Monday, February 22, 2016

When The Dust Settles

    “Sssshhhh, sssshhhhh, baby, it’s okay, baby. Ssssshhhhh, sssssshhhhh”, Sarah said as she sat on the dirt floor with her newborn son held against her chest and rocked him back and forth. The ceiling and slats of the siding of the house were shaking and Sarah didn’t know how long they’d hold. She’d only had a couple of weeks with baby Michael before the wild black winds kicked up. There’d been no time to prepare for such a force of nature. They’d had previous dust and sand storms that came through these plains, weeks of them, but nothing like what was now seen through the bubbled glass windows of their small farmland house. There was no way this ramshackle shelter would stand against the dry relentless winds that were blowing through so incredibly hard. It had gotten so dark, so fast. The sun had completely disappeared and it was only mid-afternoon, a good 3 or 4 hours left of sunlight on a normal day. The temperature dropped and the air chilled without the sun’s warmth. Sarah thought it looked like the end of days outside after a glance through one of the windows, vowing to herself that she wouldn’t look again and drew closed the thin fabric of the curtains she’d sewn. She had been proud of those curtains. They were the first things she put up in an attempt to make the tiny two-room house a home just after she and John were married. He was a good, proud, and hearty land worker who’d left Sarah and their new son for a meeting with a man in New Mexico about work. John was eager to provide Sarah and Michael with a new chapter for their lives together. Sarah wondered how far John made it before the black winds found him. Her chest felt heavy thinking about where he’d have to stop and take cover and if he was ok, where ever he was.
     It started off as such a perfect Sunday. The skies so clear blue and the sun shining after not having seen it for weeks. Sarah busied herself with hanging the laundry outside and John packed up the jalopy and left that morning. He and Sarah had decided they were done with being Oklahoma land owners and were excited to find something new further west. The weather that year, and especially over the last few weeks, just wasn’t accommodating for working the soil and the drought, which had hit the year they got married, proved to be too harsh. John and Sarah were fully committed to each other and were able to stay optimistic through it all. The cattle that John brought with him were all gone after the first wave of dust storms came through. Their lungs had basically filled with mud from breathing in the fine dust of top soils and silt that constantly drifted through the atmosphere. 
Michael’s arrival had stalled their first plans to move west and Sarah had to power through the last few months while John fought to keep his new family afloat after the livestock and crops were all gone. They’d wanted children and were pleasantly surprised when they found out that Sarah was pregnant with Michael and that he’d be a spring baby. Both John and Sarah had never felt so revived and renewed and Michael’s birth had gone so smoothly, as if he was just as eager to be in this world and in this new life. John cried when he’d first gazed upon his son and he looked at Sarah with a new found appreciation and respect. Sarah absolutely glowed throughout the process and fell in love with the little human she and John created. She was so grateful and felt so blessed to be Michael’s mother and saw in John’s eyes that he’d do anything and everything for them.
     She looked down at Michael, swaddled in the quilt she’d made in the months before he came. His face was partially covered to protect him from the dust that made its way into the house. Her eyes welled up and a tear landed on the only spot of Michael’s forehead that was exposed between folds of fabric. Where the tear landed, the dust in the air collected and stuck to it. Fine wisps of silt were raining in through the ceiling and Sarah noticed a bow in some of the boards where the dirt outside was so heavily weighted against the wall boards that they bent inward slightly. The smell of the kerosene lamp got stronger as it filtered through the cloth that Sarah had draped over her face. Michael started crying again. Sarah slowly moved her hand to Michael’s face. She covered his nose and mouth and said, “Ssssshhhh, ssssshhhh, baby. It’s OK, baby. Ssssshhhh.”


--------------
I wrote this after studying Dorothea Lange in a photography class and started researching The Dust Bowl and Black Sunday in the '30s.
In one article, it was reported that a survivor had admitted that she'd contemplated killing her newborn just to spare him the environmental hell they were living in.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poetry - Femme Fatale

The assignment was to write a haiku, a sonnet, and something in open form. I've never been a huge fan of writing poetry because I never thought I was very good at it, but really grew to appreciate it after this assignment. My sonnet is a bit of a stumble but the requirements are all there. I was inspired by Patrick Nagel and Velvet Underground this particular night while doing homework.



