the little dinghy bumps into it? See yourself as the bigger one, forgive the transgressions of others with grace and focus on the scale of all you are and all you have, without need to be irritated by something so much smaller than yourself.”
That’s when I remembered that I had all these pictures still left in my camera from a couple of weeks ago. I became the big ship after that talk and went looking for that image that I forgot I had; a ship so huge that even a small building is dwarfed in comparison.
Even the metaphor of the high security around the huge beast, made it impossible for me to get close enough to present any photographic threat. So I was forced to steal odd layers, glimpses and collages… snaps of shapes and textures from a distance.
Then I continued my own exploration of the shipyard, looking for that which is present for all to see but is easily missed by those not looking to collect wonder.
Not satisfied with the few captures I had left in the camera… I went out quickly and tried to get something juicy at a nearby carnival sponsored by a local church. Just something more to whet my visual whistle… sort of like a little something sweet after a savory meal. That’s were I was able to grab a few images of those who make their living convincing people that they could win if they threw darts.
As I wandered through the carnival filled with the saddest and sorriest of sights, quenching their massive needs with fried dough, popcorn and sno-cones… I came upon a parishioner briskly studying the bible as he highlighted phrases, psalms and passages.
It reminded me again, of my talk with the wandering Chaplain. The idea of remembering all that has gone into each of our own individual lives, that more than qualifies us to be the big ships we are. Just then, three older ladies came walking at me. They were singing and dancing as they marched in step.
It would be so easy for them to choose to see the loss of dignity, strength and purpose that the stereotype of age sometimes deceptively displays. These ladies however chose to see themselves as big ole battle ships, navigating the straits through carnival booths designed to pitch the temptation to win, in exchange for the hard-earned fruit of labor. These ladies had no need to win anything; they were already winners and walked on by.
I proceeded to leave the church’s fund-raiser event and had to pause at the cluster of tiny patrolmen standing in front of the giant beaded lady. This too reminded me that the scale of authority is only what we give it.
And then I passed the ultimate puddle. It was the Shark Attack booth. I had no idea how to play but was attracted to the message behind its invitation. “Fish till you win” and “… prize every time…get medium… get large…”.
As I proof read this little story, I became aware for the first time that it started out with a story about a Carnival Cruise liner and ended with me cruising through a carnival. I guess life is shockingly connected like that sometimes.
Wandering through Tampa, bright and early on a Sunday morning, served up a variety of odd characters, in odd places doing odd things. While the rest of the world was home basking in the comfort of the Sunday paper with coffee, the roar and drone of a football game or the sweaty hope of a successful do-it-yourself home repair project… I was out wandering.
A funny collection of ladies all dressed in white, were in the midst of posing for their photographer friend dressed in purple. I stumbled upon them first from a distance and then as I got closer they all stopped and watched me walk even closer. Then I raised my camera and they all broke into a pose. It was the oddest thing and the coolest at the same time.
It was as if they were all thinking that someday they would be famous and this picture would really be worth something. Then I walked away with a most excellent picture of them; them not knowing who I was and I not knowing who they were, much less who they might become.
My journey continued as I walked underneath a building made of dots. As I stood aimed at the center of its corner, I wondered if the building was pushing out or pushing in. Unsure I captured the corner of the building as a metaphor of the various ways many people can see the same thing in different ways. Each of us positive we are right in what we see and yet, we each see something equally correct and completely different.
I found an abandoned train track going across a trellis. I ventured out across the bridge going nowhere in search of something that had destiny. In the middle of the bridge was a twisted metal rod holding down a railroad tie that no train would ever be on again. A giant winding twist of steel holding two massive bolts into a thick block of weathered wood for absolutely no reason and no purpose.
At one time such a grip might have been necessary, but now it’s just a useless reminder of a long ago extraordinary power still tightly wound, without recent purpose while posing on display. What things we hang onto as if our life depends on it, that are no longer relevant to the here and now.
I watched a couple taking dozens of selfies. A joyous reminder of the beginning; perfect moments made blissful before time reveals all the truth about one another. Precious ignorant moments filled with possibility and hope, feeding the eternal wish that the other actually is as they are seen. Delicious infatuation; may time slow to a halt and stave off the knowledge that comes from experience.
Friends meet at a cafe table. One looks at the other and holds his tongue. He will not tell his friend how closely he resembles the dog he holds.
A homeless woman spins dried reeds into worthless flowers offered in exchange for charitable handouts by those walking past.
Mindless wandering and aimless drift pulls me into a secret convention. A fantasy world created by little known computer gamers who spill out as costume characters into a courtyard behind a hotel as I walked by. I follow the open doors in and bravely enter this make-believe world I was not officially invited to. Strangely they all begged to have their photos taken. Their crazy place was my destination of sanctuary, as is the dual definition of Asylum.
Endless characters made up in every extreme, wandered into my view as dramatic gamers struck their poses, giving real life to the roles they played in fictional computer games.
And then, much like the game, the round was over and I left the characters and their playful life threatening episodes behind me.
On the way back to my car, I passed a group of country singers and their groupies gathered in a circle outside a hotel lobby. They spoke in horse tones about the fun they had the night before while smoking cigarettes. I captured a woman in the circle as she thought about how good the cigarette was or whatever existed in her life to make her feel important.
