27 July 2009

Descent (Yellow White Brown and Black)

West 4th Street, where you can sometimes get cell phone reception on the downtown bound F/C trains...while I was waiting here at the gate, a man ascended behind me and grabbed my bag screaming "YOU DON'T STAND HERE!!!!"...Clearly I was. AS IF I was posted there - oblivious and still - in the middle of a wave of rush hour salmon trying to go upstream, just standing there like a yold, texting some sweet young thing my ETA or what color underwear I was wearing.

Diamonds / Emeralds

How Emerald was holding her hand while laying down in the park, and the rock that will go on it should someone pick up what she's puttin' down...I highly recommend you do.

26 July 2009

Langosta : For Pablo Antonio Borja

On the day that I was invited to replace my good friend's no-show little sister at dinner at one of the most renowned French restaurants in New York City (tribeca, serious waiters pushing in chairs, wall paper borrowed from Henry the XIII's chateau, I don't know...) I received an email from my Aunt in Cali sending me her love and reaching out as best she could from the instability of her relatively in-shambles piecemeal of a life that has been, as such, since she was about 19. She knew I was in New York studying. That phrase sounds like a luxury. It is. I know that even though I'm $__,000 in debt, that whatever I have on a daily basis is more than she has on a daily basis. I sent her money a year or so ago, and sent Pablo clothes from Oakland once, but this year, I literally, literally, literally, had nothing to send her. The shout-out from Cali on this day remains with me still because she never asked for money but via our Swiss friend Fabi living in Colombia now, I knew the details of the situation, and they were dire. She attached a photo of Pablo, now 7, taken with a run of the mill digi cam against a typically colorful but devolving piece of architecture somewhere outside of Cali. When I left Cali in 2006 Pablo still carried around some baby weight...he was / always will be / is a beautiful boy, something divine, diviner than the rest of the Borjas. He still had cheeks, he had energy, he looked like a happy baby boy...what do we know at 3 or 4? At the time I thought that he needed to be put into a school like Juilliard IMMEDIATELY, or yes, taken to Cuba with his Mom and Father's family and enroll him in a school for the arts...he was that passionate, mad, natural, talented, special. I even thought that a modeling agency would scoop him up (The Gap and places of that ilk love a tan baby with refined features and light eyes...), but that never went anywhere either...So nothing ever changed, then. It is like he is about to fulfill my Father's prophecy slash fear that at 13 he turns wild and turns his back on being a good kid and a good son as much as he knows how to be in response to ...his good mom...finally sick of the poverty and disorganization of his life that was always kind of on the road, kind of in a house, kind of stabile, kind of manic, kind of tragic, kind of...In the photo she attached he is skinny, holding a flea-infested dog, smiling through grime and busted tennis shoes. For the first time I saw Pablito not as my baby cousin but as a child from a part of the world where children are painfully skinny and people take photos of them because they are skinny and slightly grimy. I am not saying that he isn't fed or that he doesn't shower or that right now perhaps they aren't ok, living with friends in Santa Marta, but that this photo erred a little too much on the side of unrecognizable...I stared at the photo and felt like a piece of shit. If I learned anything in Colombia it was that there was no I, no individual in the house. It was us.

That night I sat at Cafe Bulud / Bouley (?) (grateful...thank you Ms. Garvey! sincerely...!), after having ordered the lobster because I had never had lobster before and I've heard from....well, the collective conscience (excluding Jews) that the shit is fine, tasty, juicy...wealthy, rare, top of the pops! I forced most of it down having a similar reaction to the time I tried oysters...(thank you Ms. Golden!--GIANT oysters) and attempted to finish it out of politeness...I could not. Felt terrible. We know why. The indecency of me sitting there...while the picture of Pablo sits on my plate.

Wealthy, Bronzed, Beautiful Women...(how they shine)

And they were all in one room. It was almost too much color for ME...AL-Most...What was beautiful about the women was their physical singularity. Granted, the veils and the language, the food and the body language united them for perfunctory purposes, but their faces liberated them a bit and allowed them to be unique beings in the presence of each other. For a culture / religion as uniform as Pakistani-Muslims, this strikes me as a secrete or inadvertent genetic resistance...In a sea of veils, how can I shine? Some looked like boriquas, some looked Indian, some looked Persian, some looked Siberian, ONE looked like she belonged on the cover of a book of fairy tales from 1234 AD...plump beige cheeks with a timeless hair quaffe, berry lips and cucumber green eyes. Ridiculous. She gave me face for a few seconds because she knew that in that sea of veils, she was...This was not that woman, nor are there veils visible here...I'm keeping the cucumber eyes to myself until further notice.

Last Photo (Standing) / Jelly Legs

I still don't understand how a woman who is paralyzed from the waist down can stand up...She explained it to me...it has to do with the locking of ones' legs...how she feels that they are locked I don't know...isn't it a question of the brain sending messages to the various extremities? Regardless, it feels like to stand up, one must unlock everything...I'm trying this right now.

