Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Shootout -- FENCES

And here we go seems that everytime I turn around it's another Friday.  Maybe time, itself, is a kind of fence that keeps me from getting everything done that I want to do!   This will be a kind of eclectic shoot, without a real story line...

BAGMAN:  "Except for your usual digressions."

The ultimate fence - a cell in Alcatraz (now a tourist stop).
Although San Francisco is not my actual home town.

An another cheat -- since Hoover Dam is not in my hometown either
but it is a fence for water

Fort Moultrie IS in my hometown and did a good job of keeping
the English out during the revolutuion -- although the Union Army
abandonned it shortly before the Civil War started.

An my hometown re-enactors still protect fences in the annual
Battle of Secessionville.

And we design clever fences out of sheets to keep cold air  off plants.

And, I just thought of an invisible fence...something that is sometimes inside our own psyches...something that...

BAGMAN:  "Watch out!  Watch out!!   I think that Mark has another of his attacks of digression coming on!!

The two pictures above were taken a few years ago of my long lost cousin, David, and the one room where he became briefly unlost.  I think I come from a family of hermits, of which my father was the hermit king.  But David and his brother, Mark -- another Mark Cowell although we called him "Mickey -- were sons of my grandfather's brother.  Second cousin?  Second cousin once removed?  I never get that stuff right.  In any case, they were both kind of hermit like.  Something in their childhood created a FENCE inside their hearts which separated them from normal social interactions.  David, particularly, who basically told everybody he was disappearing and not to look for him...and went missing for 35 years or more.  I remember, as a child, being really happy when he visited my grandparents.  He was fun.  He made me laugh.  But he left and because he asked us not to try and find him, we didn't.   So we were shocked a few years ago, when an ER doctor in Atlanta called Mickey to tell him his brother had listed him as an emergency contact.  Mickey was unable or unwilling or too much of a hermit himself to travel so I set off and finally managed to track David in a run-down boarding house.  He seemed happy enough to see me -- or at least he did a good job of pretending to be happy to see me.  He lived in poverty, in one small room but had no complaints.   He wanted no help, refused money, although he did let me get him some food and a telephone for emergencies.  He talked about his life as a Riverboat roustabout on the Mississippi.  But I got the feeling when I left that he had no particular desire to stay in touch.  We wrote a letter or two, I called him once, and then he disappeared back into the other side of his fence and I haven't heard from him since.  Sometimes the biggest FENCES are the ones inside ourselves.

BAGMAN:  "Well, that was a real downer!  Can we get back to the shootout now?"

Okay.  Okay.  Maybe that was not a good addition to the shootout.  But I think maybe I'm not a big fan of some fences...they keep people from connecting. 

BAGMAN:  "Zip it!  This ain't about philosophy! This is about photography! Stay on focus!"


Some fences keep us from falling into water
but don't stop birds from finding food.

Some animals use fences to catch food

BAGMAN:  "Boy!! You are really negative today!!!  Don't you have anything uplifting at all to say about fences?"

Okay.  Some fences are uplifting.
Is that better?

BAGMAN: "A little bit."

And some fences don't seem to make sense at all.

At this point, Butler walked into the room and glanced at my computer screen for a moment then looked over the rims of his reading glasses at me. 

BUTLER:  "Is this really what you are posting for the Friday Shootout?  Would you like a couple of constructively critical suggestions to improve it?"

BAGMAN:  "Tell him to eliminate everything but the last two pictures and take out all the depressing babble!"

I looked them both in the eye, hit the "publish" button and walked out of the room, closing the door -- thus effectively putting a fence between me and them.  At least until tomorrow. 


  1. I totally enjoyed this trippy view of the week's topic and am jealous, absolutely, that I didn't think of anything nearly as creative.

  2. I am chuckling at your end to the story. It was great. Your posts are always creative. I like the rounded fence. I can almost see adventure up ahead. Oh, and the photo of alcatraz is great too. I took the tour once and I swear I could feel the presence of spirits all around me. It was very cold in there. Not just cold as in weather but very heavy emotionally. Excellent photos, Mark.

    That was a trippy story about your cousin, but quite interesting.

  3. It's useful to work down from a common ancestor to work out the cousin thing. Grandfather and his brother - siblings of course - their kids are cousins to each other. So David and Mickey are your dad's (first) cousins. David and Mickey's kids are your second cousins. See, same number of generations on each side. Sibs, cousins, second cousins.
    When the number of generations is unequal, that's what gives a -removed. To David and Mickey, you are first cousin once-removed.

    Great shootout. As usual! I like the way you take the theme as an occassion to say something interesting.