Maybe she was a backup singer in the band and finally made it. Maybe she was the lead, a famous country singer and this was her crew; they were her band, groupies and musicians.
Or maybe she was just remembering a time long ago, when she stood in a circle with her girlfriends as one of them tried to take a picture of them way before they become famous.
This afternoon a woman who I work with, came to me with a problem. “An organization I’m involved with is sponsoring a float in a parade and I need a great idea.” She said. “The theme is children around the world and I don’t have any idea what we should do. I heard you were a creative genius and could give me the answer I seek.”
I waited a bit for my swollen head to settle, then began to suggest ideas. I wondered what children all around the world have in common. Then I wondered what we as people all have in common, all starting out as children. That’s when I thought of fairy tales, fables, Dr. Seuss, toys and games. Lost in the crazy place deep in the back of my mind, I saw millions of colored balloons and of course, bubbles.
My eyes popped open and asked the woman if she had enough to go on. She nodded and she soon left my office. Secretly I thought to myself, “well now I know how will start the story of this adventure.” I thought it was a magical sign from an unrelated creative investigation that would bring me to the front door of this next blog.
It all started early one Saturday morning as I drove to St. Petersburg for a routine visit to the Saturday Morning Market. I pulled into the parking garage, paid the guy the $5 and parked the car. As I got my camera out and walked over to the market, I once again felt discouraged with the probability that there couldn’t possibly be anything to shoot at this market.
That’s when I ran into the guy on the scooter with two poodles in tow.
Well that was certainly odd but what else could there possibly be to shoot. I mean really, how many times can I shoot the shiny sun off of ripe orange peppers? That’s when I saw the crowd gathered around the booth of wild predatory birds. I only saw the baby owls at first…
Subtly standing next to the handler of the baby hooters was an unassuming chap with a large orange snake curled around the front of his Dockers.
I strolled around the market past the usual chocolate pasta, the best guacamole in the world, the exotic jewelry designers, the bakers, the knife sharpeners, the hat makers and dress makers and had to stop at a small florist’s booth. A little lily was cuddled up against some bamboo. I stole its image and had no thoughts about the damn purple thing except, I just liked it.
And just as I started to get discouraged about there being nothing else to shoot, I saw another crowd gathering back by the baby owls. So I strolled over there and found myself seduced by a mighty bird of prey. At first it was just another head among the crowd till I got closer and started to stroll around it. I watched how the light twinkled in its eyes and how deep and thick its feathers were.
I took a deep breath and crawled into my camera and began to grab images.
So mighty and so magnificent with such deadly sharp talons. I shot tons of odd photos of this bird… and I actually caught it winking at me. Have you ever seen a Hawk or Falcon with its eyes closed? It’s kind of creepy because they look dead, so I didn’t include them in the series, but I have them.
I walked away thinking that this surely would be the highlight of my morning. A mighty Falcon spreading it’s wings and raising its claws for me. What could possibly top that? I walked past the hippie dress makers, and the smoked ribs… I watched parents with babies and young girls in high boots. I watched every type of person in every age wearing every conceivable fall fashion for a brisk Saturday in Florida.
At the end of the aisle of booths was a funny fellow. He had a torn open, gallon plastic jug, cut in half sitting on the street. It was filled with soapy water and he was dipping a ring of rope into the plastic container and pulling it out with two sticks. I watched as all the children from all over the world gather with fascination at this simple toy.
People of every age joined in the familiar giddy play as huge bubbles were created from a ring of rope dipped in a torn half-gallon jug.
Such a precious perishable moment does a bubble represent. Born at that second and soon to burst, it fills, it floats, it reflects all that is around it and then, it magically pops as if it was never there at all.
I watched and marveled. I’d had my fill and had other places to go, other people to see and other things to do. I left the market and headed back to the car. As I waited for the light to turn in my favor, I looked over at a disabled man at a cross walk. It almost seemed like the sign should have been bilingual… offering images of people walking as well as those walking with walkers.
Way across town, there was a craft fair going on. I always like to see these events because there are usually some phenomenal photographers there. They make me wonder if I could also someday have a booth and sell pictures of my silly adventures. I just don’t know if others will want to pay to see the world as I see it.
As a matter of fact, as I strolled the show, what I saw was not the crafts people displaying art in their booths, but the crafts people on display, as art, in their booths. The booths looked like exhibits to me and the artists in them were just part of the show. I started to lose the distinction between the people in the booth, as the sections inside the booths seemed to frame the people, as if they were subjects within paintings on display.
Soon, I couldn’t see the people in the booths separate from the framed art displayed in the booth; they were apart of the art.
And then the craft show was done and on I went to the next and final destination for the day. It was time to see the great bed races rolling down the streets of Ybor City. I stopped and got a couple of slices of pizza and a bottle of water; it came to about $8. I remembered when I was little I used to get a slice of pizza and a Coke for about $2.
I’ll never forget how the guy behind the counter would ask me what size Coke I wanted. “What size you want? Large or Big?” My whole life I’ve wondered the difference between large and big.
