Anything Helps

by on Jul.19, 2014, under art, burlington, Homeless


So, my friend, Tom, lost his hotel room. Says that SSI doesn’t cover it and Howard cannot help him. Last night, he tells me, he slept on this bench that sits in front of the Parks and Recreation Building on Pine Street.


I brought him some water as he sat on the curb eating, but someone had already beaten me to it. He had juice and a sandwich; didn’t want anything else. He said he’d sleep on the bench again.


I found an old sign of his on the ground, in some flowers. I bought it for $1. It was written on and Arm and Hammer box.


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Penguin Plunge In April at North Beach

by on Apr.23, 2014, under Lake Champlain, North Beach, photography, Women's rights


So, they say if you want to get a picture, find a place and sit there. Someone will come on the set to make it perfect. Photographers need patience and prayer. The camera has to be ready as does the confidence. Creativity on the run. Don’t regret not shooting. Always something happening. Keep seeing. Keep being creative. Sometimes, just the camera and the environment. Sometimes, angels from another planet.


I’m just siting around at North Beach this chilly April morning, with not enough clothes, seeing if I can shoot a selfie in not-so-good light. No one on the beach. No one on the swings. No one around. And then these women arrive. A photographer’s dream, I thought, a penguin and a zebra. Two beautiful babes on a beach in April, not drinking shots, rolling in mud or being ogled by post pubescent boys. Fellini. He would have understood. The light accompanied them, brightening up the sky, though not the temperature. Ancient aliens sans chariot. I pinched myself to make sure I hadn’t frozen to death. Life. There was life.


They were there on some kind of dare with a political flavor. Some guys challenged them to jump into the Lake, forgetting these are not the girls who went to college in the 50′s, and have every bit the courage, strength and wherewithal to do anything. And, there was something about nominating someone for something. They brought along a videographer, the type that carries a cell phone to document the action. They posed, nominated whomever for whatever and then ran into the water.NB_penguin-2

Water temperature had to be in the 40′s, maybe colder.



Not much time for or interest in a swim.


And then they were gone.


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Car Wash Heralds Springtime

by on Mar.29, 2014, under Uncategorized


So, Spring beckons. Cars encrusted with muck and mud. Bad chemicals eat away at the underbelly.


Oh, the decisions. Should I soak or spray. No smell please. Do it yourself or let the robots at it? Do I shut my engine off? Lorin Duckman dies of CO poisoning while washing his car!


Pull up to the line. Read the signs. Stop at the correct spot. Wrrrr. Splat. Hissssss. Harumph. Creak. Creak.


Protective coat.


Blower. Drive slowly. It’s like coming out of another dimension. For a few seconds, you don’t know where you are. Then, the sun shines and the car sparkles.

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Doctors In VT Performing or Counselling Women About Abortions Can No Longer Be Criminally Prosecuted

by on Mar.25, 2014, under art, burlington, Justice, photography, Women's rights


So, in 1970, a year before Roe v. Wade, Jack Beecham, a resident at UVM counseled a woman seeking advice concerning an unwanted pregnancy, but refused to perform an abortion on the grounds he could be prosecuted for a crime. Under Vermont’s Penal Law at the time. a physician who counseled women about or performed abortions was chargeable with a crime carrying with it mandatory jail time. The woman asked the Court to allow her to seek out a doctor for advice and have the abortion by declaring that the law was unenforceable. The then Attorney General and later U.S. Senator James Jeffords and then Chittenden States Attorney, now U.S. Senator, Patrick Leahy, opposed the application, despite the fact abortion was not illegal in VT. The Supreme Court of VT agreed, saying that a law could not deny a woman the right to consult a doctor or have a procedure the Legislature had not made illegal by prosecuting the doctor. The woman went out of State for her abortion, something she would no longer have to do today. Dr. Beecham stayed and enjoyed a long career in OB/Gyn treating women with cancer.


Governor Shumlin signed a bill, yesterday at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, repealing that law. In his remarks, he stressed that Vermont would always protect the rights of its citizens, especially its women. Not that anyone would be prosecuted under the law, according to the present Attorney General, William Sorrell, who was also in attendance. But by taking it off the books, it creates a clear line between the people in need of counsel and treatment and those willing to provide it. No place to hide.



Meagan Gallagher, CEO of PPNNE, thanked the legislators in attendance who supported the bill, reminding everyone that the fight for women’s rights is far from over.


Proud members of the Legislature who supported the bill stand Meagan Gallagher and Nick Carter of PPNNE. Nick helped push the bill through the legislature.

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Keb’ Mo’ in Burlington

by on Mar.19, 2014, under burlington, marriage, personal, photography


Returning from a five-mile walk, I saw Keb’ Mo’ exiting the Mariott Couryard, next door to my home at Westlake. Told him I was a fan: own a Cd, listen on Pandora, saw him in Montreal with Bonny Raitt (cost a fortune and we sat in the upper stratosphere) and then again in Burlington (Row M, orchestra). He played the Flynn on Sunday to a packed house. Listening to him sing about life, love and individuality, made everyone happy.

I asked if he loved his wife as much as he said during riffs between songs. “She’s my whole life. Couldn’t live without her. Only married for seven years, but feel it has been much longer.” He’s as gloriously handsome in person as he is on the stage. Being away from her must be tough.

