So, some people need wood to stay warm. Hard to get logs in Burlington. Only business in town. Seasonal work! Could call it an incubator?
Last great day, maybe; maybe not.
Jim O’Donnell, hobo with a car. Traveling through Burlington. Knows the street and its people. On his way to Maine. Has bags in his car where he sleeps.
Cheryl’s still on the steet with Ryan. Had her baby. Says she’s homeless and hungry.
Sam said he came from Maryland. Carried his bike on the train. Who knows? He slept on a picnic table.
A knock at the door Saturday brought bad news. Kit Stone, who lives above us wanted to know where Ann lived. Only four units on a floor in Westlake Residences. Hardly see neighbors, except when dumping garbage. Margaret Brown, Ann’s friend and exercise buddy had died from a fall in her condo. ME said she hit her head, fell and suffocated, according the Kit. Sad way to go, for sure. Before her time was consumed by loss of memory, organ eating bacteria, embolisms or gravy like blood. I’d mourn more, but I didn’t know her, except for a few hellos and good-byes. She never wanted to have a portrait. So, I don’t remember what she looked like. And I lived in the same building with her.
So, they tell you how folksy VT is, just a little community of like people living the dream. A way of life, special, they call it. I cannot tell you much about Margaret or about many people. Saw her recycling. Know she had a red Accura. Heard she was a doctor. This State can be impersonal. Lots of wide open spaces, canopied walks and only a few roads. People spend a lot of time commuting and attending meetings. Then they hunt, ski or ride their snow mobiles, if they hadn’t had licenses revoked. Kid’s sports dominate the fall. Festivals dominate the summer. Everyone rushing to go do something, somewhere. Never enough time.
Worry. Right now, I have my health and time. But it could change. I could fall. Need to be careful.
Nice place to do a crossword, eh?
One of my original guys. He’s back. So am I.
Not his real name, for sure. Had a following. Always a wise statement. Kind. Gentle. Smart.
When I walked the Lake Champlain Boardwalk, on one of our best days of the year, I saw him sitting in the same swing I shot him when we first met, all alone. I remember the guys with him. Three of them; one dead, two alive. And, I know where they are.
He appeared in my first show. Wants to see the photo. I had given him a print; who knows what happened to that? As to the future, who knows about that, either?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Doctors In VT Performing or Counselling Women About Abortions Can No Longer Be Criminally Prosecuted
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.
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.”
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.