-Haiku-

She wore her heels high
But made no sound while walking
'Til it was too late

-Sonnet-

They walked together having found true love
A close step behind, followed his best friend
He dreamt of cupping her supple rear end
And eyed those pants that fit her like a glove
A young beauty, wearing severe high heels
Yellow hair and bright blood red on her lips
Twisted triangle of relationships
A vixen in slinky smooth fabric peels
She was aware of her affect on him
The moves she made calculated, precise
They were caught one time, their whispers concise
The secrets they shared, founded on a whim
A call too close, the decision was made
To save her love, his friend's light had to fade

-Open Form-

She spritzed on her perfume
Lined her eyes with black
And slicked on some red
Shiny lacquered nails
Two stabs through her earlobes
Glimmered and dazzled
Her foot fall echoed and sharp

A match struck
The wisp of sulfur
The taste of tobacco and cloves mixed with gin and tonic
A charming laugh tinkling like ice in a glass after a delightful compliment
Pop culture filled polite conversation merged into backgrounds and upbringings and stifled vitriol
A lovely evening then soured, rotted, and ruined by shallow snobbery
Ignorant, arrogant, and rude

Quick sharp echoing steps
A frenzied retreat through black moving shadows and white steaming sidewalks
The silent transition
Between hunter and prey
He'd started the night as the hunter.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Prompt - The American Contract

We were provided with 5 photos to pick from and write a story segment about. It didn't have to be a finished story, but it did need to be between 500 to 600 words.
This is the picture I chose and the words that followed.

The American Contract


I've been sitting here with my bitter black coffee in this cafe for about 30 minutes. The smell of coffee beans and toasted bread is in the air. The street lights have just come on against the crisp autumn evening of the city. The bicycle bells are starting to diminish but the sound of the train is still going strong nearby. The church bells all rang about an hour ago when I was trailing the denim wearing fellow down a few side streets. He ducked into the building across from where I'm sitting in this cafe, essentially becoming invisible due to security badges and metal detector body scans being a requirement in order to follow. I'm slightly pissed at feeling under prepared. This assignment is no different than jobs I've taken previously. When the message comes through and I take a job, there's usually just an initial date and time to pick up the trail, a grainy photo, boosted from a security camera, and a time frame for how long I'm supposed to trail the mark. Most of the time, the jobs are only a day or two. The longest was about 23 days. I've never had a contract last longer than a month. My job is to simply document movements and routines and remain completely inconspicuous. I rarely ever know the reason for the job. I don't ask questions and appreciate the income.

The waiter that first brought over my coffee has forgotten about me already. The coffee cup is empty and instead of looking for someone to refill, my eyes fall upon an old salty fellow in the dark corner of the room. He's got a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket and his jacket is hanging on a hook to the side of the table. He's reading a book which is lit by a single white candle in a pewter holder, and I can see only half of his wrinkled grey bearded face. For a brief moment, I consider what his internal voice sounds like as he's reading.

In my peripheral vision, I see a familiar shape exit the building across the street. My mark is on the move and immediately, I'm glad the waiter has forgotten me since I'd already been getting lost in my thoughts without that second cup of coffee.  I leave a few coins on the table and head towards the door, keeping an eye on my mark through the glass as I exit.

I'm supposed to be trailing this guy, I'm assuming is American because of his jeans, for a Monday through Friday contract, but he's moving faster than the usual 5 day gig.

I've only been to America once, to Disney World with my family, back when I was a kid and we were still a family. I remember there being giant stores full of denim. I vowed to never wear denim. My look is efficient and forgettable - I own exactly 7 black shirts, 7 pairs of black leggings, 2 pairs of black boots, and 2 black jackets; one sporty, one leather, and 3 black hoodies, and a drawer full of black socks and underwear - the boring kind you can buy in a pack of 5 at a time. It's easier to hide in the shadows and/or blend into the crowd wearing all black. It makes me feel invisible and as a result, I've never been made during a job.

