Friday, April 29, 2005
Isn’t that Fuckin’ cool?
When getting my BA in college (that was the thing I did between drinks), I learned that words are ironic: words possessed supreme power. And they are inherently powerless. I also learned that that’s more paradox than irony, but whatever.
An offhanded response by the emperor of Japan was possibly misconstrued, and that helped convince the kindly Truman fella to bomb them politely.
But you know, they’re just words too? Way less powerful than fists, and that’s just for instance. They’re also less powerful than Dristan (regular strength even), the NEW Febreeze, the weird mind control that Paris Hilton has that tricks us into thinking she’s relevant, and this guy I know named, “Melvin.”
But words are the bridge between us. Words are similar to what some atheists like me think god REALLY is—a construct created by us, that we place above us as a Meta force that we allow to govern us. Words also could be used to segue between this kludgy intro and the actual point of this entry.
A few months ago a friend of mine told me that she could no longer enjoy my delightful blog entries because therein, dear readers, every now and again—if you scanned carefully—you could find a swear. The software that they installed on the Coleco -Vissions that she uses in the school in which she teaches apparently took notice of the cussing.
I guess I could be shocked, hurt. I could ask myself why my tender little site? Why am I now a social pariah? What are these changes my body is going through?
But no, like a schoolboy giggled I. ‘Cause see, I’m thinking: total badge of honor. I’m kinda lame, so any rebellion I can fit in works for me.
I could play the whole “they’re afraid of the indelible mark that I’ll instill in the impressionable young minds” card. Then go off and drink some hemlock, attempt to die a dignified drama-queen death, then realize it wasn’t really hemlock—just sugar free green tea energy drink that tastes like humming bird feed, and how would I have know if it’s hemlock anyway? I could be indignant and get on a pulpit and raise my fist and say, “It’s about the ideas, man!” But it’s not; it’s about the cussing. (Jeez! Keep up.)
The crazy thing is, I’m in some ironically conservative company. (Again, not so much ironic as just coincidental or unexpected)
Dick Army is a politico who is one of the staunchest supporters of Work place censoring software. That software will prevent you from visiting his site. ‘Cause his name is Dick. For those keeping score at home, that’s a slang term for a boy’s pee-pee.
Say you’re a school spirit having, fresh faced kid who wants to hit your school’s web site to see what time the big game starts. Nope. Your HIGH school just may have the word, “high” in its web site. (Pssssst. That’s what those filthy hippies use for code words when they are doing the drugs.)
If you’re a dedicated IT guy, who has a gleam in your eye because you just installed censoring software on your whole company’s computers, you better hope they never have a CD or DVD ROM problem. Despite who’s on the nameplate, matSHITa probably makes your drive. Emailing tech support may be tricky.
These are all real examples I found on the net of censor software spreading its joyless grip over the nation. And now, my blog is also on the black list. Cool. I always wanted to be part of a big trend.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
And the ‘blog train kept a-rollin’ (so to speak)
Oh, one more thing. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I decided you need art lessons from Bo.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
My boring blog
Have you ever…wait this isn’t the question, the preface to the question…Have you ever noticed that a loooooot of blogs out there have mostly entries that start with something about how boring everything is, specifically the poster his or her self? Usually with a strangely accurate, and self aware assessment of how boring their lives are in particular. But this is compounded with the fact that everything else is boring. It’s a boring fest, or extravaganza. To wit: “So I went to the store to get coffee because there was nothing else to do, and it was really boring like my life. I thought I’d call Becca, but I couldn’t get a hold of her because I think she thinks I’m boring. My cat is really boring, and if I had a dog they’d fight, but it would be boring…a different kind of boring, but boring still. I saw a movie and listened to The Cure. The Cure is boring to me now because they haven’t come out with anything new in so long and their new stuff doesn’t count because it’s boring. I’m taking a nap…” You see? Why is this stuff on the ‘net? Well, I submit to you dear reader, that these bored-o-nauuhts have time by the buckets.
Unlike I have had for the last few months. I’ve been working my ass off. Not just on wage-related stuff, I’m (gasp) working out a lot, and writing a lot, and developing graphics and video stuff, and looking into making the trendy, perhaps pre mature, plunge into HD (not just buying a big ass TV, but a camera and editing solutions for it). So I haven’t had time to post my little slices of life on the blog. Which makes it kind of boring.
