Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Hometown Shoot-out -- Abandonned (and a dream)

A slightly different approach for me this morning. 

I had a dream last night...a couple of related ones actually.  I always dream alot and remember most of them and I have always appreciated, enjoyed, and learned form my time asleep almost as much as my time awake.  Weird, huh?  

And while the dream has little relation to the pictures I had chosen for abandonment -- the overall essence of the dream seem to sing to me of abandonment.   Mostly  internal abandonment since I sometimes view all the different charactors in my dreams as elements of my own self.  

But since this is a photo shootout, here's a picture.

Abandonned fishing boat near the best
seafood restaurant in Mount Pleasant
(locals know it, but it doesn't advertise)

Feel free to skip the dream stuff and look at pictures --- but here is the dream:

It began with a dream fragment -- My three-year-old grandson, Conner and I were near a shallow lagoon and I noticed that we could see the bottom and wade everywhere on it, looking at fascinating fish.  Conner loves looking at fish and we were wandering around.  Near one side, I saw some big fast fish attacking a school of smaller fish and pointed it out to Conner.  Then we noticed that they weren't big fish but underwater leopards.  I looked up and realized we were actually in a kind of pool in a zoo and the zoo had opened and the keepers were letting all the animals out to drink.  Coming to the edge of the pool were tigers, lions, elephants.   I wasn't afraid (I made peace with wild animals in my dreams when I was a teenager and they seldom scare me in dreams) but suggested to Conner that it was time to leave.
Fragment ended.

Then the main dream started.  I was sleeping on the outside of a narrow bed with Conner who was sleeping by the window.  (This part is true because that's how we ended up falling asleep last night on the bed in my office...including a toy leopard he had brought to bed with him...dreams love to work with artifacts we give them from the day).   I looked out the window and it was day time.  I was overlooking a huge pool where a man and a woman in wet-suits were playing with humpback whales.  I told you it was a big pool.   The man was riding them on the surface of the water.  The window was about three stories above ground.

Of course, I grabbed my camera.  What else is knew.  Moved Conner over to the edge and started to take pictures.  The man and woman then started throwing balls and the whales (four or five of them now) went crazy trying to beat each other to get the balls.  Somehow the water was now almost gone but it didn't stop the whales' happy frenzy.  They seemed able to run and jump using their flippers and tales just as well out of water.   I was shooting on fast multiple shooting mode...the camera clicking at 9 times per second.  The whales were joined by a large number of chimpanzees and young gorillas.  They were having a ball and the photos were probably going to be incredible.  (Too bad it was a dream!)

Another unrelated picture:

The Salt Lake City Palace Hall -
(abandoned to the rising Salt Lake in 1984)

Then the man threw on of the balls near the window I was looking down from.  The whales and chimps were pretty far away and I thought I'd get some good shots of them running toward me but, instead, around the corner came a huge alpha male silverback gorilla.  He was whale-sized, more like King Kong, except he was all silver and gray and age had taken away his bulk and his muscles were clearly saggy under his thick fur.  His face was drawn.   He touched the ball but was not so eager to play with it and seemed to want to sing a song instead.  Noticing me and Conner, he stood up straight and his face filled the window.  

Woman in Montreal

Of course, I kept shooting but, responsibly, moved Conner behind me and we both began retreating in case the gorilla wanted to come into the room.  Which he did.  Conner and I left by a door in the floor -- dropping down to the ground level as the huge sad creature somehow fit through window (it was a dream, logic bends).   He came down, following us as well.   Conner and I moved through the lobby and out the big building's doors and out on the city street.

Two old bridges in Charleston, abandoned and removed
to make way for the new Ravenel Bridge
(new strut under construction in foreground)

We stopped in the street, looking back as the giant, sad, gray primate came out of the building and stood looking at us and began to sing in a gravelly wail, "I can't come out anymore, to pursue the one I love.  I can't come out and play.  I can't come out anymore to tell her that I love her.  I can't come out and play."  

(Yes, after establishing a close relationship over many years with my dreams, they sometimes come with things like lyrics.  I did not make up that song...or at least I did not make it up awake.  I guess.  Sometimes the line between waking and dreams is blurry).

