Saturday, June 18, 2016

Trash-picking with a Lexus SUV

This is a picture I didn't take (not for lack of trying, but because I had left my go-to camera, the iPhone, home in the charger): Visualize a big black Lexus SUV parked next to an off-white sofa and matching lounge chair, which had been set out at the curb, the chair piled up on top of the sofa for easy pickup by the city's large-item trash truck.
A middle aged couple with what might be their adult daughter, all impeccably dressed in upscale leisurewear, are carefully assessing the chair. They open the tailgate and measure with their hands whether the big chair would fit. It seems to. Then they turn the chair up, remove the cushion and methodically inspect every nook and cranny of the chair for flaws or stains. They are about to load it into the SUV when they discover the dark stain on the armrest I could see all along. That's a deal-breaker. They close the tailgate and drive off.
In a student town like Madison, trash picking is an art form, but these were unusual practitioners. I wondered, has it come to this for the American upper middle class? Or were they just looking for something for the cottage?
As I sat watching, camera-less, from my car, I was reminded of photographer Michael David Murphy's wonderful blog, Unphotographable -- all the posts are beautifully written short vignettes describing photographs he did not take, for one reason or another -- "Unphotographable is a catalog of exceptional mistakes. Photos never taken that weren't meant to be forgotten. Opportunities missed. Simple failures. Occasions when I wished I'd taken the picture, or not forgotten the camera, or had been brave enough to click the shutter."
If you've never visited his blog, check it out. The verbal "pictures" are vivid and touching:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Moon and Mars and Wingra Park

Moon and Mars and Wingra Park

The Moon and Mars looked so pretty over the darkness of Wingra Park tonight that I did what I'm often tempted to do when walking at night, which is pushing my little companion devised by Steve Jobs beyond its limit -- that is, shooting handheld with iPhone in near darkness. I know it will scarcely register an image. It will take a lot of post-processing to bring out any sort of image at all, and it will be noisy as hell. Usually it doesn't work (the number of nocturnal iPhone shots I've deleted runs to the thousands). But sometimes I get something that seems to capture the magic of the moment, at least for me.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Star Light, Star Bright

When T and I were inside the starry vastness of the infinity chamber at the Milwaukee Art Museum recently, I asked if she could recite a poem about stars. The result was magical.
("Walk-in Infinity Chamber," Stanley Landsman, 1968.)

Today this isn't about the 2nd Amendment. It's about national security.

As American as Mom, the Flag and Apple Pie and Guns.

I took this several years ago at a "Gun Appreciation Day" rally on the Capitol Square, as several hundred people once again demonstrated their determination to fight for their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The nationwide Gun Appreciation Day rallies around the country was the gun lobby's response to another gun control proposal that went nowhere.

That's the problem: Whenever people try to enact reasonable gun control proposals, the political right uses the occasion to fire people up about a perceived threat to their 2nd Amendment freedoms. But today this isn't about the right to bear arms. It's about national security.

A terrible, tragic hate crime and act of terrorism took place this morning in Orlando. I'm not holding my breath, but maybe this time the country will begin to see the easy availability of automatic weapons as more of a national security issue than a 2nd amendment issue.

Until we find an effective way to get these weapons off the street, we're doing half the terrorists' job -- making the tools of their trade easily available. This madness has to end.

Wingra Moment

Wingra Moment

Lake Wingra, Wingra Park, Madison, WI.