Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Things That I Like

Handmade cowboy boots with a walking heel
Making someone laugh
Mountain Biking
Playing Tennis
Tennis Rackets
Fountain Pens
Short Stories
NBA Basketball
Pictures of Bob Dylan from the 60s
Jean Gabin
Fresh Sawdust
Dark Chocolate
Flat-chested women that don't wear bras
Red Guitars
Pickup Trucks
Skeet Shooting
Fresh Eggs Softboiled
Pendleton Trade Blankets/Indian Robes
British and Italian Vintage Motorcycles
Japanese Gardens
Old Soda Machines
Sergio Leone Films
Hardcover Books
Leather Medicine Balls
Push Lawnmowers
Sitting in a proper barber chair
Big Noses
Mismatched Cufflinks
Boxing Gloves
Walking in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and San Francisco

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nothing is ever as difficult as you think it's going to be.

I was feeling some measure of despair over the past few weeks.  I laid off the regular fitness routine in February or so, but I was working all day seven days a week on the house.  My jeans were falling off of me.  I had to punch a new hole in my belt with my Leatherman.  Then the house was finished.  We moved in.  My wife left town for most of March and April.  I didn't get the garage organized, so my home gym was covered and surrounded by all the stuff that needs to be organized or sold or given to charity.  My personal training clients and I didn't reconnect after the lay-off.  And I didn't need the new hole in my belt or the next one after about six weeks.  Then the Kapital job happened and I ate way too well for two weeks.  And drank a lot of Cokes for comfort and energy.
I felt a lot of anguish about letting off the fitness and gaining some fifteen or twenty pounds - I didn't know exactly as I didn't really want to get on the scale until yesterday.  Not only did the vanity aspect bother me, but my body just wasn't working the way it had been over the past year and some.  And my clothes were feeling tight.  I had a lot of doubt and fear going through my mind.  I couldn't seem to get out the door for a simple walk.  It all seemed so huge in my mind.
Last Monday I made up a spreadsheet to track my movement and mediation for the week.  I managed to meditate every day and to get in some yoga daily as well.  I went for a couple of walks.  I scheduled a session with a trainer friend after telling myself for weeks that I couldn't call Eric until I had gotten some level of fitness back.  I sent him an email early in the week with the subject line: Help!  He, of course, was understanding and got me in on Friday for some boxing and conditioning.  Then yesterday I did a TRX suspension intro class that was half strength and half stretching.  I really liked it.  It reminded me of Pilates but without the holiness.
Another benefit of the meditation – I notice that I am better able to be mindful when eating.  Twice this week I brought food home from restaurants when I got full.  I have some ideas about improving my tactics for better eating that I want to start practicing.  One thing I need to resume is recording what I eat.  And I want to challenge my sense of need and obligation, transforming my energies into a desire to nourish and respect myself rather than an onerous duty driven by fear/ego.
Last night I went to bed sore but feeling in my body.  I woke up energized.  Took a long walk and came home and did some housework.  Now we're off to Bend for the night.  But first, I want to get in some meditation.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Shit, fuck, goddamn motherfucker!  I don't like this fucking news at all.  In his irreverent honor I'm going to write the most obnoxious blog entry of a eulogy for the craziest bastardo to ever grace the silver screen.  I loved Dennis Hopper the actor.  And the director.  Who cares about the crazy unwatchable shit he made.  If all he ever made was Easy Rider, he's a greater filmmaker than Orson Welles, the other misunderstood great-actor-turned-one-hit-wonder-helmer.  I think Easy Rider is a masterpiece not only for its craft but for its cultural significance.  The film defines the American New Wave, or New Hollywood as it is also known, that brief period of beautiful films financed by the studios in the late 60s and early 70s.  All those gritty little films that reflected the cultural revolution of that time - Midnight Cowboy, Two Lane Blacktop, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Fat City, McCabe and Mrs Miller, Dog Day Afternoon, Badlands,  The Last Picture Show, Five Easy Pieces ...  I could go on and on and on.  Basically almost all of my favorite American films were made between 1965 and 1975.  Until Speilberg and Lucas came along and created the blockbuster epidemic that along with video destroyed the hope of seeing very many gritty personal films in a theater near you.  It's over and that sucks, but I am sure glad I got to be a part of it however young I may have been.
Dennis Hopper the man seems like a total nut job.  I'm not really that turned on by his kookiness and dysfunction in life.  But where he was able to channel it and focus long enough to act in or direct a film, I've always been a big fan. 
When I was eight and nine, my mom was married to an outlaw biker.  It was a dark time in my life in many ways.  Of course it was also a very vibrant time as well.  Kind of like surviving a war.  Everything is pretty vivid in my memory.  My step-dad was a huge Easy Rider fan.  This was just before VCRs.  Yet somehow we managed to see it on tv a few times.  We had the soundtrack album.  My stepfather had Harley wings patches and stickers on everything - his truck, his jackets, his lunchbox and thermos (he was an ironworker).  I remember the time he took me to a Harley shop and said I could get a patch for my jeans jacket.  I chose this one:
It was more Peter Fonda/Wyatt/Captain America than Dennis Hopper/Billy.  My stepfather was a little disappointed I could tell.  That period of my life was not something I was eager to celebrate for a long, long time.  When I started getting into filmmaking, I finally revisited Easy Rider.  First through the cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs.  The Hungarian really saw America as it was at that time and captured it beautifully.  As I watched the film several times, I came to appreciate how masterful it really is.  Initially Kovacs didn't want to do the project, but Hopper pestered him until he did.  Hopper knew what he was doing, even though he was whacked out through much of its filming.  The Mardi Gras and the graveyard funeral march scenes were shot months before principal photography with a 16mm camera like the Arri S in the photo above.  They had dropped acid and were just shooting some tests while scouting and writing the script.  Even if the film was a result of accidental and incidental factors, it doesn't take away from Hopper's vision. Like I said, he knew what he was doing.
In high school World Lit we studied Apocalypse Now in relation to Conrad and  Yeats and the other books on Kurtz's nightstand like The Golden Bough.  Our teacher was fresh out of Brown and a devotee to the 60s and 70s.  We read all sorts of the new Vietnam war literature that was coming out.  It was not a traditional high school class.  The teacher lives in SE Portland and I run into him from time to time.  We have interesting conversations and I thank him for that class.  Anyway we watched Apocalypse Now frontwards and backwards.  We wrote papers on it, comparing it to Conrad.  I loved the film and still do.  I seem to recall finding Dennis Hopper distracting and annoying back then, preferring Willard and Kurtz and the other guys on the boat.  But later on, Hopper became one of my favorite characters in the film.
When I came home from being in the Army in Germany in the mid-80s, one of the first films I saw was Blue Velvet.  Hopper was frighteningly present and bold.  His performance was far more chilling than any of the visual shenanigans.  He alone makes me love and fear that film.  I have an aversion to watching it because Frank Booth is so god damned disturbing.
Through his work, Dennis Hopper will always be with us for better and for worse.  That sort of immortality is what many of us long for.  He definitely earned it.  Rest in peace, you crazy fucking cocksucker.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Would Think...

