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Arkansauthentic
 It is not just a good title for a book...

It is not just a good title for a book...

I find it difficult to imagine that I let nearly 5 years slip by without having returned to the Natural State - Arkansas. It seemed like yesterday that I was driving back up to Hendrix College for the reboot of the their football program. Something the former president of the school confidently gloated would never happen. She was so wrong.

For this trip, I scooted up over the Red River, through Norman, OKC, Tulsa and across the Cherokee Turnpike. I was headed to Fayetteville. To be honest, I never really spent any time in Fayetteville. I passed through. But I never got the soil under my soles. When it comes to NWA, I was more familiar with the likes of Rogers, Bentonville, Eureka Springs. Fayetteville was always the place I kind of knew, but didn't really know.

I was only spending 24 hours or less in town this trip. I hit the road without a hotel reservation. A friend from LA was performing in the Regional Production of VietGone at TheatreSquared. Having not seen her in a few years, I felt it was close enough for me to make the effort to get up from Fort Worth and catch the show. It took me about 6 hours to putt putt up there. I arrived maybe 45 minutes before curtain, checked into a hotel within walking distance and got to my seat with a few minutes to spare.

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The show? Phenomenal. I will not pretend to be a play critic and give a full review here, but I will say this. The performances were riveting, authentic and reached into the crevices of the full spectrum of emotion: hilarity, absurdity, straight comedy, self-deprecation, romance, suffering, terror, tragedy, heartbreak, torment, reconciliation, acceptance, perspective and wisdom. It moves the needle in every aspect that the needle should be moved. It does a high-wire act of reclaiming ownership of cultural tropes with sincerity. Most of all it reminds us that we are all human; right or wrong, good or bad, broken and healed. We are all sons, daughter, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, lovers, friends and at war with enemies chosen and unchosen, within and from elsewhere.

The cast, and I am not simply biased because I knew one of the actors, poured themselves into it entirely. And the audience, a packed house, lapped up every ounce.

After the show, I was fortunate enough to meet the director and get some face time with several of the cast. They invited me out to Ben's Apartment - the #fayttevillesecret - a speakeasy that is hidden behind a secret door. It was a delightful experience and the drinks were exquisite. We talked lightly, then a bit more seriously and philosophically. Actors are really most interesting in the hours after a performance. A lucid frame. We discussed the deeper significance of the play, some of the moments that kick you in the teeth. We delved into tying in themes from other plays, such as The Humans and of course the novel Howard's End by E.M. Forster. The inherent struggle and unlimited potential for authentic human connection. We ended the evening, warding off potential hangovers by flushing our livers with a fresh lemon juice and then heading down Dickson for some street tacos. This Texan was quite pleased.

The following morning, I noodled around the town and put my vintage 50mm Pentax Lens to the test for some travel journal photography. There was a book shop open on Dickson (on Easter, btw) and I simply had to explore it.  It was magical.

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Dickson Street Bookshop has been a staple of Fayetteville since 1978. Once you enter you get a sense of entering through the looking glass. If you are a bibliophile or book nerd, then this place will transport you to a million new worlds. I asked if I was allowed to snap a few photos, "I am a paying customer,"  and they obliged.  I told them I had a few books on my list: Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, E.M. Forster, Buddhism, Philosophy and Jazz.

 

Evan Wordlaw was very polite and helpful. He studied English at U of A and is a Rhythmic Poet. With a name like Wordlaw, it seems to be so. Wordlaw is such a cool kat you have permission to use a kitsch phrase like cool kat to describe him.

He was very patient with each request - almost like a wisdom sherpa navigating the catacombs of bookshelves. 

We chatted about Oscar Peterson, authentic Jazz and the new theory of negative harmony.

I look forward to hearing his rhymes and beats.

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Wordlaw

I was pleasantly surprisded by the selection of Durrell and Miller books. The requisite Dutton series of The Alexandria Quartet sans Justine and a fine copy of Miller's The Cosmological Eye. I even picked up a copy of E.M. Forster's Howard's End to give Rebecca (this was the real mission of going to the book shop). Finally I nabbed a copy of Ajahn Passano's The Island. What a treat!

