Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This photograph no longer exists in one piece due to an irrational decision on my part but I can still recall it quite vividly. The photograph was taken at my Grandparent’s house when I was about four years old. It’s quite simple, consisting only of my Grandpa and I. He sits in a large reclining chair in his living room in Stanton, Virginia. I sit happily on his knee looking up at him with a big grin on my face unaware of the camera only a few feet away from us while he smiles directly into the camera, a glare barely catching the bottom part of his glasses. The left edge of the photo shows half of an old lamp and wooden table with the two of us framed close to center and the right side of the photo fades into darkness.

The photographer is none other then my mother who never misses a moment to take a photo. This photograph means a lot to me because my Grandpa and I were very close. I remember being upon his knee many times. He used to give me his ice cream and call me “pug”. I love this photograph because I can see the happiness in both of our faces, mine full of wonder, and his full of content. I also love it because I am unconcerned with the camera that captures this purely innocent moment in time. I used to carry this photo around with me most of the time, kind of like a good luck charm. Naturally the photo is worn and rather beat up due to being folded and unfolded time after time. But now it sits in a safe place taped back together as best I could manage. I ripped the photo after my Grandpa’s funeral when I was seventeen. He was the first immediate family member of mine to die that I remember and it was my first funeral. I remember getting mad at myself for not being able to cry when my father told me the news. I was shocked, I’m not even sure if I responded to him. I didn’t cry until the two days when I went to his funeral in Virginia and saw the open casket. After I went back home I took the photo out of my back pocket and tore it out of anger and sorrow. I didn’t get to say goodbye and even worse, my mother didn’t, his own daughter. I don’t think the pain losing someone you love ever goes away but with time the pain dulls and you learn to move on.

I’m not sure whether I would have wanted to see him or not though. Over the two years leading up to his death, Alzheimer’s slowly took a hold of him and he could barely remember whom I was. I remember the first time he didn’t know my name; it broke my heart. If I would have been there and he didn’t remember me I don’t think I could have handled it. Minutes after destroying the photo I broke into tears and frantically searched for tape to fix my hasty mistake. Ever since then I have not been able to take the photo anywhere for fear of losing it for good.

When I look at the photo I can smell a Virginia summer’s night and picture me asleep next to my Grandpa on the swinging porch chair while he smokes and looks out into the dark. I wonder if he was ever looking for anything in particular or if he was simply looking. He had a great since of humor; he often told me jokes and would always talk about being a hooligan in his youth. The house seems so empty now when we visit my Grandmother and I know it takes a toll on her. I can’t fathom being married to someone for 56 years and then losing them. My mother grew up in that house and my brother and I have shared good memories there as well. I feel like I go back in time when I visit her in Stanton.

My Grandpa always smoked for as long as I can remember and he had no health complications due to smoking. This always amazed me because on the opposite hand smoking killed my dad’s mom. He also had dentures because he liked candy to much as a kid and boy did ever love it when he was old. He had trouble walking in the last of his years which sadly left him in his recliner most of the time but every now and again we would go to the park to feed the ducks or listen to the band in the summer evening. He loved to go on drives and get out of the house. My mom said he used to love to fish as well, he taught me how to fly fish when I was about ten but I wasn’t any good at it. Almost all of my memories with him are good ones and I am thankful for that.

This photo doesn’t help me know my Grandpa or tell me anything about him or make me remember him better. It does something more then that. It starts a chain reaction of vivid memories and smells that play like a dream in my mind. This photo helps me remember my Grandpa the way I want to remember him before he couldn’t remember me. Before he started deteriorating and having to watch helplessly, unable to do anything about it. He was a kind and gentle man. He never brought any harm to anything be it plant, animal, or human. He provided for his family and was the best husband/dad/grandfather he could be. In a way I think it’s silly that I place so much importance upon this tiny piece of ripped paper but at the same time I am glad I do because it reminds me the moment actually happened. Without it I’m sure I would remember my Grandpa the same way as I do now but it’s the only thing I have of him left in the world.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ghouls of the Night