Anyway, I snarfed down the pizza and was able to get a few shots of teams in costume racing beds down the streets.
I wondered if maybe that lady could use this idea. Maybe, we are the children of the world, is about a giant bed filled with toys, stuffed animals and dolls. Maybe her float should be a bunch of people dressed up as fairy tale characters jumping up and down on a giant children’s bed blowing giant bubbles into the air.
Hmmmm… I’ll have to give her a call in the morning.
I once saw an interview with Stevie Ray Vaughn, the great guitarist, where he described how he play’s his guitar. He talked about how he get’s in the zone, opens up the channel and the music comes out and through him. It was the first time I had ever heard anyone publicly express the secret thoughts I have when I write.
Once in the zone, I recall the people and places, I feel the emotion of the recollection and out into the world, these little suitcase words get carried, filled with the feelings, thoughts and memories. All this waiting to get unpacked by the reader; bewildered by how they travel along with me and feel what I felt.
Well, this weekend I wondered what it would be like to open the channel as I shot the images. What would it be like to get out-of-the-way and let the essence of the image portrayed or the motion captured be packaged up and transmitted to the viewer, waiting for them to unload it and see what I saw?
On a visit to one of the local animal parks in the area, I found myself playing the camera like SRV. Squeezing it, spinning its dials, twisting the views to the limits of their exposure and documenting something way more than ordinary. It all started with this woman on the boat. A little cruiser we took up the creek to the park.
Something about the light under the swamp trees in the middle of the day and the deep crevices carved into her face. I played the introduction to my photo song and let the light and movement come out through me.
As the boat sped up toward our destination and while everyone else on the little skiff was searching the trees for birds and the creek coast for turtles, I noticed the sun skipping across the water like smooth shiny rocks leaving trails of light. I aimed the camera down and let another melody come out.
It felt a little like disco beats as the boat danced on the water in time and the sunlight streaked across the tops of the wet with high-notes. The heavy water beneath kept the base beat and the reflections of flowers, blooms and sky bursts between the trees played the rhythm. In awe I captured the moments of motion and light.
The boat docked and we all proceeded onto the jungle trails. I was no longer there. Just the rock star on stage, eyes closed, strumming the camera. Soaking wet from the heat I prepared my next song. Finger tips pushing out the chords on the aperture opening while I strummed the shutter.
A couple of otters ran up on the grass and then back to the water. They looked like long hairy dachshund slinky pups bending and running. Impossible light combinations between bright bursts and dark shadows. Too much speed and motion to catch focus. I got out-of-the-way and played the dials.
Strolling down the path a little further, we came to the place where they keep the snakes. I knew it would be dark and too much thinking would smudge the images and screw with the light. I took a deep breath and became the snake. Slowly slithering I shot one after another. Bending and curling I spun the dials to let the light in wrapped in deadly fear.
Having survived the snake pit, the crowd of us crossed a bridge. I remembered all the photographs I’ve ever seen and admired how some shooters make the tall look flat and the wide look long. I thought about how great they are and wondered if I could play one of their songs.
Something about the big bolts in the bridge reminded me of a familiar perspective and I grabbed it, twisted it and included this mimic as a tribute to them.
More dumb birds. Been there before and could not imagine anything none Disney about to happen. Another breath; I squinted and squeezed… searching through the view finder for the non-obvious and bizarre. Magically, while a stereotypical flock of pink flamingos strutted and ran one way… a snowy white egret ran the other.
Lost in someone elses rock star talent the weird sights started to surge before me. Water reflections became smoke and sunlight burst like hot coals on fire as floating birds paddled through it all uncooked.
Smooth murky dark water became spinning grape cyclones as innocent white beasts proudly point their long orange beaks.
A peaceful magnificent swan swam by. I could almost hear the classical music all around her. And as the music got louder as she got closer and then got quieter as she swam away, I could see little balls of fire under the water that she seemed to pat with each web foot stroke.
Another swan floated over. She turned the water to rigid blue glass before her and as she paddled forward made it go soft like a thick cobalt curtain pushing her way through. Then other birds appeared changing the dark oil around them into various peppered soups, each of them squirting out unique lines of turquoise among the dark gloss.
I was no longer there. Lost in the deep dark channel I saw what they saw. I looked where they looked and I captured what sparkled in their world. Air thick with textures. Liquid mirrors that could be stood on, where splashes of color could be moved around like redecorating a room, with a push of a beak.
A screeching bird in the distance snapped me out of the ornithological trance. “Come look it at me” it yelled. “Watch how still I can stand on this tiny post. Can you see me make my feathers look like drift wood?” I watched as this hawk sat perfectly still. I wondered what it was like to have eye balls as big a my nose. I wondered what I would be able to see with those telescopic peepers.
Then came the eagles. Have you ever seen an eagle up close? They are very odd. One minute they could look magnificent enough to be the symbol of a global world power. The next minute they make a goofy expression with their mouths and turn their head and show their eyes in way that could only be portrayed by a goofy cartoon.
I shared the awesome but kept the goofy shots for my own personal humble collection.