... that having a family would ground me and make my life more regular.  Pshaw.  I have to get up at 5:15 tomorrow.  I was winding down around 9.  A couple of paragraphs of Adam Gopnik's piece in this week's New Yorker was going to do the trick.  But.  (Not very surprising that there's a but as it's now just past midnight and I'm blogging rather than sleeping.)  But our four-year-old decided that she had to cuddle daddy in his bed.  Then she couldn't fall asleep.  Not through all of the Gopnik article.  Or the Roddy Doyle story.  Not even through the interminable piece on Afghanistan.  I finally gave up on the article with more "Taliban's" in it than all the articles I've read since 2001 combined.  I find reading about modern conflicts stultifying.  I was an avid reader of war stories and histories as a kid.  I love the military, political and social histories of all the American wars, including Vietnam and Iraq.  But for some reason stories of the Middle East bore the hell out of me.  Same went for Bosnia and all the Nicaraguan and El Salvadoran stuff.  Though Joan Didion's book Salvador was pretty readable.  Maybe what I find intolerable about those regions is the hopeless futility of their conflicts.
Anyway, I'm at war with the clock.  I have a long day of shooting tomorrow and I'm dog tired but wide awake.  There's a little redhead sprawled in the middle of our bed and I couldn't lie there wide awake any longer.
I went to look at bikes today.  The Guzzi is out.  Too small for me.  I fell in love with a black, white and gold Bonneville T100.  I almost bought it.  I felt that fear creeping up in me - what if they sell it?  Even though he told me they only sell a couple of each Triumph model a year.  Beautiful bike.  More so in person.  I thought I would like the British Racing Green option, but the black and white one jumped out and grabbed me.
Overall, life is really good right now.  I have more and more job prospects coming my way now that I've committed to producing.  Rather than rushing in, I'm taking my time setting up meetings with people to see where the best place for me might be.  I love the freedom of free-lancing but there are a couple of in house gigs coming up that might be a good move for me.
Other than that I'm in search of quality chambray shirts, preparing for trip to Bend to see Band of Horses and She & Him.  I love Matt Ward but I'm not so keen on Zooey Deschanel's voice.  It works on some of their songs.  I'm sure she'll be very charming live. 
I love Bend.  Not so much the town itself, but Central Oregon.  When I was a teenager I had this vision of myself as a lonely dustbowl refugee.  Not so much by style or disposition, but by pedigree in some naive literary fashion.  I loved Fitzgerald and Hemingway and so desperately wanted to be of their ilk - a super combination of urbane Ivy Leaguer and macho adventurer.  I see now how contradictory the two were.  Nonetheless, as much as I was drawn to those expatriates of the Lost Generation I was truly more kin to Steinbeck's disenfranchised Westerners.  I felt a little trapped and resentful by the smallness and the hopelessness of their lot.  Still, the quiet lonesomeness of the high desert and the plaines appeals to me.  More as I get older.
I am really grateful that I'm from Oregon.  It may not be New England or New York City or New Orleans or San Francisco or any of the great American lierary cities and regions, but it sure as hell beats anywhere in the Midwest.  Which is whence both Fitzgerald and Hemingway hailed.
I visited the Finca Vigia in Cuba about ten years ago.  Hemingway may have hailed from the midwest, but he was a citizen of the world.  His place outside of Havana was amazing.  I could easily imagine his presence, both from the property but also from having read everything he wrote several times.  It just made perfect sense.  His writing is very visual for me.  And he's so present in all of it.  I feel almost childish, puerile to be sure, in my appreciation for him.  Though I don't buy the great man, Papa mythos wholesale.  I see the pain and suffering, especially as he aged.  I take pity on him, which is probably what drove him  to take his life in Sun Valley.  My father was born in Idaho.  And lives there again now, last I heard.  My father won't shoot himself though.  More stubborn than proud.  Cowardly and bitter.
So this is one hell of a meander.  I think I'll try to get to sleep now.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Daily Mind

