I drove back home from Ithaca yesterday and stopped a few times to take some photographs. / I first noticed this collection of portable toilets in Lisle, NY back when I lived in Ithaca and my friend Alex and I would drive around while he “looked for color”. What began as a mild interest turned into a decades long obsession with these practical objects. I even had a long mostly one-sided correspondence with the Portable Sanitation Association. After they moved their offices from Washington, DC to Minnesota I sort of lost interest in sending them postcards.
I always assumed that the company that owned these went out of business, but when I stopped in the antique shop next door, the woman working there said that it was still a going concern.
I often notice this abandoned diner when I am on my way to shoot the suitcases. Yesterday I finally stopped to photograph it. It is in the village of Coeymans and while searching for information about it on the web, I came across this post. (I spent a little time reading this fellow’s blog and it is worth checking out if you live in the Albany area.)
It is always sad for me to see once useful buildings like this be left to rot. I find myself imagining what it would have been like to sit down for breakfast during the time that it was a busy operation. But I suppose the point is that it eventually stopped being busy, and the owners couldn’t afford to keep it going. The Thruway killed the diner.
I have known my friend Alex Ross for a very long time. He has been an influence on me in more ways than I can list here. Although we don’t live near each other, we speak on the phone on most days. When I first started thinking of myself as a photographer, it was Alex whose eye I most admired. He just sees things in a way that no other photographer does. He sends me prints from time to time, but more often will send an image through email. Last night he attached this shot to a note about creativity. He said nothing about it, it was just at the bottom of the email as if it was an afterthought. It just blew me away, and I thought it would be nice to share it on this cold Monday morning. Thanks Alex, for everything.
On Thursday Peggy came over to help me edit for the Exploratorium exhibit. We had a very productive day and nailed down our final choices. I started printing yesterday morning and have worked pretty steadily until a few minutes ago. I still have some that I will probably reprint tomorrow, but for all intents and purposes I am done for now. All my prints are 12 inches wide, and my great friend Alex Ross has been printing the seven or eight 36 inch wide prints. It feels great to be so close to putting everything into a giant fedex box and sending them to San Francisco.
I was in Ithaca last week for a quick overnight before a shoot at Binghamton University. I met Tim and Brad at the Lincoln Street diner for breakfast and it was so great to see them both. At one point Tim said that he has started reading this blog and was wondering why I haven’t mentioned him (he was only half serious; just busting my balls a bit as friends are wont to do). I think this is Brad’s first mention as well. Both great friends of mine. I am so lucky.
Alex gets a special thanks. I won’t say why, but this photo of moss is all down to him. And I really love moss.
On Monday I shot the last of the Willard suitcases for a while. I hope to use the rest of this month to begin editing the images for the Exploratorium exhibit, and knowing how my brain works I knew I couldn’t attempt to edit while I was still shooting. I was surprisingly emotional about the whole thing; an important part of the project ended and I am not sure when it might resume. It is also significant to me that it marks the end of the Kickstarter phase of this work. So some thank you’s are in order. I could NEVER have gotten this far without Kickstarter and the incredible support of the almost 700 people who backed me. Thanks to Alex Ross for the long term “loan” of his lights and soft boxes. He is a true friend. Craig Williams and the New York State Museum gave me access to the cases and Craig’s support was instrumental in keeping it all moving along. And Peggy Ross kept me organized. Without her help in unwrapping, setting up the shots, helping me see things I would have missed, and putting the objects back where they belong I would never have made it through as many of the cases as I did.
I will work on a post later today showing the last case in the queue, as it were. It was a great one to end on.
When I started this site, I vowed I would never take photos of food that I had cooked. Since I lived alone in Ithaca in the “80s, I have taken pictures of my dinners from time to time, but lately with the whole food on tv thing, it seems kind of self indulgent. But, as Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”. So, I will write about love and friendship while posting a picture of something I cooked. John Wilson sent me a cookbook by Raymond Blanc a while back, and around holiday time, I use it alot. My son Peter loves it when we have big meals planned, and so it is lots of fun to put energy into producing something really good. Last night was French onion soup. Tonight was coq au vin, potatoes Dauphinoise, and for dessert, a lemon tart, all from the Blanc book. This picture of the lemon tart features the crust, of which I am particularly proud. / Yesterday as 2010 was winding down, I spoke to three amazing people on the phone. Alex Ross and I speak 4 or 5 days a week, Peter Carroll and I about the same, and John Wilson in the UK and I skype regularly. After our chats I just felt so blessed to have them as friends. Later in the day Cris and I ran some errands and went to a movie, then she, Pete and I had a quiet New Year’s Eve. / I was at my sister Karen’s just after Thanksgiving and got to see her entire family. At Christmas, we went to Maine to see my brother Bob and his family and had a great time. And this past Wednesday, Brad Edmondson and Tania Werbizky spent the night while on their way to the White Mountains. / As we were eating dinner tonight, after a long day of cooking, I fantasized about a huge long farmhouse table with all the people who give me so much love and support sitting around me. What a meal that would be. / We take Peter back to Union tomorrow, and I always get a bit melancholy when he leaves. In his words, I am “waxing a bit poetic” here, but if you can’t say how much your friends and family mean to you, something isn’t quite right. / So, to all of you dear people in my life, best wishes for the new year.