So the question, finally: Which is more boring, people talking about their boredom, or me talking about nothing?
Is something better than nothing?
I guess they’re both better than those whiners who talk about getting dumped. Or sports. When did all these illiterates get on the Internet and post fantasy football blogs?
Spring Scene! If you knew about it, I bet you’d be sorry you missed it!
But, I bet after getting this all set up, YOU’D advertise. Or tell artists so they could get work in. Or generally not suck. The Rockford Art’s Council, however disagrees with you on the advertising thing. And the sucking thing apparently. They are firm believers in getting a $100 entry fee from galleries, but what they did for that $100 is not too clear. Maybe it’s the sucking. Is that what you pay for? The few local galleries I spoke to seemed to think that the $100 sucking fee seemed the most plausible. Oh, there were flyers; they got out a full week before the event—well in fairness a full week if you rounded up a week.
I wished that they had changed from my last dealings with the ineffectual lumps. I got dragged into designing a web site for them for free for this horrible abomination in Rockford known as First Night. It’s a New Year’s party that’s—hey gang dig this: alcohol free!
Let’s side track. The thought is that it’s for the children. So wipe that sour look off your face, you. It’s for the children. And a good thing too, because the children don’t have any thing to look forward to toward the end of December. Its good to have a holiday geared toward them specifically. Thank you Art Council for having the fortitude of thought to take a notoriously adult holiday and turn into a time for the kiddies. ‘Cause it’s been a whole week almost since they had a national holiday all their own.
Anyway, It’s like this. I did all the graphics and design…even though the damn photos they gave me to work with were in black and white. The Web being such a new medium, how were they to know it was color? Now the site never got finished. The two most important parts were missing. The logos for the sponsors. They never got those to me in a format I could use. I could feel free to round them up if I wanted, but you know, I didn’t. And they never got a schedule, but they assured me I could go to any bank and pick one up. Then re-type the whole thing in. I ignored their calls two days before the event asking when everything was going to be done? You know, they still needed to get me material, but when would I get it done?
I blew them off and went to a very adult, very alcohol-laden party.
Times may change, but standards must remain.
I have arrived. I have left.
First thing first: The art opening on Feb 18th. Yes, like two months ago.
My first impression when walking in was wow. 2020’s a good-looking show. They removed the floating walls, so the museum was a big open space. The walls were packed with visual information. We got there pretty early, so there was no crowd yet. I did a very quick look about the place and around the corner, lo and behold! There was my shit. Damn. That was a cool feeling. It had been about 2 weeks since I’d seen the pieces, so it was like checking them out for the first time—hung professionally instead of just sitting next to me in a car seat, or the ironically small versions on my web site.
Next step: let’s get that whole tedious getting drunk thing out of the way. I had two at Octane, but that does not a party make. As I pulled away to get a drink, a reporter from the Register Star was there. We had already talked, but she wanted some pics, and to fill in some blanks from the spotty cell phone plagued conversation we had earlier. Some of the models got to say some words too. The picture she took of me that wound up in the paper made me look bald (if you’ve seen any pic of the eccentric, poofy hair-o-mine, you realize the paradox), but due to shadows and ink miss-registration, I looked like I had much big hero chin (and only one). So: trade off.
So, about that drink…not just yet. More folks to talk with. Here’s the cool thing: a crowd was forming around my pieces. The Bad thing: it was impossible to go grab a drink. It was like an old Vaudeville routine. I’d try to exit stage left, and get pulled back, yo-yo style, to talk to the crowd. In addition to talking and hobnobbing, I got reali-trulio interviewed 3 times. Strange, that is precisely the number of drinks I was able to get through the course of the evening. And we’re not talking hulking jeroboams of booze here. These were thimbles of wine. Still Aristotle’s favorite kind: free, and a nice gesture, but when you’re woikin’ the crowd, it makes it powerful hard to get over there to the bar. But still weird math. 3 drinks = 3 interviews. Conspiracy?
