Art for arts sake


Just because?

Over the next few posts I’m going to try and publish things that I have been working on over the past whatever time it’s been. I apologize for the randomness but reality is random and I must do my part.

The first shot is actually from my iPhone early one morning before I’d had my coffee trying to psyche myself up to deal with the day

The second shot is in commemoration of the Supreme Courts decision to legalize same sex marriage. I chose the scene because it symbolizes the gradual lift of the fog of ignorance that permeates our society.

Beauty isn’t something you see..


It’s something you feel.

So, I go on photo walks to get some pictures of nature..everyday life. To really appreciate life, you have to look to nature..not the nature of our every day life, but the deep structure of matter. Accepting that life is an emergent property of the structure of the universe is just mindbogglingly beautiful and mysterious. Function arises from structure all the way down to the fabric of space time. You, me, everything between your eyes and these words all are part of the singularity that gave rise to our existence. I think about that every day and it puts things in perspective..

(thanks for visiting..you guys are making me very happy right now!)

The price of lemonade..for a black man


So, yesterday I had this urge for chick peas like really bad, so I decided to shoot by Wegmans to see if they had some ready made salads. Their offering was meager..shoulda went to Whole foods, but I found something. I grabbed a couple of these Hubert’s Lemonades (I’m name dropping because they were rather good) and headed back to my car.

It was a gorgeous day. A bit muggy, but the sky was fabulous. So I decided to find a good vantage point and take a few shots. I pull over into the parking lot and find a spot that was free and clear with the best view. I take a couple of shots, then decided to have a sip of that cool refreshing drink (Eddie Murphy reference..you had to be there). Anyway..maybe 5 mins pass as I’m standing there taking in the moment musing to myself what I should do for the rest of the day when up behind me pulls a patrol car.  Out steps the officer who approached me in a polite manner and asks me “What’s going on?”. I reply, “Nothing, just taking in the view”.  He replies, “Someone called and said you’re making them nervous”.  Pause. At this very moment, that high I felt evaporated and was now replaced with anger and apprehension. “This is how it starts” I said to myself. “Nervous? why? I’m not doing anything to make anyone nervous. It’s a beautiful day don’t you think?” I said, trying to disarm what I could see was now becoming a potentially deadly situation. What frosted me was that I picked that spot specifically to avoid being near anyone so as not to make them uncomfortable about me taking pictures. I wasn’t there 10 mins, how on earth was I a threat, real or imagined to anyone? The lunacy of that statement starting my blood to boil. In my mind I’m calling bullshit. I took a quick scan. Had I parked near someone?? There was no one there. The closest human being was the person in the Zales department store, which was roughly…600 feet from me. “You just bought a camera?”, he asks as he steps closer, one hand on his gun. “No” I replied..what the fuck kinda question was that? I’m thinking to myself.  I realized now we’re in stupidland. Anything I say can be used against me to set him off and find a reason to mess with me..be calm..keep your hands visible..no sudden moves… “Can I see some ID?” he asks. In my head I’m saying “what the fuck for?” I haven’t done a damn thing. I know any attempt to rebut will only be used as “resistance”, so I capitulate. My wallet..where is it?..don’t go in your pockets..pat yourself down..hands visible..It’s not on me..it’s on the center console..I point to it and say “My wallet is right there, do you mind?” He nods ok. I make sure to keep my other hand visible..pick up the wallet..At this point, I know my life could end, but I’m in a no win situation…my heart is pounding. Be calm..be calm..I get my license and hand it to him. He takes it, reads my address and says “E##### Road..you’re from here in Hamilton?”..”Yes” I reply. Inside, I’m raging..yes motherfucker, I pay your salary. He’s eyeing my car..I can see it in his eyes..what’s a black man doing with such a nice car? There’s gotta be something wrong here. He’s calling it in..I’m getting angrier and it’s getting hard to hide it now. I haven’t done anything illegal or even odd…what the fuck….this is some racial bullshit..I’m clean..yeah motherfucker..what now? He comes back with a clipboard, scribbling down my info..I know what this move is..his way of saying, I’m keeping an eye on you..you have been subjugated to my authority. He gives me back my license and walks back to his vehicle. I stand there..I know what he’s expecting..I should run away now..but no..fuck you..I put my wallet inside the car and take another shot..it doesn’t feel the same..its not where I was coming from originally..the beauty is lost..it’s a sign of defiance..I will do what I have a right to do..My mood is ruined..Fuck it, I’m going..but at my own pace and at the time of my choosing…I take a swig of my lemonade..the happy face on the bottle now mocks me..You thought you were just like everyone else?..surprise motherfucker..

