michelle…


It might seem to you, albeit by pure coincidence twice in a row here, that I lean heavily in the direction of photographing at the beach. Often very specifically women at the beach. This photograph made just yesterday, and in keeping with my oeuvre of just shooting whatever is around me anyway. So Michelle was just hanging with us on what started as a cloudless hot sunny day, and then the afternoon front rolled in and it was time to take a picture. Of a woman on the beach. One of my great motives for being a photographer in the first place to be quite honest. Not high minded enough? Please. Isn’t “attraction” what we all think about the most? Hasn’t attraction, love, sensuality inspired more art than anything?

Most of the women I photograph are with other men. Much safer that way. Michelle and Bryan live practically next door. So we know each other’s biz. Bad idea? Not really. I like the family thing. That’s even why I like Burn, and Magnum and well all the peer groups that are in fact versions of family. Michelle has her hands full. She must maintain her relationship with Bry AND sort of make sure that I well, stay out of trouble.

My own instincts have provided me with a lot of adventure, but right now my work and peace seem like the right way to go. Besides Michelle is totally dedicated to protecting me from all kinds of things – mostly me!. And because of this I am for sure in the most productive time of my entire career. Weird. Nobody could TRY for a late career boost. As you can imagine that sort of thing is just fate or luck or …?? Michelle makes sure I stay on track. That does not mean I can’t go out on a date. It does mean that I will think about it more than twice as opposed to my oftentimes less than once back in the day.

Does this mean I don’t have fun? Well go back and look at the riobook saga and see what you think. The upcoming book, designed by Bry, is all about me being myself which is of course where I try to take my students. And a move towards the purest of visual literacy. I have honestly managed to stay in the zone now for a long time. Deep in November and December, but even before and after as well. Michelle and I do the best party dirty dancing performance with Bryan often smiling from the side. So we have the most most fun. My family days all around are surely my best days.

Michelle and I blend right at the point blank center. Her “creativity as a way of life” workshops parallel in thinking the way I do my photo workshops. She ran several of mine. I do enjoy watching somebody get fired up. So does she.
Michelle teaches yoga and eats all the right foods. I think she may have given up on me in yoga class, but she did get me off cigarettes no small feat. Getting me off sugar is harder. Anyway, I did not plan to write a story on Michelle today. I shot the picture of her prior to the storm when we were just hanging.  So I thought just now, hey my main thing I can offer aspiring photographers is how I get my own inspirations. So this is one. However you can make things work, works. Fired up is fired up.
Isn’t that right? Don’t we all need a bit of help? Old adage works. Help somebody. You might just be that person who needs it someday.
Thanks Michelle for keeping an eye out. I will stay a good boy for a bit longer. Got work to do.

251 Responses to “michelle…”


  • What lives under the old bridge after the sunset.
    Triptych mock up ready to be printed and framed today….very big!! :))
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29165128@N03/sets/72157629464403852/show/

  • Jonh Gladdy,

    very big must look even better!!
    He has the body and postures of someone who practices yoga.

  • Found this Saturday night and can’t stop thinking about it:

    http://vimeo.com/40018456

  • Carlo…

    Great link, thank you.

  • John, I’ll spend a couple weeks in London—end of April to mid May… let me know if you’d like to meet up…

  • Absolutely. Me casa su casa……but the beers are on you :)

  • ……..and thats a lot of beer.

  • Mr. Gladdy.. love that.. human octopus..

  • AMAZING!!! 2PAC PERMORMS “live” ( hologram ) in Coachella 2012…
    The end gave me the chills for days… Mind blowing..

  • Unfortunately NOT a hologram, but some funky cgi and a couple of mirrors….looks kinda neat though.

  • a full-body holograph of Tupac Shakur, digitally pacing the stage and appearing to ask Coachella what was up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/17/arts/music/part-1-of-coachella-festival-wraps-up-with-few-surprises.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120417

    yes…it looks dope/neat/awesome…. raised some controversy over here though..
    whats next? a 3 hour Elvis marathon extravaganza rock’n'roll World Tour 2016?
    Imagine if we SOON be able pay see Frank Sinatra perform”LIVE ON STAGE”? or even Nirvana?
    The Doors? i admit i’d love to see an original Jim Morrison “LIVE”…
    How about a John Lennon 2019 World Tour?

