This Ain't Pretty

Trash collecting at Grand Canal Gate 1...

The Grand Canal runs between 7th Street and 7th Avenue south of Camelback Road and just north of Campbell Avenue and has served as the water source since 1878 for the historic central Phoenix neighborhood I live in. It is the granddaddy of nine canals that serve the Valley of the Sun and a key component of the Salt River Project. All along the canal systems are walkways, bike paths and routes that even if unpaved or not formally constructed serve as a route for getting enjoyment and exercise on foot or bicycle. This is trash and associated scum tossed into the canal that is collecting at Gate 1 where it is held until collected to keep from clogging the entire water system.


Palm Fronds Splaying

Slightly shielding solar sheen...

Sun beaming through the palm royal
Fashioning a tinctured silhouette,
A cast of blues and greens and amber
Painting the sailcloth sky.


The Wonder and Advantage

Of being that man of a certain age...

Wherein I openly reflect out loud not caring what others may think.

Here I am at that point in life where it is too obvious to ignore that I've become "a man of a certain age." Fortunately it doesn't concern me much since it only jars me into recognition for rare brief periods such as the past few weeks where for the first time in five years I've had some minor physical problems. Although the anatomical disruption is still not completely resolved for the most part it has already passed. Although not definitively diagnosed it's fairly certain that it is the variety that comes with approaching the sixth decade of living and nothing serious or long term. My sense is that due to taking generally pretty good care of myself my entire life things will occur that can be coped with. It's a simple welcome to advancing in life when body parts occasionally annoyingly twist mildly while wonderfully most mental stress and worries uncurl into a lack of concern over them.

Somehow I seem to have escaped a lot of the psychological and mental matters that plague a lot of boomers hitting this mark in life. Frankly I think a lot of those are a result of decisions people consciously and fully made among our panoply of choices and some of them have brought consequences. My hope is younger people observe this and avoid the pitfalls and choose the better options among those of us still around. One great advantage of arriving at this point relatively intact is not really caring too much what others think. A lot of things I once worried about in the social realm no longer cross my mind and I have a definite comfort with myself that didn't arrive until over a decade or so ago. There is also the wonder of wisdom and the sense of being at certain places before and knowing how to deal with them.

This photograph of a wizened tree stump among broken rocks and boulders of ages surrounded by wild flowers reminds me of how grand aging can be. It is not hollow but still full of space to be filled with all sorts of knowledge, emotion and enlightenment. It symbolizes being surrounded by both the known friends who are solid as rocks, as well as the beauty of new blooms of young people and ideas among dead thistles that will revive in season to keep the years full as they go by.

Crossroads of the West

Get ready to quick draw your stereotypes out...


Days Are Not Lost

Merely notebooks postponed...

There are days that arrive
Unannounced and unexpected
When the spirit of being alive
Is for some reason rejected

Starting with the reptilian brain
Force motion enacted to kick start
Synapses that fire only to drain
Requiring a switch to soul and heart

Then visualize the ground
Where those cells
That seemingly drowned
As thoughts in wells...

Later to be drawn from
and collected.


Eclipsing The Arizona Sun

Reverberating off the oasis reflecting pool...

In the courtyard is a two level pond with a fountain
Flowing water down from an upper to lower pool
It ripples refreshing water reverberating in the sun.
Stand on the edge reflecting
Shielding my eyes from the solar beams
In the respite I eclipse the sun and cool.


Born Again

Tree in seasonal transition...

Fall encourages leaves to die for the winter 
While spring emboldens them 
To live again for the summer


How With No Fixed Focus

I zoomed in on my own forms of photo art...

In the past five years my creative endeavors have taken off in ways I never imagined at first. The teaching for me has been to start something that at first I may have no clear idea what I want to do but have one or two themes or ideas. With a minimal of equipment and as many free programs available now on the internet anyone can be a creator of content and take their ideas in new directions. It is a matter of what mode of expression intrigues you and how you want to create what is your own. You will find your own style and swath your own groove by using what thoughts or images in your head fire off your imagination. In my case I'm discovering that I have multiple currents running through me molding into an artistry of my own.