(the featured image is that last shot)

Man crushed


I was laying on the couch listening to some old Stevie Wonder songs and today being Monday, a lot of folks participate in this social media theme #MCM or Man Crush Monday. (No luck on that front this way haha) But the combination had me reflecting back asking myself who were my crushes? My mind took me back to an incident that I totally buried until today that I will share.
When I was in high school, there was this girl named Crystal. She was in the music department. I believe she played the clarinet. Anyway, Crystal wasn’t the girl you’d notice at first glance, She wasn’t doe-eyed exotic or voluptuous..the types I’d usually pine for at that age, but she was average I’d say. As a matter of fact, we talked for a while before one day we were having a convo and I took the time to really check her out. She had the most perfect complexion I’d ever seen..milk chocolaty and buttery smooth. There was something about her full lips that just drew me in. I could literally hear myself saying to myself, ah man she’s beautiful. I realized that I was staring and so did she, to the point where she said, Why are you looking at me like that? Is something wrong? To which I replied, no there’s nothing wrong. I just like what I see. Mind you..this was way bold for me. I didn’t even have the time to check myself before the words just came out of my mouth. She just looked at me with this look of incredulity, like are you serious?

A little background is needed here. I was very popular in high school, but exceptionally insecure. I would joke around a lot as a means of deflection and to channel my anxiety at being the center of attention. A lot of girls found me attractive but I hated myself because of negative images put in my head about the typical black man’s features over the years. Whenever anyone would compliment me or say anything about my looks, I would get totally fucked up awkward. I convinced myself they were just saying that out of pity. So that’s why for me to say something like that to someone’s face was way way out of character. She laughed it off but her friend, Evelyn (yes, I’m calling you out too) was like, you go girl! So now we were both miserably embarrassed and changed the subject. It wouldn’t end there though.
Not too much longer after that, one day Crystal comes to tell me that she’s leaving PA (Performing Arts) and going to another school. I was fucking crushed. It was like my heart beat one big thump and then my soul left my body. I can remember us standing there in mutual disbelief of the power of that moment looking at each other in the hallway. I felt betrayed in some way. We weren’t dating or anything but it felt to me like abandonment. I struggled with those feelings for a bit and then I finally got the nerve to ask for her phone number. You see, I could tell that she liked me but was unsure how far to let it go. There were many rumors about me with girls, a lot was just talk. I had admirers but at that time, but nothing was happening with anyone else.
I can’t recall how long it was after that this situation I’m about to describe occurred. It was summer like.
I’d called and made arrangements to come by her house. I remember begging because she was very reluctant to have me over. She was fighting the feeling, I said to myself, and that’s not going to stand in my way. So off I went.
She lived in Harlem, in a housing development. I remember being intimidated that I was heading into another hood that I’d heard so many bad things about. It turned out to be nothing but hype. When I got to her place, I was greeted by her father. He was a huge individual. When he shook my hand, his hand covered my whole hand and part of my wrist. I was like wow, there is NO way I’m gonna go ANYTHING to piss this guy off. I bet if he slapped me, my sneakers would’ve come off. He was on his way to work, so we just exchanged pleasantries and he went out. Her mother was there doing something..not sure, but she was in the kitchen. Crystal was in the process of doing something with her hair. I think they were going out somewhere later, but she her hair was wet and she had a towel covering her head. She invited me into her room to talk, which I was very nervous about but went anyway. She excused herself and then came back in a tee shirt with that towel on her head. She might as well have been an Egyptian goddess. She was talking to me and I got caught again. She said, Darrell what? I’m like what what? She’s said, Why are you staring at me like that? Are you staring at my boobs? Which by the way were extremely visible and her nipples were like doorbell buttons waiting to be rung. At first I tried to restrain my mouth but I was again, caught up in the moment and just said I find you to be irresistible. She was like, stop being so damn cute and came to hug me. Then it happened. We looked at each other and I went in for the kill. I don’t know how long it was but I was completely taken away by how good this kiss felt. I’d never kissed anyone with lips as full as mine but it was incredible. She was enjoying it too. So much so that neither of us heard her mother open the door. All I heard was, Crystal..when you’re done, I want to speak with you, and she closed the door. We were like OMG! OMG! OMG! I immediately started apologizing. I was in a panic. How could I fuck this up so bad on the first move?? Her father is going to destroy me. I have to move to Canada.
It wasn’t over just yet.
She walked out, closing me in her room to confront her mother. I was sitting on her bed in total shock. I could hear them arguing. All I could make out was, get him out of my house. Needing no cue, I got myself together and started to head out. I stepped out, said to her mother, I apologize. I was wrong. I’ve disrespected your home. it was all me. I meant no harm but I will go. Crystal then did the totally unexpected. She said, No..you’re my company. You leave when I say it’s ok to leave. I’m like no no she didn’t..no she did not just nuke her mom in front of me. Realizing that a save was seriously needed in that awkward moment that followed, I said, no..You’re mother is right. I have to go and I headed towards the door, with as much intention as to end this disaster and to save my own life. Crystal then grabs me and says, “You’re not leaving without me”. I felt like I was in a bad dream that would eventually end with me getting shot at this point. Her mother roared back, “You’re not going anywhere”. To which Crystal replied, “Watch me” and proceeded to get her keys and a jacket. I was dumbfounded at this point. I’d never ever ever seen a black girl speak to her mother like that and live. She got her stuff and walked me back to the train station. We talked for a bit. I was so concerned about what was going to happen to Crystal that I would have done anything to make it better. She assured me she’d deal and thanked me for coming. I then said the magic words..I love you. She grabbed my mouth and said, “Don’t say that! Just don’t! Ok??” I was completely lost. She just kissed me and walked away. I called her later and she said she would explain. She agreed to have me come to her new school. There was a show that she was in. So I went.
It was there as we sat in the auditorium that she told me she had a boyfriend, but she liked me as a friend. No sooner than the words came out of her mouth did he show up asking her Is everything ok? She dismissively introduced me as her friend from the other school and he went on. That train ride home was one of the longest of my life..