Don Choffel owns and operates the book shop. He is one of the most gentle natured humans you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. When I told him that I had attended Hendrix, he mentioned that expanding the bookshop to Conway would be nice. I agreed. I had half a mind to figure out how to get involved in such an endeavor. There are few places that remain as authentic and special as the Northwest Corridor of Arkansas.

After collecting the books I took a few photos around town while waiting to meet a friend for brunch at The Depot. There was a faint drizzle and the air was cool. The 1400 ft elevation reduces the overall temperature about 10 degrees relative to the surrounding plains. Nestled into the Boston Mountains, there is a nice dispersal of moisture as the air moves up and over the peaks. I grabbed a few images around town.

On my way back to Texas, I stopped by the Hendrix College Campus and took a few photos with the Pentax 50mm Lens. The main dining hall and student center has been completely razed to the ground making way for a new beautiful Creative Quad that will anchor the campus. It was bittersweet to see the place of so many memories simply vanished. And yet, it was thrilling to know that the school is thriving and that new memories for future generations will be amazing. All that arises ceases. Here and Now is the Only Gold. The campus was so peaceful (even with a section under construction). The Ginko Tree has bloomed and has gotten quite tall. It is nearly 50 years old now.

It was nice to see the residence halls. The few students that were milling about campus were polite. While the nature trail has been consumed by some of the Village at Hendrix, the upside is that the college has done a wonderful job of integrating both sides of Harkrider. Change is the the only constant. And if change is inevitable, the best option is progress.

Hendrix College has done a wonderful job of retaining its heritage and owning its unique vision. The reality is that we do not go to school just to learn. We go to school to learn how to learn. In that sense, a good education is the one that commences once you graduate. It is a commencement speech after all. And with perspective, I would say it is true. Hendrix College equipped me to live a life that is filled with learning. Four years to prepare for a lifetime endeavor. I would not have chosen any other school. I have no regrets. I would do it all the same. If it were possible, I would do it again.  To the whole person...

 

 

Peaceful Dove
 The Peaceful Dove - ISO 200 1/100 Pentax 50mm (f2.8 I believe)

The Peaceful Dove - ISO 200 1/100 Pentax 50mm (f2.8 I believe)

Every Spring for the past three years, she has moved in.  The first year was a bit awkward. Her mate was scoping out my front porch. Slowly he began assembling her nest. When my neighbor first pointed it out to me, I had an inkling to play the part of city council and shut the construction project down. No permits Mr. Dove! But something told me not to worry about it. It would only be a few weeks and the Doves would have hatchlings and then be moving on.

That first season was an interesting honeymoon. Every time I would step out the front door, the dove would fly away in a shrieking terror. But over time, I would be a little more sensitive in how I exited the front door.  I would stop. Speak gently to the dove. Let her know that she was indeed safe and that her mate had chosen wisely.  Over the course of a month, it felt as though we had bonded. Or perhaps it was just me anthropomorphizing the situation.

The following year, I was amazed that the same dove returned.  Only this time she was less fidgety.  More trusting.  But something had gone wrong and a few eggs were tossed out of the nest.  She had two attempts. And without much fanfare, one day she was gone.

This year, she returned - also without any fanfare.  What was most remarkable is that not knowing she was there, I bolted out of the front door with a loud clatter and happened to look up. There she was. Calm as ever. Just chilling out.  Like a roommate saying, "that was unnecessary, but you didn't know I was home."

I took this photo with the vintage Pentax 50mm lens that I had on my K1000 in college. I bought a fotodiox adapter and was able to affix it - of course, there are no autofocus functions when you do this.  Everything is manual. And there was something magical that happened.  An authenticity.  Instantly I wanted to capture something as authentic as the moment I was experiencing and so I popped open the front door and took this portrait of the dove.  I wanted to see the lens capability.  Focus.  Depth of Field. 

I pulled the image into Capture One and was amazed at the performance of a 25 year old (mostly stuck in storage) lens. But even more, I was captivated by my seasonal roommate's beauty.  Her calm. No longer do I think I am anthropomorphizing our relationship. I think we share an authentic connection. Hopefully this image conveys that. The Dove symbolizes peace. And I can only wish to capture the peace and wisdom this dove has brought to my life.