Woman in Oaxaca village where almost
all the men had gone to the U.S.
to pick fruit illegally and send money home.

The primate's song made me sad and I wanted to go to comfort him.  I turned to make sure Conner was all right except that, in the dream, Conner had now turned into our dog, Daisy, who was off chasing squirrels.   The gorilla had gone back into the building and when I went to find him, there was only a small plaster statue in the lobby -- a copy of a Greek hero -- knocked off the pedistal and broken.

I tried to get back up into the loft but the trapdoor turned out to be part of a lightfixture and I couldn't figure out how to pull myself up and squeeze through the space.  I pulled out the frame in the ceiling and set off an alarm and the custodian showed up.  He wasn't happy with me and told me I was tresspassing and would not get me a ladder to get back up where the gorilla had gone.   I told him I had left camera equipment in the loft and had a right to retreive it.  He agreed but said that didn't require him to get me a ladder or help me.

The one-room home of my cousin, David,
who disappeared from the family for 30 years
until I learned where he was and went to visit him
in Atlanta.  

He was sort of glad to see me.
We spent the day together.
But he was clear that he had no desire
(and gave no reason)
to come out of his
self-imposed abandonment

By that time in the dream, I had been joined by the young woman.  (The young woman is someone who is with me in many of my dreams.  She has a family that seems to be of Baltic descent.  Her family accepts and loves me.  She and I love each other although we don't seem to be married and never have sex although we are physically close.   I don't recognize her from anyone I have ever known in waking life.) 

She helps me and supports me as I try to figure out a way to climb back into the loft but I am too big to fit and I don't have the strength to lift myself completely up by arm strength alone.   So eventually I give up.   From above me I can sill hear the old gorilla singing, "I can't come out and play anymore."


And that's it. 

As I said, it was a different approach from my usual shootouts.  And I feel kind of sad now.  But I guess that's what the theme was about.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I am realizing that my blogging seems to be limited to posting my shoot-out and then posting the spotlight photos.   That's not a bad thing, since I enjoy both of them and having deadlines seems to help me get off my posterior collection of fatty tissue.

On the other hand, my mind used to maintain a blog-orientation, constantly revolving like radar, looking for things to blog about on days other than Friday and Tuesday.  I'm not sure when or why that stopped. 

And it hasn't been long.  In fact, probably not noticeable to anyone but myself.  

BAGMAN: "You're getting too serious, lately."


Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Hometown Shoot Out -- Spires, Weathervanes, "Tops"

Afternoon clouds top the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston

BUTLER: "Wait a minute, Mark.  This is just a skyscape.  I don't think it really meets this weeks criteria."

"Sure it does," I argue.  "The bridge is beautiful but plain on top and needs something eye-catching over it."

BUTLER:  "Personally, Mark, I think you just like this picture and your ego has rationalized a way to insert it, regardless of the theme."

BAGMAN: "Yeah!  Just try'in to show off!"

Temporary Tops while building Ravenel Bridge (2004)

"Okay," I reply.  "How about this?  It's a structure, maybe temporary, but it was on top of the bridge for awhile.  And it's an ugly picture so you can't accuse me of having an ego."

BUTLER: "You still have an ego!  You will always have an ego.  So just admit it and stop trying to be cute and do some steeples and weathervanes."

Charleston skyline

 Looking at the skyline closely, I think I can count 7 steeples.  Charleston's knickname as far back as 1800 has been "The Holy City" because of the number of church steeples.  Today, people in other parts of South Carolina still call it "The Holy City" but they say it with great sarcasm and really mean "The Holier Than Thou City."  It's not just envy.  Charleston does have a huge number of holier than thou politicians.  It is a city with a bigger ego than mine.

BUTLER: "Don't forget that you chose to live here!"

"But I'm trying to move," I protest. "But I give up.  Here are some straightforward looking up shots.

Church Steeple
(If I was Scriptor, I'd know which church this was
and also the whole history of it.)
Church steeple with weathervane on top!

Some buildings have flags on top

The Regal Cinema in N. Charleston sends color upward

BUTLER: "You beginning to stretch it again, Mark."