I don’t know who came up with the idea for this practical joke (probably Jim J. or Scott L), but my work was about as far from the bar as the layout of the museum would allow. Guys, come on! I confronted Jim J. on this matter at Octane on Saturday, and he just leveled his gaze and with a devilish grin said, “You COULD have been farther.” I hope that’s just an idle threat. Those guys will likely have my work on the roof of the museum for the next show. Ah the timeless tradition of hazing the new guy. Seriously, inconvenient bar access notwithstanding, I loved the location and the job Scott L. did hanging the pictures.
So if it’s uncool to blame the hangers of the art, then whom? The interviewers?
I had a college student interview me for a paper she’s doing—strangely, not about my work so much, but what I did on my summer vacation. But, I never take vacations and only work work work, so we talked about my pieces at the last minute.
That was as flattering as it was surreal. Chalk it up to immaturity, but I still identify with college students, despite my being close to qualifying for an AARP card. As she was asking me questions, I so distinctly remembered being on the other side of the pen. She was cool, and I hope she gets a good grade. Should I take it personally if she doesn’t? ‘No we said go interview an artist at an opening, not a cheese-boat hack. “F-“ for you!’
Then my friend Travis from Aegis Studios interviewed me. ‘Cause, more yammering from me. We want that, right? He actually more interviewed me the next day, so hard to blame him for my non-ability to get to the bar. (though if’n he was a more perceptive guy, he would have noticed that I was out of hooch, and he could have offered to get me some.)
I guess I didn’t need the booze. It appears my friends—or some of them anyway—thought I was drunk. I was jazzed, and on top of the world, and shucking and jiving, and enjoying the shit out of myself. The whole public spectacle of the thing is not why you create, but it is a fun side benefit of it. It’s weird. I’m a private person, by and large. And a bit of a loner…not the disgruntled, gun toting variety. More the guy who recognizes that very little good stuff is created via comity—movies, and other things that require a group are of course exceptions. But most of the time it’s me, a mouse, zeros and ones. I love my friends and have no problem being a public speaker, but I’m more introverted than may first become apparent. That having been said, it is a hoot and a holler to get out and an art opening with 700 some odd people is a fine place to get out of the hovel.
I owe people big time. It takes a village to make giant women pictures.
Scott S. Former curator of the RAM. He kind of gave me a start with the Screw City poster, and no small amount of guidance.
Jim J. served as a lodestone and a great sounding board. He had great advice and helped so immensely. He helped me so much in the framing of the pieces, for instance, that I say that he did it all himself. I say it with a half joking lilt to my voice, but it’s actually true. There’s nothing I will write on this blog that will get it done. Jim, I owe you drinks.
Scott L. was co-curator of the 2020 show with Jim. I think that’s what they called themselves. He did a great job with hanging the pieces, and also was a great font of advice and support.
John D. Johnny Magniffico another person who’s been around the block a bit in the art community. He encouraged me a lot. One evening, a very uncertain young (well, young to middle-aged) guy walked into Octane, and it was John, Scott L., and of course, Jim who really gave me a good reality check.
Los Engine Boys, Doug & Kevin. It is quite possible that I COULD have done the series without a camera. I could also remove my own appendix with a spoon. I chose to do neither. The Camera I used belonged to engine. They utterly were cool about my hogging it, but that’s’ the way those guys are. This generosity is no isolated incident. I’m shaking up the magic eight ball, gazing into the future and seeing that despite accurately being labeled “nice guys” they’re going to finish a damn site far away from last.
Craig B. Honorable mention goes to Craig B. who had exactly the same camera as engine. So, in the rare instances that the engine cam wasn’t available, he lent me his. And around the holidays, too. That’s pretty cool.
Linda, Nancy, and Mindy. The museum folks. They helped out a lot, and were so accessible, and supportive, despite insane deadlines, and no small amount of other pressures. We all worked on the 2020 poster together, under the aforementioned tight deadline. And we got it to work. That’s saying something.
My usual runnin’ buddies/support group, chief among them, Jason and Travis. Despite having a mutual admiration society, we all will call “bullshit” when one of the others gets too high falutin’ or just purely off base. Two crazy talented individuals. I can’t wait to go to their openings soon.
