28 October 2010

Flawless? Did She Say Flawless?

"Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you've become a comfortable, trusted element in another person's life."
~Joyce Brothers

"Ummm...No. Not feeling that one."
~ Me

"Do you REALLY wanna keep tickin' me off?"
Where to start....? You ever get that feeling that you're being attacked on all sides via a series of unrelated circumstances? Its maddening is it not? I made a comment that I felt the need to check my bathroom mirror to make sure "PUNK" wasn't stamped across my forehead or maybe some other word that identified me as a push-over that like to take it in the rear with a smile. Often, I am sure people mistake kindness and goodness for weakness. Because I can be polite and accommodating, some perceive my time is theirs to dispose of as they will. Since I choose to acquiesce from time to time, respect comes in lesser and lesser quantities. Maybe I've gotten soft. Maybe I've been giving off a victim-scented pheromone that attracts those who take advantage of others, like bullies. Maybe I am too tempting an offer to the otherwise honest person. I don't know. Lately, it just seems like a string of events have all transpired that hinder my goals by not returning simple courtesy. So be a little wary of me for a bit. If I seem like an ass, forgive me, but I have much needs to rectify this persona that people ill perceive. Okay, enough of that. On to something important.

As I've mentioned before, my little girl is in photo school right now. So she's trying to do her thing in photography, not necessarily like her Dad, but in her own way, I think. Well, she calls me up (or texted me...I don't recall which) to let me know that of all the different student photos getting critiqued, her's was the only one that was termed "FLAWLESS". Now, right there, I knew there had to be a mistake. My first conclusion was that her teacher was coming on to her. She of course disagreed and thought I was wrong for not being able to accept that she has some talent. Well, that couldn't be any further from the truth. She's MY daughter. Of course she's going to have some talent.

When I was in school, one of the first things the prof told us was that were were not allowed to take shots of our kids, circular stairways, flowers, or any of the other cliche' compositions that have been done like by everybody already. Cassie shot her 6 month old baby. The other reason why we were told not to shoot our kids was that it was too easy to take a critique personally and then emotions flare. Next thing you know, there's a chalkboard eraser flying at somebody's head and then things get ugly.

My FLAWLESS granddaughter!
I contend that no photo instructor should be telling a first-year student that an image is flawless. There should be SOMETHING that you can gig them on. Cassie and I went back and forth on this til I finally told her to send ME the photo. I promised to be objective, but at the same time not treat her special, which she didn't anticipate anyway. So no kiddie gloves. She sent the photo. I suddenly realized my mistake. I hadn't taken into consideration that I would be critiquing an image of my own grand kid. That was not a fair! I can't find a gig on this shot at all. Granted, I posted it in an earlier blog posting, but here it is again.

Below is something I came across the other day. I think this is why the iPhone has remained so popular despite some of the drawbacks that Verizon, Droid, and Microsoft keep pointing out. Here is the article:
Brooklyn's Atomic Tom iPhone It In During Impromptu Subway Jam. This band gets their instruments stolen, yet they can still rock the hood using musical aps on their IPHONES! Sounds good, too.

Here is the vid: Atomic Tom singing, "Take Me Out", live on a NY subway.

20 October 2010

Civil Rights News on My Deceased Grandparents

“From slavery to segregation, we remember that America did not always live up to its ideals. In fact, we often fell far short of them. But we also learned that fundamental to our national character is the drive to live out the true meaning of our creed.”
~ Bill Frist

It was a cool to receive some information that I never knew about my grandparents which is featured in a cold case study by the Northeastern University School of Law, entitled "Lost Life, A Miscarriage of Justice: The Death of John Earl Reese". There is not even a Wikipedia page on him. My mom and my aunt have been recently associated with efforts to memorialize and honor John E. Reese, 16 who was sitting in a local Cafe on October 22, 1955 in Mayflower Texas having a soda when he was shot and killed by white supremacists bent on stopping a new school for black kids from getting built. My grandfather was the school bus driver at the time and he helped organize and ferry black voters to the polls which helped spur the funding for the school. There wasn't much publicity on this case. This travesty of justice occurred on the heels of Brown vs. The Board of Education as well as the equally horrific Emmit Till lynching. This cold case report revealed that my Grandfather, H.C. Thompson had overheard men talking of murder since the town had the go-ahead to build the school. A couple of guys got in a car and basically did a drive-by, shooting and injuring two girls, ages 15 and 11, and killing John Earl Reese with a shot from a .22 rifle in the head. They then preceded to shoot up more houses that happened to belong to more of  my kin as well as paying a visit to my Grandfather's residence. They shot up his school bus and car parked at his home. You didn't leave the buses at the school in those day.