It has taken me quite awhile to stretch and play around in ways I see others don't and it was a result of some rather simple things. What I read and saw around me that was supposed to be the standard for good form in writing, videos or photography seemed technically proficient but fatigued to me. How many ways can you write about social problems, economics and politics without repeating yourself? I took a fiction creative writing class where I found people learning to mock stories that have been written before. What is the point in that? With video editing I learned from a good teacher but through my own inertia didn't stretch myself the way she has and one day I will pick that up again. The electrical impulse that really singed my mind is most photography I see is dry digital reproduction that follows the rules and really how many ways can you photograph the Grand Canyon? For some reason photography struck my visionary synapses as something I wanted to remake for myself.

The availability of a good camera on my smartphone allows me to easily take photos without lugging a separate camera around and suits my sense of minimalism twofold. I don't like to carry a lot of stuff around no matter where I go and I'm not enamored of complex equipment in anything. It also enables me to shoot a photo quickly and easily without much fuss or attention from others. I discovered a respected free photo editing program and learned the basics. It didn't take long to get bored with editing pictures that might earn "oohs" and "ahs" but looked like everything else in photo streams.

With no fixed focus in my lens I quit making pictures and started creating photo art. I started playing with a few features on my Android phone camera adding a few apps with the idea that a good photograph still must originate "in the camera" with solid composition. I upload each shot right after I take it over the air and when I get home save them to an external drive and then in current parlance process it. I tend to start with an image and a theme and usually end up with something I hadn't quite envisioned but somehow knew the navigational path. Along my way I have uncovered that I am able to integrate two currents that I've always worked with, the desert and American southwestern colors using processing techniques that bring them together into art that is recognizable as my own creations.


Arizona Centennial

Casa Grande Ruins...

Long before Western Civilization arrived there were the Hohokam people. Centuries later on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1912 Arizona achieved statehood in the United States of America.


When Gray Is Gray

Not black and white or color either...

These past few months I've been struggling with some natural passages of life that a normal healthy person ought to go through. The wonderful thing about living is the longer you are here you recognize patterns of life and are able to recognize them. Sometimes dealing with them is another matter.

The tools for repairing the soul are within me and being a generally optimistic and self-reliant person I usually have no problem implementing them. At other times it's a matter of putting one foot in front of the other knowing that as surely as the clouds came in they will also eventually break and the sun will burst forth. These past few weeks my mood has been cloudy without even hint of cleansing rain while simultaneously very creatively productive for me. The creativity actually has been a result of my mood since creating colorful images seemed to be the only gleaming spots in dull days. While I'm in these period I tend to photograph my personal favorite classic iconic images in black and white or muted tones and then edit them to reflect my mood as I emerge into the natural luminescent light again.


Fear Based Politics

Where are the leaders?...

Demagogues in the US are unwittingly leading us to revolution.

Americans are looking for leaders and finding only people with over-sized egos implementing political strategies to win popularity contests. We've been through five years now of the Great Recession that never really ended and appears to be resurfacing in a Double Dip. Many people are recognizing these terms are euphemisms and if we have not been in another Great Depression similar to the nineteen-thirties then we are headed for one. More than likely we have already begun a "Depression within a Depression" replicating 1936-1937. The terms really do not matter since the conditions are the same and storm clouds are gathering that portend something unheard of a decade ago and that is revolution. The term itself invokes fear but thinking about it, how much worse could that fear be than the fear based autocrats and technocrats that run our country now?