He rejected my offer to go upstairs to my studio for a portrait.  Wondering if he rejected me, because I only had a point and shoot, I told him I was a photographer, after having been a lawyer for over thirty-years. He shared a story about a person he had me who had recently be granted tenure at some institution of learning: “… the guy will spend his whole life in a box and never get out to feel the world.” His comment was just like the themes of his songs, words with a steady blues beat that make you want to do more with who your are and what you have.

But, being me, as we parted, I had to offer constructive criticism. I suggested to him that bass player was great, but the drummer could have done more than just play rhythm.” “That’s the way we do it,” he said. “I like the blues, dude, but I am a jazz guy,”I said. “Drummers can do melody too.”

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Shroom, Dead

by on Feb.27, 2014, under art, burlington, bus stop, cherry street, Church Street, obits, photography


Everyone called him “shroom.” Must be short for mushroom, but I don’t know. He would stand at the bus stop at Cherry and Church. Everyday, until recently, I’d see him whenever I went out for a walk. He wore a black coat, more like a cape, the only coat I ever saw him wear. He had a leather hat and reflective sunglasses.


I’d nod and he’d nod. Got a “whassup” every once in a while. He’d just stand there looking back and forth. I asked one day what he saw, “everything,” he said, without explanation. Never got a sentence out of him, though I tried. Not that he was unkind or unfriendly. I just wasn’t one of his crew or into his business.



When you see a person over and over, you feel like you know him. Taking photos the way I do requires a relationship, even if it doesn’t involve the exchange of personal information. People express themselves to photographers through appearance and gesture. The interactions lack actual intimacy, despite putting the three of us, him, me and the camera, in close proximity. So, it’s odd that I would have any feeling about his death or the loss of another person whom I know from the street.



If you wonder what he died of, I was told long ago that he had lung problems, exacerbated by who knows what. He smoked. They all smoke, even if it isn’t healthy. A reliable source said that’s what killed him.

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Kim Mason, Dead

by on Feb.25, 2014, under art, burlington, personal, photography, suicide


Kim Mason died of an overdose of anti-depressants. She danced with death many times trying to rid her body of evil spirits. Always loving and kind. People couldn’t help her enough, though Howard and others tried. The demons were just too scary. In and out of places. Always adjusting her meds. They needed an exorcism.


I knew her. Met her in Rutland, years ago, or maybe it was Bennington. Don’t remember. But we were friends for ten years or more. She’d hug and kiss me when she saw me on the street. Sometimes when I’d ask how she was doing, she’d put her head on my shoulder and cry, leaving her makeup and her tears all over my face.


A long time ago, I introduced Sharon to her. Kim would ask how Sharon was doing, even if I hadn’t seen her for a long time. She and Mark were together for 35 years. How does he go on? How do any of us?

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Skippy Makes A Bail Application

by on Feb.22, 2014, under art, burlington, Homeless, photography


In Court to see one of the guys I follow on the Street. To me, he’s Skippy, a light hearted alcoholic who has a certain joie to vie, singing, laughing and carrying on. In Court, he’s He’s Phillip Searles, charged with an aggravated domestic assault. Held on no bail due to the nature of the act and maybe his record. The State alleges that he is a habitual offender, but they haven’t filed all the paper work. As for the charge, the complaining witness, his wife, died, but whether he did it probably cannot be proven. So, they charged him with the assault based on the fact that he made an admission, gave some contradictory answers to the investigating officer and some other evidence.


He’s asking for bail, not that he could make $25 were it to be set. He lives in the woods, when he’s free, a residence courts don’t usually recognize in determining whether he will return to face the charges. No bail package has been submitted as an alternative to jail. But the lawyer’s obligation is to assert his rights, here his right to bail. In addition to have probable cause for the charges, the State has to allege that he poses a threat to the community. The best they could allege, without statutory or case support, was that as a person charged with domestic abuse, he may well injure another woman were he to come into contact one upon his release.


In a hallway interview after the hearing concluded with the Judge taking the matter into chambers to decide, Bill Norful, his attorney, talked about how difficult it would be to investigate the case due to the lifestyle of his client. He suggested that others could have injured her. Could have been another person whom she was seeing.

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Winter Creatures In Ulster County

by on Feb.17, 2014, under art, photography


So, I went to Woodstock, Center of Photography, for a landscape workshop with Greg Miller. No sharp light. No long shadows. Almost no color.


The frogs and caterpillars hadn’t left, but they were cold.


The snakes still slunk around.


And, the birds were everready.


Don’t really care about perfect weather. There’s always something to shoot.

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Molly Needs A Valentine

by on Feb.13, 2014, under art, burlington, Church Street, Homeless, Justice

As Chet Baker sings, … everyday is Valentine’s Day.” Not for Molly. She’s still on the street. Hard enough not having a place to live.


David’s back, too. He’s still lost and adrift. But, he thinks he’s cool.


Bill Traveller doesn’t get any older; his lines grow deeper, hiding years of travail. Where has he been? Where have they all been? Places I’d never go.


And, Katie looks like she’s Catherine the Great, just off a barge ride down the Volga.

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