Ok, I lied, I said I was going to bed, but I couldn't resist slipping one more photo in here, and you may fairly say there are only two wicker chairs here, one literal doorbell, and the street address is number "4", but in keeping with the series of "three" going on today... there are three horseshoes here. And depending on which source you consult whether they are facing up or facing down in fact can be interpreted in whichever way you please... as good luck or bad... Joni would have said... I've looked at luck from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it's luck's illusions I recall... actually, I really liked these wicker chairs, and would love to spend an afternoon here drinking a beer with the owner of this place, whoever he or she may be... soaking up whatever kind of luck might be floating in the air...
And before hitting the sack tonight, here is one last addition to the theme of three... three tombs in various degrees of upright or leaning attitudes, whether right of center or left... shades of Pisa... a photo taken on the first day out last summer with the new camera... well, I warned you I was a haunter of graveyards... .
And as I stood admiring the solemn splendor and serenity of these three memorials to souls long parted on their final journey, suddenly a bright flash of lurid green light split the skies... World War Three had just begun with an opening salvo of nuclear bombs over Paris, emitting blinding flashes of obscene green radiance which observers just had time to take in before joining the light and mists and clouds... merging into the dreamworld... where all are one and one is all... .
And while things are happening in sets of three here, 3 skinned cats, 3 views of swinging green doors; here are three pots of hortensias in a reflecting pool, which have nothing to do with anything, and only happened to get tossed in here because there were three of them... sometimes choices in life depend on so little finally... .
The famous song by the group Cream named "White Room" came to mind when I saw these white porcelain walls and fixtures last summer on a stroll through a small village in Britanny, western France. But in fact it was the green swinging doors I liked here, opening either in or out in saloon style depending on the direction one needed to be heading in at a given point in time. These three photos accompany in triptych fashion the three skinned cats just below here... .
The longer I stood and looked the stranger things got here... I started to think that someone must have slipped something into my coffee that morning... .
And after a short period of staring at those previously pristine white walls, light started leaking through the tile joints and colors were oozing out of the woodwork on the doors... sometimes you never know just where things are going to stop once they start down unknown paths into uncharted waters... .
Here we are nearing the end of 2008, over two thousand years after the horrifying torture and mutilation of a human who wanted to spread a message of love was supposed to show all mankind the narrow path to light, peace, and redemption; some 1300 years after another prophet was supposed to show man the road to righteousness; thousands of years after various mystics revealed certain secrets for reaching inner salvation and ascension to spiritual purity; and yet this very day bombs are falling in great numbers on a place called Gaza (where residents can't seem to resist firing rockets at their unwelcome neighbors who evicted them from their parents or grandparents homes some short years ago), and in any number of other myriad places around the globe murder, mayhem, and madness are the norm; financial turmoil is causing further devastation for millions who thought they were safe and sheltered from the vicissitudes of calamity... it would seem that in fact the human race has not come so far at all from our humble beginnings among the other beasts (which we threaten with wanton extinction when they lie between us and the objects of our collective rapacious greed)... we have not come so far, despite occasional glimpses of the sublime in the fields of music, architecture, literature, fine arts, intellectual and scientific pursuits, and so on; in fact, at seven billion and counting fast, we remain mired in the pig-wallow of violence and base behavior which we would expect among starving graveyard rodents and carrion-feeding vultures, but not from the higher order of species we so idolize with our lofty proclamations of human rights above all else, no matter what the cost. When we should be twenty or thirty billion humans on the face of the Earth shall each still have the same value of rights as before, when there may be so little oxygen left in the very air that not one may yet still gasp a breath, will we then be satisfied that human rights above and before all else was the right course to follow? I remember the title of a book which lay on a coffee table in the family home long ago, the title was a question : "How Should We Then Live ?" A very apt question indeed. All of the above thoughts explain why I found this poster so pleasing when I stumbled upon it in the wilds of western France one day last summer. Loosely translated the message along the right side says :
Way down nearly at the very Darwinian origins of this blog I began by making reference to the Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now", which remains high on my list of favorite songs ever. On my way to work today in the Chantilly Forest, I couldn't help spotting this most unfortunate fox by the roadside... yet another victim of our idiot need to rush to rush to rush blindly about, massacring anything that should have the temerity to cross our vindictive motorhead paths. Automobiles are for the birds... maybe it is about time all their manufacturers went bankrupt. I know that is not a kind thing to say, I know I never should, especially if your living depends in some way, shape, or form on the auto industry... but one glimpse of this broken bodied fox from both sides now this afternoon has me secretly hoping that cars will disappear one day soon. Did you ever read D.H. Lawrence's short story called "The Fox"? If not you need to remedy that literary deficiency quickly... What I wouldn't give to bring this little fellow back to life... so he could get back to running free in the woods at night. I know I've seen him or her on some nights driving home late from work... and I always slowed down to a crawl lest he do something unpredictable... .