And as if I wasn’t overwhelmed enough, a wise old owl stood there and stared at me. “Who do you think you are?” it said with its enormous eyes. I shot it and shook my head and felt myself coming back to seeing what everyone else saw. Exhausted from the journey into the dark and murky, it was time to leave the park. “A wise decision” it said as I walked away.
I grabbed a gator glancing and a hippo heaving.
We all waited in the air-conditioned gift shop for the tram to appear and chauffeur us back to the place where we all started from. I sat there and sipped on an ice-cold apple juice like most wanna be rock stars. Looking out the window, thinking about my moments of transformation … my time in the creative channel.
That’s when a gigantic butterfly fluttered by. I heard it. I heard it say to me, “come out and shoot me too. I will wait for you to finish your apple juice you big baby.” Gone again for the moment, I swallowed the last sip and walked out the door and watched that butterfly pose and spread its wings for me like a Victoria Secret model.
How do you write a story like this? I guess the only way to write it, is as it happened. Any other way would make the bizarre shock of its discovery far less credible.
On a classic Sunday morning, my camera and I went in search of adventure. In the back of my mind, like most jaunts, I knew there would be nothing to shoot. Give me Manhattan. Give me Chicago or Detroit. Give me some grit and texture of an impoverished urban landscape. But what can be found of note, weekend after weekend in paradise?
I had some time to kill and decided to take an exit off a highway, that I would never normally take, because I had no idea where it went. In the back of my mind I was curious about finding a way to this luxury hotel that I passed on the highway a million times. There was no apparent exit to get there, except for on this one day, when I unexpectedly saw the discrete exit and off I went in search of this hotel.
Twirling around an underpass and straight through to a lifted gate surrounded by lush plants, I followed the road. Low posted golden signs directed drivers to valet parking, exotic restaurants and tropical villas with names that were hard to pronounce. The high sun made the impossibly beautiful even more of an unreal post card to view.
I went as far as I could go, parked and then found the trail leading to somewhere and began to walk. Eventually I found the end of the path that lead to a dock with two chairs on it. It was the most beautiful and cleanest little narrow dock with a pair of stained and finished Adirondack Chairs seated at the end of it. This is where two people would sit at the end of the day, at the end of the world and watch the sun set.
I turned about and walked back. Discouraged and disgusted with the usual gorgeous. Fabulous fireworks of bursting flowers, cobalt blue waters, perfectly manicured little pathways between precisely private cabana entry ways. I heard the crashing pour of a delicate waterfall and followed the radio static sound to its needle shooting cascade.
This was home to a school of Koi that were more rare and more beautiful than any I had ever seen before. The light made their wet lips shine sharply through the water in some places, and in other places rigid rock was turned soft and wavy like the smoke trail of a snuffed out candle. One could smell the perfume of bloom and sweet coconut carried from someones sunblock rubbed on from far away.
Shadows from swimming fish trailed throughout the pond like chocolate in wet shiny batter.
Hypnotized by the calm of it all, I sensed another wasted shoot of predictable perfect. I knew I was missing the strange and bizarre but just had to find a way to get a better view of it all. I looked up to the heavens as if what I was looking for down here, would somehow be revealed to me from up there. And that’s where I saw an observation deck at the top of the hidden hotel.
I strolled among the elite presenting the look of belonging, as doormen, bellman and security let me pass because I walked with purpose and ownership. Floating to the top of that world, above all who are above all, I walked out to the farthest corner in sight, in order to look down to where I had been and learn of the unseen paths, that I could not have known existed.
Tunneling through the thick jungle were board walks not apparent from street level. I was confident that this was where I would find my place in time, that most others would miss, because they were not hunting for the odd and impossible.
Once back down upon the path, I began to look differently at what most others see as being the same. Green trees could be seen as asphalt street texture and shadows twist into painted racing stripes. The lure of boring beauty was just about to lull me into a relaxing unwind until…
…I came to a clearing in the path. I first looked up to the sky and saw that I was standing just about where I had looked down at, just moments ago from the top of the hotel. Then, I turned back out into the marshes that the walkway trail bridged crossed. It seemed that a creek had just about dried up under the path and millions of little crabs were crawling around something huge and purple.
In awe and shock I stood there and stared. I looked away and then I turned back again. I watched those little crabs crawl all around it, over it, under it, and this mighty purple form just laid there in the dark murky puddle. I looked up again as I heard strangers coming my way and wondered if they too would find this discovery a bit unusual.
I waited for them to get closer and… “excuse me…” I said to the two women and one man. “Have you ever seen so many crabs crawling around in one place like this before?” I pointed to the crabs. “Those are a lot of crabs” one of the women said standing next to me. The man and the other woman kept walking past and didn’t seem that interested.
“Why do you think so many crabs are in one place?” I innocently asked. She shook her head and said, “I guess that’s what crabs do.” I raised my camera and began shooting at the crabs. “Good thing I have my camera or no one would ever believe what we are looking at.” I said. She too got her phone-camera out and took a few shots. And with that, they continued on down the path while I continued shooting, staring and thinking.