My American denim wearer is walking briskly through a higher traffic touristy area and ducks into a coffee shop. I stop in an alley way across the street and light a cigarette.I've been sitting here with my bitter black coffee in this cafe for about 30 minutes. The smell of coffee beans and toasted bread is in the air. The street lights have just come on against the crisp autumn evening of the city. The bicycle bells are starting to diminish but the sound of the train is still going strong nearby. The church bells all rang about an hour ago when I was trailing the denim wearing fellow down a few side streets. He ducked into the building across from where I'm sitting in this cafe, essentially becoming invisible due to security badges and metal detector body scans being a requirement in order to follow. I'm slightly pissed at feeling under prepared. This assignment is no different than jobs I've taken previously. When the message comes through and I take a job, there's usually just an initial date and time to pick up the trail, a grainy photo, boosted from a security camera, and a time frame for how long I'm supposed to trail the mark. Most of the time, the jobs are only a day or two. The longest was about 23 days. I've never had a contract last longer than a month. My job is to simply document movements and routines and remain completely inconspicuous. I rarely ever know the reason for the job. I don't ask questions and appreciate the income.

The waiter that first brought over my coffee has forgotten about me already. The coffee cup is empty and instead of looking for someone to refill, my eyes fall upon an old salty fellow in the dark corner of the room. He's got a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket and his jacket is hanging on a hook to the side of the table. He's reading a book which is lit by a single white candle in a pewter holder, and I can see only half of his wrinkled grey bearded face. For a brief moment, I consider what his internal voice sounds like as he's reading.

In my peripheral vision, I see a familiar shape exit the building across the street. My mark is on the move and immediately, I'm glad the waiter has forgotten me since I'd already been getting lost in my thoughts without that second cup of coffee.  I leave a few coins on the table and head towards the door, keeping an eye on my mark through the glass as I exit.

I'm supposed to be trailing this guy, I'm assuming is American because of his jeans, for a Monday through Friday contract, but he's moving faster than the usual 5 day gig.

I've only been to America once, to Disney World with my family, back when I was a kid and we were still a family. I remember there being giant stores full of denim. I vowed to never wear denim. My look is efficient and forgettable - I own exactly 7 black shirts, 7 pairs of black leggings, 2 pairs of black boots, and 2 black jackets; one sporty, one leather, and 3 black hoodies, and a drawer full of black socks and underwear - the boring kind you can buy in a pack of 5 at a time. It's easier to hide in the shadows and/or blend into the crowd wearing all black. It makes me feel invisible and as a result, I've never been made during a job.

My American denim wearer is walking briskly through a higher traffic touristy area and ducks into a coffee shop. I stop in an alley way across the street and light a cigarette.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Stuff and Nonsense.

Most of you know that I'm back in school. If you don't, I have been since the summer of 2014. I'm heading into my final semester in January for a piddly little 2 year degree for Multimedia Production: TV/Digital Cinema. This fall term, I jumped into 5 classes; mostly digital editing and photography, but there was also a Creative Writing class.

I have decided to return to this hotdog stand because having words out there and ideas and inspiration floating about in so many ways is important to me. Most of you are creative minds and artists and stuff like that is important to you, too.
You understand that when the Muse speaks, you have no choice but to listen & TCB. My Muse has been strong this fall and she wants me to share her with you now.
So, if you're interested...I'm going to start posting recent stories, poetry, video & photo projects.

Plus, this:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Imitation: The Best Form of Flattery

Calm down. It was for education. I'm not a rip-off artist.

In this same design class from last summer's term (previously on Brainure), we were to bring in samples of art and turn them into super high contrast paintings, using only black and white, no gray scale.
I chose these two Chad Pollpeter pieces for the assignment.



I struggled with skipping details for basic lighting/shapes at the beginning. My professor, Jay Spalding, appreciated my choice of artist...which more than likely helped my grade.
My versions turned out to not suck as much as was initially anticipated.



So, thank you, Chad for inadvertently helping with my continuing education & steadily cranking out some amazing paintings.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Year Ago - Drawings

Does anyone blog anymore?

A year ago this summer, I was in a design class.  We did blind contour drawings where you're looking at the subject, not your hand as you draw, and you don't lift the pencil.
Our subjects were each other - classmates that were sitting around us.
Mine turned out looking like this:

Patrick 1

 Patrick 2

Lee 1

Lee 2 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Argument Against The Washington Racial Slurs Football Team

We've been discussing this with people recently....and I have more information to share but figure that this was one of those things that I wanted to share with everyone...not just those few individuals.  It's a pretty hot topic after that one episode of the Daily Show and with some of the ads you may or may not have seen.





