verb (used without object), eloped, eloping.

1.to run off secretly to be married, usually without the consent or knowledge of one’s parents. 

2.to run away with a lover. 

3.to leave without permission or notification; escape: At age 21, the apprentice eloped from his master.

4.(of a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment) to leave or run away from a safe area or safe premises.

Elliot is of variety no. 4.  He always has been.  He’s not interested in what the rest of the family is doing most of the time–especially not when there’s a whole world out there that he could be exploring.  This is of course if he’s not pretending to be asleep on a bench in Gallery 1 at the Hammer, which was where I had last seen him while walking around admiring some photography around the corner from where his feet were hanging off the edge of a bench.  

But that’s all the time it takes.  Two seconds of not paying complete and full attention and he’s gone.  It’s his prestige.  He has a radar that goes off when I let my focus wander to anything other than him and in a flash he’s gone like Keyser-fucking-Söze. What’s funny is that the second I realize that I’m not keeping a full eye on him I always know he’s gone.  I don’t even have to double check.  What’s more is that I knew he had a good enough head start that he would duck, cover and maneuver his way through the galleries so deftly that I had zero chance of finding him until he got to where he wanted to go.  Poof.  Gone.  It’s irritating as all hell, but he’s a damn good participant in an unwitting game of hide and seek.  

I remember when he was 4, Elliot, Ester (who was two at the time) and I when to Fältöversten Centrum to do some last minute Christmas shopping–this was back when we still lived in Stockholm, before we moved to LA.  I was at the toy store with Ester on my back, while holding Elliot’s hand at the checkout counter.  I realized I needed to grab my wallet and without thinking let go of Elliot’s hand, reached into my back pocket, took out my wallet and handed my credit card to the woman behind the counter.  That was all it took.  Elliot was gone.  It was the first of many times he would elope but it scared the shit out of me.  There are at least three exits from the shopping center that go directly to the street and he knew where all three were.  I ran around like a maniac through Christmas shopping crowds looking for him for 20 minutes before calling Anna Maria to call the mall security.  She was calmer than I thought she would be by the time we hung up and five minutes later, which incidentally felt like and absolute eternity of running up and down holiday shopper packed halls, she was back on the phone telling me to head towards the electronics shop where security says they’ve cornered a young boy who may or may not be Elliot.  I was maybe 50 meters from the shop, so I bolt over there and sure enough, a group of Swedish rent-a-cops have him surrounded and won’t let him ride the escalators up and down any more.  Then he looks at me like, what’s your problem.    

So it’s always been this way.  It’s one of the million things about Elliot that make him Elliot.  In fact I could write a book filled with stories about how Elliot eloped from pretty much everywhere on the planet at some point in time or another.  One day I’ll write about what he did at our wedding reception.  That was a hoot.  Point is, at that particular moment when he hauled-ass out of the gallery I wasn’t as concerned as I maybe should have been or would have been if this had been the first, third or twentieth time he had pulled this shit.  At this point I’m honestly convinced that no matter where he goes I will find him.  That’s maybe naive on my part but I have come to believe that’s the case.  I know I should panic a bit more but I don’t.  I know I should be upset but I almost can’t be.  Well, almost.  I tend to get pissed now more than anything.    

Anyway, back in the present day, sure as shit only five minutes later, Ester points down at the courtyard and there’s Mr Escape-from-New-York himself playing on one of the chairs that you can sit and spin around in that cost $700 at the Museum book shop.  After a brief mental note is taken regarding Elliot sitting and spinning, I notice the scene.  There’s a gentle harmony to the geometry in stark contrast to the massive irritation bordering on rage I feel at having to chaise my child.  

I let that irritation break on the concrete composition unfolding below me and made an image of my irritating beautiful eloper. 

Mamiya6MF, Kodak Tri-X at 800, processed at the Icon.    

Half and half

On the same day as I made the portrait of Magnolia, the kids and I stopped at the Hammer for a little Saturday culture.  I wanted to see the Radical Women exhibit and I think the kids wanted to go to the book store and then maybe take a hot chocolate at the cafe which for a parent of three is total win-win.  