A life in a day... as opposed to "A Day in the Life", as two earlier postings of this nature were titled below. May have mentioned earlier a quote from the Australian film Breaker Morant... "You should live each day as though it were your last, for one day, you are bound to be right." Even something as simple as heading out on the Saturday before Christmas to take a walk into town to go run a last errand or two, or so I said, can turn into an unexpected adventure full of discovery, if one is open to discovery, opens one's eyes... and if one surreptitiously brings a camera along. I had barely gotten around the first corner before this guy started barking his head off at me. He spends half his life hemmed or hedged in between the fence and the shrubs here in his one foot wide barking alley... .
Heading out for a walk with camera in hand in fact was an early present for me, because I get to do it so rarely, as you can judge from the scarcity or paucity of photos in the below postings. A bit further up the street from the barking hedgedog, an older couple of neighbors had put out their time-tested decorations again this year... they just don't make them like that anymore... gotta love it... .
This next one, although just up the road, and I have been by here hundreds of times if I've been by here once, but I swear I never noticed this blue door losing its paint here until this walk Saturday... jeez, open you eyes, Owen ! .
The town we live in has been around for a few hundred years... some of the street signs seem to be from the early 17th century... .
Just around a corner or two I came across another sight I'd never really looked at before, as most of the year she is hidden by foliage... a lady undressing in the woods. Isn't that what any healthy male human hopes to come across when out for a Saturday afternoon stroll ? Actually, if you are interested, this sculpture is on the grounds of the Chateau of Chantilly... which is well worth visiting if you ever happen to be in this part of the world... .
This sign says it is forbidden to post any signs... now if that is not a contradiction in communication, I'm not sure what would be... Anyway, as I'm sure you knew, I took this photo for the texture, for the decrepitude and disintegration... the downright rot... it could have said almost anything, and I still would have shot the picture. .
Somewhere way down below in the dim distant mists of blog history, I did a short illustrated piece called "Every Dog's Dream". Well, this is the French version... .
Did any of you play the game "Mille Bornes" when you were little, that French road trip game with big playing cards ? We had a set at my grandparent's house, maybe playing that game when I was very young is what started the wheels turning that brought me to France later on... anyway, this here yellow and white (damaged) object is a "borne"... a little the worse for wear. Although I've been down this street uncountable times in the car, I never noticed it until today, on foot... we miss so much by driving around in a rush all the time... .
And walking along towards Chantilly, this nice patch of weathered wall leapt out at me... again scenery I had never really paid attention to until today, on foot, camera in hand... .
Another roadside mirror... Mirror, mirror on the wall, which one is fairest of them all ? .
Driving by all those hundreds of times, I had never looked up to see the old sign painted on the side of this building. It says they do painting work, although judging by the state of the paint on this exterior wood... one has to wonder about their painting skills... .
Just as Jimi Hendrix did a song called "Red House", this one is "Blue House", or perhaps "House of Blues. I've been by this blue gate hundreds of times, but today was the first time I ever saw it open, allowing a glimpse of the house...
Another mirror over a stone wall, this one losing its stripes... .
The other day, in a post titled "A Day In The Life" I shared a photo of a plant of the same breed as this one, and I am still wondering what on Earth it is, that blooms in November with pink flowers with an orange fruit, that stay colorful apparently for weeks on into the winter... if someone knows, please enlighten me... .
