Don’t usually shoot people wearing hats. Got my friend McQuade to hold the reflector. Never shot Bernard. My shoot loosener fell flat. “Not a good day for the Yankees. Old. Injured. And they lost.” “I don’t follow baseball,” he said.
Tough to work alone. When one of my guys finds the light, it makes them smile. All my photos become a bigger collaboration with the people I shoot.
Chad sporting a Prince Valliant look.
Scotty has his pouch.
Amy received a certificate for attending a Peer Emotional Counselling Program.
New girl in town.
Hadassah of Burlington, VT, Sara Frank Chapter, celebrated Chai Tea at the home of Suzanne Brown in Shellburne. Kosher Katz, an A Capella group from the University of Vermont, sang three tunes, adding melody and nachas from the next generation of powerful Jewish women.
Tea was poured.
A Presidential message.
Honoring Chai Society, chapter benefactors.
Stella, 98 years old, heralds the past, present and future state of American Judaism and the satisfaction of contributing to Tikkun Olum.
A prayer from Rabbi Jan.
And too much cake and crustless sandwiches. So, what else is new?
Jack Lavery defines himself as the “laziest person in Burlington.” He didn’t vote today, because “those bastards promise to do things and then they never do anything.”
I voted, because if you don’t vote, the right to vote and the importance of voting will disappear. One incumbant ran. Vince. Don’t know him. Have watched him at City Council Meetings. He looks sincere, sounds sincere, and wants the job. I don’t know if his politics are mine, he is a neighborhood guy, so I voted for him. Don’t have kids. Don’t understand the school budget. Dont’ know what the others running for office do or why they want the job. And, while I don’t want the land ripped apart for energy, how a position letter advances my cause helps the issue escaped me. Did I say I voted?
Jerry doesn’t have a home. Feels lucky he has a place to stay. “Spoke with HUD; certificates cut back.” I don’t really understand the system, but the so-called cutbacks scheduled for a few days from now cannot mean more housing or social welfare for those unable to care for themselves.
Confined to wheelchair, he parked himself outside a State store. No way to tell what he got from passer bys on their way to buy happy juice. He seemed resigned to doing all he could do to make it.
Bitterly cold out there. He just sat. “You still takin pictures?” I brought my book over to him. Just some recents. “I know him,” he said of Larry’s image, “old-timer.” Knew Karl, the poet, also. Does that mean something I don’t really appreciate? He’s saying that they are making it and so can I.
I see these guys so irregularly. When I do, it makes my day to know they live. Living hand to mouth. I have never done that.
He stays at the shelter on North Street. Looking for a more permanent place which may only give him shelter from the storm. Not ready to ask why he needs it or why no one else has come forward to help. No family. No friends. No social service worker. Wait until it is my turn.
Great eyes, eh!
So, Larry’s friends moved him from the camp during the cold spell. He has a foot problem from his inattention to sores and his inability to change his own clothes. They cleaned him up, raised his spirits and protected him from the elements. Maybe friends overstates the relationships. Hard to tell. The word connotes closeness. Knowing intimate details doesn’t make people close, only vulnerable. But, if you cannot be hurt, then what?
How do these guys qualify as home care attendants? No resumes in this business. You show up for duty, ready to serve. Still gotta live your life, somehow. Mishegas. Oh, how I wish they understood mishegas. I left last night to go to shul for shabbos, Matt said l’chaim. How’d he know? Who cares. I walked into the camp. Saw one of my images on the wall. Not interested, though tears came to my eyes. JFK’s image also hung on the wall.
So, my friend Karl Berry, the poet, will have hip surgery. He motors around on his scooter, stopping at Starbucks to write a few verses. MS, cataracts, arthritis and who knows what else. In two weeks, he gets his hips done.
He carries a lot in his head, translating it into poems. Writes a little like the beats, Baraka more than Ginsburg. Has a CD out with an image I shot. The pith helmet seems out of place in Burlington. He doesn’t care.
He looks a lot more like Rembrandt than Robert Frost.