One day at a time.  Be here now.  These simple mantras can be seen as clichés or as the simple and powerful reminders that to truly live authentic lives, we have to be present.
It doesn't take a lot of analysis to make this happen.  In fact the less thought the better.  For me it takes some simple actions to stay grounded and centered.  It starts with making the bed when I get up.  Ten to fifteen minutes of yoga.  Eight to twenty minutes of meditation.  Some simple and healthy food.  Water.
Straightening up my desk and clothes.  It's not a bid deal.  But it makes all the difference.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Moto Guzzi

I might go for the Guzzi instead of the Triumph.  I think Fellini would approve.  One of my favorite bikes in the past was my 1973 El Dorado, which had the same transverse V-twin engine as this new model.  We'll see when I go look at them soon.  The V7 Special has less power than the Bonneville T100 - about a hundred cc's less displacement.  I'm not really going for speed, but it's something I might need to consider.  I feel like if I need more power,  I can upgrade to another classically styled Italian bike in a few years:

I signed up for my safety course for the weekend of June 10.  I should get my motorcycle endorsement at DMV the next week and be on my new bike by mid-June.  In all my years of riding motorcycles I never had a motorcycle endorsement.  It was never a problem, but I never wore a helmet back then either, so playing by the rules or personal safety weren't the priority that they are now.
For a long time I didn't think I wanted to ever ride a bike again.  It crossed my mind a couple of times, but I always dismissed it as not a good idea for a man with three young children.  Statistically it probably isn't.  But I talked to my wife about it and she didn't see a problem, she liked the idea actually.  Her father is huge enthusiast, still racing The Isle of Man and other European classic races on his Nortons or his many other vintage bikes, including a Vincent.
Last week I took my Japanese clients to Langlitz for a visit.  I tried on some jackets as I don't imagine the Langlitz Cascade that I practically lived in during the late 80s and early 90s will ever fit me again.  As part of the fitting they had me sit on a motorcycle seat.  It felt really good and started to work on me over the weekend.  
I should think about it longer than that; right?  Nah.  What is there to think about when making a decision to buy something so impractical?


