Monday, April 25, 2011

My idea monster

I've got these ideas man!  Little what-if ideas and big holy-shit-I-could-never-make-that-happen ideas.  Ideas for websites, pictures, writing, products, productivity, or whatever daydream I'm focused on for those particular five minutes.  Ok, most of it is trivial crap that strikes me throughout the day, but at least I've gotten into the habit of keeping Post-it notes with me while in the office, since most of these ideas come as my mind drifts away from things I "should" be thinking about.  My systematically folded strips of yellow paper filled with half-legible scribblings make their way into my pockets where they get added to a stack once I get home.

Eventually I'll unfold a couple and see if there's any way I can act on the idea.  Going back to them after a day or a month can lead to a lot of "I can't believe I forgot about that!!" moments, as well as plenty of "what the hell was I thinking??" moments.  The only certainty is that opening up one usually inspires two more.  I guess this handful of paper is my sketchbook, my journal, my whiteboard, my voice recorder, my wax pencil in the shower. It's growing into an uncontrollable mass of V shaped Post-its that's devouring an increasing share of my brainpower.  How can I be expected to work or sleep when there's a monster like this growing every day?

So what form does your idea monster take?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Annie & Brian in the Bywater

Here are handful of pictures from my trip around the Bywater with Annie and Brian.  I got discouraged at the start of our shoot when a mass of cars blocked the first of the locations I had scouted out.  Luckily, the rest of the afternoon went without issue.  On our last stop, we ended up grabbing a beer and chatting for a while with uber-friendly local, Charmaine Neville.  You never know what to expect in this city...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Parting with dear friends.

I think we've all had our comfort objects.  When I was a baby I had a blue blanket, when I was a little kid it was a clown doll, as an adult, I have a room full of books.  Whenever I need a distraction, I've got a bookcase full of literature.  When I was doing a history report in college, I happened to have a series on the renaissance and reformation that came in handy.  You want to learn french, german, italian, latin, portuguese, romanian, russian, spanish, or tagalog?  I've got books.  I've got my original Boy Scout handbook, an Army survival guide, and a book on backyard ballistics in case civilization suddenly crumbles and I need to improvise fish traps and potato guns.  If I feel like reading about coffee, the U.S. Constitution, science, philosophy, or the history of prostitution, I'm covered.  Being encircled by bookshelves now has the same effect as that dirty old blue blanket.

At one point in mid 2009 I counted the books in my apartment and it was right around 900.  I probably get 30-40 new books a year, so I'd imagine I'm somewhere just under 1000 at this point and I might have read 35% of them.  Half Price Books and thrift stores make it way to easy to pick up lots of books for next to nothing.  A book on Eli Whitney for 50 cents?  Sure, why not.  A series of 25 Time Life photography books from the early 80's for only $1.00 a piece?  They're mine.  All mine.  I enjoy every one of these books whether I've read them or not.  

But now I'm moving, books are heavy, and I live on the third floor and have the right knee of a 76 year old.  What's more, I've come to feel like I have an unhealthy relationship with these piles of paper.  I want to leave them but I'm afraid that I'll miss their colorful bindings and inky scents.  Objects should not have this control over me.  So I've made the decision to part with some of them.  Difficult as it might be, I'm making a stack of at least 50 books that will not be gracing the shelves of my new home in May.  I know this all probably sounds silly, but try to get rid of something that you like.  Even only five percent of it.  This is going to be painful, probably a little sad, but ultimately liberating.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What have you done in the last 1460 days?

It's hard to believe that as of this week I've lived in New Orleans for four years.  Four years.  The time has absolutely flown by. What have I done with myself over the last 1460 or so days?  In trying to think of things, it's amazing how some of the little actions or seemingly trivial events stick out as memories.  Here are a few of things I've gotten into; good, bad, big, and small.

I've jumped out of a perfectly good plane, strapped to the chest of a sick fat guy.  

I've hiked to the crater of a volcano.  

I've gone on a helicopter ride.  I've also sat around nervously as somebody tried to fix a warning light on said helicopter.  

I've watched a pod of dolphins swim by from an offshore oil platform.  

I've watched dueling street jazz bands get broken up by the police.  

I've seen four Mardis Gras in the best Mardi Gras city in the US.