The Rockford Art community at large. How cool is it that the Drama queens, sanctimonious bastards, snooty brats, and entitled, pompous jerks—the stereotypical components to the art scene—are very rare in the ranks of the Rockford art scene? I didn’t say they weren’t present (you know who you are—or perhaps you’re so out of touch with reality that you don’t). No in general, the art community is very supportive and welcoming to people who get in there and get their hands dirty and work. Dilettantes don’t make the cut, but if you get in there and show earnest dedication, you will find a niche.
And, it seems like I’m forgetting someone…oh Yeah! The models.
In reality the models are probably really sick of me thanking them profusely. I’m still in awe that such stunning women will give me the time of day, much less put their trust in me and work with me like they did.
Melissa: She was the first. I didn’t know her well, and I really didn’t have the ideas totally fleshed out, and the methods for executing them even less fleshed out. But she was a pro. She brought a presence and a grace that drips off the pictures. And she soldiered through despite my shyness and lack of coherent explanation. She allowed me my mistakes and when things started clicking, she really brought it. Mel for a brief shining moment was 500 feet tall, and brought the regality and the attitude that accompanies that. BTW, Special thanks to Chris E. for introducing me to her.
Sara and Marry: I worked with this dynamic duo at Insight. They’re good buddies and they were my second shoot. They had zero experience but took coaching very well. Working with two models simultaneously took a lot more work, and one of their scenes is the toughest one to pull off as far as the interaction. (it was the one where Mary was poised to step on a car, and Sara was waving “bye” to it.) I had to draw a street map and all kinds of things on a sheet to help get our interaction right. They had mad patience, in addition to the poise and the pretty and all that good stuff. They stayed frozen in the most improbable poses for the longest time. It was funny. At one time, they are frozen in a pose and a bee (which Mary is phobic of) buzzed them. Fighting every urge to run, the two stayed there, moving only their eyes as the thing circled them. It was kind of like as if a little jet fighter was checking the giant threat menacing the city out. No one got stung, and we eventually got the pic after I got my shit together. We also lucked out with a puddle on the Morrissey roof that helped us pull off the river reflection thing.
Tiff: I wanted Tiff to be my first model because I knew her pretty well, and her picture with her fishnet getting caught on a crane was the first idea I had in the series. (It was the view outside my office—the crane was, not a giant Tiff). But Tiff’s schedule was a little full (apparently she had this whole wedding thing or some such) so she couldn’t be my first. But she worked out her schedule so she could grow 500 feet tall for me. She confessed she was a little unsure if she could pull it off. I knew she could. She had some experience. She has served as the resident hot vampire girl, or devil girl, or other sci fi fantasy thing for Travis and other folk. She did it well. I know she could do my thing because I wanted Tiff to be Tiff…just 500 feet tall. No acting required. Just be the girl next-door, but with a little confidence. Plus I’ve seen Tiff in fishnets and that works for her. We were talking about what else for her to wear and she offered that she had a naughty schoolgirl outfit. I immediately said no. Too male fantasy. What’s next? Giant French maid? Stewerdess? But then I was walking around looking for interesting structures and saw one that looked like it would be cool to have in a pic. There was an arch that a foot could poke out of, etc. Then I realized it was a juvie hall and I ran to the phone to get Tiff to bring her Naughty School Girl costume.
Maureen: Despite being only 19, she has a vintage Hollywood sort of vibe. Old-world Class—Betty Page, Veronica Lake or something like that. She was also the first ironically diminutive model I used. Not short, but kind of slight. There she was in spiky heels, on one foot, with a wind machine almost ready to knock her off the table. She had to be thinking, ‘what the hell am I doing here? ‘But she brought such a fun combo of silly and sexy. She was also my first studio shoot (everyone else had been exterior so far, but it was too cold). Extreme patience once again. And another first: it sunk in that one of the fun aspects of the series that these models were not towering over the overdeveloped skylines of New York or Chicago, but our little city. After shoot, Maureen and I were trucking the stuff back to engine studio. As we passed in front of the library, I said, “If we were here now, you’d be crushing us. This is totally where your butt is.” Not the most perspicacity-laden revelation I have ever come up with, but it resonated at that moment.
Denise is the one tearing up the tower. Pretty and exotic and mysteriously shy, but with that “Better not screw with me” look. Of all the models, Denise seemed to get it. She got into it so much that she unleashed holy terror on a poor, defenseless crowd of gummy bears. Those shots didn’t make into the museum…just to graphic. Oh the humanity…or gummy bear-ity.