Coming down to the river's edge, instead of taking the short direct route into town, I decided to take a long detour and go look more closely at the odd platforms that can be glimpsed from the road, but which after more than ten years living here, I had never taken the time to poke around... and upon closer inspection, they turned out to be a strange trip indeed... people apparently in bygone days would come sit on their platforms to fish... .
Some of them are literaly going to rack and ruin, disintegrating into the water... .
Farther down the fisher's row of wharfs was an ancient sign that gave a clue or two, but which obviously had not been tended to in recent years... the sign says : "Institute of France , No tresspassing by public, access reserved for fishing members"
Another platform, with chairs facing the water... didn't look like anyone had been here in a while...
Continuing in the series of posters in various states of decomposition, this one goes back a ways, early 1990's, shortly after I turned up in France for good after dreaming about living here from afar for many years. Many others have had similar dreams that brought them to France for various reasons... Baby Doc Duvalier, Milan Kundera, Robert Service, George Orwell, Jim Morrison, and Robert Crumb to name a few. I'm not sure what it is about deteriorating posters that attracts me... the ephemeral nature of man ? Nikita was the name of movie directed by Luc Besson which came out in 1990 in which Jean Reno has the charming role of Victor the "Nettoyeur"... the clean-up man who makes embarrassing cadavers disappear with acid in bathtubs... After the success of the movie, the name Nikita started turning up elsewhere... on advertising posters for raunchy telephone services, for example...
It has been too long, one cannot live for months without returning to paintings from Bob REK for inspiration and sustenance. Given that winter starts tonight at midnight, this subtle winter scene seems most appropriate. On the back in heavy black pencil it says, "Owen - Happy Birthday ya old geez..."
Where was this sign ? Bruges, Belgium ? You guessed it... Have seen stories in the press lately where more and more people in the US and UK are abandoning cats and dogs they can no longer afford to feed or care for. Now if that isn't a sad statement about these hard times, I don't know what is. Guess we'll be seeing more signs like this one outside shelters for homeless dogs and cats... Shelter from the storm; where it is literaly raining cats and dogs...
If this phrase had not already been used as the title of a vastly famous song, it might have been appropriate for this photo... these stairs go up and up and up out of sight around the visible top of the hill, they continue on upwards, into the infinite heavens above us... (In fact, these stairs are near the top of the Montagne St Michel, near Brasparts, Brittany, which is between Brest and Morlaix, and not to be confused with the famous Mont St Michel on the English Chanel coast. . . there is a website which shows a photo of the chapel dedicated to St Michel at the top of these stairs which you can see here...) .
Going back in time quite a ways here to the summer of 1986, when, as mentioned long ago in this blog, I spent many a long day out walking in Paris... just looking. Seems like for as long as I can remember I have been looking... looking for something I lost a long time ago, and can't remember what is was or where I lost it... something like a silver ring lost on a muddy carnival ground, trampled into oblivion in another life... but that might turn up again in the reflections off Paris fire company peoples' chrome helmets... and am still looking... all these years later...
I keep thinking back to a magical day spent slowly strolling through the ancient and wildly photogenic city of Bruges, Belgium, this past November. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be something that needed photographing. Some places just have a higher density of magic in the air than others... how do you explain that?
Well, call me a sappy old cuss, you are welcome to if it makes you feel better... this photo is to celebrate the last day of Autumn, as we will soon be getting into Winter. But at least the days will be getting longer again, as of tomorrow the sun will be setting later. And that sounds like a good reason to have a big party to me. Which is exactly what people who some have labeled as "Pagans" were doing for thousands of years before their feasting days got ripped off by a bunch of power-hungry control freaks who twisted the original reason for having a celebration into another ceremony altogether, based, whether one cares to admit it or not, on the horrible public torture and mutilation of one of their own kind. Personally, I think it may well be time to find a kinder, gentler story to tell our children, I'm getting a little tired of that one. Violent stories beget violent stories, and there is way too much violence afoot in the world these days. So, here is my solution : stare at these lovely Autumn leaves (see the hearts?) hiding a brick wall for a few hours while meditating on all that is good in this world... and leave your pistols, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and rocket propelled grenade launchers at home the next time you go out...
