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December 2nd, 2021

The New York Villager Times

I’ve Been Trying To Explain The New York Times To People For Years And He Just Tweeted It Out

Atrios points to the following tweet from Clyde Haberman…

@ClydeHaberman
I confess to some ambivalence about Chris Cuomo’s suspension. It’s deserved on many levels. But wouldn’t you help your brother if he fell into trouble, even of his own making?

Yeah. Quite. This is Haberman, who as Atrios points out has a long history with the Times, and is the father of their current White House Correspondent, saying that he’s ambivalent about a fellow Times staffer, and the brother of the governor of New York, helping to cover up his brother’s sex abuse scandal because…family. Atrios responds thusly…

A lot to work with here (“fell into some trouble” lol), but I would submit that most of us would not actually do what Chris Cuomo did, or anything analogous, to help our “brothers.” Sure I would help my brother, but I wouldn’t do *that* to help my brother. Make sure he had a good lawyer. Help him figure out how to stop abusing people. That kind of thing.

And the point here isn’t simply, “oh, well, family is family, you can sympathize a bit,” it’s “since you can sympathize a bit, it seems a bit harsh for the man to be suspended from his job.” This is “there should be no consequences for people who are, in many ways, qwhite like me.”

This is something I would do myself, therefore it isn’t really wrong and there should be no negative consequences for it. QED. Boom!

Who amongst us would not abuse our power to smear victims of sexual harassment and assault (whatever “groping” would legally be in your jurisdiction)? Disobeying my employer’s rules and edicts and lying to them? Why would we ask for anything different from the most powerful people in the country? And should we really face consequences for that? Famiglia.

What would elite journalists do to protect their families and people in their close social circles? People who they cover, but are also quite friendly with, even party with and see on vacation? What happens in the Hamptons… Believe people when they tell you who they are.

This is something that I think many of us who subscribed to the Times figured was what the social strata was like in the top floor offices. Villagers. It’s a term Atrios coined I think, for the Georgetown DC mindset. That DC circuit party schmoozing among media executives, Capitol Hill politicians and their Very wealthy Georgetown money teats. but it can apply to a lot of other places where the same dynamic exists. Villagers. They stick together.

It’s something to keep in mind when you’re reading their newspapers and magazines: You are getting the Villager’s point of view. That’s not always a bad thing, which is why I bought Woodward’s books about Trump. Sometimes you want to know what they’re thinking. But a steady diet of it is disorienting.

Eventually I had enough of it an cancelled my subscription. I’m still subscribed to the Post though.


Posted In: Life Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 25th, 2021

Smacking Down The Little Art Kids

Because they bring a measure of unselfconscious joy and beauty into the world…and we can’t be having that.

I’ve written before about how many years ago Montgomery County allowed you to go read your school records…basically everything your teachers wrote about you for the other teachers and administrators to see. So I went and looked and there wasn’t much there I didn’t expect to see. But what did tickle me was my first grade teacher who Did Not like me or mom one little bit wrote that little Bruce “takes excessive interest in personal art projects.

I had two art teachers who got me, and they encouraged me and that really helped a lot. But some teachers when they see the slightest hint of artistic interest have some sort of allergic reaction and do their damnedest to kill it in a kid. I suppose so they don’t have to see how stone cold and dead their soul is.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 24th, 2021

“No Stream Rises Higher Than Its Source…”

The title of this post is a quote of Frank Lloyd Wright’s that I particularly like. You find it really applies to a lot of political and religious movements. The Southern Baptists being one I’m most familiar with, having grown up in a Baptist (Yankee) household. But once upon a time I had one of those adolescent flings with something I’d become convinced held the answer to, well, Everything.

You hear the word spoken a lot in certain circles: Libertarian. This Salon article is worth a read about that…

Here’s why economist Brad DeLong believes libertarianism is essentially a form of white supremacy

Libertarianism “is a Frankenstein’s monster” that got its power from resistance to the Civil Rights Movement…

From the article…

In 2014 poll, Pew Research found that 14 percent of Americans said they identified as libertarians, but only 11 percent identified as libertarians and correctly identified what the term means, that is, “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government.”

Even among this group, though, “true” libertarians seem hard to find…

Like looking for genuine collectible coins in a Franklin Mint store. 

I considered myself a libertarian back in the late ‘70s. I worked the petition drives to get candidates on the ballot. I went to meetings. I subscribed to all the periodicals…Inquiry…Reason…Libertarian Review. And I can tell you that the number of people who say they’re libertarian is much Much larger than the number of people who actually are. Also, that a lot of John Birchers glommed onto it as a way to advocate the dismantling of minority rights without looking like a bunch of angry old racists.

It was Reagan giving me a taste of what a libertarian society would really look like, and seeing how many of my fellow libertarians were more about states rights than individual rights (there was much joy in the ranks when the Supreme Court upheld the sodomy laws) that opened my eyes to what the party was really about, and that idealistic kids like me were just their useful tools, that drove me out. DeLong has it absolutely right here. I was there. I saw it.