18 July 2009

Space Prince / El Barranquillero (All In the Pretty Past)

A most beautiful thing floated into San Francisco last spring...but I think that was it. Me? Who delves into the meat? Was blinded?! So much pink and sun and brown and red and beating beating beating how did that happen? He is innocent. Is a Pope Innocent. Is a Clueless Prince. Here, he looks unamused/disgusted/nervous...in general, he looks insecure, sweet, happy...In retrospect, who wouldn't want the affection I am wont to give? In retrospect, have you SEEN the women in Spain, Ibiza, Germany?...where he moves through life wondering why his loves don't last...In retrospect, born three days apart in the same year, we are both beating hearts with roots in the same country... but he has wings and I have heavy feet...he acknowledges his flights of fancy and considers them real...dreams / life are the same for him...!!! He does not consider that he must eventually wake up!!! I dance heavily, firmly planted to where I am because rent is due...because I want to make real things really happen, and really kiss real faces, not because I am not an escapist by nature / in spirit, whatever...This tall, fancy prince loves me, he does, but he mistook my letters for just more saharaisms...you know the type...I forgive him because I was always only ONE way with him, from the minute I saw him that Thursday dangling about in our living room...So nothing could grow...would never have...it just slapped me in the face and barreled its way forward, towards nothing...I understand...In retrospect, I needed Beni to come through my solar system...to stand in as a representation of something akin to a conch, or an amphitheatre, a back board...I needed to see myself act like this: affected / blind / off kilter / faithful---not in him or me but in IT...that the world sometimes delivers...sometimes...it's a beautiful thing...to realize that my sensors can and will be on...when the next thief is delivered...cash on delivery...

Molly... (La Petite / The Monkey)

Molly was my father's first long term 'girlfriend' after Madukes moved out of our apartment at 1314 Fulton Street in San Francisco...Perhaps because she was so young, and artistic, and wild and insane and nurturing and exposed...did I love her so much. She actually was my big sister. Hmm. She was a perfect 5 foot 100 lb specimen. By perfect I mean tortured, alcoholic, detrimentally honest, verbose. Yes - perfect. I used to paint tennis shoes and faces on t-shirts with her. She had that box of 100+ Pentel colored markers. She ate Hawaiian bread mostly and was a bartender in Union Square, before the commercial bullshit took over. She wore tight Levis and leather jackets. Her hair was a cascade of dirty blonde waves. She cackled. She cut it up. She had transparent, knobby hands and fingers; funny fingernails...She offered me sips of Moosehead...She wore rings on her thumbs...One painfully memorable New Year's Eve wherein my Father steamrolled over to her house late at night, she put me to bed, sobering up as necessary in the presence of a 10 year old...And this winter, while visiting Pop in England, he recounted a beautiful story that took place that one summer he decided to bail out on life over to Barcelona/Morocco in the vain pursuit of a very vain woman...La Petite Molly emerges from that story as a champion...a lioness...a confident marvel of a now grown woman who was moved to leave one continent for another at the drop of a hat to essentially say just three things...after all, delivering the message in person...planting your feet in front of someone...on a train...bound for Paris...that trip propelled her into the stuff of novels!....maybe it marked the end, or the beginning...it's all the same sometimes...Anyway, as their relationship dissolved, so did ours. I wrote her 15 years later from college, maybe my junior year...2002? She had moved to North Carolina and was trying to progress from the bar to the kitchen. I never heard from her.

Her last name is Fitzgibbon...The Monkey.

Tates / Tudor / The Tudors c.1997

Ack! Two Young Taters, 1997.

Tater is, without NO doubt, a better friend than me. Also: person. She is cleaner, a better cook, a better instruction follower, a better writer, more domestic, a better learner, more responsible, smarter, more decent, more organized, more respectful, more logical and level-headed, and more trust-worthy...than me. We shared one identity between the two of us for about 10 years somewhere in there...this scared people. They didn't know how to sit back and appreciate, or get in between, or even communicate with or around us...so it goes...There is nothing she doesn't know about me. I would sometimes feel like that was too much...and when I felt like this, like I was 'sharing' too much (unpressed) I would recoil in a violent, resentful way that I thought was subtle...this happened every 8 or 9 months...and she would sense it. and we would fight. and i would never know what the actual issue was. and she would be patient. and then pack me a sandwich for work like i was her fucking baby! annnnnnnnnnnd she calls them like she sees them...in truth she is the keeper of everything tragic gross embarassing ugly vulnerable painful that has transpired in my life. no story she doesn't know or even moment or a feeling that maybe lasted 24 hours, nothing that she doesn't remember...there is nothing she doesn't know about me. or you, for that matter...she could probably write my story for me...in fact, maybe she already has..we spent most of jr. high and high school on the telephone with each other, making fun of people, creating and nurturing our own language, weeding out assholes and always coming back to our party of two, getting good grades, loving our mothers, trying to learn how to grow, and raiding 99 cent stores along desolate stretches of the central valley...i will never be homeless as long as this motherfucking human bean is alive. whoever she marries should expect a very old borja to move in if i have not found something as worthy and wonderful as her.

for the record, she has a beautiful backside...just one of her many assets...the most important of course being her ability to sustain love for her best friend, an often bipolar stretch of desert never completely at rest...right, there's another one..she is also more humble, and i talk about myself all the time.

