Gentle monster

On the day that I made these images, I remember thinking that I had never experienced a sun shining so bright–nor, for that matter, had I ever seen concrete reflect as much lights as Broadway was currently endeavoring to do that late winter afternoon as I moseyed towards Il Cafe for a much needed coffee and respite from my aching feet.  The sun was so incapacitating and I was so hopelessly blinded that I almost didn’t see this man, the gentle monster, hiding in the long shadows as I made my way south past electronic stores selling old iPhone and Samsung models alongside dated looking digital drum kits and karaoke machines.  Past jewelers smoking unfiltered cigarettes pulled from chest pockets of colorfully striped, sweat-stained polo shirts who couldn’t help wiping their leathery foreheads with the backs of hairy hands and then on their wrinkled, pleated pants.  

It was almost surreal how I noticed every detail twenty degrees from center but almost nothing directly in my path.  So when the gentle monster slipped from the shadows in his pressed white suit and hat, making his way towards the curb, searching for something unknown to me, it caught me off guard.  Unlike everything else he was pristine.  Perfect.  I pivoted to my left as he moved towards me and got off the first shot, managing by chance to almost frame his name above him.  Then I slowed and moved together with him, chasing to frame center this time just as he looked away.  When he turned back I knew I had the image.  He smiled and I walked on–happy to take a coffee and rest my feet.  

Gentle Monster, shot on my Leica M7 at 35mm on Kodak Tri-X pushed to 800 at the Icon.     

Size matters

This will be a simple, cheery post for a weekend that has over-flowed with a wide-variety of naps.  I’ve taken quick naps, long naps and medium-length naps.  I’ve had naps on the couch, naps on my bed and even a nap on the floor.  I napped after the gym, I napped before the gym, I napped after lunch and before dinner.  I have not napped in a box and I have not napped with a fox but I’ve pretty much spent the lions’ share of the weekend either sleeping or waking-up or preparing to sleep again.  

This is what I’ve been reduced to.  And I’m trying to adhere to my promise to not go out and buy a shit-ton of film and start shooting like a mad man because this is supposed to be my year off from photography so I can contemplate what the hell I’m going to do next with it… at least as far as my film photography is concerned.  Who knows I’m might pick up a digital camera again and take it to LACMA or the Hammer for some of the new shows that are opening this week.  We’ll see.  Ugh… color. 

Regardless I’ve had a few shots that I’ve been thinking to post that I just haven’t gotten around to posting because I’ve been sleeping so god damn much and as anyone knows who’s ever tried to write on a blog or post on IG it’s a rather complex task to accomplish while unconscious.  You’ll notice I wrote “complex” as opposed to “impossible” because I’m damn near positive that you, dear provaeur of film based photographic arts, know someone–perhaps a girlfriend or boyfriend or friend friend–that can somehow manage to post on social media even while blackout drunk or even unconscious.  We all know someone.  You may be that someone.  

Well I am not.  I post strictly in-between naps and rarely while drinking.  Which brings us to the post at hand.  Sure it’s supposed to be a 12 foot tall ballon-primate, but for fuck’s sake,  Koons’ Monkey sure does look like a penis.  The people experience the piece seemed to think so as well.

Shot on my LeicaM7 with the 35mm Cron on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed +2 at the Icon.      

This or that

I have a question I’d like to cast-out into the abyss–a question that I honestly do not know the answer to.  I’m stuck.  This is me throwing a line into the darkness hoping that I’ll catch a response.  If there is in fact an actual audience reading these hastily written diatribes, up until this point you’ve been rather thoughtful and extremely quiet.  This time I would really like to hear your voice.  

So here we go.  How do you measure and balance the emotional needs of one family member against those of another?  More specifically how do you balance those needs when the family member in question is a person with special needs?  Every family is different and every person that makes up every family is different so I’m not so foolish to think that there are some one-size-fits-all formulas out there to these questions.  I’m just honest to god curious how other people cope.  

Elliot has, with an ever-increasing frequency, become more and more stubborn and single-minded.  As loving as he can be, he’s now a teenager and incredibly headstrong, so much so that almost every interaction with him has become a struggle of wills.  His inability to compromise and total lack of empathy is throwing our family into a perpetual emotional merry-go-round of irritation, anger, regret and sadness.  Often times what he wants is something completely untenable like a date with a cute girl from a tv show, but his inability to differentiate reality from desire forces him to fight for these imaginary impossibilities like there were as tangible as the parents he’s arguing with.  If he doesn’t get his way he enters a state of complete non-compliance which can manifest itself for example, in refusing to move from here he’s currently standing.  This form of non-compliance can be sooo dangerous if you’re out on the street or on an escalator or tying to get on a subway train.  If he’s especially angry with you he’ll decide in his teenage brain, “hey fuck-you dad, I’m just going to run away” and you realize you only have a split second to stop him.  So you grab his hand and then he starts howling and screaming that you’re beating him and hitting him to everyone around you.  He screams and cries so damn loud that people start to stare and question whether you are the kind of parent that would actually beat their special needs kid.  The transit cops look down the platform to see what’s going on.  Maybe one comes over and asks if everything is ok as you struggle to maintain your grip on his wrist as he howls and throws his full weight behind his escape attempt.  You can’t even hear what the cops are asking through the screams.  The frustration flares in concert with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and desperation and then then anger boils over, louder in your head than his yelling and POOF!  You’re having a nervous breakdown.  

You see people staring and pointing and judging.  You can only hear his voice and whatever noises you’re making which incidentally don’t even sound like words anymore because you can’t muster a coherent though through the anger and sadness and frustration and desperation that’s flooding your emotional compartment.  But it doesn’t really matter anyway because you’ve completely lost it.  Maybe you’ve screamed.  Maybe you’re crying.  Maybe you’re standing there comatose while this situation continues to unfold but you’ve checked out.  You’re no longer driving the bus. You’re sitting in the back while some primordial impulse grabs the steering wheel, slams his foot on the gas and jams this whole fucked-up, bat-shit-crazy emotional meltdown into sixth gear.  

Back in the realm of physical reality, fight or flight has completely kicked-in as you see the subway doors start to close and you yank him into the subway car with the remainder of your nearly depleted strength.  He’s so shocked by the force of the pull that he stops yelling for a moment and you can’t help but wonder if it’s because you, the shittiest parent in the history of all shitty parents, has just dislocated your child’s arm by pulling them by the wrist into a subway car with all the strength you could possibly muster in order to avoid leaving them on a subway platform alone because you were caught in the closing doors of a departing train and couldn’t get him onboard in time all because he lost his fucking mind over an imaginary date he booked on the family calendar from his iPod touch with the actress from “KC undercover” at R&D Kitchen.  You can’t make this shit up folks.    

The bus slows down and you begrudgingly take back the wheel.  Elliot is still struggling and yelling a little but the fight’s gone out of both him and you.  He yanks his hand back and grabs a seat  five rows away, pretending that he doesn’t know you.  Now the sadness and guilt kicks usurps all anger.  You start to cry and everyone sees but you just don’t have the energy to hold it back any longer.   You know that they all see you for being the shitty parent you believe yourself to be.  So you just let these random faceless people pass their judgement over you with their suspicious, accusing eyes because deep down you know that they’re right.  

One of your other children comes over to you and wraps their arms around you.  They’re whispering that they love you and that they want you to stop crying.  They’re maybe crying too.  You wipe your nose on your sleeve and trying to pull yourself together.  You wonder what you can do because ever bit of behavioral theory you’ve learned at those months of classes you took have failed you and in turn you’ve failed your family.  At that moment you realize that your other children wish that Elliot just wasn’t there–that he was just somewhere else.  Then comes the realization that you too wish he wasn’t there and a fresh tidal-wave of guilt breaks over you, crushing the air from your lungs.  

You want your family to be together but it’s slowly getting ripped apart.  No one wants to be with him for the rest of the day.  Everyone is sad or angry or both and everyone blames Elliot.  Elliot, of course, blames you because even now he still maintains the whole thing started because you “hit him” and that you’re a “liar.”  He’s still manic–you can tell by the way he rushes through the words and punctuates his broken phrases with the hammering of a closed fist.  He believes balls to bones that he’s done nothing wrong–that you beat him by not letting him run away and that you’re to blame.  He’s mixing his internal narrative with reality again.  He can’t tell the difference.

All hypothetical of course.       

So riddle me this infinite void, what do you do?  How do you weigh Elliot’s needs against the emotional stability and well-being of the rest of the family?  How can you, with a clear conscious choose this or that; we take him and have a nervous breakdown or we go without him and have a great time?  It’s a binary choice–there’s not really any grey area anymore as he maintains the emotional development of a 3-5 year old and the girls continue on their own developmental path into young adulthood.  What he wants, or more specifically what he perceives his needs to be usually lie in direct opposition to what the family perceives it needs to be, not just as a whole but also as individuals and ALL of this is predicated by whether or not his perceived needs exists beyond the realms of his imagination.  So how do you square this particular circle because I worry if it continues as it’s has this year, escalating in intensity and frequency with every month that passes, that our family will suffer irreparable harm.

“This or that” Leica M7/35mm Summicron/Tri-X 400 +1/Processed at the Icon.

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