Why purple I thought? Why not beige or black or clear or pink? And what was it doing there? Was it tossed overboard from some cruise ship out in the gulf and was carried in by the tide, deep inland from all the rains we have been having, only to land at this resort under this bridge? Was it used by some frisky man or woman late one night, in the dark after a party and then in a fit of ecstasy, cast over the side of the rail and unable to be found or regained in the pitch blackness?
What was it doing there? I stared and wondered how they made that thing. Did they interview models and when they found one, did he have to insert himself in a molding material? Or was it so perfectly straight and rigid that some master carver created the positive of the form in wax or clay and prepared it for mass production.
And what about it attracted the crabs? Do they think it’s food? Do they see it as some type of playground monkey bar to giggle and crawl all over?
After a while my eyes started to burn. Not from the pornographic view so much as I hadn’t realized how hot it had become and the sweat on my brow could no longer be held back by my bushy eyebrows and began to drench my eyes with salty sting. Time to go I thought. This was more than enough strange and bizarre for one afternoon… even for me.
As I left the jungle a beautiful flower caught my eye. I thought it strange that it was almost the exact same color as what had just captured my view just prior.
Nearly two decades ago I found myself at an airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee, bound for New York City. The idea of one common place that attracts the extremes of humanity has always fascinated me. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Where are they going and what’s their story? On that day twenty years ago no one at that airport knew my story.
My uncle had finally passed away and I needed to fly back to New York for his funeral. The grand finale of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting ended uneventfully as his cancer helped him lose weight one last time, almost all his weight, till there was nothing left of him.
As I sat at the airport waiting for my plane to board, I thought about the things I would stand up and say at his last party and post-life family get-together. I wasn’t officially asked to give the formal eulogy but even back then I knew I was the only one who could gather the right words that would connect those that arrived there for his departure.
And that was what I wrote about back then at that airport. When someone passes away, are they the ones departing or are they indeed the ones arriving, at another destination? Who actually leaves who? Do we leave them in the past and continue living on or do they leave us in this life plane and continue on to the next, resonating on another level of energy?
Flash forward to now and I’m at Tampa Airport this past weekend, where I found myself still wondering many of the same questions. Only so much has changed at airports in the past twenty years that in addition to who are the people, why are they there and where are they going… we have that common question of what exactly are they doing and could they be a terrorist. Yes… a new question has been added to the airport inquiry list.
Furthermore, announcements frequented the airwaves throughout the terminal reminding everyone to report suspicious behavior. Apparently, me wandering around the airport taking pictures of everyone is considered suspicious because they eventually caught up with me. As we approach the anniversary of 9/11 when the whole world changed, I thought I’d share my little airport story.
But for now, let’s start out with this first glimpse into the world of arrivals and departures with the first officer who suspected me of wrong doing and a woman riding around on her scooter. She rode around that airport, round and round. I didn’t see any officers coming up to her inquiring as to the nature of her scooting. But really the worst part was this ancient recollection of someone I once knew who always referred to her private parts as her scooter.
I found this next particular fellow very interesting. He sat in that corner and played with his mobile device the whole time I was patrolling for pics. I thought he looked Tibetan and fabricated a whole story in my head about how his parents wanted him to become a monk and he ran away in rebellion. He wanted nothing to do with his past, though he did like the haircut that the monks had, so he kept that.
Then there was this funky couple with the Google Glass. Very few people know about Google Glass but being a product designer, a web guy and just a general curious one about the newest coolest stuff out there… I knew about it. And there they were. Not one pair but two people each with their own pair of Google Glass Glasses.
I imagined him saying to his Google Glass, “Google Glass, take picture of the man staring at me with the camera” and the Google Glass would take a picture of me and automatically send that .jpg to his photo stream in his phone. Then he would notice my brand of camera and say, “Google Glass, search Canon seven dee” and Siri would serve up a search return page on his Google Glass for him to read with his one eye, complete with voice response delivered by speaker in the Google Glass earpiece.
I imagined she was saying to her Google Glass, “Google Glass, check flight status for Delta departures today at 6pm.” And the Google Glass would present her eye with a search return screen for her to view and pick out her flight and check her departure times.
Then she would notice a woman walking by with pretty handbag. “Google Glass, search Coach Handbags…”
Though there is still a lot of solo travel, I couldn’t help noticing the many couples at the airport and how some of them entertained each other. Not knowing for sure whether they were traveling together or just disarming the sadness of the impending separation through departure with a little humor, I watched them. This couple tried on almost every silly hat. It was mostly him trying on the funny hats while she looked on and giggled.
Then there was the massive escalators between levels. Some coming up and some going down. And on these escalators people were carried. Some happy and some not so happy. I started to become acutely aware of people around the airport staring at me while I was taking pictures of them.
It’s so odd that I’m usually so invisible but with the ongoing announcements, “… Please be alert and report any suspicious activity to the nearest authority…” it was as if they were saying, “Please keep an eye out for Barry… he is taking your picture for no particular reason…” and yeah… I started to get a little paranoid and felt a bit guilty.
As I surveilled the various arrival gates and continued to walk round and round, I noticed this one spot that had amazing light coming down from a skylight. Oblivious to everyone and anything, I stopped and shot the scene. I captured two couples that were also oblivious to everyone and everything.