    Hmmmm..if we take technology one step further i might be ABLE to INVITE my DEAD grand parents for xmas dinner on 2016!!!!!

  • But you wouldnt be…any more than you would are seeing a Tyranosaurus in jurrasic park. The use of peppers ghost is a neat add on….but it a’int nothing but another hollywood blowjob

  • did they get you to trade..your heroes for ghosts?

  • Hey Panos,

    You want your dead grandparents back for dinner? Come drink some ayahuasca with me sometime!

    CP

  • Charles.
    How does that stuff stack up to heroic doses of good acid or psilocybin?
    …or even shooting a hot speedball?
    …or a big favourite with trance heads over here Ketamine and MDMA Cocktails?

    History lesson.
    back in the day we used to eat deadly Nightshade…you got it in asthma cigarettes…and you wrapped them in a piece of bread and butter and sort of choked it down…2 to 3 days of complete out of body 100% real hallucinations.(very very scary)
    Or sometimes we’d drink barley wine and then eat a bunch of opium….My parents got a call once from the police who had found me in an alleyway cos someone had reported a dead body, and they had picked me up, found out i was a juvenile(15) (and alive) and thrown me in a cell.
    Or get drunk and take lots of benzodiazepams, black out, and go driving.
    Or do acid and sleep deprivation, constantly doubling the dose until weird mental breakdown shit happened (A friend had a long talk with the devil after about seven days constant tripping, and was never the same again…went mad)

    I guess we didnt have designer shamanic ritual retreats where we were and were just looking to break on through to the other side in our own way.
    Some of us even made it out.

    God I MISS being young!!!

  • JOHN GLADDY

    very very interesting that you think you “made it out”..hmmm :)

  • DAVID. You gotta remember that all that was before I was twenty.
    And maybe your right, maybe I didnt make it out after all….but I went there. And I said ‘fuck you’ to what I found there.

  • I am not sure when toilet paper rolls became an environmental threat to the national security of this out Great Republic, but the threat must have arisen recently because, frankly, I hadn’t heard that there was a problem with toilet paper rolls before. These superannuated rolls always struck as being the embodiment of John Milton’s ‘they also serve who only stand and wait.’ Toilet paper rolls supported the main event, like bass players in any jazz band not led by Charles Mingus, and once the gig was over they left the scene almost as anonymously as they arrived. There was no need to give them any more than a passing thought; the toilet roll was necessary, but in the larger scheme of things, secondary. Nothing to worry about here.

    This was an altogether cavalier attitude on the part of the excreting public, one borne of profound ignorance of the facts. In the past few months, I’ve learned that Americans throw away some 17 billion toilet rolls ever year, and that this enormous number is enough to build not one, but two, Empire State Buildings entirely of toilet rolls. Why anyone to choose to build two skyscrapers out of toilet rolls is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about, but if these people have nothing better to do with their time, then let the dolts have at it.

    I say this because we here in our happy little burg remember Herb Reynolds and we remember him well. Herb was the printing plant manager for the local weekly newspaper and not at all the sort of man who would indulge strange or outlandish ideas; he was a Republican, after all, and a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus, and he drove an old Ford; and so his neighbors on Mill Street were more than a little surprised when Herb announced that he was going to build an F-14 Tomcat on his front lawn. It was simply so unlike him.

    I suppose it was in the Zeitgeist then: Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, it was morning in America, and Tom Cruise was punching holes in the sky and in the box office with Top Gun. Still, why Herb thought building his own fighter plane was a good idea was anyone’s guess—our happy little burg faced no airborne threats to its municipal security that couldn’t be handled with a light propeller-driven aircraft and a large slingshot, and our crack corps of constables could handle any of the traditional terrestrial threats with its usual competence. But no one could deter Herb—he wanted a F-14 and he was going to build a F-14, come hell or high water.