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 20th, 2021

Locked And Loaded And Pointing At Every One Of Us

In the fury to come about the Rittenhouse verdict, and how it gives right wing terrorists license to hunt and kill people protesting racist police violence, spare a moment of thought about the reporters covering those protests.

We have seen since Ferguson how the police actively target reporters on the scene. It got to the point during that unrest, that police would suddenly charge a protest line and drag away a specific person their intelligence thought was an activist leader. They would also arrest and detain news camera crews and reporters. Over time since Ferguson, it escalated to shootings of reporters and video crew with rubber bullets which were later justified as “confusion” as to whether the camera was a gun or not. 

We have seen over and over how police shootings often end up being justified by the cop saying they thought the person they shot had a gun in their hands. “I thought it was a gun”. But it turned out to just be a wallet or a cell phone.  

I thought it was a gun. Now add armed right wing civilians into the mix, lax to non-existent local firearms regulations, and local police affinity with right wing terror groups. The protests that night in Kenosha were about the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man…in the back three times, and in the side twice…and clearly the Kenosha police that night appreciated the company of that squad of white militia. In fact, as the ACLU reports, they herded the protestors toward them…

“His acquittal comes after our investigation exposed how Kenosha law enforcement used violence against protesters and drove them toward white militia groups, in ways that escalated tensions and almost certainly led to these shootings…”

The white militia were on the side of the police. Against the protestors. Who were there to protest the police shooting, in the back, of an unarmed black man.

I used to go to every news event in DC with my cameras, wander among the crowds and document what was happening. Sometimes I got my photography into a local newspaper. More often it was just to capture the history I was living through for myself. I have quite an archive now of that history. I’ve put some of it up on my website.

But lately I’ve been more hesitant to do that then I ever was, even during the worst of the riots of the 70s. Partly it’s age. My legs just don’t hold up as long as they used to. Partly it’s opportunity. The job I have doesn’t always keep regular business hours. But mostly now, right now, it is this: It’s going to be very easy going forward, for some armed right wing thug to shoot dead anyone with a camera and claim, even laughingly, that it was self defense. They will absolutely do that to commercial news reporters. Street photographers will absolutely be targets too. In Ferguson they were merely arrested and held in jail for doing their jobs. Now they can be shot. Not by the police, but by friendly white militia.  

I thought it was a gun…I thought it was a gun…I thought it was a gun…hahahahaha…I thought it was a gun…


Posted In: Politics
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 17th, 2021

Life’s Little Regrets. . .

The English word yodel is derived from the German (and originally Austro-Bavarian) word jodeln, meaning “to utter the syllable jo” (pronounced “yo” in English). Most experts agree that yodeling was used in the Central Alps by herders calling their stock or to communicate between Alpine villages. The multi-pitched “yelling” later became part of the region’s traditional lore and musical expression. The earliest record of a yodel is in 1545, where it is described as “the call of a cowherd from Appenzell”

There’s a scene in the 2004 movie Summer Storm (I’m recalling it just now from memory…) where boys from a Bavarian rowing team are lounging on a beach and they see a girl’s team at practice rowing past. One of them playfully yodels out to them and one of the other boys disgustedly says, Oh great, now everyone knows we’re Bavarians. Later I worked up the nerve to ask a certain someone if it was true that Bavarians were considered country bumpkins in Germany. He assured me it was true.

This came across my Facebook stream the other day…

Time was, if I saw this cartoon I’d spend a few days pondering if I should show it to him or not. Would he share a laugh with me, or would he think I was making fun of him. Now I just regret that I never did ask him to yodel. I should have asked him to yodel.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 12th, 2021

What If…

Earlier today at the Fitness Center…working out on the arm bike machine…imagining a movie where the James Mason Captain Nemo joins forces with the Vincent Price Robur to wage war on slavers all over the world, sinking their ships at sea (before they can take on slaves) and pummeling their soldiers on land.

Things I imagine while working out…

Man I would love to watch that movie…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 4th, 2021

Life Happens…

Facebook helpfully provides a daily Things That You Posted On This Date Through The Years link…

This is about the premiere of Morgan Jon Fox’s documentary This Is What Love In Action Looks Like. It’s about the protests over teenagers being forced into ex-gay conversion therapy at a place in Memphis Tennessee. I contributed both photography for it and some money, so I got screen credits for Photography and as an Associate Producer.