The year that was


2014 was as year that re-shaped and reignited my desire to be creative. To delve deeper into who I am. Peeling back layers of changes I’ve gone through over the years trying to please others or focus on someone else’s agenda. That’s the kind of person I was in relationships and over the years I kinda lost myself. I realize even more so now that you should never shut down who you are and anyone that insists on it is not for you.

These are a few shots I want to share from this past year that I thought came out pretty good. I think the measure of a good photo is that it should pull the viewer into the moment. That is what I tried to do. I used different processing methods for added effect. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did attempting to reach that goal.

I’ve got a special wonton soup for you


Bill freaking Cosby..wow. Like who would have thunk it? I defended him, mocked Angie Dickinson for her story and was totally convinced this was some plot to discredit the positive black man. First I’d like to take back everything I said about Angie. It was mean and insensitive. Being a sex assault victim myself, I should have never even gone there. No one probably read it and no one cares, but I want to take it back because I don’t want that out there in the universe. You’re probably wondering what changed my mind. Well, it was Beverly Johnson. This is someone I have met a long time ago. People change, but I think I know her personality and she would not put herself out there if it wasn’t true. On the surface it may seem like a racial thing for me not to have accepted this until now. I did really ask myself that but no, that’s all there is to it. I feel convinced he’s an habitual rapist because this is someone I feel would not lie.

The bad thing about rape is, the victim is always made to have to bear the burden of proof amidst immediate skepticism. There’s shame, fear, vulnerability and a host of emotions one has to overcome to speak out on these heinous life altering attacks. It is as much mental as it is physical, with scars that run deep and remain hidden for a lifetime.

There’s a part of this story that bears discussion. A lot of people don’t understand the impact this has on a lot of people in the black community. This guy single-handedly changed the image of the black family for an America that could not accept the holistically positive aspect of black family life. He was also one of the pioneers in tv of the cool contemporary black male. Yes, it’s TV but it had major social significance to the black community. So there’s a sense of disbelief and a sense of loss for at least 2 generations.

I’ve been wondering why there is such a disparity from the image of him that myself and many others held, and what is turning out to be a dark reality. On the surface one can say that it is the published media image that has been created for him that is totally inaccurate, but when you zoom out and look at the broader picture, there is something very significant happening to our society.
Up until very recently the media factions, tv, movies, and news, owned the control of information. This information is carefully processed by producers, media consultants, editors and so on. When the information becomes damaging, they protect their own interests. If the content is too controversial, it is pasteurized. But now, all of that goes out the window. With the increase of access to the internet, everyday people have ways of communicating unfiltered to the whole world. What we are seeing today is the result of that change. It has affected every aspect of our culture and media communication.
This is not something that has gone unnoticed. People of influence and power want to retain that status so they are trying to get in front of it, infiltrating your social media activities, trying to penetrate all levels of communication that are available. Gathering detailed information about each of us to find a way to manipulate your behavior. Just look at Facebook. Why do they need to know the things they want to? It’s not because it impedes you from using the product. It’s to build a portfolio of you and identify the things that are most likely to influence your behavior. Every time you hit that like button, you fine tune that portfolio. This is the golden egg that the people who want to maintain control want to get their hands on.

I know I drifted off from Bill Cosby, but it helps to see the whole picture to understand the dynamics of whats at play here. In a way, the crumbling of Bill Cosby can be seen as iconic in the way our society continues to evolve.