November 19, 2008

Around here

I traded in my Mustang for a Ranger. The pony was pushing 10 and starting to manifest intimations of mortality. There were just a few Rangers for sale at the dealer, I was surprised to find. Seems the little 4-cylinder classic is moving, albeit slower than in years past, so I got a pretty good deal. There were rows and rows of F150s and their bigger siblings. My first fuel-efficiency calibration on the new truck revealed an mpg score of 22 in mixed driving. About the same or a little better than the Mustang. The scooter gets close to 100.

Inspired by one of Uncle Zoloft's comments, I sprang for the pickup as a companion for Firefly, my main wheels now, which I can load on the Ranger, as a means of extending the scooter's range... and other truckin' tasks. Then it's on to some nearby town for a little leisurely and aimless exploring. I wouldn't be surprised if this agreeable pair of internal combustion companions were my last.

I generally have only a secondary interest, on these outings, in a place's claims to fame... its Opera House or Big Bridge. What I like most is cruising around the neighborhoods, the back streets, local parks and beaches, habituations of commerce, soaking up everyday life, taking in novel variations of the mundane. Living near affluence makes for a nice ride, the endless tree lined streets and waterfront enclaves. At first it posed a challenge to me as a photographer. What can one say about the pleasant? Eventually I got over it. Turns out there were a few things to be said after all.

Along the way, I'll stop at a fast-food place for a burger and coke, a pizza stand for a slice and a beer... quietly reveling in the joy of the readily available. It's an off-the-shelf life for me. On these treks the spirit, and my monkish temperament, join to appreciate, and sometimes bless, the world they see. I don't linger, indulge entanglement. Though in practice the meaning of those terms for me is more intuitive than not. You play it by ear, by heart, play it as it lays...

November 16, 2008

Sandcastles 2008

I stopped by the Fort Myers Beach 22nd annual sand sculpting competition last Monday, the day after the event, and after everyone had gone home. I didn't do the big shoot I did last year, but a few of the entries caught my eye. A classic iteration of the theme was nicely rendered in the sculpture above.

A modernist spiral... reminiscent of the deco mood that swept Florida in the 1920s and is still prominent in places like Miami.

A topical piece on the recent federal bailout of the credit sector... a gruesome touch was achieved with the wire 'hairs' sticking out of the banker's shoulders and bald head. I deeply suspect that crusty old villains all have at least one extra-long errant hair growing out of a shoulder.

First place went to Paris Vacation by Thomas Koet. Wonderfully articulated, the punchy piece reminds me of a retro travel poster or a pop-up.

Fort Myers sand is said to be exceptionally suited to sculpting - fine textured, dense, like buttah. It's amazing what some of these international masters can coax from the sand with just a few tools, skill, and a lot of imagination.

November 13, 2008

Mosquito control

Almost a decade ago, I worked for one of the beach newspapers. The pub was between cartoonists, so I volunteered to come up with a few while the paper sought applications for the gig. My sense of humor didn't always go over that well. Here's one I called 'mosquito control.'

November 10, 2008

Slice / 4

The boy got spooked... after scaling a limb too far. He was quickly helped to safety by his friends. No questions asked.

November 6, 2008

That was the night that was

I watched the returns come in on election night with campaign volunteers, first at Paula's house, with my canvassing partner Cathy. Paula was nervous and depressed, after I'd told her earlier in the day about Rachel Maddow's pessimism. She was tired, having canvassed the neighborhoods every day for weeks. By nightfall there was something about the finality of the polls closing in Florida that suddenly lifted my spirits. I had the strongest feeling, that I couldn't explain, that Obama had bagged the elephant. Exhausted, we had collectively skipped a final assignment to "keep voters in line" at one of the precincts, but speculated, punch-drunk, from our couches in front of the TV about how that was expected to be accomplished. Money and candy were discussed. I suggested tasers.

After Pennsylvania went blue, I left Paula and Cathy, in considerably better spirits, and headed for a local sports bar to meet up with my friend Stu. We go way back. Stu and I had goaded each other into volunteering, but it was really Stu who got the ball rolling. Cathy was worried that the scene at the bar might turn into a brawl. But it turned out that the local democratic club had booked the second floor, so it was an Obamalama party. I joined Stu and his wife and son at a booth which, like all the other booths, had its own flat-screen TV. Stu and Nancy were drinking tequila, I ordered a beer.

It was wildly fun to flame the republicans, loudly and in public, and root for Barack as each new flip, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, splashed across the big screens and people cheered and hugged. The sense of moment was palpable, and seemed to concentrate and heighten everything. Then suddenly the dominoes were falling all over the map, including those big blue ones right up the west coast. The rest, as they say, was history.

Today I went for a "long long ride on my motorbike." I was ready.

A sweet park on a small basin where blue crab and yellow-fin can be netted and hooked. There's a charcoal grill, as in most parks. I've had lunch here with visiting family. Or I'll drop in with a coffee and a New Yorker, or nothing at all, and just watch the water for a while.

November 5, 2008