"Why are you so critical today, Butler?"

BUTLER: "It's my job."

"I think you need a vacation."

Nature puts things on top

Looking up at some buildings, you just find advertisements.
(Boston, 1971)

BUTLER: "Hey!  Not your home town!"

"It was once!"

BAGMAN: "And boy did we raise hell there!!  I remember that street.  Our favorite bar was around the corner!"

BUTLER: "I'm surprised you were able to focus!"

As usual, I've reached the point where I just start ignoring my nagging colleagues and posting despite their bickering.

Reflection of a building top -- or spire -- or something
(Dallas, 1976)

This is a monument that "tops" and entire city
(Brigham Young overlooking Salt Lake City, 1987)

I ignore Butler and Bagman as they mutter, buy tickets to Tahiti, pack their bags, and leave to go on vacation, slamming the door behind themselves.

Continuing unperturbed -- But nobody decorates the looking up places like the Italiens.

And a statue of Christ on top of the Vatican --



As I come to the end of my blog, it dawns on me how quiet it is.  I try to tell myself that I don't miss Butler and Bagman already.  I also kick myself for not having gone with them. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's coming along - assuming we ever sell our old house

I stopped by the site where our new house (ours, at least, if we ever sell our old one) is being built.

We are getting lots of showings - which is a pain in the butt since I need to straighten it up, make sure the kitty litter doesn't stink, then vacate for an hour or so, often with Kay.  From consistent feedback, there were two main reasons that people didn't want it. 

First they didn't like the wallpaper -- but we have now removed all of that.

Secondly, most of them comment that they don't like the master bedroom being right off the front entrance.  In retrospect, I can see that and wonder why it didn't grab us when we originally bought it.  But there is nothing I can do about the layout.

So we wait.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout -- GREEN

Happy St. Paddy's Day?
Wildly celebrating my retirement last St. Patrick's Day

BAGMAN:  "Why so glum, Dude?"

"I don't remember,"  I reply.  "Probably because I've never liked going away parties."

BUTLER:  "Whoever took that picture sure did an excellent job of trashing you.  You'll never make a good politician if you don't remain constantly vigilant and always smiling for cameras."

"Why would I ever want to be a politician?" I answer.  "Never in my wildest thoughts."

And so we are off for the posting of the green:

The color green comes from chlorophyll
which our advanced civilization
collects through a system of pipes...

and processes in chlorophyll refineries...

then stores in chlorophyll holding tanks.

The United States has one of the largest
chrolophyll footprints in the world
which explains the little known fact

about why the Statue of Liberty is green.

BAGMAN:  "Wait a minute!  Wasn't the Statue of Liberty made in France?"

BUTLER:  "Wake up, Butler.  Mark's pulling your leg."

BAGMAN:  "No he's not!  I'm sitting across the room!  He's just talking."

Butler rolls his eyes and bangs himself on the forhead with the palm of his hand while I continue typing whatever flows through my mind.

Chrolophyll is a lighter form of energy than oil...

Wearing green helps people fly...

Bagman's mouth drops open in amazement and Butler just closes his eyes, drops his head, and shakes it sadly back and forth. 

Green occurs naturally in parts of the animal kingdom

Some animals use it as camoflage

Some use it as an aphrodesiac

And some use it as a costume for Halloween parties
such as this fellow who is dressed as a string bean.

I look up after realizing that I don't have any more pictures and also don't have any kind of cute ending.

Butler is gone.  I hear his footsteps mincing down the hallway.  "Why'd he leave early?" I ask Bagman.

BAGMAN:  "Beats me.  I was learning alot.  I didn't know anything like that about green.  But tell me more about the aphrodesiac thing...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Born on a Mountaintop in Tennessee

(Thanks to Kim, whose recent trip to the Alamo reminded me of my roots)

"Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee
Greenest state in the Land of the Free
Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree
Kilt him a b'ar when he was only three.
Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier!"

...and one of my ancestors, on my father's side.

BUTLER: "That's not Davy Crocket.  That's Mark's Dad."

BAGMAN:  "Can it!  Let him tell the story."

BUTLER:  "But that's all it is!  An ego-drenched story."

