Archive for the 'photography' Category

13
Apr
09

Fastest Mailbox in the World



Fastest Mailbox in the World, originally uploaded by neocles.

I’ve been going back to Fresno every couple weekends to fix up my mom’s house and get it re-rented. Driving from the house to the hardware store I passed by this mailbox. Each time, I was in a hurry to get something and get back to work. But by the third time, I could not stand it anymore. I had to stop and snap some shots.

I can understand the flames. I can understand embellishing the mailbox. But I just can’t quite grasp the exhaust manifold. Wheels? That I could see. Wings? No problem there. Conning tower? OK, maybe. But exhaust manifold? I guess I’ll just chalk it up to another aspect of the Fresno aesthetic that makes it such a strangely alluring place.

08
Apr
09

She’s a Beauty 2

  

She’s a Beauty 2, originally uploaded by neocles.

The other day I was reflecting on my habit of photographing old cars around my neighborhood. It’s curious, because I am not particularly into cars. But I am in a phase in which I’m enamored of old things, mostly mid-century things. Even this interest, however, suddenly struck me as making little sense. I thought of Heraclitus. There is a way of understanding time that goes back to something he said: “You cannot step into the same river twice, for all is change.” So, why become obsessed with the past? Perhaps the Italian Futurists had it right: tear it all down and rebuild culture with every new generation.

I started thinking about this metaphor of time flowing, of time as a river, and a powerful, inexorable one at that. The surface may be placid and peaceful, or raging and turbulent, just like the “the times”. But no matter the surface, the current beneath pushes everything out into the vast ocean of oblivion. The lesson behind this way of trying to understand time is that resistance is futile, that try as one might to hold on to something, to keep things the way they are, it is impossible. What now is, will be stripped away. Thus, it is better to accept change, to embrace it and push it forward.

It seems to me that the river metaphor turns on an idealization: a river flowing within an idealized channel with perfectly frictionless banks. Only in this way can it persuade us that resistance is futile. The ephemera of existence — in this context, all of existence is ephemera — all float by uniformly and obediently.

Now, it also seems to me that filling out this metaphor of time as a river leads to something else. Trading in the idealized channel for something more closely resembling that of a river in our actual experience, we see that not all the contents of the river are propelled equally well and swiftly downstream. Instead, the banks of the river contain secrets. Nooks and crannies trap flotsam and create eddies. Bugs and toads, twigs and soda cans all linger there. Perhaps some things stick around for awhile. Perhaps not forever, but longer than ourselves. In that sense, trying to hold on to the things to which we are emotionally attached might not be so futile after all. Perhaps we can explore the banks of this river and find many things twirling there for our enjoyment. Like old cars.

28
Jan
09

The Last Supper with More Than a Grain of Salt 2

This print of the last supper had always hung near the breakfast table in my parents’ home. It was no different here at my mother’s last apartment, although it had fallen off the wall and sat around for a few months. I set it back here the other day, and it seemed a fine place for photo. A detail shot would reveal drops of this and that, and a spattering of tomato sauce.

It is a bit of an odd assortment off things on the cupboard, most sitting for weeks without notice from mom. Tomato sauce, orzo, salt, vanilla flavoring, the Greek coffee pot (the briki), and assorted trivets. A couple times in recent months my mom had cooked food with some odd flavorings, like baked chicken with a heavy dose of cinnamon or ground cloves. Eventually she gave up on seasonings and then finally on cooking much of anything besides boiled eggs, green beans, or broccoli.

Today, we went to Kaiser for an eye check-up and to start the process of getting a new pair of glasses. She had misplaced her only pair. It turns out that her right eye needs just about the strongest lens available. The doctor could not determine a prescription for the left eye at all because she is nearly blind from a cataract. So, we’ll be going back for cataract removal, and then eventually for a prescription for the left eye. Shit, no wonder the apartment was a mess. And no wonder the chicken was seasoned with salt and clove instead of salt and pepper.

26
Jan
09

Suitcase 4

Suitcase 4, originally uploaded by neocles.

I’m slowly making my way through photographing the items in my mother’s apartment. I only vaguely remember the suitcase. It was not used very often. In fact, the only time I remember it being used was when my mom visited Greece once. When we moved my mother up here we just packed it full of curtains she had made for her house. She would not let me throw them away.

The chair and end table are part of a set purchased when we moved into a new house my dad had built on Griffith Way in Fresno, back in 1967. There are two chairs and couch which, unfortunately, were reupholstered around 1980. The sofa was cobalt blue and I’ll never forget that thing. But I can’t quite picture the original color of the chairs.

The furniture all has to be gotten rid of soon. I was all ready for that. But now I feel more sad about seeing it all go. I had a fantasy while I was going through stuff the other day that I could move my mom back into her house in Fresno and find a wonderful, reliable, relatively inexpensive 24/7 live-in caretaker for her. Then all the power objects could stay together for another couple years. But these childish dreams must be left behind…

10
Jan
09

Blue Cadillac, El Cerrito #2

Blue Cadillac, El Cerrito #2, originally uploaded by neocles.

boxes and arrows

07
Jan
09

The first time I told this story

The Last Time Ever, originally uploaded by neocles.

this is what I said:

“We were getting into our bunks when this strange light seemed to come down from the sky, and there was this rumbling noise and the camper swayed a little. It got really loud, then suddenly–very quiet. And we felt this pressure, and then I blacked out. When I woke up, I was alone.”

05
Jan
09

Leaving Home For Good – Family Snapshot

The Grocery Cart #2

The Grocery Cart #2, originally uploaded by neocles.

My mother, Efrosini Serafimidis, will be 90 years old this month. For the last five years she has been living down the street from us in a little one bedroom apartment. We moved her up here to Albany from Fresno and the home in which she had lived for over 30 years. I was resistant to moving her at the time, but my cousins insisted it was necessary. It is not easy for a person in their 80’s to switch gears like that. She still complains bitterly everyday about this place, and I think she still is a little resentful towards me on that count. But she did okay for two or three years.

The last couple years have been increasingly challenging. She has had a hip replacement and big surgery on a broken elbow. Also, she has been pretty lonely during the days when we are at work, and the lack of interaction and stimulation has taken a toll on her.

The next move is now necessary. This month, Effie will be going to a board and care facility somewhere nearby. It is going to be hard to do, and the transition is going to be a struggle, I’m sure. But her hips are not holding her up very well, and she is suffering from some dementia. She has wandered off a couple times, but her incredible luck with coming across non-Greek-speaking people who are charmed by her old-country, head-scarved, four-foot-ten-inch figure has held up. Each time we got her back none the worse for the wear.

Of course, Sarah and I both work full time, and have a five-year-old to attend to. And living in the Bay Area has its own challenges. So, I would not say I have been an overly conscientious caregiver, but nonetheless, I see her and give her her meds almost every day, try to keep her reasonably safe and fed, bring her back and forth to my home, clean her apartment, pay her bills, take care of her legal and financial matters, manage the renting of the family home in Fresno, and so on.

Chief among the challenges of moving her to a care facility is going to be the dissolving of her apartment home and figuring out what to do with all the things in it. We got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved her to Albany. But a lot of stuff is still packed away in her apartment. I am very nostalgic about these things and have a tough time just trashing them even though they are otherwise pretty worthless.

In response to all this I am planning a photo series. Right now the idea is simple snapshot-like photos of, basically, every object in her apartment. Where possible, descriptions will accompany the photos. Eventually, the series will include photos of each and every object I still have from my parents. I may be an old man myself by the time I finish.




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