Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How's Your Albatross, Baby?

Unlike other times when I've had to learn the hard way how much I suck at something, when it came to photography, I had never had a doubt: Epic Suck. (Wasn't someone just talking about Monica Lewinky's birthday? Well.)

But when Favorite Cousin called, neither of us let that stand in our way. He writes about just about anything and everything for a Florida zine run by about the nicest guy you could want to know. FC was slated to write about the PIL show, and asked if I'd come along and take photos. Even on his worst day, FC is a better photographer than I am, but disability issues make taking photos at a show like that just about impossible. (Overall, it's pretty crappy trying to go to a club when you have mobility problems. It didn't seem as bad when we went to Drive-By Truckers together a while back, but this one was really damned uncomfortable.)

Uncomfortable for me, too. I'm writing something that has a photographer character, so I couldn't resist trying it, even though there might as well have been no film in the camera. I was up front there with the real photographers who were all doing those moves out of Blow-Up or something, with the big, big real lenses, and I'm like, fuck if I know how this thing works, what I'm seeing. I'm going to do something really stupid and Mr. Lydon won't realize I'm a nice half-Irish lady and will spit on me.

I tried, truly. But you can see for yourself.

I'm pretty good at embroidery.

I think it's fear of tech, at base. I grew up in a world of don't-touch-that-you'll-break-it when it came to anything that wasn't organic. Men were the only ones allowed to touch electronic equipment. I was unclean. Suppose I ought to shake that, though I don't know if there's time left. Plus, I'll still have the problem of not being able to separate my vision from what is there to see in reality. I am also invisible in photos for the most part. Part of that is people don't actively seek to take pictures of me, and I'm uncomfortable with it, but even the law of averages in some of the crowds I run with don't catch up with me. Invisible woman. Maybe I'm a vampire? And if I am, maybe I can make some money off it, cool.

It was a great show nonetheless, very shamanic; he reminded me of Patti Smith that way. He knew how to shape the energy, though few were riding his wave. It's a DC thing. We don't get swept up and under so easily.

I felt like I was beginning to get rid of the albatross. Several, some with whole names and personalities, and some just shadows.

Thank you, FC. But I must never, never touch a camera again.

To continue in the freeloader vein, DH brought home from work a review copy of Maggot by Paul Muldoon. Most of the poems are too hard for me, but there's a translation of Baudelaire's Albatross I like very much. It opens with a fragment of a BBC report of seabirds dying from eating plastic cigarette lighters, thinking they are squid. Gives a whole new meaning to "pour s'amuser." And it ends: "again and again he's dragged down by the weight of those wings."

Photo: Don't ask, don't tell.

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