Dear Potato Family,

Every day you work the fields with your bare hands, even the women and children. Your bodies are tired and tattered, your faces are worn from years of hard manual labor just to put food on the table in the evenings. Each day it's the same, more and more potatoes but you don't mind. Your house is modest but enough for the family to be comfortable and provide for the elders. A cousey yet haunting place to liveYour eyes are distant and cold, black as coal and impossible to read. Maybe you imagine yourself somewhere else or perhaps you are simply grateful to have any food at all. The utensils in your hands are held softly, delicately as to not hurt your raw hands which have been digging all day long. The dirt and musk fills the atmosphere around the table. Ghoulish hands reach out from the dark for a cup of tea or some potatoes. You sit basking in the dull light of a single candle above the table, barely allowing you to see. Taking this moment to pause and relfect is well deserved. The family has worked hard today and provided well for themselves and tomorrow will be the same. Your wooden faces all relfect this fact and you accept it as your way of living, an honest living.

Goodnight potato eaters.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Tale of Love and Woe

I haven't found anything recently that really made me think or respond in any sort of way so I decided to pick an item from foundmagazine. I searched on their site for a good while and found a couple of things that sparked my interest but eventually I found an object that caught my attention and made me stop in my mental footsteps so to speak. The object is a ripped up picture that a woman found in front of an angel statue in a cemetery in Cleveland. She took the picture and put the pieces back together forming this:

To me the photo looks to have been of a bride and groom from quite a long time ago. But why was it ripped up and tossed in front of the angel? Did one of the people in this photo commit this act? If so I wonder if it was out of love and grief or out of hate. Or could the person who ripped the photo be an offsrping of the two visting the parents grave? I want to know the back story of this photo, who are these people? When was it taken?

With all unanswerable questions aside, the phot itself intigues me. The man is looking up and away from the camera and instead of being next to his bride he stands behind her. The woman on the otherhand gazes directly into the camera and appears proud and composed with part of herself in front of her husband. I adore the worn and old feeling of this photo. I feel that before it met the fate of being in pieces the photo was very loved and cared for.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Time is Now

There are two artists who I would use to define the times we are in right now here in 2009. The first being a filmmaker who I admire greatly and think as one of the most influential living filmmakers; Mr. Martin Scorsese. When I see his films I can really connect to them and I get the feeling that he really knows what the audience wants and what they’re interested in. He has a formula, knows it works, and uses it to his advantage. He has created such classics as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, Goodfellas, and The Departed. He continues to take risks and excite and capture his audience in new and innovative ways. His risks for the most part are rewarded and show young; rising filmmakers such as myself that doing what you want and believing in yourself can get your movie picked up. I feel that Mr. Scorsese also goes above and beyond being a filmmaker. He is very in touch with his American-Italian roots and shows that influence in some of his films as well as outside the film industry.

Another artist that I feel captures what I would call modern is none other than Marcel Duchamp. I remember learning about him in class and the Mona Lisa with the Mustache made me literally fall out of my chair laughing. He was able to take something that people regard so highly, have fun with it, and still have people love it. He took a huge risk because he could have been shunned out of the art world instead. He also took a urinal, signed it, and called it “Fountain”. Duchamp fascinates me because he challenged the rules set before him as to what “art” is. I feel like many artists are trying to do that same thing now and I feel Duchamp was extremely successful. He was experimental, daring, and didn’t care much for convention in art or anything really. He was a driving force in surrealism in France and influenced multiple artists in the future.

Both of these artists take risks and delve into what many others were to cautious or uncaring to try. One is a filmmaker who constantly comes up with new material and new ways to stun audiences that have seen his work before. I think the only way someone could describe one of his films as being "Classic Scorcese" would be because of how crazy and cutting edge they always are. Not because they are similar. Duchamp also took chances and pushed the edges of convention. He had no patiance for rules and worrying about what art should be, he just created.