Ecclesiastes & Perspective

 

Turn Turn Turn - When I was younger I recall this song popping up every so often. It sounded so old-timey even though it was released less than a decade before I was. I had this love/hate connection to it.  It evoked an era of great suffering and unrest.  Of hope and transformation. Of peaceful revolution and futile resolution - acceptance. When you want to listen to this song, you're connecting to something far more cosmic.  When you do not want to listen to this song, you're pushing everything away. Reality. We are (okay, I'll admit it if no one else will) very good at pushing away reality. Because reality is the full package. Pleasure is bundled with pain.  Joy with suffering. Love and heartbreak. 

When we are younger we do not grasp the notion of seasons beyond birthdays, summer recess, Christmas, Easter, etc. As we gain wisdom and perspective through life we begin to connect to something remarkably meaningful and meaningless. All of this.  Here and Now.  The only gold.

This past week I've been editing images. Reconnecting with long lost friends from Hollywood. Repurposing my old Pentax Lens. Physically recovering from an exhausting photo shoot. Processing emotional data. Mine and of those I care about.  Mapping out a relentless backlog of creative curiosity.

Reality.

There is a beautiful melancholy joy - it is the syntax of wisdom. To know reality. To be truly alive. It is found in Ecclesiastes. Perhaps the Byrds just thought it sounded cool and it was easy to plagiarize the bible. Or maybe, they really connected to something that connects every generation.  This overwhelming awareness. The seasons of time. Change. The constant. Arising and Ceasing.  Renewal and Decay. Sowing, reaping, rust, and weeds. All of it.

Change is undeterred by our resistance to it. There is no pause button. Only this moment. Within the context of the manifest annihilation.  This conditional realm is the sandbox of unconditional love.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Everything Has Its Time

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

*** Update***

Interestingly, this morning,  as I was typing this my MacBook Pro literally died. No response. Nothing. A visit to the Genius Bar and it was declared deceased. Fried MotherBoard (most likely the video card) Time of Death: 9:05am March 28th, 2018

Remarkably as I returned home to boot up the new MacBook Pro, she (my old MacBook Pro) seemingly regained consciousness and was capable of making a complete backup to Time Machine.

This day was not as planned. But it was full of blessings and preparedness. It was a day of gratitude. Good human beings. Authentic connection. Listening. Breathing. And most of all perspective. All anger and frustration are nothing more than vanity. SakkayaDitthi. Clinging to Dukkha.  Manifesting suffering. These setbacks are opportunities to verify that we are indeed mindful, aligned and equally yoked to the correct things. It is easy to stray from the path. But it is also easy to stop, take a moment and be mindful of stepping back onto the path.

Everything is going to be alright. Three Little Birds.  All that arises ceases. To every season turn turn turn...

Refreshed Website

It's about time...

It is true. I've taken my sweet time to choose a new website/blog design this year. I opted for the simplicity of Squarespace.  It feels very fluid and flexible. I still need to re-connect my social media links later this week. As you may know, Social Networks are not a priority to me.  If I could navigate back to a 1994 version of the internet, I would be content. I love the idea of having to get out of the house to connect to the world. #OldFashioned Thank you E.M. Forster

Here are few items to expect proper blog posts:

  • I am currently shooting some product for a Special Edition of 76092 Magazine. The last issue I shot featuring a tour of Coffee Shops in Southlake/Keller was lovely. I will back date a blog about that as well.
  • I have signed on to an amazing opportunity to fundraise for brain cancer. I look forward to blogging more about that in the coming months.
  • My nephew is writing music and has asked me to mentor him.
  • The creative writing project is gaining traction.
  • Software. Yes, there might be software coming.
  • The podcast... the source of so much indecision.
  • I bought a ukelele. And it is magnificent. I cannot wait to share that with you.
  • So much going on... I believe in the power of naps!

#CreateEveryDay

 

 
Don’t gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold...
— Bob Marley