My grandmother gave a report on the incident expressing a lack of faith that justice would be served. Just as she feared, a cover-up ensued and it was revealed that public officials were actually related to the shooters, such as the town judge who was a cousin of the guy who pulled the trigger. In one such instance, the grandmother of the girls who were shot was arrested. They tried to say she conspired to kill the two girls for insurance money. Other black men were brought in for questioning to elicit a confession. It wasn't until the Texas Rangers got wind of the matter and began a state investigation. The real culprits where finally brought in and a confession was given. A trial ensued, but the man was released when the jury let him go with a 5-year suspended sentence from a guilty without malice verdict, ruling the Reese's death an "accident". Around this same time in Birmingham, Alabama, Time Magazine reported on Reese and pointed out that another similar trial proceeded where black man was on trial. He fire his own court appointed representative and tried to defend himself to prove that he was not guilty of burglary. He lost and was found guilty. He  got the electric chair. The school in Mayflower was eventually built, but was abandoned 12 years later due to integration from the Brown ruling.

All efforts in the Civil Rights movements did not go lauded into the history books. I had never even heard this story til now. My granddad (I called him Daddy) never sat me down to speeches of hate, nor a malice of heart toward white people. He did quite often talk to me about Jesus, the Bible, and love. He always appeared to be sleeping in church, but when I "told it on him" to my Grandmama, she clued me in that he wasn't really sleeping. Sure enough one eye popped open and stared at me for about 10 seconds. Scary..

My grandmother welcomed my white ex-wife into the family and even brought her into the kitchen and taught her how to cook. (My wife sucked at cooking when we were first married.) Daddy used to play with my son on his knees, refusing to call him Jeremy, insisting on Jeremiah instead. Daddy was a little frightful at times. By the time he met my kids he didn't have but a few teeth left in his head. He had a scruffy, yet sometimes high-pitched voice, and a bald head. Little kids were scared of him til they got to be familiar with him. Except for his asthma, the man looked in pretty decent shape for his age. A firm grip was his handshakes. He liked to laugh but he didn't put up with mess. His memory was more intact than mine when I was 20. He taught me to drive before I was a teen-ager. I drove to church along back country roads or to the "Store", which was reminiscent of the General Stores, where I bought a Baby Ruth and a RC cola. How did I get my own money? Daddy drove slowly behind us while my brother and I collected cans along the highway. There weren't lawns to be mowed or cars that needed washing. Houses were further apart and they usually had their own kids to take care of that, or you needed a tractor to cut grass.

He was born in 1901 and died in 1996. It was the first time I ever had anyone close to me pass away. I can tell you I hurt so bad, I passed out. I was in Korea at the time, serving in the Army. My job was to Patrol the DMZ. I hadn't been in country 3 weeks before the North Koreans, got stupid and felt like playing games. By the end of the situation, I found out that news of my Grandfather's passing had been intentionally kept from me til after the situation was over with. So when we were ordered to finally stand down, and the North Koreans retreated to their own side, I was approached with a Red Cross message, but was not told about who was in trouble or what the situation was. One of my superiors understood that I was getting ready to blow my stack. I was still heavily armed at the time. He pulled me off the side and told me the deal. I walked away and got no more than 5 steps before I planted my face into the gravel. My armaments, grenades, and ammo were stripped from me, but while I was being hoisted away to medical, I came to. I was running out of time. The delay was putting me at risk of not making it home in time to honor the biggest man in my life at his funeral.

