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Nigel and Me, Still…..

Sep 10

In Thoughts at 6:11pm


Up early today. Nigel’s gained some weight lately, and when he nestled himself on the bed last night he proceeded to snore so loudly I coulda sworn somebody was trying to start a large diesel engine right there on the blanket. It’s okay, though. He’s my bud. He’s a bit paunchy (Annie gets defensive and simply says he’s “big boned”) and a little tentative, ’cause I think he’s got some arthritis in his forelegs.  I bought him some steps I’ve put around the house so he can get up on stuff easier. He won’t use ‘em, though, being male and proud. He still jumps, even though it’s gottta hurt. That’s the deal with guys. We look at something and think, I can still do that, and then our body tells us different.

Same thing here. In addition to being up early, I’m grumpy ’cause I’m fasting. Annie worked out a week for me while I am home to kinda kick the tires and change the oil, so the whole week is doc’s appointments. Feeling like I’m spending a great deal of time flat on my back on an examining table, looking upwards through a 16mm full frame fisheye at a bunch of googly eyed, well meaning folks who look me over, ask some mildly embarrassing questions, purse their lips and frown a bit, then make notes on a clipboard. (I chuckle inwardly. In this ten minute examination these folks actually think they’re gonna find out what’s wrong with me? Heh, heh, heh.)

(My buddy Bill at Geographic is having a field day with this. He mentioned today that all the questions are designed to create a baseline before they harvest the organs.)

What can I say to these rational, logical, disapproving folks? That I know I shouldn’t have done half the shit I’ve done? That I know it wasn’t great for me to breathe carbon dioxide gas for a week at one of the world’s largest nickel mines in Siberia? I know it’s not a good idea to get kicked and punched, shot at and tear gassed? I’ve had stitches and surgeries, been baked in the desert and frozen in the arctic and arrested at gunpoint. I’ve climbed around towers loaded with microwaves. I’ve smiled my way through meals in faraway places that I knew were gonna ricochet through my system like a pinball in an arcade game. I’ve drunk stuff of indeterminate origin that I knew had microbes that were gonna chew their way through my inside wiring like gremlins on holiday. I’ve worked around disease and radioactivity, picked my way through mass graves, blacked out at 9.2 g’s and hung off of and outside of clanky, rusted flying machines that had no business staying in the air, but somehow, with some spit and glue, did. I’ve parked myself for hours covering concerts in front of walls of woofers with enough decibel horsepower to flatten a city block, never mind a flimsy pair of eardrums. I’ve done the macho, bonding ritual of hoisting flagons of native brew that would make straight sterno look like a fruit smoothie.

And done much of it carrying anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds of gear, sometimes much more. So my knees sound like somebody’s opening the front door of an abandoned house in a horror movie, and my spine is about as straight as the Pacific Coast Highway. And my mind? Let’s not go there.

So what do I say to these well meaning, helpful medical folks? How do I explain that 30 plus years ago I threw myself into the mosh pit of a shooting career because I had no choice? That, just like any photog, I did ridiculous, ill-advised stuff just cause I wanted the picture so badly? And that there are a bunch more of us out here, camera in hand, just as nutty? (Hell, I’ve got colleagues who have done such wacked stuff it it makes me look like a frikkin’ librarian.)

How to tell them that I’m up for more? That my best pictures are still out there ahead of me? They may be right around the corner, in plain sight, or still years away, hidden inside some project or notion that ain’t even in my head yet. I might need to fly or climb to get them, or run after them, or limp, as the case may be.

But, just like Nigel, I won’t use the steps…..more tk.

69 Responses to “Nigel and Me, Still…..”

Will Foster says:

on September 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm

“Thank you doc… you ever serve time?”

Mike says:

on September 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Anything for the shot, right Joe?………yeah, right, I know it’s the truth!! Keep up the great work, buddy! I need the inspiration!!

Blackey Cole says:

on September 12, 2009 at 3:47 am

Joe, You know why they call it practicing medicine? Because they do not have all the answers and are just guessing. But, if you stick with them long enough they might be able to help you. I started having back trouble in 1983 I think it was. In 1991 I=My leg started going numb and burning when I stood for a period of time. Finally this past summer after two lower back Surgeries. I had a third procedure, to have a neurostimulator put in to block the pain signals at the spine. I have felt better since then than in the past decade or so except as soon as it was in I came down with diabetes. Get one thing fix something else goes. All we can do is keep pushing forward until we are called togo.