And some of you know that I'm in a Native American Humanities class where we've been discussing and reading about this over the past few months.  Matthew posted something on the book of face at the beginning of the football season that got a bit of back and forth commenting, but I feel like it needs a little more attention.

red·skin  n.
usually offensive.
-American Indian
-the word 'redskin' is offensive and should be avoided

From wikipedia: In a 2014 interview after the Trademark decision, Amanda Blackhorse the lead petitioner expressed her opinion: "The name itself actually dates back [to] the time when the Native American population was being exterminated, and bounty hunters were hired to kill Native American people... So, in order to show that they made their kill, they had to bring back a scalp or their skin."

From "Just Good Sports" by Suzan Shown Harjo: "The most derogatory name for Native Peoples in the English language is 'redskins'. The term has its origins in the late 1600s, when Europeans introduced commercial bounty-hunting in North America. they first paid fur trappers and other mercenaries for the heads and whole bodies of Native men, women, and children. When that practice proved too cumbersome, bounty-payers accepted the bloody red skins and scalps as proof of 'Indian kill'. From that time and into the 1900s, 'redskins' was the term that was used in newspapers and books when writers wanted to convey the worst impression of Native Peoples. In Hollywood westerns, the term was usually preceded by such adjectives as 'dirty', 'lazy', 'no good' and 'theiving'. The term is despised by most Native Peoples and is seldom used in polite society now, except as a 'Native' sports reference."

So there's all of that.
And with that, I understand that some people are slanting the conversation by thinking that the term is somehow "honoring" the Native American culture.
But please....explain to me how it's supposed to be an honor to remind someone of that term's origin?

There are these defenses:
    "But there are the Celtics and the Vikings....and they aren't all pissed off about logos...."
When was the last time you saw a Celtic or a Viking?

And aren't Irish people kinda done with being likened to leprechauns?
If they aren't, you know why that is?
Because they were white dudes coming up with ideas for a team name and logo.  It was self-appointed.
Because teams like "the fighting Irish" don't mind having a little angry drunk leprechaun as their logo.
And because teams like the "Patriots" don't mind having a brooding white dude as their logo.

"But what about the Buccaneers or the pirates on the Raiders logo?"  Stop.
Those are occupations.
That don't exist anymore.

"The Seminoles signed off on using 'Chief' Osceola as a mascot."
1. The Seminoles have a lot of casino money pumping into the state of Florida.
2. When they signed off on it, they were able to keep more of their casino money instead of getting into a lawsuit.
3. Osceola was never a chief and the "mascot" is a white dude in red face.
Not any less offensive. Just sold.

If you're a team that's completely making up a Native American character or changing who an actual person was in history...how is that honoring anything?

And what the fuck is this about?

Do you think there would ever be a team that would even consider making a banner that said, "Hey Jews, you stink! Head for the showers!!" or "Let's hang those Negroes high!"
Ugh...that's just awful.  Seriously, even just typing that out, I hurt my own feelings and all I can visualize in my head is a bunch of twat cheerleaders standing around all Mean Girls style coming up with that horrible shite above.
I graduated from Apopka and the worst of our banners was just "Pioneers can suck a fatty!!"
I still don't really know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  Exactly what kind of "fatty" are we talking about here?

"But Dan Snyder started Original Americans Foundation and is giving back to certain tribal communities."....
1. OAF is a dumb name.
     oaf.  n.
          -a clumsy, stupid person; a lout.
-AND-
2. Good.  He should be.

Do I think the Washington football team should change their name?
It's probably not a bad idea and is likely to happen in the near future, but ultimately, I don't care too much because I'm not a fan, I don't buy their merchandise, and am falling out of love (if there ever was any) with the NFL as a whole anyway.
Plus, they suck.

GO BUCS!!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, November 16, 1:00 PM
FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
Tampa Bay
Buccaneers
(2-8)
27 - 7
Final
Washington
Redskins
(3-7)