In the summer of 2007, my family, my girlfriend at the time, and I went on a cruise around Europe and Northern Africa. These are the pictures I took aboard our ship, the Costa Concordia, which now lays on its side off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio.
It is strange to think about. The boat we were on, that we had great memories on, is the one that ran aground. The rooms are not gone but are now filled with water. They still exist. What gets me is the fact that it could have happened when we were on board. Everyone has to go through the mandatory drill on the first day in case something like this happens. I undoubtedly didn’t take it seriously at the time but went through the motions of finding the life vests in the room and then waltzing into our muster station with some sort of smirk thinking that it was stupid. I would have been unprepared.
The girls stayed in a beautiful room near the top deck with their own balcony. My dad and I were in a much smaller room a few feet above the waves. At night, I would sit in our window and listen to music and watch the stars. I was fascinated by the amount of space between me and the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. It blew my mind to think of all the things that could be underneath us at any given moment, of all the things that could be above us.
The ship also took us to Tunisia before their revolution. The people and hills there still exist despite what happened to their government. The bed I slept in on the boat still exists despite what happened to the ship’s hull. Events happen that can change the direction of a person’s life in an instant and the best we can hope for is sufficient preparation. I should take things more seriously. Not for myself but for the people who care about me.
Ships sink, governments fall. The oceans reclaim their elements, people reclaim their freedom, and we reclaim our ways of getting by day to day with help from those around us. The people we love are the ones we surround ourselves with and if something tragic happens, they are the ones we turn to for guidance and strength. To lose them would be incomprehensible. This could have been that time and my heart hurts to think about those few who lost someone within the same rooms I shared so much love in.
One afternoon while we were standing on the girls’ balcony, the ship carried us straight into a wall of fog. There was no subtle transition. It was a wall of grey and we quietly collided with it and fused into its wondrous unknown. Nothing can compare to the odd feeling it had, a solid blanket of the unanswered questions. What is to come and what could I have done better?
I’m going to tell you a story. When I first started working in the public school system, I felt pretty good physically. I felt refreshed in the mornings and was happy to be a part of something very important by the end of the day. When I got home, I smelled like sweat and cafeteria but I was proud. My pants would have some pen marks on them from when students would try to write on me when I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t angry; I wore it like a badge.
A few months went by and I started to become physically tired and homesick. I was spending the same number of hours at work as I was at my apartment, a twelve-hour split. I would wake up angry about how horrible some of the conditions are and arrived back at my place numb. I began to cherish the weekends more.
One friday in mid-October, I came directly home and went to bed. Fuck going out to the bars. I didn’t know how people had the energy. Upon waking up around noon on saturday, I made breakfast and then decided to take a nap. I was awake for no longer than forty-five minutes. I woke up later that day around 8 p.m. confused, frustrated, groggy, and melancholy that I had wasted a full day. I had no idea what to do with myself. The longing to be home in Kentucky was almost unbearable and I decided to leave my basement apartment and walk around the neighborhood with my camera. This resulted in roughly 70 photos that perfectly encompassed my mood. It made me feel much better. Sometimes it is difficult for me to express how I feel. It usually all comes out in a scramble of words and noises. Conversations with friends sometimes feel like packages filled with puzzle pieces from different puzzles.
The result turned out completely surreal, hence why I left the pictures in color from my usual preference for black and white. Everything seemed fake yet every problem seemed so very real. It was something that at the time, I could not have possibly translated into words and looking back at these photos now, I realize that the initial feeling was completely preserved in the strange colors, focuses, and angles of these shots. The following are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy/understand.
My song for this week has to do with time, distance and changes that happen to us as we grow older. Here are some links on that subject.
1) Check out this photography project from Irina Werning. Werning started this project sometime last year and features old photos and their updated versions. Check it out. I think many of us spend a lot of time reflecting on the past, especially our youth, with fondness. So seldom do we actually have the opportunity to relive those times. I feel like these photos represent that desire to return, and show that even though we put on the clothing and poses of the past, we can never return. We are constantly new.