    Almost as soon as he started, Herb ran into a number of problems, the first being that he did not know how to build an airplane, any kind of airplane, much less a F-14, and second, that the Grumman Corporation had built the F-14 Tomcat exclusively for the United States Navy and consequently had little or no interest in either selling one to Herb or in telling him how to build one himself. The other problem was that your standard F-14 was sixty-two feet long, or 18.8976 meters for those of you on the metric system, which takes up a lot of room when your front lawn was only about a half acre in size. But Herb, God love him, would not take no for an answer and over the next few weeks his front lawn became the site of intense activity for him and equally intense curiosity for the neighbors and passersby.

    At first, no one knew what to make of all the lumber on the front lawn and I think more than one person convinced themselves that Herb wasn’t building a F-14 at all, but rather a more wood-specific aircraft like a Sopwith Camel or a de Havilland Mosquito light bomber, but as time went on it became pretty clear that if Herb said he was building a F-14, he was building a F-14 and not something else. I imagine that the uproar that followed was similar to the abuse that Noah took when his neighbors realized he was building a big boat on dry land. People came from all over the county to see the man building his own fighter plane and to ask the neighbors whether or not Herb was crazy. The neighbors, being good neighbors, refused to badmouth Herb or his project, no matter what their personal opinion might have been, although they did tell people that the small group holding a constant prayer vigil near Herb’s mailbox was more than a few cards short of a full deck. They insisted that Herb had received a message from God telling him to build the plane and that they were leaving with Herb before the Apocalypse swept over the earth. Herb denied that he had received a command from anyone to build the plane and he denied this idea vigorously and categorically, often both at the same time, but neither his denials nor the fact that there wasn’t going to be enough room in the plane for all of them would get them to call off the vigil.

    Through all the silliness, Herb kept working on the plane. Two months into the project, the wood pile in the middle of his front lawn had become a clearly identifiable aircraft, even if it was half-scale, very close to the ground, and had no visible means of propulsion. By that time, the novelty had worn off and people simply accepted the plywood jet as if it had always been there. There was even a strange sort of neighborhood pride in Herb’s airplane, the same sort of proprietary pride you have when you know that the world’s ugliest dog lives next door to you; it has nothing to do with you, really, but people know that you live nearby and so you share vicariously in the ambient light of the phenomenon everyone knows about.

    By the fall of that year, Herb started hammering the metal onto the airframe. Herb took beer and soda cans, cut off the tops and bottoms, and then cut the can vertically down the middle. Then he’d pound the metal into whatever shape he needed with a hammer and nail the sheet to the plane. I don’t remember how many cans he used to cover that F-14 with metal, but I reckon that Herb must have covered that plane with a fortune in nickel returns. By the beginning of November, Herb had, as far as I could tell, finished the first part of his fighter. Everyone waited for him to put some kind of engine into it, but Herb smiled and begged off. He’d finish the plane in the spring, he said, and afterwards he covered it with canvas and plastic tarps and lashed everything down with ropes tied to heavy wooden stakes that he pounded deep into the ground.

    And he did all this not a moment too soon; in the middle of that November the temperature dropped nearly thirty degrees in less than a week and by Thanksgiving we were already expecting the first heavy snowfall of the year. That was a bad winter; every other week, it seemed there was yet another snowstorm dropping unprecedented amounts of snow and ice on us, until by mid-February there wasn’t anyplace for us to put all the new snow. And through it all, everyone wondered if Herb could actually get his F-14 to fly. Arguments raged back and forth in every part of our happy little burg, with some people arguing that there was no way for the plane to take off; Herb’s front lawn was just too short to serve as a runway, even if the plane was made of plywood, and others arguing that if Herb ran the plane down Mill Street and got the green light at the corner of Mill and Rector Street, which is always a tricky proposition even in the best of times—that light has a long red and a very short green, the better to generate traffic tickets with, you see—then Herb shouldn’t have a problem getting airborne. Then the naysayers would ask the believers, are you out of your mind, for crying out loud, and the argument would begin anew, and sometimes get violent, especially if there was alcohol involved, and in a good many of these arguments, alcohol was involved. After a couple of real knockdown, drag-out fights in some of the local taverns, the police were seriously considering telling Herb to get rid of his plane altogether, but they couldn’t find a legal way of doing it. You can’t really tell a man who isn’t being a public nuisance that he’s being a public nuisance. That’s how it was that winter, during which Herb said nothing about his plane or his plans for it. We would have to wait for spring for the answers to our questions.