Baby Girl

I met Sarah C Garelle when she was 7. I was 7, too. She was a beast. Slamming doors. Like oil / water with her father. Tears. Screams. Drama. Competitive. Intelligent. Passionate. Envious. Peaches and Cream. In 4th grade she played Juliet in the Shakespeare play...she wore a glorious white dress with gold trim...her hair was long and copper and she delivered her lines with an expertise incongruous with her age...she never flubbed her lines. She was not shy. She shone. She developed a small crush on the kid who played Romeo...(obviously)...but unfortunately, life did not imitate art and while she read into her lines, he was a lame 10 year old (sorry) who said the words 'love' and 'juliet' like he was saying cup, chair, or bus...d-r-a-b...

Anyway---there is more to say about Sarah, endless endless anecdotes. But I have to skip the years 1990-2008 to just say that baby girl delivered a baby boy this week...in the water, without meds..."i deserve a medal, i think...." she says...yes baby girl, you and 52% of the population from the beginning of time until the end of the universe! But this is how us only children think...we. are. special...and we consider ourselves only children even though we spent every summer and every day and many years in the same bed and room and house and soccer field and pool and car and bathroom and sleeping bag...under the stars on a deck in modesto, california, when it was too hot to sleep inside...we tick like sisters, though...no nuance missed no reference unchecked no memory not shared...right now our lives are as different as...hmm, as she and i...only now am i realizing it might have been a much lonelier childhood without her...we gave each other license to be young, honest, off-the-cuff, lewd, mean, loving. highs and lows, but mostly joy, like motherhood.

mather graham steele, b. july 14th 2009.

Now Lemme Take A Trip Down Memory Lane (RIP Henry Allingham)

...because nothing is permanent...especially not the summers in san fernando, cali... ESPECIALLY especially not a family's happiness especially not a nucleus especially not a party that you wish would last and last and last forever especially not the thrill of the chase or the possibility of something yet-to-be-attained...none of that lasts...again i marvel at the proof of time and the photo and the testament and in time it all feels heavier...for those of you who don't feel the gravity of moments while they're happening, but anyway... mostly i pick this photo because of how pop is standing exactly like his pop, from the tilt of his head to the bend and sit in his right leg and hip...copy cats, copy cats, we're all copy copy cats...

12 July 2009

Wiggy Woman (2 of 2)

Mission Street, San Pancho...I don't remember what Miss Thing and I discussed at this bus stop...I think this was 2005...Of all the people I've passed on foot on Mission Street day after day after month after year, I only saw Wiggy Woman one time... Sometimes I let people pass me by or willingly pass them by, but most of the time I hate myself for a few minutes after the fact...Sometimes it's a lazy thing, sometimes I'm on the goddamn phone, or am carrying too many bags, of fucking dance clothes with shoes hanging off the bag straps...I hear photographers travel light, aside from the camera(s)...(Frank Fournier has worn the same pragmatic outfit since 1975, guaranteed...)...I'm tired of being a bag lady... (in the proverbial sense, too)...I wanna be weightless in the streets again and am trying to negotiate that with this altered (improved?) self that has just emerged from the ICP...Did nothing change? Is it possible I'm more confused? Hmm. Heady...Anyway, what this release means is that I've re-realized there are still faces for the taking out there! There's this entire uneaten Apple I'm about to worm through...and sometimes that's the thing with patience + photography...the biggest commitment one could make really...knowing that the return isn't tomorrow PER SE, it's at the very end, the culmination, the group, the context, you --- on a continuum...but you keep going back...and that's refreshing / exciting / motivating...tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...like Mikey writes...for everyone there's that one thing that keeps them comin' on back / just one thing keeps me comin' on back / on back...

or at least, there really should be...else the whole shit just passes you by.

07 July 2009

For Terry Malloy...

...on the waterfront, on my way to Staten Island.

El Cocinero / El Marinero / El Escritor / El Juez

Baby Boy on the Boat! We didn't really see what we were riding over...we kind of just talked the whole way and didn't realize we had reached Staten Island to Manhattan and back...same when we came to the end of college...or the end of our phone calls...or our hang outs and dinner...too fast so quick...and I imagine, the end...it will have been a succession of laughs and conversation and tragedies but mostly love...so it goes with JJ


Sunshine. May she live long and prosper. She will. Bryant Park one day in June...