Humans leave traces of their passage on walls, and have been doing so in various forms for tens of thousands of years. I came across this barren stretch of brick wall in a small city in northern France very recently where posters had been slathered on over each other in layers until one day someone came along and pulled the whole lot off... (or maybe it was the flood waters)... leaving only bits of colored paper behind... few artists could have done better intentionally.
The news from the outside world is getting stranger by the day. Seems like alot of what has been built up over the years was nothing more than a flimsy house of cards, ready to come tumbling down. Madness in the air, an entire country stricken by cholera, another by gang rapes, another by subprimes, another by military power, another by aliens from other worlds, and so on and so forth. In the meanwhile, back at the ranch, strange things have been happening here too... I think my camera has been growing legs at night and getting out of the house running around with stray cats and other raunchy company. I've been finding odd images on the memory card and as mentioned below, have no idea how they're getting there. Like this one... .
You may fairly say this photo of Carlos Santana is not exactly in focus, but then again some well known photographers have often shot slightly out of focus intentionally. My only excuse is that I was shooting on the run trying to get one last shot before Carlos got back on the band's bus to go back to the hotel after the sound check. (see earlier posts for more details) But what I really liked was how he smiled and opened his hand in greeting, he was generously acknowleding the homage this unknown photographer, just another fan, was paying him. He could have just as easily looked away or turned his back, but no, he smiled and waved, casting his good vibrations at the camera... Thank You Carlos for everything ! .
And if some of the music coming out of his guitar could be transformed into pure light, maybe, just maybe it might look something like this... .
Photography is not an easy undertaking. To arrive at any sort of level where it becomes an art form requires years of apprenticeship to the sorcerers that have gone before, a healthy dose of pure inspiration, a dash of clear vision, a smattering of "damn the torpedoes", and a certain amount of something akin to faith; faith in whatever you may hold sacred. I am so far from reaching even the first lowly stair on the high pyramid that leads to the inner temple that I sometimes wake at night trembling and thinking my life will be over before I even get to the second stair of the seven hundred and seventy six remaining. But I go back to sleep thinking, I will not stop trying, no matter what may slow me... no matter what forms of rust may afflict me... I will keep crawling onward through the fog... . Let me just say, I labored over this photo for many long tries before I finally found an exposure that worked. The light was atrocious, the weather freezing and spitting drizzle on me, and people were waiting for me to hurry up and come along... not propitious conditions... but I persevered, for whatever it may be worth... what did Neil Young say ? Rust Never Sleeps ? .
Trying to find the perfect image may be like the quest for the Holy Grail... it may be like the golden rings always just out of reach from the carousel rider... but sometimes you just have to follow your heart... I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I can tell you my heart was thumping away in my ribcage as I tried not to breathe, so as to hold perfectly still for a moment to catch this ethereal, dreamy, smoky vision and press the shutter release ever so gently... .
Last night I dreamed I was standing in water up to my knees at the edge of the ocean, when this enormous shark swam by with gaping jaws... I started trying to shout, "Shark ! Shark !" but the sound didn't come out and none of the swimmers farther out could hear me. I woke up before anything untoward happened. But those wide open jaws with sharp teeth visible got me thinking about this photo taken last summer... this is one of the ferocious wildcats that live in this region of northern France... .
Two books of Owen's Photos are now available and can be seen in their entirety by clicking on the links that are in this post about them. Enjoy ! If you would like to order one, please drop me an e-mail to owenmart333 at gmail dot com
Owen's Photos Now For Sale on ImageKind
Image Kind Gallery
If you see a photo in this blog which you would like to have on a wall at home, just let me know and I will be happy to upload it to the ImageKind site where it can be purchased at the link above.
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A Small Show in Paris
Do Drop By : December 2011, Jan 2012, Click photo for info
Unless credited otherwise, all photos and text in this blog are original work protected by international intellectual property and copyright laws. Please ask for permission if you wish to use something.
Why ? Answer : Why not ? Originally from a foreign country, now French and living in France for the past 20 years. Am still adapting to culture shock. Frequently go out scouring the countryside, camera in hand, looking for my dream house, for my dreamtime, for my dreams.
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