    Spring came, as it is wont to do, and yet there were still no answers. The tarps stayed in place and the curious had to stand on the sidewalk and watch Herb duck under the tarps everyday with tools in his hands and give no explanation of what was going on. The lack of information drove a lot of people over the deep edge. People you wouldn’t think cared one way or the other about Herb Reynolds and his F-14 turned out to have intense opinions on the matter. My mother, for example, almost punched out an assistant curate at our church when he told her that it was unkind and uncharitable to call Herb a gobsmacked idiot. Mom didn’t think that she was being unkind or uncharitable; she was just telling the truth as she saw it and she didn’t need some fresh-faced boy just out of the seminary to tell her any different, thank you very much.

    And then, one morning in late spring, the tarps were gone, and there it was, Herb’s creation in all its glory. Crowds came by to gawk at the plane and the vigil keepers prayed harder than ever because the end of days had arrived and there were so many cars on Mill Street that the cops had to come in to control the traffic. People had their cameras out and took pictures like they’d never seen an airplane before, and, in truth, they hadn’t, at least not one that looked like Herb’s airplane. Herb’s F-14 was dull gray, just like the ones the Navy flew, but there were no markings on this warplane except for Herb’s call sign, which he’d painted in big bright red paint on both sides of the fuselage; his call sign, unimaginatively enough, was Herb. The other thing that struck most people was the lack of a cockpit canopy, surely, almost everyone agreed, a necessary component in any supersonic aircraft.

    Some friends and I were debating what all this might mean when Herb himself came out and waved to the crowd assembled on the sidewalk. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants and he wore a New York Jets helmet on his head. I always liked that touch; it seemed appropriate, somehow. We watched him climb into the cockpit, which was a matter of swinging one leg after another into the plane; the F-14 was no higher in the spring than it was in the autumn. A moment later, we heard the plane’s engine roar to life, and we knew the truth, and the truth did not set us free. The disappointment was more than some people could bear; many a strong man went to Murphy’s Bar & Grill that day to drown his sorrow in a generous glass of Tullamore Dew and to eat a hearty portion of crow, and the vigil keepers went off to a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, where one of our local gendarmes had found the face of a suffering Jesus etched miraculously into a jelly doughnut with raspberry filling. I can tell you that yes, there was no joy in our happy little burg on that evil day, even if mighty Casey hadn’t struck out.

    There may be dumber things to do with your time than turning a John Deere riding mower into an unflyable airplane, and I know that watching Herb driving that fighter/mower up and down his front lawn with a beer in one hand was one of the great disappointments of my life, and I suppose that building skyscrapers out of toilet paper rolls counts as one of those dumber things to do. Why anyone would want to do this sort of thing eludes me, but then, lots of things elude me these days. It seems to me that if you really wanted to save paper you would skip the toilet roll entirely—it is a rather insignificant part of the whole toilet-industrial complex, after all—and encourage people to stop using the paper itself. In many parts of the world, people use a rock or a piece of a brick to accomplish the same purpose, and rocks and bricks not only do not pollute the environment but have the added advantage of being washable. Just something to think about the next time you hear about those skyscrapers full of toilet paper rolls.

  • JOHN GLADDY

    totally teasing and yes of course you made it out….all of us went “in” to one degree or another and most of us lucky to have gotten from 14-19 in one piece….and of course some of us could have a relapse at any time…

    AKAKY

    as usual , good point….as usual, i wonder who you really are…..talented observational scribe to be sure….

  • Charles…
    On serious note it’s been a while I’m thinking of that mystical experience..
    So far I’m a chicken , I admit it.. I’m afraid of what I’m gonna be able to “see”,
    break on through on the other side is brave indeed…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Do I have to read now? I skipped school and I came here for the pictures…pfff
    oime…:))))))))))))

    your civi
    be back after …my reading session…oime

  • That was a good read! thanks Akaky.

  • John,

    Very very different from what you are talking about… and I doubt the tribes in the Amazon who’ve been practicing this medicine for hundreds (thousands?) of years would consider it designer…. it can be a lot stronger than those experiences you recount… or a lot less. All up to you and your relationship with the medicine.