We are not only in an economic crackup of historic proportions but a social and political one as well that occurs in cycles every 60-80 years and every 300-500 years. In the long view of history we will be seen as one of the societies that went through both simultaneously. The times we live in are truly epic and not in the trite sense of the word nor of the garden variety cycles of history that repeat themselves in oft-quoted Santayana admonishment. A polymath who sees underlying problems with resolutions to be implemented in a well thought out way does well to understand that is not possible in epochs of radical change. We are on a road to some sort of revolution and sensibly organizing something such as a Second Constitutional Convention is likely only in aftermath. The deconstruction caused by a technological, economic, political and social disruption must come first.

When that occurs no prognosticator knows, only that surely it is coming and the general period of time but not the day and hour. In 2012 it seems the time is quickly drawing nearer. The average person regardless of their social intelligence senses these things and feels the winds blowing in sea change. What more pragmatically is there to know really? There are two ways to be led in times such as this: with inspiration and hope or with despair and fear.

Our current politicians are operating in the second mode, fear-mongering and blowing dog whistles to rile up all kinds of fears to stir people up and move them to their campaign and raise their donations. Perhaps the Democrats have leaders somewhere hidden in their lot but we don't know since they are not having a primary and not proffering any up since their nominee is a foregone conclusion. Their representative is not a leader and falls short in categories too numerous to mention that reveal themselves daily. Whether he is a likable or decent person to the beholder is irrelevant but the low caliber of the work he is performing is.

We find ourselves in an election season with a population that at a minimum is uneasy and unsure of what is happening in our country, generally burned out from this lengthy so-called Recovery that wasn't, genuinely concerned about the future short and long term. What do we get in return from the political class? A parade of clowns, trapeze artists, show ponies not fit for even a third rate circus all pandering to the lowest element and basest of emotions. Most people are tired of hearing about both the social progressive and social conservative agenda. They want to live their lives with some real hope and belief that things will one day get better. We may be in a bad spot that will take a long time to get out of but they want a leader who says "Yes we can rise above and work together" and not "my opponent is a jerk out to screw you." It's really that simple.

How this election season plays out in each act no one can predict but I'm willing to bet that the forces are already moving the average person to turn all the crazy negativity off. They will stop being complacent, halting the train of the loud mouth social progressives and social conservatives that are shouting down and drowning them out. It is reminiscent to me of Nixon's "Silent Majority" who did go out and vote for him because they wanted the merry-go-round to stop and they were tired and weary. Right, wrong, good, bad or indifferent he represented that to them. Will there be anyone to rise out of the Republican primary ashes to capture that sense? It's hard to see it but we will have to see.

My sense of it at this moment in time is the leaders are not there or are not willing to step forward and in some sense I can see why they wouldn't. There is no palatable way that much of the voting public can accept at this time the difficult and hard sacrifices that must be made to turn our economy around and our politics and society to some semblance of what America is supposed to be about. My prediction is that the current Administration will continue to make alienating bubble headed decisions that turn off even his own base and in return the Republicans nominate someone so far out in right field that the average American won't go for them. If they decide to vote who it will be for is going to be a difficult choice and my suspicion is whoever wins it will be by some default.

Our largest concern really isn't the crazy antics of the candidates themselves but the crazy billionaires crafting plans behind the scenes. They are the ones reigning over the concealed tyranny we are subjected to. To my way of thinking having two candidates that are not palatable to the majority of the country is probably a good thing in a seemingly bad way. It forces the average person to get active with their anger and strong arm the hands of the political and bureaucratic classes by submitting them to the will of the people rather than the other way around. The purpose is the neutering of the lobbying and billionaire money behind them and in the aftermath force that Second Constitutional Congress. Sounds like revolution? Yes it does, it's the real hard work, very doable and not as scary and violent as it sounds.



Arizona Blossoms

Faux spring arrives early in the urban desert...

In Phoenix the trees start to turn brown in November and generally do not drop off the trees until a cold snap that arrives with cold wind to blow them off and rain bringing them to the ground. In late January depending on the weather the buds will grow and if there is a warm spell will come to full blossom. Very often the flowers do not last long since cooler weather will arrive again as it is next week. Then the trees will rebud and blossom again for a real spring.