"However," I interrupt. "For once it is not my ego.  If it is a made-up story, it was made up by someone further back in my lineage and passed down the line."

BAGMAN: "And there is that family resemblance..."

BUTLER (Puffily stomping out the door):  "I'm not going to participate in this fraud."

Anyhow, as the story was passed down to me, probably when I was a young boy enamoured of Fess Parker, one of my great-great grandfathers was very closely related to Davy.  Brother?  Son?  Cousin?  In any case, he bore the Crockett name.   

He was also, apparently, one of the ones who graciously passed down the genetic propensity toward alcoholism which became such a great influence in my father's life...and mine.  Since Alcoholics Anonymous did not show up until 100 years later, my ancestor Crockett became a town drunkard, liar, horse thief, and overall ne'er-do-well.  

Although Davy became best known for dying at the Alamo, thanks to Walt Disney -- not for the dying part but for the becoming best known part -- his family was much more proud of his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1824.  

You have to remember that in 1824, being a member of Congress was really something to be proud of in contrast to the present day when being a member of Congress is a step down from circus clown.  My apologies in advance to those hard working member of the clowning profession. 

But I digress.  The fact was (unless it was fiction) that my town drunk Crockett ancestor was besmirching the family name.  (I think this is the first time I've ever used the word "besmirch.")

Eventually he ended up facing a noose and the upstanding Crockett family intervened and saved his sorry neck providing he would change his name and never bother the family again.   He changed it to "Seely."

BUTLER (Poking his head back in the door):  "But your name is Cowell!  Aha!!  It's all meaningless jibberish!
"But you forget," I countered, "My dad's name was Seely.  As was mine originally.   When my maternal grandparents adopted me because my mom had died and my dad was at the height of his own ne'er-do-wellness, I took on my mother's maternal name.  

Truth or fiction?  Who knows.   Since the story was passed down through a long line alcoholic ne'er-do-wells who have a natural propensity for lying, it's probably as true as the story about Davy Crockett killing a bear when he was three-years-old. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout -- Doors


I enter the B&B studio with an extra cushion for my chair.  I know already this is going to be a loooong post.  Doors have always been one of my most favorite things on Earth.  Entering, leaving - whenever I pass through any door, everything changes,  assuming I notice it. 

BUTLER: "I suppose, if you are already planning to bore the world with a long-winded, too many pictures blog, you aren't going to let us talk much."

"Probably not," I reply.

BAGMAN:  "Just try and stop us!  We already planned our own photo blog and we're going to put it in no matter what!"

Ignoring them, I continue discoursing.  Oddly, my interest in doors started as a reaction to something someone said long ago when they were looking at a collection of my photographs, most of which were of trees, mountains, peaks, tall buildings, etc.  "Very phallic," they said. 

Now I'm not a big follower of Freud, nor am I particularly homophobic, but...

BUTLER:  "Oh joy.  This is going to be a long and tedius blog, isn't it?"

...but it made me think.  I like mountains and trees and I never thought of them as phallic, but I wondered what I would shoot if I related my creativity more closely to my favorite orientation, which, at the time, was (confess confess) women.  And I suddenly saw doors all around me. 

I know that Freud is supposed to have said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."  And, of course, many times a door is just a door.  But, in general, doors seem to be to be more...what's the opposite of phallic anyway?  Saphhic?

BUTLER:  "Yonic."  Look it up, I'm not adding any more length to this blog that necessary."

BAGMAN: "At least post a picture once in awhile, Dude.  This is suppose to be a photo blog!"

Myrtle Beach
(This door has not been opened in a while, I think)

I know this is a photo blog and not a poetry blog but over the years, I found myself writing a series of "Door Poems."   And I can't help but share some of them.

BAGMAN:  "Oh you could help it all right!!  You just don't want to!  Your ego is out of control!!"

"Baggie, my friend," I reply.  "You are my ego." 

Door Poem #3 
I cannot pass a door
without wanting to go in
or fly above a town
without wanting to dive down.
 I cannot pass a soul
without basking in its shade
or pass a pair of legs
without wanting to dive in.

I cannot see your eyes
without turning where they look.
I cannot pass a wall
without trying to build a door.