    Anyway, pretty much “lost it” on my last journey. Thought I was going into shock and possibly going to have a heart attack and die. The visions were super fast and overwhelming and the pain in my body intense. I kept purging demons. Fortunately Francois, the shaman, got me through it (though at one point he told me to stop whining – he can be a tough teacher). Of course in the end one realizes it was all in the mind, and/or the mind’s relationship to the body and pain. I wasn’t truly in danger but I convinced myself I was. Ayahuasca is a diagnostic tool – it uncovers and pulls to the surface in order to release the bodies darkness. One can of course also be blissed out on it (usually the second half of the evening for me though not this last one). And always, no matter how tough a journey, one feels revitalized and fresh the next day.

    Anyway, let the man himself explain it best (portrait by moi): http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-amazonian-healing-francois-demange

    He is considered one of the foremost Western practicioners working in the Shipibo tradition and I’m pretty damn proud he’s become a good friend and a part of my life. First thing you have to do to become an apprentice: sit on your own in the jungle for a year, taking plant medicines and eating nothing but fish, plaintains and porridge. A bit different than tripping your balls out at Glastonbury!

    Funny thing is I’ve been really sick this past week. Saw my ND yesterday and she thinks it’s still this demonic sickness I caught 12 years ago in Morocco (the last time I thought I was going to die) coming back to rear it’s ugly head. It could have quite possibly been the aya that brought it to the surface but not all the way gone. The body is subtle. The one thing Francois is trying to dissuade me of is finding reasons and causes for my problems. Just let the medicine do the work. What will come will come and it’s not necessarily because of or tied to a specific event in my life (don’t we all want the magic bullet for our ills). I’m working on having been in daily pain (headaches) my whole life as well as anxiety/fear issues. So going into drinking the medicine puts both of those into action even stronger (even a week before drinking). This is warrior medicine to be sure and I highly recommend it. It could be life changing.

    Best,

    Charles

  • And oh yes unfortunately it is only available to those that can afford or find it… wish that was different but either one has to get their ass down to the Amazon and a retreat center or find one of the rare ceremonies in the West (I feel very fortunate to have so much local access). It’s expensive ($200 plus a night) but so are a lot of things. I did my fare share of LSD, MDA, etc but they always left me feeling worse off than before. Aya is the complete opposite. Many serious people are researching it (as well as other visionary medicines) as the next frontier in healing. Unfortunately the government doesn’t see it that way……

  • $200 is not that much for what it offers… i hear u… i’ll follow up on this …at least i’ll try…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I am still reading…hmmm…ACADEMIANS…hmmm…;)

  • Charles. Of course its designer in the sense thats its chic (and expensive. $200 a night?). And neither you nor I are Amazonian Indians that these traditions belong to. So to that extent you are ‘buying’ a lifestyle. My culture has used belladonna,psilocybin and the like for thousands of years. The mexicans and aboriginal Americans had/have peyote/mescaline.People from the west used to flock to asia seeking a cure for the ‘spiritual hole’ they felt they had.(kharma cola sums it up nicely)…Now the rain forests are in vogue and are being brought to market, both by the scrupulous and the unscrupulous.

    True story.
    Theres a guy from brixton..a poet.big hit on the new hippy circuit. shamanic spirit apparently….renounces all western trappings to go to the rainforest and be apprenticed to a shaman….committed guy. claims that the west has lost its way, and all the spiritual and medicinal secrets of the rain forest can be learned for the benefit of all..so anyways, about five months in your man gets a scratch on his foot…takes some shamanic medicine..meditates or whatever for a couple of weeks…his shaman gives him some bugs to eat or somesuch (forgetting of course that he and his have a natural immunity to many of the forest toxins which our boy dont)…so now your mans leg is pretty in infected and painful…but he is in the bosom of healing and spiritual knowledge..whats a guy to do?….he hotfoot(sic) it to a phone box as quick as he can…rings up everyone he knows back home…money money need money..medical emergency..stop. Gets to a hospital (western medicine) where after a (quite expensive) prolonged fight with the infection…he loses about half of his foot. (Am I a bad person that I laughed my ass of when I heard this? ) anyways,, he’s back in england now…back on the circuit…probaly dining and getting laid of this story as we speak..and seemed very happy last time I saw him…limps a bit though…but that adds to the authenticity right?