There they were out in the open, clutched in their last embrace before one of them was to depart. Both of them separate and different, both of them the same. And in between them both was one solo weary traveler heading to their gate.
People arriving, people departing, people elated to depart and people sad about the separation and leaving; all in one place. They hug each other goodbye and they hug each other hello, they kiss each other in greeting and departure, they cry for sadness and happiness.
One’s perspective is the only distinction that defines and separates the same exact action. What is the difference between a cry of pain and a cry of ecstasy? Would they not appear identical without knowing the context? Are people walking to a gate or walking from a gate?
I watched and continued to guess and capture the back story of those at the terminal…
This guy caught my eye. At first I thought it was just a yellow hat. Then I saw it was a chicken hat. Then I saw his neck tie and figured it was a duck hat. But something suspicious about him made me think he might have been some undercover officer trying to look like a tourist waiting on the arrival of someone. I almost reported him for wearing a suspicious hat.
One time I was on an elevator with a guy that had race horses all over his tie. Trying to be clever, I asked, “Who won?” He was cleverer replying, “None of them won… it’s a tie.”
I took the time to do what few people do. When most arrive at an airport they are consumed with catching their flight or they are delayed, shackled and have to sit with bags or kids. I had the luxury of just wandering with my camera into every nook and cranny the terminal had to offer.
That was when I stumbled upon the chapel. This was the place anyone of any faith could go and pray to their lord that the plane takes off safely or arrives safely. There was even a little prayer mat for those that do the prayer mat thing. I found this room odd since the seats were set up like an airplane and the altar looked strangely like the cockpit door. Maybe the interior designer asked the client, “How do you want this room to look?” and the client replied, “It doesn’t matter, something plane is fine.” Maybe that’s why it looks like a plane…
As I left the chapel and got ready for more of the eye feast, I noticed this chap with the mustache and the red suspenders. I was so taken by the care and feeding of his mustache and wondered how much time he must take to groom it and trim it and wax it to get that perfect curl.
I was so consumed with his matching gray side burns to his fancy beard and mustache, I didn’t even notice the weird and creepy sores on his legs.
As I captured this last shot of his mustache close up, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a gang of police officers heading my way. I got all excited thinking that some amazing crime was going down and there I was with my camera and I would capture it and my pictures would be published and I would once again be famous… but…
Nope… it seems that I was the target of law enforcement once again. They came up to me with their hands on their weapons and surrounded me. “Excuse me sir but may we ask what you are taking pictures of?” So I told them of all the cool people and lighting and the philosophy of arrivals and departures looking identical without knowing the context.
I even showed them some of my pictures and told them they should have a gallery show featuring some of my shots. I handed them one of my cards and told them I was a street photographer and my intentions were not threatening. They told me that for the past half hour people all around the airport had been calling security reporting some suspicious looking guy was taking pictures; that would be me.
They asked me to cease and desist and I almost asked them to group together so I could get a shot of all the cops that wanted me to stop taking pictures… but I figured that would be pushing my luck. So shuffled over to one of the gates and just sat down. Now I looked like everyone else that was waiting for someone or something with no tell of my context back story.
As I sat there beaten and defeated, i wondered how I was ever going to get any pictures in that chair. That was when one of my favorite scenes just appeared. A couple of little people walked my way. I discretely captured them without attracting the attention of patrolling cops who had now targeted me as a photo terrorist.
Sensing the end of this photo session, a man arrived next to me as I sat there and prepared to put my camera away for the day. I looked up at him and stared and realized he was oblivious to me so I slowly raised my not so ancient weapon and took my modern-day shot of him reading his book about someone far more exciting and threatening than me.
I was married at the time and we were expecting our first child. My wife never liked wishbones. You know, from the turkey. Whenever one would appear, I would ask to split the legs of the wishbone with her and she would decline. “I won’t do it. It just means that one of us won’t get our wish.” So on that day in November, prior to her birthday, I had found a wishbone pin with a diamond mounted in the center, at a nearby jewelry store. Thrilled with my sentimental purchase, I sped up the road from the jewelry store, on my way to a meeting and all of a sudden, WHAM!
Apparently, a truck heading in the opposite direction from me, made an impulsive left turn, crossed in front of me at an intersection and I ran into it. I was told that I flew through the windshield and landed in the street, unconscious, with my head cracked open. Next thing I knew, I was waking up on gurney in a hospital hallway. So much blood had poured out of my scalp and clotted in my hair that it looked like bad dark red shampoo that had hardened and formed like thick whipped cake icing all around my head.
My pregnant wife drove an hour and a half out to the hospital to see me later that day and was very upset, that she had to drive so far in her pregnant condition. Her main concern was not the fact that I almost died but that I wouldn’t have had enough life insurance to cover her and the baby on the way. As she continued to bizarrely and unfairly chastise me for the inconvenience I caused her, the volume of her rant dialed down in my head and was over taken by my thoughts… the realization that my life was spared for something more important, that I still needed to do.
At that time, I never thought about the money. How much I could make from this, who my lawyer should be, who is at fault or how much was that truck driver insured for. All I could think about was getting the wishbone pin from the crashed up, crumbled car to give to my wife for her birthday.
