Category: photography

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The South-East Bounce

OK… The deadline for the e-book has passed. I’ve only organized the first round of pictures and there a lot more. Cataloging has become the unforeseen monkey wrench in my show. I thought it would be easy, laying out provocactive pictures and justifying them along  with my peppered prose, but the more I looked at each picture, stories emerged that had eluded my original narrative, and took on lives of their own. If I put more time in earlier on pre-production like I do on my filmed narratives, it would have been done on time and hopefully with great fanfare. I’m still pressing forward, though. I’m going to see what kind of help I can get by reaching out to my community of fellow artists, writers and photographers.

Earlier this month, I had a chance to travel away from L.A. for a couple of weeks. The first stop was Todd Mission, TX, where the first Middlelands music festival went down. The venue was the Texas Renaissance Fairgrounds. I was told that at least 60,000 people attended this 3-day event that popped up in a dusty wood, an hour northwest of Houston. There were many people who attended on a day-to-day basis, but a great majority stayed on the campgrounds. Oh yes, there was camping, and with the camping came the night parties til the dawn and brilliant displays of light. Being Loupy D, I had the luxury of a golf cart and an all-access pass. All day I was getting hailed by partygoers who after partying til the breakadawn were making their way from the campgrounds to the stages. I had a couple of interesting offers in the later hours of the fest, but due to the nature of my duties, I had to give every sweet-faced girlie the go-by. Even if I’d listened to that devil in the white nightgown whispering in my left ear, the best accommodation I could offer was the RV space I shared with two roomies. Three funky fellas in a tight quarters over seven days is an acquired aroma, but when one of the ladies from our group poked her head in our space one day, her acquisition couldn’t quite handle our aroma.

Febreze handled it.

Next week, new stop. After a quick repack in L.A. (and a long shower), I boarded United Airlines for a nonstop flight to Washington, D.C. aka Chocolate City with an orange glaze on top… oh well. The occasion for the destination was not to hate, but to celebrate the bestowing of rights and privileges thereof decreed up on my niece… as a PhD recipient! Her dissertation is titled Concussions, The Emerging Public Health Crisis, and Why Media Advocacy Is Needed. Looks to me as like she’s taking up the mantle against the NFL, and anyone else who puts profits as a priority over health. From day one when she learned how to talk she hasn’t been quiet and, I don’t know a bigger sports fanatic than @ProfCDP. As a teenager, I saw her go head-to-head  at a cookout with a grown man over some college sports stats! Christian caught the journalism bug in the heart of my freelance writing days. She began writing articles for the sports section of her high school newspaper and was the sports editor in her senior year. She was accepted to Spelman College and breezed through in three years with a double major in English and Spanish. Without missing a beat, she tackled the cold of upstate New York to get her master’s degree from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. I still see that tough, gangly 9-year old who I took hiking in Kenneth Hahn Park. The end of our hike was a short, steep incline. Poor Christian lost her footing and and took a frightful dive near the bottom. When I checked her out there was no blood, just a few scrapes. “See, if you can walk away from it then your okay,” I reassured her. By the time we made it back to my red Mazda B-2000 pickup, she was already asking, “can we come back tomorrow?” I feel so good that I kept telling her to put the books before the boys, too. It was the most solid piece of advice that I could have given her as a youngster. The reward for having that kind of patience and focus was getting engaged with her sweetheart of seven years, the day after defending her dissertation.There was a lot to celebrate that week!

You never know how the things you say to a person or the way you treat them, will influence them later on in life. I always tried to give my nieces and nephews aspects from my life that I wished I had more of: inspiration and motivation from an adult. A person who gives the go-ahead to try something new and not be afraid to fail is so hard to find in a competition-minded society. I gave them the freedom to be, and they were able to pick up on the pieces of wisdom and understanding I dropped on them at a young age. I had to wait to get it straight from my grandpa down in New Orleans as a wild youth in my 20s, while running with the hip hop crowd in the 90s. I remember always being told what to do, what not to do, what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I did my best to make other people happy, not knowing that I was the source of my own happiness. Like many misguided youth, I rebelled, made lots of mistakes and engaged in shenanigans that would have put me in the hospital, jail or in the ground. I’m here by the blessings from the good Lord above. I’m happy the ones coming up under me didn’t have to experience life the way I did. I’m not saying that life is hard, but it sure ain’t easy. I just had to change if I wanted to raise my own kids one day. Now I have two boys, and it’s the same with them, but different. Time will tell.