Richard looks like he wants to live. Just has to deal with his smoking habit. Counting days. Not to say he didn’t always have a gleam in his eye, but some days the lids didn’t go up enough to see him. Used to control the ramp off I91. Had a camp up there until the trees were cut. Used to see him all the time on Main Street on a milk crate, layered up. I did a collage of him. Gave him a proof. He says his sister has it hanging on the wall in her home.
I don’t so much wonder where they have been, as much as where they are going. Free spirits don’t like structure. May be good while the temperature hovers around zero. He said he was going to the shelter. “I got a bed.”
Alida White died. Never heard the name before, but world wide it is pretty popular. Not that people live up to their names, unless someone named them Thor or Boomer, but this particular name would require its carrier to be noble and giving. Can’t say she was or wasn’t, because I didn’t know her when she was her; I only knew her when she had an inoperable tumor. And at her age, when you get that condition and you haven’t had time to do all you wanted to do, that is a pretty difficult way to have to face everyday, never knowing when one will be your last.
I entered her life briefly through my wife’s good deeds. The family needed help with meals. So Sharon, along with friend’s of the family and members of OZ, a synagogue we have a passing relationship with, cooked for them. I made portraits of the family for a school assignment at Hallmark Institute of Photography. They cleaned the house, dressed up, and rearranged the furniture. Alida and Marcia put on makeup. Sometimes people don’t take family portraits as seriously, even though they should. You never know. We shot for a while. The lights didn’t work. I didn’t know how to arrange them in the space as effectively as I could have and should have. Alida tired. But never showed any lack of interest. She just tried to be as beautiful and real as she could be.
Now, photographers shoot for many reasons. And they have pithy quotes about what a photograph is or isn’t. Sure, it is a document, one that freezes the moment, capturing all that is going on in 1/160 of a second, give or take a few fractions of a second. It doesn’t speak, at least not out loud, and it lacks motion, though not gesture. You cannot touch or hold it. I only requires you to feel it.
They didn’t know me or my camera work. And I didn’t have time to get to know them. At some point, they would all look differently. From my side of the camera, they were all beautiful, knowing that the images I made would document their lives forevermore. We met electronically for a few seconds, controlled by the light and the emotions. A beautiful moment which will allow them to hold each other for an eternity.
When we went to the house for a shiva call, even though the survivors don’t do shiva, the house was full of friends. Food filled the table. The noise levels were high. They had taken one of my images which I had printed and delivered and put it on a postal size card with one of Alida’s favorite poems of the back for people to take as a remembrance. I had no idea they had done this. The rabbi said that my image was with her in the hospice. Who knows if she recognized anyone in it? But for them, it symbolized their love for one another and served as a memory of life as hers was slowly ebbing away.
Lewis thanked me. No thanks necessary. It was my honor and a mitzvah in the truest sense of God’s word. This is one reason for me to have a camera.
Cold and damp. Chilling. Trudged in through the snow. Carried some food, batteries and socks. Some live in the woods by choice. Others because they don’t have one. Larry and Matt do as they want. Don’t have to deal with what goes on. Both give thanks for what they have.
My hands were so cold I couldn’t find the shutter. Batteries didn’t keep their charge. The guys felt free, hardly feeling the freezing temperatures. Batteries run a radio. Socks and powder stave off dead toes. Canned food can be heated. Next time clean long johns and sterno. Not for me to judge, just hope they make it through the winter.
Just great characters, worthy of all the love, help and support which all of us feel entitled to.
Needs to know which devil to attack first. As one of the survivors told me, “he need to give up the dope and the alcohol….” But which one first? And the where does he go? Cannot possibly seamlessly merge back into the system, unless taken care of. Do we? A line gets drawn in the sand. Join up to receive. If not, what?
So, what’s the problem? Heroin. Does he do a substitute? Alcohol? Can we dope him up to get him off the sauce? He has court cases. Will he be sober enough and healthy enough to go to a treatment facility? I make him laugh. He makes me cry. I want him to be well. Nothing I can do for him at the moment. He sits and begs. People look at me from the nearby diner, not happy about him being there and wondering why I do what I do. I don’t shoot them. They are only secondarily my subjects. Can my images change opinions? Who knows?