Returning to the present, this past weekend, I was so disappointed that nothing magical had happened. No events had transpired. No exceptional people crossed my path that I could photograph. As I was again driving in my car thinking these thoughts, I approached an intersection and its red light and wondered whether or not I had to wait a whole other weekend before my next magic photo encounter. And then, I arrived at the stop light and looked up and saw that a horrific accident had just occurred moments before my arrival to that intersection.
Without thinking, I pulled the car over, whipped the camera out of my bag and started shooting away. Enthralled, intrigued, disturbed and nauseated, I shot image after image and no one saw me as they were all overwhelmed with their own personal resurrection. The first shot was the black car that caused the accident… apparently it was sticking out too far into the intersection and got its nose clipped off by the blue car heading south bound. The blue car flipped over and skidded on its roof top about 50 yards down the street.
I snapped away trying to get the best of the scene, not really knowing why it all disturbed me so. The fire department showed up and then the ambulances showed up and there I was fully loaded with camera in hand during the precise time when no one ever has a camera handy much less the ability to cover every detail.
I wondered about who was at fault and what the insurance companies would make of all this. I wondered if they could use my pictures but wasn’t sure I even wanted to make my presence known. I thought about the cops and the reports they would file. I thought about how if those officers made one mistake on that report that some attorney would invalidate the credibility of the whole report.
I thought about the woman in the black car. She was the one who got hit by the oncoming blue car. I wondered if she would find a lawyer who would fight to get her paid the maximum liability insurance that the driver of the blue car carried. I wondered about the actual injuries that the driver of the black car actually sustained and if her lawyer would sue for future injuries that were derived from this accident.
I watched the couple who flipped in the blue car and wondered what they were thinking. Clearly they felt like the victims because if the black car wasn’t sticking so far out into the intersection that none of this would have happened. I wondered if the driver misjudged the proximity of the black car because she might have been texting or arguing with her husband or boyfriend, intoxicated or maybe she just took her eyes of the road for that particular second.
Then there were the kids that saw it all. Apparently I was the only one who wandered the scene talking to people and found that these two kids with skateboards were just cruising up the street when they saw the accident occur. They were the ones who told me what happened and described the details. No cops spoke to them while I was there and they would be gone shortly as they were waiting for their parents to pick them up at the scene.
While the old lady in the black car got taken care of, the couple in the blue car waited and waited. Were they the villains? Do they have any idea what will happen to them? Hopefully they are insured and it will all resolve. The blue car driver is likely to be the defendant with the black car driver being the plaintiff. Lawyers will postulate and pound their chests, as they create the illusion that this will actually go to trial and something horrible will happen to the blue car drivers like them having to pay huge out-of-pocket costs that exceed the insurance coverage.
But this will never happen. As a matter of fact, this case will never make it to court. Offers and counter offers will be sent back and forth from lawyers and insurance companies. Doctor’s reports will be generated claiming ridiculous surgeries will need to be performed immediately and who knows how long the healing process will be. Video interviews will be created by all the people hired to help the injured lady who drove the black car and somehow this accidental fender bender will end up costing the insurance company who represent the people driving the blue car, hundreds of thousands of dollars; of which the lawyers will get a third.
Once the lady in the black car was placed in the ambulance, one of the firemen drove her car off the street right in front of the overturned blue car. There was nothing wrong with the black car aside from having its front bumper torn off. The airbags never inflated and there was no radiator or oil leak.
And the socializing begins. In their world, these angels of mercy see each other at accidents. It’s like their own little reunion each time a life needs to be saved.
Now the injured villains finally get their care. The emergency team and firemen ask how they’re doing. They brace their necks, put them on boards, put the boards on the stretchers and then the stretchers in the bus. (Law and Order lingo) They will be taken to an emergency room that the ambulance driver favors or has an incentive for. As passengers it is unlikely they have shopped ERs and even more unlikely that they will express a preference for where to go.
If an attorney hasn’t already been selected, there might be one at the ER soliciting new business or perhaps the couple will contact one of the many 1-800 Lawyer Referral services designed to collect accident victims.
I was reminded of many car accidents that I have been in. Sometimes I was the one hit and other times I was the hitter. Nothing intentional ever; sometimes slipping on ice, other times stopping short in front of me caused a bump, hell… one time I was parked at a gas station and not even in the car when a woman backed into my parked car. Ever since that big one that time in Buffalo, when I woke up in the hospital, that was the only time I knew for sure my life had been spared for a greater purpose.
I wonder if these folks here are able to see the possibility that this horrible accident may not be the dark cloud but more probably the silver lining. Had the powers that be, not stopped the lives of these drivers dead in their tracks… perhaps further down the road there might have been something worse waiting for them.
Hell, had I not stopped to shoot this accident, some atrocity might have been waiting for me down the road that I never arrived at because I was shooting all this excitement. And it all concludes, like a Hollywood movie, as the last ambulance drives away with the remaining victims into the dark cloud that protected them.
Disturbed and nauseated I got in my car and drove away. I fantasized about listening to police band radios and becoming the paparazzi for auto accidents and showing up at the scene of the crime and shooting all the evidence shots that lawyers would pay me fortunes of money for. As that guy, I started to feel guilty as if I hadn’t gotten all the views of all the vehicles that a lawyer would want to make his or her case.