Before I went to work on the photo shoot, I had a nice little rhythm going.  Not perfect or anything, but it was easy to get up and make my bed.  And I was getting to bed at fairly consistent time with a little reading time before lights out.
Now my body and mind are out of sorts.  Instead of words on a page before bed, I want to be in front of a screen.  Instead of waking in the morning and reading a short story before rising and making my bed, I stumble across the hall from my bedroom to my study and check my email.  This morning's emails were not to be missed, I tell you.  There was something from MacWeekly about passwords and such.  An alert from an Ebay seller that an item had shipped.  A spiritual meditation from a subscription.  And some other trash that I don't remember.  Nothing urgent or validating.  Nothing worth sacrificing for more grounded routines and rituals.
We did go to the beach yesterday.  Cape Lookout.  We met some friends that had camped out the previous night.  The sea air was wonderful.  I played a game with my son and one of his friends that involved drawing targets in the sand and throwing large rocks.  Then we built castles and played a territory game that my son invented.  After that I laid on the sand until a storm came in and we drove home.
Ive been super negligent on my fitness commitment lately.  My clothes are starting to feel uncomfortable.  Yet somehow the simple act of walking out the door and taking a walk is overwhelming me.  I'm overthinking it.  Getting ahead of myself.  Trying to take some action today.
Thinking about getting a motorcycle again.  It's been a long time.  1995.  I'm going to take a safety course for a refresher if I pursue it.  I've got my eye on a new Triumph Bonneville T100.  Vintage styling without all the wrenching.  I don't have the time or the desire to be working on a motorcycle.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rules For My Unborn Son

 I don't agree with all of the rules in this award-winning blog, but there are some winners to be sure.

Two Week Whirlwind

I've been very busy the past couple of weeks working on a photo shoot.  It was a very rewarding experience.  I liked all the people that I worked with and felt like I helped them achieve a very successful and economical shoot.  I like producing.  I'm pretty good at gathering resources and bringing things together.  I've most often worked in that capacity for my own projects.  It's a little tough to not be directly and consistently involved in the creative aspects of a project, but I've gained enough humility to accept my role.  I find that by keeping my eyes and ears open I am able to offer support and guidance without taking over or intruding into someone else's process.  It's trickier at some times than others.  Overall it's  lot less demanding than doing it all.  It seems rather easy in fact.  One of the most difficult aspects of the job was coordinating childcare while both my wife and worked last week.
I hope to work with this company again.  There was some talk of Mexico or Cuba, two places that I know well.  Y yo hablo español, casi perfectamente.  Me gustaría ir a Cuba o México para trabajar por un par de semanas.  Claro que sí.  Obviamente, guay.
Now I'm on to a less demanding and somewhat less interesting job next week, however it pays more for three days of work than I earned in two weeks with the Japanese.
At times over the past couple of weeks I felt a little nuts from jumping from one extreme environment to the next.  Hanging in the snow on Mt. Hood for an hour, then off to Warm Springs, then dinner at Jake's and in cool downtown loft to cast models the next morning.  Then off to Bend and Mt Bachelor, stopping in antique stores along the way.  One day we're creating a hippie commune music fest, the next we're in Old Town, then skiing and hanging out in a log cabin.  We ended the week on a trip up the Multnomah channel on an old steel ketch that I chartered.  We had sun for much of Thursday's cruise but at one point dark black clouds rolled over the west hills and pounded us with hail.  All but the captain and I went below deck.  I stood in the bow just behind the bowsprit and absorbed the fresh feeling of being totally alive.

I can't post too many photos from the shoot as they're trying to to keep photos of the clothing off the internet until they publish the photos.  But I took hundreds of really cool behind the scenes photos over the past week.
I'll miss those guys.  I already miss my expense account dinners.  Jakes three times, Ruth Chris, The Oyster Bar ...  More out of town clients, please.

The Master Says 370

Specialization is for insects.

Robert Heinlein

Friday, May 07, 2010


Beautiful morning.  Just the type of sunny and cool to get me up and going.  I have been sleeping very poorly lately.  We switched from a king to a queen hoping to discourage our daughters from co-sleeping and to reclaim some floor space in our bedroom.  Who likes a bedroom that's all bed?  Not me.
I went to bed about ten last night instead of one.  I didn't crash out straight away, but it was a good idea.  I did some reading.  Bicycling magazine came in the mail yesterday.  I haven't done much riding so far this spring.  One really beautiful ride last week.  I wanted to get up and go out for a ride this morning before work.  But I had to find my bluetooth headset as I'll be in the car much of the day trying to produce a photo shoot.  I cleaned up some stuff in my office but I couldn't find it.  I knew when I bought that thing it was going to be another silly tiny thing to keep tabs on.  First I misplaced its charger in the recent move and by the time I found that I had misplaced the earbud.  Ugh.
I'm pretty ADD sometimes.  I ended up going through some old report cards of mine and my mother's.  I didn't get too deep.  I was surprised to be reminded how shy I was a young child.  My kindergarten teacher wrote that I rarely spoke and was always respectful when I did.   Probably more terrified than polite.
I also pulled up a four-button iPod.  I tried to plug it in, but I think it requires a firewire connection rather than USB.  Goodness knows what mixes are on that device from 2003.  I don't even know if it will take a charge.  A lot of these digital devices, especially hard drives, need to be plugged in  every so often.
I read the final story of Refresh, Refresh last night.  I acclimated to the horror a bit and the stories became less supernaturally creepy.  The last story said it was about a bear, so the suspense as to what was being confronted was minimal.  I didn't get to sleep after Percy so I delved into a T. Coraghessan Boyle story called Modern Love that I'd read before.  Funny and a bit morbid.
I took a walk this morning instead of a ride and thought a bit about Percy.  (I didn't remember reading Boyle until now.)  My thoughts about his writing are faint at the moment.  I'm a bit preoccupied with the work I've been doing.  I'm meeting up with the photographer later this morning.  I'll be showing him around this beautiful city, helping him find places that will help him tell the stories he needs to tell next week.
Life is good.  I am amazed by all the loveliness that surrounds me.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

