Walking Home

So, what do you do in your little Canadian town?

I ask this staring straight ahead and not at her, not at her where I would see lips that rest playfully with a smile on either side, and not at her where I would be greeted by hazel eyes starring back into mine with a gaze that is simultaneously confusing and comforting. No, not at her when I ask this question but at the brown shingled rooftop in front of me and the sunset orange mountains beyond its peak.

There is a fire behind me, nothing too big or too warm for that matter. It’s warmth is just enough for this mid summers evening in the far northwestern town of Bellingham. To my left and on a raised wooden porch a large group gathers around two tables pushed together sharing quiet stories and pleasantries while I wait for her reply.

She turns her head, slightly, in my direction and says, “I walk around a lot. Yeah, I mostly just like to walk around town.”

I know she is smiling when she says this, I can hear it in her voice. And then Daniel comes over and he needs to stoke the fire and we need to move so we do and then I sit back down and she doesn’t and the night moves on and so do I and then the moment is gone and so is my courage and so I too leave in a fashionable manner, with my head full of doubts and romantic “what if” scenarios as I walk down the street and back toward the house I am staying in.

It all sounds sad, doesn’t it? I mean this is my life and I sometimes think it sad but not really all that often. I think it maddening, terrifying, depressing, ambiguous, horrid and wonderful but not really sad.

I can sit very still on this wooden porch and hear bells ringing in the distance across the waters of the bay. But how sad can ones life be with this kind of thing leading them into the quickly gathering twilight?


Marriage (Not Mine).

Well, I suppose by the time you read this Pete will be married to Sarah and in doing so will take on one last name and leave the other behind. Pete is my old housemate from the last apartment I no longer live in. He graciously invited me to be a part of this beautiful occasion and I am enjoying most every minute of it.

Here they are at their rehearsal dinner toast.


Journal Entry

A journal entry from a few weeks back.

June 13, 2008

It was a still walk home from Megan’s party tonight. I carried the Guinness four pack in my belly up the long hill home like a mother carries her child before she gives birth. I drank the Guinness to remember where i had come from. I drank to remember what the Irish had told the rest of the E.U. by refusing the Lisbon Treaty: fuck off.

The leaves that hung from the trees did not stir on this unusually cool June evening. I passed turn of the century craftsmen houses flanked by 70’s art deco apartments, thin pale lights flicking on and off on walls and drawn shades. The area was called Frellard. Nothing more than neighborhood upon neighborhood of houses clinging to the side of Phinney Ridge. The view was spectacular. You could watch the seasons change over Ballard and beyond that the Olympics.

But for now the season came on slowly, cool nights clinging to the robe of early summer like those little remnants you pick up while walking through a field of tall grass on a warm summers day. The kind of day where you watch swallows flit their tails back and forth as they glide effortlessly over the pastures catching bugs in their hungry mouths.


Mike The Artist

Sometimes I see Mike and T-Bone around the neighborhood. Usually they have been drinking and usually they're in a very jolly mood. This evening was no exception as I walked by the Buckaroo and stopped to talk with them while they enjoyed the warm weather and my company.

After telling me a fish story we went inside and Mike sat down at a table covered in drawings. I took pictures and asked him to tell me a bit about what he was drawing and why.

I'll let you listen to Mike tell it since it's his story anyway.


Sanity Amongst The Concrete

Edith Macefield died on Sunday. I never met her and all I know about her is what an article in the Seattle P-I has reported (thanks for the link Megan). She owned a house in Ballard, my favorite Seattle neighborhood, and refused to sell her home to developers even when they offered her a million dollars. She wanted to be left alone and to die in the house she’d lived in for over 55 years.

So the developers did what developers often (but not always) do: push on with their project because any “sane person” understands that “progress is inevitable”. To bad most developers version of progress involves characterless boxes designed to be built as quickly as possible so they can get their money and go onto the next neighborhood or city, leaving a trail of shoddily built communist block condos and townhouses in their wake.

They don’t live in these neighborhoods. They don’t have to shop in or walk past these hovels. A neighborhood is a living entity. Take away its human sized, character filled homes (and the people who live in them) and you take away its humanity, its history.

As white people in America begin their migration from suburbs to cities you will see these massive upheavals of old city neighborhoods being razed to make way for a much more “conducive environment” for these skittish suburban transplants. White folks from the ‘burbs are used to characterless houses, box stores and uniform shopping, dinning and entertainment experiences.

They don’t care if their apartment is nothing more than a miniature version of the house they moved from, if anything all that sheetrock and forced air brings them comfort (since it’s the same shitty materials and ideas being used to build their condo as was used on their suburban house).

This is how America deals with change: either we utterly abandon it (think towns and cities in what is now called the Rust Belt) or we plow over anything that would hinder our insatiable march forward (anything historical included).

What a sad people we are and an even sadder people we will soon be. When Edith’s generation, a generation that lived through two world wars and a great depression, are gone who will be left to explain to us that money, and the blind pursuit of it, will never give us what we want?

Edith didn’t want the stack of bills offered to her because she had something that money simply couldn’t buy: the ability to be content.


One Last One


Evening Walk

Sam's on the other line. He’s some 3500 miles away and I can hear the excitement of New York City buzzing in his voice. He married his first couple ever (he’s an ordained minister), his wife’s sister, in Central Park the other day.

All the people, people from all over the world! Times Square, man, you should have seen Times Square!! And then there was the hummus place on Amsterdam and 77th, the one with the Jewish guys working behind the counter. The hummus was amazing. We sat next to four girls who were all speaking in Hebrew!

Sam knows this because he asked them.

While he’s telling me all this I can’t help but think, “He sounds fifteen years younger.”

I tell him I wish I could be there.