I drove away confused about the fact that I handed out no business cards and no one knows who I am or that I have this plethora of images about this accident. I didn’t know whether to feel bad that I stayed out of someone else’s business or feel bad that I didn’t cross over and hand out some cards. I imagined the attorney meeting with the respective parties and neither one having a definitive case and each blaming the other for causing it.
The lawyers would say, “Gee, it’s too bad you didn’t take any pictures at the scene. If you did… then we’d really have a case.”
Now you too can be greeted by the blank white Page. Each morning we roll out of bed and Page just waits to connect; a pat on the head, a scratch behind the ear a hard rub on that spot just before her tail. Like the written page, she too waits to learn the story of her day and how it will be written.
This past weekend, she had a visit from her buddy Frankie the pug. He too performs the legendary behavior of his breed being more human and more monkey than dog. Cool and thoughtful, the two of them played with balls and bones all weekend with the occasional carpet tearing, claw digging impulsive sprinting bursts around the house.
I try my best to remain in the world of the dull mature grown-up, where most things happen as predicted and little disaster strikes. However, similar to our playful pets, as I cruise down that well-behaved predictable path, I’m lured off it by impulse and take a hard left turn on Crazy Street.
As random as it sounds, I had stumbled onto a Hippie Festival featuring Gourmet Food Trucks and a VW Exhibition. I could have just stayed on that big road and returned home without incident … but then again I would have missed out on all this magic.
I parked the car behind the stores and walked up the alley to the food trucks and wondered about my life long history of taking impulsive turns. For the eight out of ten times that I find myself lost and in places I shouldn’t be in - there are those two times that make up for it by delivering the strange, bizarre and story worthy.
Like a curtain that goes up on stage or an elevator door that opens on a particular floor, I leave the alley and find myself on a street in a little village preparing for The Hippie Festival. Camera gripped and ready I shoot away. My first glimpse into this magic world is this princess trailed by her mother and aunt.
Oblivious to the camera she strolled like someone famous with shopping bag in tow.
I had arrived just as the festival was getting started so the food trucks were finding their spot on the closed off street. There was a time when food trucks meant ptomaine poisoning but not anymore. Better food, better personality and four-wheeled vendors living their life dream.
Me and Page might live to build a story and capture a lucky image here and there but these trucker chefs carry their kitchen on their backs while competing for the right recipe for success.
As the trucks were setting up in the heat of the day, I stopped into the local vintage clothing shop to get a blast of AC while asking for directions. “Is it true? A Hippie Festival and a Volkswagen show?” She said, “Yes, it’s all starting right now and if you head down to the docks you’ll catch the car show!”
The village of Tarpon Springs, FL is very quaint and there is an overwhelming Greek population that congregates at the famous sponge docks, where the VW Exhibition was to be held. As I strolled in and out of air-conditioned shops, sandalwood incense and rose oil soaps filled my nose and tie dye swirls filled my eyes.
I drove over to the docks, parked my car for $3 with an old man sitting in a white plastic chair, leaned up against a skinny shack and walked over to where the cars were allowed to cruise in. The hippie with the peace symbol medallion guarded the gate as the bugs paraded in like an army of marching beetles. Then they found their spot and backed in as onlookers smiled and giggled with memories of the 60s.
A bearded man in his best hippie get-up, sat behind his pimped out yellow VW Bug and watched the crowd. He had permission to wear a long-hair wig and a suede Woodstock hat. You can almost hear the Jimmy Hendrix pouring out of his ears.
Undoubtedly he was remembering another time covered with Indian blanket ponchos worn by bra-less women, where chants of protest and loud rock’n roll were heard everyday.
As a matter of fact, that was the only thing that was missing. How can you have a Hippie Festival infested with VW Bugs without the music of the times? I heard no Crosby Stills, I heard no Jesus Christ Superstar, I heard no Layla or CCR.
As the bugs rolled in I too slipped back in time. I thought about all those folks who treasured their VW’s and a time when peace and love were free. I thought about the amazing transformation that our culture underwent in the 60s and how it changed the lives of future generations.
Maybe at first I thought this detour was just another crazy journey in search of great photos and a creative story but then I realized that Woodstock happened August 15th-18th, 44 years ago! I thought about Woodstock, NY and how I have been there many times and how it has not changed. It still sells Tie Dye, Lava Lamps and concert souvenirs from that fateful event.
As I left the docks at Tarpon Springs and watched the trail of bugs continue to march in, I felt full of nostalgia. I wondered if Hippie Festivals were happening all over on this weekend and what they were like. I wondered if someday annual Hippie Festivals would be simulcast similar to watching the ball drop in Times Square.
It was time to leave to get home to Page; my long-haired, shaggy lipped, hippie dog would certainly need to sniff a bush and lift a leg by now. I picked up the car at the parking lot and looked back at the old man next to the shack and wondered where he was 44 years ago.
I got in my car, found no cassette or 8-track but scrolled through my iPod for a little Janis and drove off wondering where I’d be and what kind of music I’d be listening to 44 years from now.