Picture This

I take pictures. I write stuff. None of it can be considered groundbreaking but it’s apparent that I have a slight knack for both so I have as much fun as I can.

Let’s get one thing clear: in the United States of America it is NOT against the law to photograph anyone who is in a public space, i.e. a park, sidewalk, street or shopping mall. Regardless of age, gender, race or profession, if you’re going about your business and as long as it’s not in a restroom, dressing room or hospital room, you may be subject to being photographed by a person like me. When you’re out of your house, there is NO legal infringement if someone takes your (or your child’s/spouse’s/grandmother’s) picture whether you want them to or not.

Shooting people is always best when they don’t realize they’re being photographed, candid moments are rich in spontaneity and realism. Unless it’s portraiture or a studio shoot, catching people in natural environments usually yield the most interesting images.

I almost explained all of this to the lady who pooped her pants in front of me after I took a picture of her small child while he was playing on the sidewalk but thought better of it.

She demanded that I ask permission before taking pictures of her kid and part of me understood her paranoia/fear/lack of appreciating artistry because I’ve watched television and seen people like Nancy Grace. I’ve read horror stories about…blah blah blah. But to approach me and make me feel as though I had done some terrible disservice to her child’s privacy, well, that’s just wrong. I can make an absurd list of things I could have done wrong in front of her child but shooting a photograph would not have been one of them. But she didn’t know me from anyone she sees on Law and Order so I let her rant while I held my tongue until I apologized.

She’ll get over it and will likely forget the whole exchange ever happened. I, on the other hand, will always have this picture that’s worth at least a thousand privacy violations.

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Trade You My Boarding Pass For A Ball Gag?

I just boarded the 3rd plane of the day. The 11th hour of travel that included waiting, dozing, standing and queuing up to an endless turnstile of security checkpoints and gift shops. Finally, I’ve made it onto the 3rd plane of the day. 

I’m usually in coach when I fly but there were a few times I was brave enough to sweet talk an attendant or just happen to be in both the right place and time and was upgraded to business class. Merely using the word “class” is already indicative of a better world to live in, where the air is sweeter on the breath and the drinks flow in glasses that never sit empty. “Coach” sounds like a fancy little word used to disguise the word “economy”. Sigh.

So, I’m in coach, in the window seat with two fine folks next to me. The back of my seat is being kicked about once or twice every minute. A child in the seat ahead of me is crying about something he keeps explaining through sniffles and snot snorts, words I cannot begin to understand, but he’s qutie upset about something. Mom is sitting next to him holding an infant who won’t stop crying, and dad is sitting next to her just staring straight ahead into the television screen embedded in the seat ahead of him. All at once, there are two kids crying and one kicking my seat and we haven’t even taxied from the gate yet. I’m bookended by beautiful children who are delivering the wrath of hell upon this poor 757.

Traveling has its grandiose moments of enlightenment and awe but it also has situations that test the very edges of one’s patience and self-control. Traveling is the ultimate exercise of human existence. I love it. I hate it. I can’t get enough of it.

My Firstborn Is A Lab

Most good people love their kids. To the point that their kids are the best kids in the world bar none and they’re the cutest, brightest and obviously the one most likely to change the world with their incredible personality. We’ve all been at the receiving end of people telling adorable stories about their children and how their particular offspring is naturally superior to all other kids within sight.

Some people treat their kids like little monkey servants or they immediately adopt their own parents’ negligent or overbearing traits. Unwittingly or not, this is quite common, hence the cliche that we eventually all turn into our parents. We all hope we turn into just the good parts, though.

Whatever the case, there are few things as malleable as a developing child. You can literally turn a kid into any kind of adult you want, whether it’s a confident go-getter or a quiet reclusive intellectual. Or maybe you need someone to love you and depend on you, so you have some kids that validate your existence. Better yet, maybe having kids is a good way to have some leverage against your mate, a commodity for fighting and arguing. Yikes.

I don’t have kids but I’ve got a dog. As we all know four legged pets that don’t live in cages are the stepping stone in all relationships to having kids. Most couples who have dogs together are preparing for little ones or they’re deciding that’s as far as they want to go in terms of responsibility. Makes sense to me.

I want kids but to get them to wear little suits and fetch me things all day sounds like a lot of training and who has time for all that? Labradors seem like a decent alternative.

Cowboys And Superheroes

There once was a day when steel pipes were piled atop each other, welded together to form a tall pyramid and was erected over a slab of asphalt. Some called it a jungle gym but we all knew it as the almighty monkey bars.

The winter seasons would freeze the metal into a slippery cage dangerously unclimbable and no fun at all.

In the summer heat the bars would be too hot to touch, the smooth metal under my little hands was almost malleable against my superhero grip..

I used to wear my jacket with just the hood on my head and the drawstring tied so the fabric would flap like a cape as I flew across the playground.

One day I was perched high on the structure when I jumped off and instead of sailing towards the ground like I had planned, the hood string caught on a corner of pipe and hung me there like a doomed cowboy dangling from the gallows.

I struggled to free myself and once I fell from the monkey bars I ran my fingers across my throat and felt the lynch scar grow and swell like Clint Eastwood’s and my 8 year old smile never felt more like a superhero’s.

In an aside, this all makes me remember when there was a time when objects and mindsets were heavier duty, meatier by weight and simply put together better. Playgrounds have now literally gone soft, kids wear helmets everywhere they go and they have lights on their shoes, state of the art carseats, and full suspension on their strollers. In case a little 4×4 action occurs in the parking lot of Target, I imagine. Multitudes of other safety amenities assure our kids a smooth and painless journey into adolesence and adulthood. Conversely, consumer products are becoming more shoddy instead of being built with any sense of longevity, we have a disposable item lifestyle we’ve quickly gotten accustomed to.

Then again my parents would say the same thing about their generation and so on. Curious to how far the changes will continue, grown adults wearing helmets and crash suits? Children in bubbles until they get armpit hair? Throw-away cars, houses, spouses?