2) Speaking of youth, here’s a music video that utilizes colored pencils — that classic grade school art room staple — as its subject. I will never tire of stop-motion videos. They all seem unique, even though the technique has been utilized many times by now. Here’s “Against the Grain” by Hudson.
3) Did you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth? Technically, I never have, though my sixth grade teacher did read it to my class once. Whether it’s true or not, I view this book as a very important one in the history of books for children. Maybe I should go back and read it now.
4) This is a fun song better suited for the summer. Listen to it now and remember what it was like to drive in the warmth of the sunshine (if you’re living in the northeastern United States).
“Honey Bunny” by Girls:
5) If you haven’t heard of Flula Borg before you’ve missed out. He’s a German DJ living in LA, and his videos have been posted on The Daily What before (a site we here at The Compass are great fans of). Here he is encouraging us to “repurpose” items. I encourage you to watch and learn, so nobody is sad because you make a litterbug. This guy is a hoot. I think he’s a German Andy Dwyer.
6) I’ve got no reason for posting this other than how much I like it.
“My Racing Thoughts” - Jack’s Mannequin
One decade after 9/11, an unsettling number of images from Ground Zero and environs remain seared in our collective memory — unsurprising, perhaps, given the scope and scale of the destruction. But the fact that the deadliest, most visually arresting attacks occurred in New York City also meant that many of the world’s best photographers were, in effect, already on the scene when the terrorists struck.
Here, to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and in hopes of lending coherence to our shared, turbulent recollections, LIFE.com presents the 25 most stirring, visceral photographs from that day, featuring pictures from the likes of James Nachtwey, Joe Raedle, Spencer Platt, Mario Tama, and other celebrated photojournalists (and one intrepid amateur).
These are the pictures we remember: wrenching, indelible photographs that tell the tale of a still-resonant late summer day that changed everything: 9.11: The 25 Most Powerful Photographs.
I found this collection of photos a few days ago and remembered again that the tenth anniversary of September 11th is two weeks away. Ten years ago, I was a high school freshman. I hadn’t yet memorized my locker combination when the attacks happened. For me, the War on Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Presidency of George W. Bush go hand in hand with my adolescence. Living through those ten years, I heard and saw a lot of people misappropriate a defining moment of our nation’s history for their own purposes. These photos reminded me of what that day really was about: an attack, death and destruction, but also recovery, survivors and unity.
Since I’ve started working in the D.C. Public School System, my brain has been on rapid-fire with stuff. I’ve been writing very consistently because of it. However, the work is very demanding and with two family emergencies (one of which I learned about while typing this: my mom’s uncle passed away. He was very sickly to begin with and we weren’t that close to him but he is still family. My grandmother has tons of siblings that have lost track of each other over time. We also learned that another one of them has been dead for a couple of years now but it is still rough to call people to say sorry. The other emergency you will learn about later this week. That one has been causing me a shit load of stress and panic), I have had very little time to A) refine what I have (with the exception of two pieces, one will come thursday) and B) meander around on the internet. My apologies for the sparse links this week.
But this is an unique opportunity for you to see my rough, unedited personal writing that most people don’t get to read. A lot of things this week will come from my personal journal so actually, absolutely no one gets to read these things. Don’t get too excited though, my writing I put out there sometimes comes from that anyway so it isn’t much different. It is just not really edited or ruminated over like everything else. Just raw thought and prose. Also this week, I plan to put some photography up from this summer but we will see how this week goes. Shit is crazy out there but nothing ever really changes. We just try to keep going.
