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10 May, 2011


I like nature. But as you may have noticed from some recent photos, I like sature. I saturate the hell out of some shots, and mess around with the color. Maybe because I have a lot of photos of grey days, and don't feel like I have to slavishly reproduce nature to love it. Maybe I am shiftless.

Or, maybe it's that that strain of mutancy that struck me 30 or so years ago has never been cured. Then, symptoms included hair bleached, blacked, and partially shaven. Clothes torn and meant to menace. People who paid attention could see the inconspicuous roots: middle class, suburban, performing well on standardized tests, and not very likely to fight the cops or die young. But the contrast was dialed way up, the colors were different than preppie era Mid-Atlantica, and there really was starkness and darkness the likes of which you cannot imagine if you have never lived through Reagan with his eager finger on the button.

Through a series of unexpected coincidences and alliances, the colors changed again. When you feel ya a good philia coming on, some new interest, and the doors appear and open, then lights flood in and the darkness seeps out to become a flimsy membrane separating universes you can transcend. Somehow, this expressed as less black, diminishing hair ministrations, and a lot more paisley. Eventually it would dampen into earthier hues, but 25 years ago was a time of oscillating from day-glo to thrift store treasure and less tie dye than you'd think. I became a cartoon, not just for the magic powers, but because the '80's needed a good cartoon, mired in the Smurf and He-Man nadir of American animation as it was. Lessons remain and reverberate from those cartoon characters: Joe Science, Lemon Meringue Hair, Monkee Michael Nesmith's lesser known cousin. (Under the heading of "Coincidence, or Cosmic Reverberation?": the TV just cut to a shot of a wee chameleon wandering through a forest of mushrooms).

Then it was time for something completely different. A decade in Hawai`i, exposed to da max and saturated in reefwater blue and mauka greens. Tropical colors hanging loose on shirts larger (to make room for all the results of ono grinds and aloha), but not as gaudy as you'd imagine: the back of the fabric faces out on locals, I still bought at thrift stores, and I wore them often under tropical sun. There were lessons in humility and culture, and a garden that managed to show me new roots while bringing me back to some that had grown for generations in Virginia soil.

Another series of not-so-unexpected events meant the Hawai`i thing could not be sustained, and a partnership between coincidence and intent brought me to the northwest. Colors more subdued than ever as far as the clothes go, me more sub-dude. Blending in for the most part (or not--I might be underestimating my slovenliness, which may be cartoonish for all I know). Saturation, hi-exposure hi-contrast images occur primarily in my mind for month upon drizzly month. Words vivid, livid, and lurid make their way into black and white. I dunno what the picture for this period will look like, and so it is an image from this time that I've played with for this post.
So, I no stay Hawai`i anymore, nor can I even remember it without a sepia filter of nostalgia and fuzzy recall. I never was a very good hippie; never tried, really, there being enough punk remaining to relentlessly mock hippies who were 20 years too late to be anything more than historical re-enactors. My ears still ring with punk shows that ended 20 years from now, but I don't even have enough gumption to go down and yell at today's re-enactors, and don't really get into costumery anymore. Things change.

And things stay the same. Like roots. Everywhere I've lived, the native people had roots cultural and literal. Sustenance for society and stomach. As much as I might look or even think different, there has always been some tether between me and the earth, some string through me and my people. Saturated and distorted as some snapshots of my life have been, the roots just hang in there, more or less the same. 

[Seriously, what changes less in the shots above than that little plant, it's yellow flowers, it's big happy root belly? How is it that in the last shot, where nothing else is the color that it was in so-called reality, can the plant persist unadalterated? Must be that I am a meddler, not a creator. Ego has its limits.]

1 comment:

  1. [Ahhh….Nature.
    Confident, real, and devoid of artifice.]