    Peace

    and…did you really say “purging demons”?

  • Hi John,

    Well there is hubris in anything isn’t there? True story: a person I was told about recently went down to the Amazon, found some remote village and the local shaman and asked to do a dieta. Well, he’s apparantly a person who lets his ego get in front of him and the locals fucked with him. So they dieted him on the potato plant and he of course fucked up his diet and they didn’t help him. My friend who knows him said he came back looking like a potato! Plus his esophagus had shrunk to the size of a dime. He’s getting help now but his ego still won’t allow him to realize that he was the one who fucked it up.

    Anyway, I don’t think I or anyone I know working with this medicine even remotely feel we are “buying a lifestyle.” We are seeking healing and fortunate to do so from some of the best in the world in this tradition. Of course there are those who are just after an “experience.” Quite often they are the ones screaming their heads off and being disruptive (I had one woman who masturbated the whole time, moaning, next to me, needless to say she was never asked back).

    I have heard from others that aya has had a bit of an Ab Fab reputation in the UK so it might just be a matter of perception and actually working with the real deal.

    And yes demons – which are just a visual manifestation of our shadow selves.

  • I wonder who I am sometimes, too, but it’s never struck me as a particularly interesting topic so I just push it out of my mind whenever the subject comes up.

  • I used to enjoy my weekly dose of Ketamin.

  • Charles. Yes of course. Sorry if it appeared I was having a dig at you personally, but it does seem to be the new kabala over here if you know what I mean.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/aug/12/ayahuasca-detox-sussex

    They are even doing aya heroin detox’s at funky little country retreats.
    and I guess the documentary ‘extreme celebtrity detox’ didnt help matters much either.

  • John,

    Of course I knew you weren’t. But I also say whatever helps people get out of pain and suffering is fine by me, at any cost (and aya or iboga is a fraction, even at spa prices, of what a Western doc might cost ya). I do have to say that I find the Brit predilection to snarkiness regarding anything outside their ken or comfort zone to be a bit wearisome at times (such as the tone of the Guardian piece). That said I saw the Extreme Celebrity detox episode several years ago and laughed my head off. Esp Tony Wilson with his playlist for the evening. What a tosser!

    Do try and listen to that interview with Francois though.

    Best,

    CP

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Aaaahhhh…the girl from Ipanema…aaahhhh…vahhhhh…oime…

    Can I sing now?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mt contribution Sydney burn show, there are links to three of the completed books that will be on view

    http://www.etrouko.com

  • Thodoris…

    Very Nice images.
    I’ve got a couple kind of like these at home which I’m struggling with. My problem is I’m trying to go once again for less information – mine are too descriptive. I’m sure all this is Sally Mann’s Deep South influence on me. It’s driving me a little crazy, I never come back from this creek with anything I personally feel satisfied with.

  • Paul, maybe you *should* try shooting pinhole… and not even 8×10″… the smaller the format, the more, let’s say, inherently elusive the results… and don’t even bother drilling the “proper” pinhole either, or use a high resolving light sensitive material… get some old/fogged paper, and shoot away with a matchbox “camera”… you could give this a try with almost no cost, and who knows… it might get you closer to what you’re looking for… cheers

  • Really nice Thodoris. You do some of the nicest pin-hole work I’ve ever seen.

  • Gordon, thanks for the compliment, but I’m hardly alone… there are plenty of people around the world producing amazing work using pinhole cameras… besides the many flickr groups may I suggest these two facebook ones:

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/pinhole
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/info.pinhole

    and of course there is always http://www.pinholeday.org (next one coming up soon) were among the thousands of average pictures there are plenty of gems to be found… what’s been termed “alternative processes” is on the rise…

    by the way, the forests around were you live would be perfect for wide field pinhole landscapes… something to think about… cheers

  • Imants,

    I like what I saw! I noticed re-ocurring themes and variations….symbolism of the eastern kind. This is right up my alley. I wonder what the reaction will be. I say this because your work is “outside the box”

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