These two weeks of travel have sure put me in a reflective state. Life is short and precious and I enjoy the variety that it brings day to day. I’m getting used to the expereinces that will get me through the next phases of life. I don’t need a lot to be happy. I can be lonely in a crowd or at ease in my own company. There’s no use in remembering what I did for others when I’m going to forget it a year later. What you sow is what you reap, and I’m alright with what I’m seeing so far.

 

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Searching for Inspiration

I’m a longhand kind of writer. I love the feel of a pen in my hand, watching my thoughts manifest into ink as it sinks into the paper. The sound of the stroke of the ballpoint that swooshes, and leaves behind a trail words that sum up the feelings and observations of the moment thrills me.

Ever on the quest to digitize my analog life, I’m planning to publish my first e-book near the end of the month. It’s an essay with pictures, or a pictorial essay, if that’s a more marketable term, about my experience during the L.A. Riots, 25 years ago. The other day I was stressed out over formatting the photos, so I left the house with journal in hand and decided to go the beach.

I know that when I get inspired to go the beach, it’s a time for cleansing. Whenever a major change is coming along, I feel I have to count my blessings and clear my thoughts. I wanted to free my mind of the anxiety I was feeling from the pressures of perfection and just write something… anything. I found out that thoughts never come in any specific order unless you force them. They are as random as the waves hitting the shore, yet they do so with an expectant frequency. Here’s a random thought that hit the shores of my mind…

I’m at war with myself again. Trying to regain the sense of reality I sought in my youth. The ways of the world have had their way with me far too long. I felt alone in my quest before, but I’m more alone being a part of the crowd. It’s not easy journeying internally and finding the blocks that bar the way to true freedom, the freedom to live a life in love with myself. The freedom to be fearless in the face of adversity, to take the high road, takes more courage than lying to myself saying I just can’t take it anymore. I am stronger than the weakest perceptions I create, which tell me that this is as far as I’ll ever go. I’ve got to take chances. I’ve got to win this battle…

Someone recently told me that you have to fight for your right to write. I forced myself to come out here just to write this, even though I had no idea that this is what would come out of me. I always feel like these moments of reflection come too late to make any difference, but I’m grateful because it’s like taking a huge stretch before a workout. Here, in this moment, anything can happen, and if I write about it, it must be important, I think, because randomness can inevitably have meaning. Four more motorcycles just zoomed by.  A red Lamborghini. Another motorcycle, no two. A man holding a fake hand in one hand and a fat cigar in the other crosses the street. An airplane disappears into the clouds. What’s the meaning? It happened.

Now, I’m breathing easier.

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Seasonal Shifting

I am back from the trenches. A lot of my personal woes have been too close to the heart to share with this crowd, or even Facebook for that matter. Work and parenting are certainly testing my limitations and motivations. I ask myself often, Why am I writing? Blogging ain’t paying the bills! I think about other work to make money to survive and buy stuff for the kids. Oh, the kids are getting bigger and need more stuff. I need to make more money!

I collaborate with a great group of people who are passionate about film and loyal friends as well. We continue to develop scripts and ideas that we hope will one day soon sell in the marketplace. The last five years we have all experienced the challenges of balancing parenthood, art and work. Since the hands on practice of filmmaking is on hold, we have all relapsed into our creative cocoons. They write screenplays while I focus on personal narratives, poetry, and developing a new old outlook on an old love: hip hop. The past few months I’ve had the opportunity to practice my photography skills with my DSLR instead of my phone camera.

The other day my sister comes over. She picks up a book I put together on Shutterfly, sitting on my coffee table. She can’t believe the beauty of the photo selection. “You took these?” “Yup.” “You’ve still got those pictures from the riots?” “Yeah.” I’ve been wanting to make a book from those photos for a long time. I admit that I have anxiety about starting projects that don’t require the hands on support of fellow visionaries. This is something that would carry my name on it. Sole credit. “What will it take to make the book?”

Dreams. promises. I try everything and I don’t give up. I write because I set things in motion from the words that stir from my fingertips. A person can think of what they want to do, but until those thoughts materialize as words and those words become actions, ideas will be the house of dreams and unkept promises.

Winter is coming quick. I set that as the deadline for a rewrite of my memoir. I’m going to smash a few pages out while I’m down from work these next few days. A friend sent me back notes on some poems I’m getting ready for publication. I want to work on those. Tomorrow isn’t promised. My buddy is going to show me how to shoot stars in the desert at the end of the month. It feels good to be back on this page.