  4. I always enjoy your take on a theme! :)

  5. Nice look at've made me think this morning and that's dangerous at 5:30 on a Friday! I think we all have our own personal invisible fences.......I try to put mine up everyday at work, but someone always manages to find the darn gate!

  6. it is interesting how our minds work - I am busy thinking about the emotional impact of seeing your 'cousin' in such an isolated state and NanU, our resident scientist, is busy putting together your genetic linage.
    I am more like Butler - I admit freely to that, and often think Bagman wrong in his thinking. the photo of the spider and his fence is, to me, really beautiful and not depressing in the least. We are so often not happy or content in our life surrounded by people - your cousin seems (seemed in your version) to be happy in his isolation.
    I enjoyed.

  7. Fabulous treatment of fences, which made me both giggle and sigh enough that I got off the one I found myself sitting on this morning.

  8. The truth is the truth. You are so right the internal fences are of our own construction. But he was obviously more comfortable behind his fence and I think you were right not to force him. Now the other tangible fences are truth too, of a different kind. Great post. I always enjoy them.

  9. This is an insightful fence post. he, he. =D It is interesting that photographs of fences are instigating many inward reflections from the past. The story of your cousin wishing to remain free of family ties is different. Most people are willing to bear the burdens of family responsibilities for the extended love and support that goes along with the package. Opting out is not a choice most people desire. Thanks for sharing! The uplifting fence is cool.
    Have a beautiful week! With love from Barry and Linda

  10. I loved the depressing babble...I think honestly that my DH would be like your David if I were not in his life. He would be just as happy to disappear. He has found that he likes family a wonderful father..but the rest of the world...not so much..LOL. An odd duck..but that is what I love about him. Well that and he cracks me up!! Speaking of babbling..loved your pictures this week and the story!Namaste, Sarah

  11. I guess I'm a little slow as I was initially puzzled by your addition to the banner...then it struck me. haha. I like that last photo of the senseless fences zigging and zagging their way senselessly but giving you some good geometric lines to work with!

  12. Mmmmph! You in jail or something? What you get arrested for?

  13. Love the story about your second cousin twice removed...I have a brother who is a hermit...he's nice about it...just would rather not stay in touch with us...He's been like this since I can remember. Always very private, a man of few words.

    The spider photo rocks! Tell Bagman to shut his trap!

  14. Great take on fences -- love the one in your header! That one started my day off with a big laugh! I do relate to what you had to say about internal fences -- have a few of those myself. Terrific shots as always and a very thoughtful post both in words and photos on fences -- internal and external! Have a great weekend!


  15. A good read...great take on fences...

  16. Great fun, wonderful photos, and even a sad story to keep us on our toes. You know I love the David photos best of all. You can put a photo up about fences but you can't keep someone from looking right into that photo and seeing so much. There is whole story in David's room and in his eyes. Sad but so full of life.

    I hope you hear from David again.

  17. I hate to see that you have been sent to Alcatraz, but they must be pretty lenient there, to let you post your photos. The story about your cousin was a terrific digression. My brother ran away from home, as a teenager, and was missing for almost two years before he returned when he was 18 and no one could tell him what to do.
    Great stuff, Mark. I think it is time for you to get serious about writing a book, a "who done it." I'll be your first customer.

  18. I loved the story about your cousin--it is always fascinating to hear about how some human's behave. It is true that we build fences inside ourselves.

  19. You know, you are right, the toughest fences to go through, are the ones in our hearts. However, I did like the web image, it's very nice!

  20. Very Clever as usual. Hermits run in my family too.

  21. interesting story of your cousin. thanks for sharing with us. love the seagull shot!! wonderful!

  22. I really enjoy reading your entry this week, and love your take on the invisible fence we have in ourselves.

  23. I forgot to tell you how sad I am to see you have to write from jail! How ever do you do that shot with the bars?

  24. Sometimes I think I'm the only person I know who has a reclusive family member in each of the current three generations. Maybe others just don't speak of them. We all have our internal fences of one sort or another, don't we? Or is it just me?? Thanks for the thought provoking post. Oh, almost forgot, loved the birds and spider shot.

  25. I was intrigued by Bonnie's mention of your Jan 5 post so came over here to have a look. Yours is a very entertaining and original blog. Enjoyed this post and your perspective on fences!

  26. You're always so clever. I'm glad you wrote about David to illustrate yet another definition for "fences". Often people manage to hold others just beyond their fences.

  27. Great variety of photos. I like how most of your fences were not what one would think of when hearing "fence".

  28. I love your interpretation - you always have such a unique and creative angle. I love your wit, humor, and the truth of life that is in your words and photos.

    And I really like that bird photo. :)

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