BP* by BP**

  *Beautiful Picture
**Beyond Petroleum nee British Petroleum

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cameras Rolling, Calling Cut, Directing, again

We went and shot some footage yesterday.  It was kind of strange.  Casual.  But not entirely uncommitted.  I was driving as Jordan rolled camera on Portland.  I had a very loose relationship to the outcome.  "You want to see it?"  "No, that's okay.  How did it look?"  or  "Sure, let me pull over."
But it certainly wasn't random.  I definitely directed what we shot both by where I drove and how I asked things to be framed.  It was interesting to be relaxed yet specific.
Portland sure has changed.  I know that, but putting a frame around it really underscores the development the city is undergoing.  Twenty years from now the stuff we shot yesterday could be quite wonderful to have access to.
It's nice to have access to it now.  I'm going to use it for an idea I have for the Dangerous Writing trailer.  And maybe in the film.  I'm not sure.
It felt a little funny to call cut.  I preferred to say, that's good or you can stop now.  But I realized that cut was what Jordan wanted to hear.  For clarity.  Habit.  Comfort.  I don't know.
I woke up with an idea for a short film this morning.  I have this very special friend that is a model and an art historian.  I thought it would be cool to do something with tons of art books and her in a nice bedroom.  With the camera really close to her as she lounges on the bed buried in books and talks about art while wearing glamorous clothes and hair and makeup.   She talks, we cut to the page, we cut back and she's got a new look.  Just let her flow and let the stylists play.  Maybe shoot her while she's getting her hair and makeup done.   Letting the beauty be less constructed.  This is my friend from a long time ago.  I saw this picture of her before I ever met her.

She never really looked like that to my eye or in other photos, but this photo is how I'll always see her.  This is what she really looks like:

I just Googled her for an updated picture and this one on the bed came up.  I've never seen this one before.  Not quite the vibe I was thinking for my video, but kind of an interesting correspondence.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Brady Udall's Letting Loose The Hounds

Udall's collection of short stories has also been on my nightstand for the past week or so.  I've read them more casually than Percy for no other reason than they're less demanding on my nervous system.  I don't really like suspense or horror in general and I suppose it says a lot about Percy that I'm willing to stay with his stories.
Udall is more fun.  They are dark and the characters are definitely from the underbelly of our society.  Some are even from the underbelly of society's underbelly.  They're light and fluid enough to read before bed and I've read two or three in a single sitting.
I found the Ballad of the Ball and Chain the most relevant to some of my current storytelling challenges. I'm working on a story about a woman trying to help her boyfriend that's having a mental  breakdown that I've written in the third person with my authorial stance from the woman's perspective.  Ballad of the Ball and Chain is in first person from the woman who is dealing with a mentally ill boyfriend.  Our stories are quite different other than that, but just reading his use of detail and other elements fired some cylinders for me and inspired several pages of notes about my own story's possibilities.
I liked all of the stories in the collection.   He's imaginative and playful and though his characters encounter serious situations, the pathos is more comic than tragic.  He allows them to laugh at themselves.  Which is a winning consolation that doesn't entirely make up for the lack of redemption Udall deprives them of, but it does make things rich and honest and more complete.
I look forward to reading more Udall.  I have a novel of his on my shelves, but it's not going to replace Letting Loose the Hounds as I'm committed to reading short stories for now.

The Master Says 369

To be alive is power,
Existing in itself,
Without a further function,
Omnipotence enough.

Emily Dickinson

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Master Says 368

I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.

Winston Churchill

Ain't No Olivier

Lust for Life oo1