I've stayed up all night counting cards in a dozen casinos across three states

I've convinced a girl to move away from home to a city she'd never been to.  One Thanksgiving morning I left her a series of cards in various places.  A year and a half later, she married me.  

I read through 1800 pages of material and took three exams to get professionally accredited.  

I've built miniature siege weaponry that sits on my bookshelf.

I've watched a city evacuate for a hurricane.  I stayed, and had friends visit.  We stayed up all night as it approached and went for a swim at sunrise. 

I've watched locals pull alligators out of the swamp with their bare hands. 

I've flown home for two funerals.

I've gotten lost in huge above ground cemeteries.

I bought my first new car, but I still drive the truck I've had since I was 16. 

I've eaten insects baked into cookies and mixed into salsa.

I've seen live jazz from a old establishment with a dirt floor. 

I've been around when my alma mater lost a national championship to the local team. 

I've witnessed an entire city's euphoria as their team won the Super Bowl. 

I've watched baseball, basketball, and football games from posh suites.

I've used a camera to get me into countless places I'd never otherwise get to see. 

I've helped tear apart rotting houses, and helped build new ones. 

I've taken boat rides with mountains of dead Christmas trees so I could throw them into a bayou. 

I've been the best man in a wedding.

I've walked the entire Freedom Trail, and had a conversation with an old Bostonian named Sweet Lonnie.

I've helped move huge amounts of dirt.

I've ran 13.1 miles without stopping.

I've tried over 150 different beers. 

I've gotten two new cats, and seen one sort of old one, and one not old at all die. 

I've danced to old vinyl on dusty wooden floors.  Well, my version of dancing anyway.

I've watched the few close friends I've made here move away.  

I've watched old close friends grow, change, and stay the same.

I've had dozens of people sleep on my couch or one of the four air mattresses that I've been through. (Cats are a natural predator of inflatable objects)

I've watched thousands of men and women in red dresses run by in the rain.  

I've flown home to surprise my dad on his birthday.

I've been to festivals celebrating jazz, rock, tomatoes, oysters, a sandwich, the French Quarter, seafood, zydeco, crawfish, Greeks, and whatever else I can't remember.

I've watched a field full of hot air balloons light up the night.

I've collected and thrown away bags full of beads.  I've seen people get hurt by, fight over, and take their clothes off for the same.

I've taken pictures of mayors, chefs, athletes, actors, musicians, artists, real estate moguls, doctors, and business leaders.

I've ridden the street car to breakfast after a night I can't remember.

I've spent hours kicking a car tire around.

I've watched people cry in protest over an ecological disaster.

I've written russian curse words on somebody's house with chalk.

I've gotten a ride home in the back of a police car. 

I've started a business.

I've started a blog.

As I write this, there's a football field sized section of a bridge being hoisted into place a couple of miles from me.  It's a beautiful day for a bike ride to the river so I can add "I've watched a giant section of bridge get installed" to my resume.  It's Saturday.  Go outside and add to your own list. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's brighter when the power goes out

We lost power for two hours last night.  The weather radar on the TV showed blobs of red approaching the area until the howl of the wind and pelting rain finally put us in the dark.  Or you'd think it would be dark after sunset, with massive thunderstorms rolling overhead.  But with clouds drifting so close to the ground, any light from areas that still had power made its way up and got diffused to the point that black skies turned an erie orange.  With no power and the only major light source outside, people gathered on balconies to watch the trees blow around.  

For a moment I was back in Hurricane Gustav, standing with a friend on the balcony, listening to leaves and branches clashing against each other, watching people move through the half empty parking lot, thinking "what the hell are you doing out in this weather?"  I was back when we had nothing to do but play cards, drink wine, and watch trees dance against the orange night.  With everything man made quieted around us, we may as well have been the last people on earth.  Digital clocks sat dark and time didn't pass until the sun came up.  

Back in the present, half a dozen incandescent bulbs resumed their burning, electrical gadgets buzzed to life, the computer beeped, the air conditioner kicked on.  Those two hours last night could just as easily been five minutes or half a day and it would have felt the same.  With so many flashing lights and loud noises around us all the time, it was nice to be unplugged for a while, letting the rain and wind compete for loudest sound, and the tangerine sky be the brightest thing around.