Greenville, SC
(Doors in the process of being built)
(Embryonic doors?)


BUTLER: "Door are just doors.  They come in many forms and have many uses."

Doors are useful for protecting the stuff you can't fit in your current house
until you realize you can't fit it in your future house either.

Your mail goes into a kind of door until you take it out of the same door.

BAGMAN: "What's mail?"

BUTLER: "It's a kind of antiquated communication form used mostly these days by catalogue printers."

Most of what we eat comes out of doors

Most of it is cold so we heat it up by putting it through other doors

Because the media has made us all paranoid,
almost everything we eat is wrapped or double wrapped
which creates endless garbage which must be sent through other doors.

BAGAMAN: "Does anyone remember when cereal was just in a box without being additionally wrapped in a plastic bag?   I know it was true with Cracker Jacks because I always opened the box upside down to get to the price first.

And, of course, the food we actually eat
eventually starts its trip to the sea through this door.


I scream at them.  "Did you guys just post a photo of a toilet on my blog!!"

BUTLER:  "Put down the bat, Mark.  We're done and you can go on talking people to death all you want."

BAGMAN: "A baseball bat?  Very phallic, Dude."

They leave.  I put down the bat...gently.  I'm running out of energy and my lifelong fascination with doors begins to seem more childish than yonic.  Maybe I'll shut up and just post some stuff. 

Charleston - Doors of the Civil War


Door Poem #9
I’m usually three feet into a room
with a fourth in my mouth
before I see we’re all about to blush
and make apologies
while backing out.


Boston - The Salada Tea Company Building
(Salada has not been here for decades, but they left their door)
Althought I took this in the mid 70's and don't know if it is still there.

(Hmmm....maybe the Druids used these for doors?)

Guardian of the swimming pool gate (door)


On Doors #16 
Watching you from my porch
changing your locks
with such regularity and detail
it’s almost a challenge
of new combinations, the latest
deadbolt, and of course a chain or two. 
Whatever happened to the oaken beam
that woke the neighborhood at night
when it fell in place?  Changed because
it could be torched?
replaced with tempered steel, 
But once you’re safely in
just suppose that that I and all the other thieves
just sit and sleep with nothing left to prove
Ah, but yes, there’s always some young
set of fingers itching to be tried.


Vatican City
Sometimes the path to a distant door is long and full of interesting things.
Take time to appreciate the trip without rushing to a destination.

The phone rings.  I pick it up.  It's Bagman.

BAGMAN: "Hey!  Butler wanted me to ask you if a hallway is just a hallway?"

Beaufort, SC
A spiritual door with some natural growth to get through first

The phone rings again.  I don't answer it.

Near Florence, Italy
Many doors to the path of rest in peace
(in the words of Queenmother Mamaw)


Door Poem #2 
You can see this one coming
unless you’ve never watched
The Three Stooges
but if I don’t take your door
too seriously, I might just play
anyway, stepping back ten paces
and running at full speed
like some gung-ho cop even if
wood is harder than collarbone
but you and I both know
at the last minute
you’ll jerk open the door
and I’ll go flying through
with a loud “Yahoo!” and crash.
So instead I’ll stop – surprise –
at the last second grinning.
And of course you won’t open the door.
In fact, you might not even be home
leaving me standing in the hall
with that look you know so well.


Charleston - Outdoors doors
(This in in the alley behind a restaurant.
I think the staff takes breaks here.)

(What happens when the architect fails to note the scale
on each set of blueprints)

My  back door at night
(Actually the steps lead up to my neighbors back door.
To get to mine, turn left right after the bush.
Y'all come now.  Heah?

The phone rings.  Since I'm done, I answer it and hear Butler's voice.

BUTLER: "I just wanted to warn you that you're wife is looking for you.  She doesn't usually talk to me, or know we exist, for that matter, but you've been in the studio for over 36 hours, writing a blog that nobody will have the stamina to read all the way through to the end.  She's wondering if you are all right."

"Tell her that I'm fine.  Apologize for the me spending so much time in the studio.  And that I'm coming out now."

BUTLER:  "And be careful.  She found a cigar in your truck."