Karrissa is the lovely running willy nilly through the street, heedless of where her feet fall, chasing a plane. From the first shot, it was gold…except she had a family picture style grin on her face. We eventually pried it off of her, and got on with it. You know how hard it is to fake run while teetering on a table with a wind machine blowing at you? Karrissa does now. I was so lazy and I’m such a cold hating freak that I painted the plane, instead of going out and getting a picture of one…and you know I live down by the airport. They fly over all the time.
Charlie accidentally impaled a car with a spiked heel. Is it just me or is there some Jennifer Garner in that picture off her? By the time I got to shooting Charlie, I knew this pattern: “model is shy, but willing to give it an attempt. After a brief warm up, she knocks it out of the park.” Toward the end, she was really loosened up, and acting, trying a bunch of different emotions and poses. She really was flexible and kept it going with the suggestions. I swear for the next series I’m doing, I’m just gonna let the models take pictures of themselves…who needs me?
Meg is the model crouching under the bank trying to get out of the rain. I was amazed how much she could contort to get into that pose, and kept it consistent. I had trouble lining up the angles and getting the interaction right. It was probably the hardest for her picture. I also had to take frequent spritz breaks and mist her down. I had the camera in one hand and a spritzer bottle in the other. I had to do it often because I didn’t want to over do it. I couldn’t have water actually bead up on her. (Have you seen a water bead 3 feet around?) I kept apologizing—more for the absurdity of the situation, but she was super cool about it. And she managed to look great with all this surreal stuff going on around her.
Anna is the lady taking a drink from the millennium fountain (and accidentally capsizing a few boats). Just like about every one I know, Anna is a work-a-hollic. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to work around her schedule, and then that maybe she’d be tired as all get out. And you know, at 500 or so feet all the bags under her eyes might have been mattress sized. But, to the contrary, our girl came in refreshed and full of energy…she danced around between takes even. The millennium fountain was another shot I figured would be mondo tough to line up right, but we got it. In addition to contorting in a crazy pose, I had her drooling out water to try to amp up the reality of the interaction. Well that was a really dumb idea of mine, but Anna didn’t complain in the least. Like all the other models, she wanted the pictures to look good too.
Jessica is the giantess beckoning the people of Rockford to Come West. She is another woman with a Vintage Hollywood look, a classic glamour. She also came up with the idea for this pic. (see I’m telling you, I could have stayed at home.) This picture was deceptively simple, the perspective was difficult to line, up but Jess was patient. Working on her “beckoning” gesture was also tough. It often looked like she was flipping off the east, or snapping her fingers or something. Jess was also the model who was in the first draft of the Museum Poster—the one deemed “too hot for the 2020 show.” I was pissed about that at first. I did exactly what was asked of me, now they’re changing. But I’m not a hot-head. I realized I should wear it like a badge of honor, and so should Jess. We were too sessy for the Museum, baby. That’s saying something. Jessica did have one other idea. She wanted to hold me in her hand while she kissed me. I thought that would be great, and I wanted to work myself in an image. We took the shot, but I thought it might seem a little too self indulgent for my first go-round. But, it will be in future series.
Mindy is the giant woman ripping up poor Jim J’s oversized chair from the front of the Rockford Art Museum. Yep, it’s the same Mindy who works there, and the same Jim J. I mentioned above. I wanted to make connections when possible with the models and their environs. I was hesitant to ask Mindy for a number of reasons. She worked at the Museum, so I thought that would be a conflict of interest for her; she, herself, is a great artist, and she’s definitely aware of what’s going on in the art community. As a relative un-known, I figured she’d tell me, “Beat it kid.” But she said yes, and really had fun with the shoot and carried off so well—the attitude, the look…everything. She was incredibly fun to work with and trusting. She endured my obsessing on posing and trying once again to get the angle right. I guess, Mindy, if you ever want me to pose for you, it’s the least I can do. On a side note, as a photographer who takes pictures of women, you try to do everything you can to make them comfortable, and to make yourself not seem like a freak. After the shoot, Mindy, actually recommended her sister for future shoots. That made me feel really good that she trusted me that much.