The exhibit was good, angst ridden for sure but it was good.  Ester and Ella both saw pieces they liked and of course Elliot could have given a shit less that we were there.  He just wanted to go have a hot chocolate.  He voiced his objection in ever single gallery in the museum by finding the closest bench and pretending to sleep on it.  If there were multiple benches in the room, he would try out each and every one of them in turn–lying down, pretending to sleep for a minute or two, waiting until I wasn’t looking and moving to the next.  Rinse and repeat.  I have pictures of Elliot pretending to sleep in maybe every museum I’ve ever taken him to.  Shit, I should make a book.   

It’s frustrating at times having a 15 year-old who has the capacity of a 3 year old and the temper of a 90 year old Italian.   It’s often very frustrating, but when it comes to this particular annoyance, pretending to sleep in art museums, I’ve seen enough adults do it to not give a rat’s ass about Elliot pretending to do it.  After a while even the girls were tired of radical women and their radical paintings and sketches sculptures and angst-ridden vhs tapes from 1978 where they continuously lick a frozen popsicle down to the stick in extreme close-up looping for hours,  so they went to sit down where Elliot had made his latest bed, lying face-down, arms folded under his head and his feet dangling off the end of the bench.  

I realized I needed a break too, so I joined them.  I spied a tiny bit of space on the bench and wedged myself between the girls.  That’s when I saw the pair of legs in the image, bifurcated at the thigh, wondering through a white space with no uppper-body–half human and half art.  It’s an interesting framing that I would never have seen if it weren’t for the silent protests of my miserable, art hating son, so way to go man.  It was totally worth every irritated stare from every childless patron at the museum that day.   

“Half and half” was shot on my Mamiiya 6MF at 50mm on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 at the Icon.  


(This is) Magnolia and her jacket

The kids and I were walking back from the Hammer when I saw this lovely young lady sitting on a stoop waiting for a Taxi.  She was looking at something on her phone and smiling with this big beautiful smile.  Then I noticed her jacket and my mind just flashed.  I swear I had one just like it when I was a kid–not like you needed one in New Orleans but I absolutely remember wearing a red one just like it this one time my parents decided to fly us up to visit my pop’s family in Detroit around Christmas time.  I think I was maybe 10.  My parents put my brother, sister and me on a plane, sans parent and away we went.  It was the first time I remember flying and it was mind-blowing.  The attendants checked in on us a couple times and brought us orange juice and peanuts but for the most part it was just the three of us, faces glued to the window for all 4 hours of the trip.

I remember seeing clouds like that for the first time.  Remember feeling so empowered and excited to be making the trip with my brother and sister.  Remember how crazed we were to finally see a huge dump of snow–more collateral damage of a NOLA upbringing was the distinct lack of snow.  We maybe got a flurry every decade or so but nothing like you would get in Detroit and we were jacked up to a million to run around in it.  

I remember putting on the jacket over a pair of matching red overalls covering my black snow boots.  I slid my red, mitten covered fists through the sleeves, zipped-up and barreled out the door and into the snow.  My brother followed immediately after me and last came my sister who could only move in small jerky gestures.  She was like the little brother in “A Christmas Story” or any episode of the Simpsons where Maggie has to wear overalls.   I was so proud of my red jacket, I remember.  I thought I looked like a real Michigan winter dude, just give me a mountain and a sled and I would conquer that shit.    

So I pass this girl and all this flashes through my mind.  I’m half way to the car when I stop dead in my tracks and head back to where she’s sitting.  She looks up from her phone and I introduce myself.  I tell her my name and ask her if I can make a portrait of her.  Turns out her name is Magnolia.  She asks why and I bumble through my usual explanation of how I make street portraits from time to time and how they’re usually candid but sometimes I’ll ask permission first.  I show her my Insta account so she can see I’m not a creep.  I tell her how much I love her smile and that I love her jacket and I can see I’ve winning her over.  Meanwhile my kids are looking-on and laughing like crazy people–their old man is making a fool of himself right before their very eyes.  Magnolia says she would love to have her picture taken and I make two portraits of her right then, sitting on the stoop in that vintage jacket and that incredible smile.  

This is Magnolia and her Jacket, shot on Kodak Tri-X 400, +1 on my Mamiya 6mf, processed by the lovely folks at the Icon. 

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