Ben says:

on September 12, 2009 at 9:02 am

I believe the proper term for Nigel is he has a little bit more fluff. I think all of us have some fluffiness to some extent, Joe you’re fluffy, I have some fluff to, it just so happens just 13% is fluff. As for all your adventures, well you know they make bionic knees, and hips, not sure about bionic backs but if your knees and hips were better maybe your back would straiten itself out. I am sure they could clone some baboon bones and ligaments, to put in your body. My rule is if you can break it you can fix it. Being in the HVAC trade we have a saying ” do your best and tape the rest” Rub some dirt on it and tape it up and get back to work!

Rick says:

on September 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

Nothing a cold beer and good friend can’t fix!

T-BONE says:

on September 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Great post. You are as good a writer as you are a photographer. And I mean that in a good way.

Lewis W says:

on September 12, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Nigel may have big bones, but he has big meat on dem bones, too.

Byron Prinzmetal says:

on September 12, 2009 at 5:42 pm

You could always retire and sit in a rocking chair or have some fun knowing you will surely bust something now and then (and pay the price of six or more weeks of getting bored waiting to heal).

I guess you did not choose the rocking chair.


Patrik says:

on September 12, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I think it´s great to see what you have accomplished photo-wise, you are a great photographer, no doubt about that. I´ve learned alot and got so much inspiration just by looking at your pictures, and of course to top that of with your instructionalvideos over att kelbytraining.
But aside all that, you really know how to entertain aswell, and now i just dont mean in your instructionalvideos, but also here in your blog.
You often put the nail in the coffin so to speak in your writings here, it is very nice that you share with us all of your knowledge and all the other “stuff” that comes along with it during your years in practice.
Keep it up like that, thank you! :)

Marvin Pido says:

on September 13, 2009 at 6:25 am

What an article, Joe. Love it. You and your pictures (and now, this article) inspire me to be a photog. Keep it up.

Pavel Sinagl says:

on September 13, 2009 at 7:51 am

Joe, best wishes to Nigel and You! I love reading your blog, it is always inspiring.

Sam Fifer says:

on September 13, 2009 at 9:15 am

Anyone that is a cat lover is OK in my book! Here is a pic of my bud, Hobbes…. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfifer/2990197627/in/set-72157604187881771/

As always, I look forward to your posts and you continue to be an inspiration.

Jim Wilson says:

on September 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Dear Joe,

I couldn’t have described the last 30 years better! What we do in the pursuit!! Feel better and trade in that sound of a snapping latex glove for the familiar click of a shutter as soon as possible.


Dario Dusio says:

on September 14, 2009 at 8:30 am

It’s called “we will stop shooting only when we will be dead” and it’s a real addiction :)

Anyway take care, just remember sometimes you need to stop&relax because you can’t afford to be stopped for long times!!

ed linn says:

on September 14, 2009 at 10:34 am

Hey Joe,
great post. best to you and Nigel both.
hang in there boys – DON’T TAKE THE STEPS, KEEP JUMPING!!

Richard Cave says:

on September 15, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Nigel is still a looker, you know when you are getting old, in my yoof I can handhold at 1/30 nowadays its more 1/250. Whilst working in a disused photolab I went misty eyed when I smelt the sweet tones of blix… the youngsters around me thought I was a glue sniffer. They just dont understand… Anyways Joe I am typing this slow for you as I know you dont read so fast now,


Shirley Robb says:

on September 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm

But you’re all good….right?

Nigel says:

on September 21, 2009 at 2:49 am

I guess you could have stayed at home and done nothing. You wouldn’t live any longer, but it sure would feel like it.

Keep up the good work Joe, and look after Nigel!!


Elaine Nawiesnaik says:

on September 25, 2009 at 6:01 am

Yeah, but you’ve lived, Joe, you’ve lived! You’ve crammed more experiences into your life than the average person could ever dream of and isn’t that amazing? When you are too old to do this anymore you will have not a single regret, no matter how your old bones protest!

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