But I'm not. I’m in my own city heading down the hill toward the library and I have to be going Sam, because the library closes at 8 and it’s nearly approaching that hour. Sure, I would love to talk with Jenn for a minute, but only for a minute then I have to be going.

Inside I collect a few films, electronically check out the items and quietly leave the building. It’s glowing a deep golden color outside. The air is suffused with eight ‘o clock sunlight. I'm in heaven.

I float back up the hill, passing a ridiculous stretch Hummer (only in America) and streets lined with modest, human sized houses. Some lawns are extremely well kept, others are not. Some have gardens, some don’t. I pass the elementary school, then its park where a woman plays catch with a man, the soft thud of worn leather cushioning the catch.

Crossing 42nd street I can see the neon lights of the Buckaroo Tavern advertising local beers the next block over. The sound of laughter winds down the block. Cigarettes are being smoked and pint glasses drained.

I'm almost home now. I walk past the Northfield Block and step aside for two women carrying what looks to be some sort of headdress made of feathers. They have just finished Samba dancing at the brick community center I take care of. A great parade is planned celebrating the summer solstice and these two women will be dancing in that procession.

Just for this one sun drenched summer evening Sam can keep his miles of endless subway tunnels, his bright lights and flashing signs. His hundreds of languages and millions of people.

He can keep his city that never sleeps while I sleep soundly in a city that has yet to wake up.

Vonnegut In The Morning

It was dark on the veranda, so I couldn’t see the Commodore’s face very well. The darkness, and the brandy, and the slow guitar let him start telling the truth about himself without feeling much pain.

“Let’s give the Senator from Arizona a rest.” he said. “Everybody knows who he is. The question is: Who am I?”

~From the short story "The Hyannis Port Story" by Kurt Vonnegut


Lisbon Treaty? No Feckin' Way!

No, I'm no expert on Ireland nor am I of what the Irish people are thinking at any given point in time. I mean hell; I only spent a month in the country and not even in one town at that. I was a tourist.

But I’ll say this: in my time spent in pubs and markets across the countryside I heard not a gleeful giddiness at Irelands new found “wealth” (Ireland joined the EU back in 1972 and has “enjoyed” ludicrous economic growth since the mid 90’s) but the skepticism of a people who know what it means to be enslaved (by others, by government, and by debt).

Part of my traveling to Ireland was to see this “Celtic Tiger” for myself. I wanted to not only visit the island where I originate from but also see and hear for myself how the average Irish citizen was supposedly “benefiting” from this great new economy.

What I saw and heard while there not only confirmed many of my theories but also depressed me. As my brother and I left Dublin fields full of houses, subdivisions, and suburbia greeted us. My first real image of rural Ireland wasn’t rural or Irish at all, it was American. I got angry then I got drunk. At least the beer hadn’t been ruined by Capitalism.

Before traveling to Ireland I knew that when the media talked of a “burgeoning Irish economy” what they really meant was that the Irish people were at the beginning of yet another slave state; only this time it would involve debt and consumerism. This slave state would be imposed upon them by the E.U. This slave state would tell families who had lived off of the land that their sons and daughters, the ones who normally would have inherited the family farm, could only make a living by sending their children away to college.

Then those same sons and daughters would “sell the farm” to developers because their shiny new college educations taught them that money, and making lots of it, usurped everything and held all the power you would ever need. Money usurped family ties, usurped “living off of the land” (because come on, we all know that white people don’t farm. That’s an activity that only people in poor countries do because they are to stupid to do anything else, right?), and usurped any ties to sanity that they might have been born with.

So it came as no surprise when I read the latest headline declaring, “Irish voters sign death warrant for E.U.'s Lisbon treaty”. I wont go into the details of the treaty but suffice it to say that the Irish knew exactly what the treaty was really about: taking more power from the many and giving it to the few. Your usual run-of-the-mill “we want to give the people more freedoms by putting restrictions on the ones they already have” crap that governments the world over spew upon whatever people they may be trying to enslave at that point in time.

The Irish are no dummies. They are seeing the trade offs that come from this “great wealth”. They are seeing their social fabric being torn apart for the same reasons the United States has no real social fabric to speak of: the lie of money.

We all know by now that money can buy you houses, cars, educations, t.v.’s, computers, ipods, and more stuff than you will ever need much less find use for. But it cannot buy you a family that loves you, a home that nurtures you, and friends that truly care for you.

You cannot buy enough stuff to replace only that which your family can give.

I don’t know it for sure, and I'm not trying to speak on behalf of an entire culture, but I believe many of the things I just stated are part of why the Irish said “no” to the Lisbon Treaty. Because even though historically the Irish might have been “poor” in material wealth, at least they where tied to one another for survival, not some abstract idea based on exploiting people the world over with the hope that some day all that exploitation might pay off (the idea I spoke of is called Capitalism).

So I’ll raise a glass to a people who say “no” when everyone else is saying “yes”. Those are my kind of people.


Class of 2008

Pete finished college the other day and in a few weeks he'll be gettin' hitched. Dude is growing up, fast.

He asked me to shoot some pics of him around the U.W. campus today. Here are a few shots that represent the way I saw it.


No Title

"The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism."

~from a Rolling Stones article on China.

Replace the word "city" with "country" and you have the U.S.

Welcome to the future.



Thought it was about time I put a new set of photos up on my website. I think you'll find these intriguing. I'm simply calling it: Recent.



Evening On Lopez

This weekend was spent on Lopez Island. It had been a year since I last set foot on this rock and pulling into the ferry dock felt like a graceful reunion with an old friend. Me and three others spent the weekend slowly winding our way down the quiet roads, passing fields, woods and sea while our bike wheels rolled on beneath us.

I walked down to Spencer Spit one evening and stood on the sand watching the day slowly fade away.