My cousin was former military and was familiar with how to address the Red Cross message. If he hadn't said I was raised by my grandfather, I would not have been allowed to leave. His statement was partly true. He did raise me for the first 2 years of my life while my mom was in college, but afterwards, he still took part in my rearing, just indirectly. It also helped that I had become close friends with my chaplain. Taking the bus to the different Commands and bases to get signatures and then get to the airport would not have been doable. The Chaplain called ahead so I got the proper clearances and let me use his car and driver. I'll admit we had a minor accident on the highway when he almost missed his exit, but I ordered the driver to not stop under fear of pain to get me to the airport. I'd deal with the consequences when I got back. We made it with 11 mins to spare. I attended my Grandfather's funeral in my Army Dress Uniform since my personal clothes were still on a ship heading to Korea. Yeah, that was my Daddy.

11 October 2010

On Parenting a Photographer

"I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: Checkout Time is 18 years."  ~ Erma Bombeck

"A child, like your stomach, doesn't need all you can afford to give it." ~ Frank A. Clark

"My mother protected me from the world and my father threatened me with it." ~ Quintin Crisp

"If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent." ~ Bette Davis

"Love well, whip well." ~ Benjamin Franklin

I had to apologize to my grown-up daughter this past week. Sometimes its not as easy a thing to remember that she's not a little girl anymore. There are still a few things I'm going to put my foot down for, but for the most part, I still understand that she's got to make her own mistakes. In those areas, I try to back off. She's got her own life to live. She's got her own decisions to make. She's got her own family to take care of as she and her husband feel is best. There's a good side and a bad side to that though. I'll let her make the call on decisions in her life now (most times). She's an adult. Even when I know she's not making the best choice, its still her's to make. At the same time, I'm also going to let her stand on her own two feet and buy her own friggin' CAMERA!

Yeah, little Miss Pretty is now in school for photography. I didn't find out about it til she'd already enrolled. I wasn't exactly all that pleased at the idea. I already know this isn't such an easy thing to do. Its expensive as hell if you want to be good at it and earn a living from it. But I want to still respect her and give in to the fact that she's her own person now. That's what she's telling me. She's well into her first month of school and reality has set in fairly well. I'm giving her respect by letting her stand on her own two feet. AND I'm going to further show her respect by letting her pay for it all. Sure, I loaned her a camera. I'm not a parental beast...but the operative word is LOAN. It starts with an "L", that makes a *Lah* sound. Granted, it may sound like OWN, but it is not. It is "LAH- oan". Now she's realizing all the other cost factors involved...like LENSES. I let her use my 50mm 1.8 and it was all good at first. But now, guess who's the only one in the class that doesn't have a zoom! And lets not forget this school requires a Mac laptop. Yeah, it just keeps adding up. Ha! Its so precious. Much better than an "I told you so." (is that mean?)

I had to apologize, because I recognized I was wrong for sort of snapping at her for calling me in the middle of her homework assignment to ask about camera operations. Now for me, I would have read the manual thoroughly before I had a gig to do. I would have familiarized myself with the basic functions. I don't expect her to know everything. I don't know everything about my camera, but I do know the main stuff that I use on a regular basis. Everything else, I keep the book handy. So I may have chastised her just a little, but only to emphasis how important it is to be prepared. Soon afterwards, I realized that I went about it the wrong way. I don't want her to NOT call me up when she needs help. If your dad's a photog you should be able to call for help, you would think. I want her to stand on her own two feet...yes, but a little helping hand isn't a bad thing. Besides, its cool when you can talk photo with your kid. The other day she called me up while she was driving home and she was telling me about how she can't look out her window without seeing elements of the scenery as exposures and how she might correct or adjust the camera to compensate. All I could say was, "Welcome to my world." I don't look at exposures so much as I do compositions. Every where I go and everything I look at, I'm composing. One thing I can say I'm sort of jealous for her about is the fact that she's picked up  photo at the time her own little daughter is born. These are her shots of my Grand-kid.

I don't know how many of you liked the "Wizard of Oz", but this animated parody if funny!