- The current issue of Juxtapoz Magazine has an article about the street artist Craig Costello, an artist from New York City that moved to San Francisco before graffiti was big over there. Apart from his art, the article talks about his transition from one big city mentality to another and a world before the internet as well as his photographic documentation of the movement (think Mr. Brainwash but not weird or possibly fabricated). It is very interesting but unfortunately, you can only find a brief preview of the article online so if you want to read the whole thing, you’ll have to pick up the magazine yourself. It is worth it; Juxtapoz is awesome.
- Bad Mars Volta News: Keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens is no longer a part of the band according to their wikipedia page.
- Good Mars Volta News: They have been performing stuff from their new album (due 2012 now) a lot during their recent live performances. All the interviews are right, this stuff is much different from anything else. It isn’t as spastic as the rest of their stuff and focuses a lot more on Cedric’s vocals. Imagine a strange mix between Francis the Mute and Octahedron. The good thing is that it is still awesome. Here, instead of me trying to poorly describe it, just listen to it yourself. This song is called “Trinkets Pale of Moon”. It is amazing and still Volta huge and seductively beautiful.
- Here are 11 songs that have been in my head:
These pictures are from a few years ago from the following places (in no particular order):
- Rockport, Massachusetts
Unfortunately, I was unable to find my China pictures from high school but I will look around for those.
One of the first things I noticed when looking at these pictures again (it has been at least two years since I last looked) was that I tend to frame most of my pictures somewhat poorly. A majority of my shots were too high, drawing the eye down and wanting more. It was very frustrating. But these eight shots stuck out the most and they made particularly beautiful black & whites.
Photography has been in my life since I could walk; my father is a professional photographer. However, he is an aerial photographer, meaning that he takes pictures from planes down at property and accidents and buildings an whatnot for property owners, lawyers, construction companies, etc. He also does wildlife photography as a hobby. I take pictures for fun. He sometimes asks me why I take pictures the way I do, commenting that my camera is not straight or that I am shooting into the sun or through glass or that my depth of field is weird. When we travel, I take four times as many exposures as he does.
The pictures above are digital but I prefer to use film, more specifically, my plastic-lensed Holga for its unpredictability. He keeps trying to get me to take digital more seriously and I want to, it is just that I kind of like my pictures to have that kind of roughed up look to them, like something may have gone wrong. Digital takes shots how they appear, almost perfectly true to color and contrast. My dad’s business takes pictures to record, to document. I like not knowing how the shot is going to turn out. I like the abstract. I like to take something that exists and then distort it just a tiny bit.
Because the shots above were tourist shots (my mom told me to take it serious), I was unable to really abstract as much I as would have liked but these images seem to capture something that I didn’t realize at the time. It feels like a personal millisecond of awesome emerging from the mundane, something viewed only by a singular person who happened to look up at seeming nothing at just the right moment.
Another thing I’ve noticed about the way I go about taking photographs is that I like to photograph while I’m moving. Some of these shots were from the back of a car, some were while I was walking. The picture of the statue in front of the residential building was actually taken through a bus window. I rush through the process that takes my dad several minutes to perfect and see what happens from there.
My dad and I both love photography. His pictures support our family. My pictures end up framed around the house. We can take pictures of the same subject from the same angle and end up with entirely different results. I can take a dust covered pipe and make it look kind of cool and he would call it strange. Then again, he can take amazing shots of bears and moose, one amazing exposure after another, and mine end up looking like a granfather’s who doesn’t know how to work a camera. We both see the same things but view them entirely differently and that is what brings us together.
I actually have stuff to post this week so it won’t be a waste like last time! Wooooo! Here’s some cool stuff.
1. The new Strokes album “Angles” is out. Go get it. Tis awesome.
2. Related: Here is Metacritic’s spring album preview.
3. Know the enemy: How Nanotechnology Works.
4. This is a vampire hunting kit that someone made. Xmas listed.
5. Dear American culture, be better at coming up with holidays. Be like this.
8. Below is a video of Jake Shimabu-Shimabukrushimkurobukukubukuro playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on ukulele at TED2010 for some reason:
9. Here are 11 songs: