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Archive for November, 2009

New York Frame of Mind…..

Nov 6

In News at 10:57am

Yankees won. Cool. I’ve been a Yankee fan before I even knew anything about NY. We lived in Cleveland when I was a kid, and my dad would only bring me to the ballpark when those damn Yankees were playing. He brought me down to the third base seats and Casey Stengel was standing in the coaches box. My dad yelled, “Hey Case!” Stengel was standing there, thumbs hooked in his belt, and gave me a wink and a quick wave. Been a Yankee fan ever since, though, like Yogi, I did have a hard time liking anybody in pinstripes back when The Boss was in full cry.

Corny, right? But hey, it was the 50′s. In Cleveland.

Big sports stuff in NY last weekend. The Iggles handed the Giants their heads and other parts of their anatomy, and the NYC Marathon was won for the first time in a long time by somebody whose address isn’t the Rift Valley. I spent 3 weeks in this astonishingly beautiful place for the National Geographic when I was doing a story for them on the limits of the human body. (Though now that Usain Bolt is running, we should re-define those limits. That guy’s amazing.)

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The sheer beauty of these athletes was breathtaking. While running, their upper bodies remained virtually motionless, while their legs, seemingly unattached and thus unburdened by the weight of a torso, would pinwheel endlessly through the countryside. Mesmerizing.

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I lived at one of the camps up there for a bit, and would get up for pre-dawn workouts with literally dozens and dozens of runners. It would be so dark in this tiny Kenyan village, virtually bereft of electricity, with only the pale pre-glow sky to see by, that the runners would simply be moving, stretching ghosts, barely discernible.

sunrisestretch

I stood out there with them in the clutter of the street, watching them get ready, using broken walls and gates to push and pull against, warming their muscles in the chill, windmilling their arms amidst the standing pools of water, and the occasional gaggle of scurrying chickens. Naturally, I was out of place, being the only white guy, and the only one out there who had any body fat. So I would attempt conversation, as one does when one is the lone photog in an alien environment, desperately trying to fit in, make a bridge, seek even the remotest shred of acceptance.

They were invariably polite and congenial. I remember one conversation that went roughly like this.

“Hi, yeah, I’m shooting this story, runners are part of it. Do you run professionally? Do you compete?”

“Oh, yes, I do.”

“Great. Do you compete just in Kenya, or do you run in international events?”

“Oh, yes, I run internationally.”

“Cool. What’s your event?”

“Oh, I run the half marathon mostly.”

“Great, that’s really great. Do you do okay with that? Is it a good event for you?’

“Yes, not too bad. I set the world record for the half marathon last year in Amsterdam.”

“Oh, yeah, well that’s really good, you know, uh, great. Don’t mind me, I’m just, you know, a complete ass, you know, uh, yeah. Like, uh, you see that cow turd over there in the street? Yeah, well, that’s my cousin….”

In the shadows of this downtrodden village in Kenya, amidst the garbage, the mud and the wandering cows, there were probably about 4 or 5 world record holders at various distances. What a wonderful and surprising world.

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You know, I have an amazing wife. She is so wonderfully patient, sweet and kind. She weathered the storm this week of one of those modern rituals of maintenance….the dreaded colonoscopy. Hey, it’s a good thing…..afterwards.

Of course I complained. Understandable, right? I wanted to cancel, but I got the eyebrow. The word “reschedule” was barely out of my mouth when Annie’s left eyebrow hit her hairline with the speed of a bottle rocket.

So I went and got all the stuff. Then of course, I misread the directions. Oops! According to this protocol, at certain times, I was supposed to take 2 Gas-x pills, and then 4 of the Dulcosomething or others. (Could they give these things more attractive names?)

Anyway, I got it transposed, and I took 4 Gas-x pills, which is the limit of what you are supposed to ingest in an entire 24 hour period. Seeing as I’m a bit of a dirigible anyway, Annie got very concerned. Actually, she rolled her eyes first, then got concerned.

She insisted on calling the pharmacist, even though I told her it would be okay. I didn’t make the call easier for her by inflating my cheeks and popping my eyes like a giant blowfish every time she looked over at me. She was doing the right thing of course, just being safe. It would be embarrassing to have a death certificate that read, “Overdose of Gas-x.”

I was halfway surprised the pharmacist didn’t tell her to immediately drop the phone and grab a clothesline and tie it to my ankle, lest I bumble out the porch door like an out of control Macy’s Thanksgiving Day float. If I had, she woulda needed to call the police, and before you know it, they would’ve been diverting valuable resources like choppers and stuff to search for me.

“Chopper One, I got him. He just cleared the power lines up here on I-84. He’s gaining altitude. And I think he’s gotten a little bigger. There’s some wind up here (ouch!) and he may be headed for the approach patterns at LaGuardia. Request instructions.”

Oh well, I made it through. Got wheeled into the exam room, half blotto, and evidently the crew had been informed of my pressurized mistake, cause they were all wearing flak jackets, just in case.

More tk….

This Just In…..

Nov 4

In Books, Stories, Thoughts at 10:44am

Hot Shoe Diaries was the number one reader’s pick for the arts and photography category on Amazon for 2009.

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Pretty cool. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from folks who really enjoyed the book and I thank everyone for the kind words that have been sent my way. Very appreciative of the support, and thanks for letting Amazon know about it!

It’s been an interesting week.  There was the good news about the book, and then Lynn, my studio manager for 18 years, was going back and forth with a major multi-national who had a check for us, but had the wrong address listed. It batted around the GPO in NYC for a bit, and was returned, so thankfully, they called and got it all adjusted properly and re-sent it.  (As far as Lynn’s longevity with me is concerned, rest assured I am extremely appreciative. I just called Rome, and tried to put her name on the list for beatification as a saint. They asked, well, has she performed any miracles? I said, “Are you kidding me? We’re still in business!” The line went dead. Maybe I shoulda emailed?)

We anxiously awaited the check. This could be it! What a great week! First the Amazon rating, and now, a check! The one that puts us over the top! No more worries! Livin’ large. Next trip to LA, book me the Walter Iooss memorial suite at  Shutters on the Beach!

It showed up, and frankly, it was disappointing.

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Eighty two cents? Jeez. Undaunted, I went into a convenience store  and walked up to the very nice lady at the counter and asked if there was anything in the store I could buy for .82 cents.

She looked at me hard, and didn’t even have to say, “Are ya stupid, or just plain crazy?”

I assured her I was not, and that I knew it was a little weird, but my budget limit was eighty two cents.

She tried to be helpful, but was having a hard time thinking of stuff. I suggested a box of Tic Tacs but no way. Tic Tacs are like, around $1.55 most places, except Kennedy Airport, where they are $17.26. The little boxes generally have 36 individual tic tacs, which makes them about 4.3 cents per, so I could have converted my check into 19 of those minty little guys, but they don’t sell them individually.

Newspaper? Not even close. Refrigerator magnet?  I got the look again. I got outta the store, lest I discovered hassling the clerk early in the morning might lead me to discover eighty two cents could possibly purchase a big noise and a used shotgun shell.

But hey, things are okay. I just got notification from Delta that I’m in the million miler club. Million miles, just on Delta. Sheesh. Evidence, perhaps, of a life gone wrong? Dunno. But it worked out this morning. On a non-refundable coach class ticket, I got an upgrade to first! Way cool. I was thinking on it, you know, anticipating the delights of the first class cabin. Eggs Benedict? A Mimosa? Pigs in a blanket? A foot rub? An exclusive first ever in the air viewing of “This Is It”?

Not quite.

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Breakfast. Oh, well. More tk….