Cathy is the giantess tripping over the tube connecting the metro center and the building she actually works in. When I started this series, even though I didn’t know Cathy well, I knew she had to be one of the models. I saw from across the local watering holes, and was always smitten with her. The poise, and smoldering intensity of her…I just knew I had to see that magnified to 500 feet tall. I’m usually a good judge of character, but I have to admit, I thought she would be kind of aloof, and maybe a bit “too cool for school.” She is about the nicest person you could ever meet in reality. When she said yes, I couldn’t believe it. Here I had a bit of a crush on her, now she’d be crushing cars for me.
And thanks to Pablo for encouraging me to jump around like a spastic while he took a picture, also thanks to Travis and Chris E. for helping re-assemble my cell phone, which broke as a consequence of said jumping.
It also takes a village to put the faceplate back on my cell phone.
So, yeah. I hope you caught the show…it’s out May 1.
I have left.
So about the same time as the art opening (the following Monday, as a matter of fact) I gave my notice at Insight. I’m strictly freelance. And that’s a part of why I haven’t written on this blog for a long time. I’ve been busy freelancing. For those keeping score at home, that’s a good thing. One week after I gave my notice, I woke up, like at 3am, and thought to myself, ‘what the fuck did I do?’ See, Insight paid, ok. That’s me being nice. But it paid, all the time. When I worked my ass off to the point of being exploited, and also when I sat on the aforementioned ass and surfed the interweb. Now, I’m kind of like a money bulimic. Nothing steady or healthy, just bingeing and starving (not any real purging, which kind of hurts the bulimia analogy, but it’s still appropriate). For me, so far, the money situation ahs been better than working for Insight though, so yay me.
This entry isn’t really about that. It’s about me quitting in general. Like I said, I wanted more money, I was willing to do more risk, I wanted to expand past 30 second commercials, and I wanted freedom, and I wanted to type run on sentences. See, I liked Insight, and especially most of the people there. I’m damn personable and all. But, despite the ‘hey, we’re all family here’ vibe that was in the office, it was still a big heartless corporation. I’m not so bad with the greed, or the exploitation—those things suck don’t get me wrong. But, it was the bureaucracy that killed me at insight. One time, in the midst of political season, we had these one-day (or less) turn around projects. Well our work day came to a screeching halt so that we could sit in some useless meeting while some vapid Insight person who really didn’t have a valid job description rolled out not 1 but 4—count ‘em 4—mission statements. They stopped me from working on hugely fast paced deadlines, so they could motivate me to work. Wake up, time for your sleeping pill!
And I’m disorganized, but I got it done. Most of the time I got left alone, but every now and then they got salty. Sure, I’ll stop the work so I can clean up my desk so I can work…better somehow. Here’s a hint. Clip and save this: Time savers, and organization, only work if they SAVE YOU TIME! If it is a time suck that detracts from your work…then not so good. We clear?
I also cranked out a lot of work, and worked OT regularly, but every now and then, they got all antsy about me being 5 minutes late. I always laid it on the line and said you want me in here on time, I leave on time. Or nodded. You know, but in that way that meant I didn’t mean it.
So, no more of that. Yeah, that’s the negative. I mention it because it tends to be funnier.
The positive: Some of the people there were great. I miss them. I was touched when—even though it was impromptu—several thousand or so showed up for my going away party. Hell, Greg showed up from LaSalle Peru an hour away. How cool is that? Like I said, I miss them. But, they’re right down the street so it’s not too bad.
My notice summed things up:
I have enjoyed, and appreciate the two and a half years I have spent at Insight, but I have opportunities that feel I must pursue.
To that end, I wish to give my 2 weeks notice (March 4th would be my last day).
I feel the timing is right. Our department is not experiencing an overly demanding workflow; we have a new supervisor who should be able to absorb my projects, and there should be plenty of time to hire someone to fill my position and get him or her up to speed before the infamous 4th quarter rush.
I want to make the transition as easy on the department as possible, and will entertain suggestions on how to help that process. As I am leaving not just co-workers, but friends, even after I’m officially not an Insight employee, please feel free to call on me with questions about projects I have done.
It goes without saying that I will miss the Insight family. This decision was not easy by any means. I take comfort in the fact that I’m certain I will see many of you often in the future.