I’m sixty-eight years old now, and on the cusp of retirement, and I see this and I’m thinking, wow…it’s been a life hasn’t it Bruce Garrett…

Cartoonist, photographer, software engineer, woodworker, roadie for a local blues band, architectural model maker, burger flipper, stock clerk in a psychiatric hospital, JWST ground systems test conductor, associate producer…

I can remember looking out across the Washington DC rail yards and seeing steam engines. I remember when most of the passenger airplanes I saw overhead were propeller driven. I saw the beginnings of the jet age, then the space age. I listened to short wave radio so I could get the news from abroad. I remember the weird sounds of the Soviet Union jammers trying to keep Radio Free Europe out. I remember the transition to color TV. I watched the first satellite TV broadcast from overseas. I watched live as Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon. I remember the transition to wireless telephones, then to cell phones. I was among the first generation of 18 year olds to cast a vote in a presidential election. I registered for the draft when I turned 18, went for my pre-induction physical when I got the notice, stood in a line with a bunch of other 18 year olds in our underwear as we were poked and prodded by military doctors for suitability as Vietnam war canon fodder. I did my own maintenance on my first car, changing spark plugs, adjusting the distributor points, and checking the timing with a timing light. I remember the first gasoline drought and why it mattered if your license tag ended in an even or odd number. I built my first computer from parts I got at a HAM fest and taught myself how to program it. I walked in the first national Gay Rights march. I walked grieving and terrified among the Names Project quilt panels. I have stood in a protest line across from a camp that forced gay teenagers into ex-gay therapy, talked with the survivors young and old. I have spoken test instructions across the NASA deep space network, talked to astronauts that serviced the Hubble Space Telescope. I have a piece of it they brought back on my den wall.

It’s a small thing I suppose, but my handwritten signature has been into space three times, carried on an Institute banner during Hubble servicing missions. A little piece of me made it into space.

Yeah. It’s been a life.

Someone who joined a Zoom happy hour I hit every now and then said I should write a memoir, but it would be exhausting to do and probably very confusing for anyone to read. What is your point Mr. Garrett?? I dunno…shit happens I guess…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 3rd, 2021

1971

From a memories group I follow…

Ah yes…1971…a year to remember. Even more so than the following year when I graduated.

In 1971 Canon of Japan began making the Canon F-1. Up to then it was the Nikon F that was the iconic pro 35mm SLR camera. But it was a late 1950s design that was only by virtue of the camera body’s bombproof build quality and the ability to stay current with new attachments, like a Kirby vacuum, that enable it to stay on top. I was dissatisfied, too much of it seemed to be retrofitted and not organic to its design. Nowadays I’d call it a kludge camera, but I have more respect for it because it really was (apart from the photomic metering prisms) a workhorse, and I even own one myself now. When I saw the first ads for the Canon F-1 in the photography magazines they hit me like a lightning bolt. Everything about it was state of the art and completely organic to its design. And it was a beautiful camera. I knew instantly, that was My Camera. But it was expensive, and hard to find in the states for a long long time. That summer break I worked my first W2 job in the kitchen of a fast food joint making a tad over that minimum wage. That, plus selling my Miranda Sensorex allowed me to buy an F-1 in time for my senior year of high school.

 

 

When I got it home and unboxed it and held it in my hands for the first time I knew I had My Camera. I still have it.  

In 1971 my cartoons would see print for the first time in the student newspaper. Later I would also become its photographer. For the first time in my life my artistic talents were being appreciated and nurtured (my first grade teacher wrote in my school record that I took “excessive interest in personal art projects”). The bullying and low expectations of my early childhood began to slough away. I began to really believe in myself. It was different from believing that I believed in myself. I could see a future for a kid like me. Maybe.

The summer of 1971 was when I got my driver’s license. Mom would let me drive her car, a basic 1968 Plymouth Valiant, and I began my love affair with the open road. But another love affair was percolating in my teenage hormones.

The year would end with me finally coming out to myself December 15. First love. It was wonderful, I was completely twitterpated. It changed everything.

And couldn’t tell anyone. 1971 was not the time for a gay teenager to be out about it.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

The One Thing A Thief Hates Being Called Is A Thief

This came across my Facebook stream today…

The text post enlightened me on details I hadn’t heard regarding the kook pew complaints over CRT, especially the black-supremacist angle. That was a new one to me and it tweaked my interest. This gay man endured decades of seeing our struggle for equality labeled as us wanting “special rights”…in other words, more rights than everyone else. But really the complaint was we wanted more rights than bigots thought we deserved.

It’s really stunning in its way, how equal rights, equal opportunity, equal justice, gets its most venomous pushback from exactly the direction you would, in retrospect, have expected. But there is always a learning curve.

There are those of us who grew up in the culture and simply didn’t question it because it all seemed to perfectly normal. We were born to it. It was our daily lives. But then we began to see the foundations of that normalcy and it shocked us, and it called to our moral sensibilities, the very things we were raised to, all those days in the church pews, all those hours listening to the morality plays of our youth, and we began to work for change, not because we felt guilty, but because we felt a moral obligation once we could see the problem, to fix it. It was simply how we were raised. It’s what you do.

But there were others who seemed to know intuitively that They Were The Problem, and you saw it in how outraged they became at even discussing the problem, and how furiously they denied there even was a problem.

If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, it’s not the mirror’s fault. And I am not so much woke, as still that little Baptist boy sitting in the pews who was told that as you sow, so shall you reap, and though I am an atheist now, I still see the truth of that.


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Must Be November

Ummmm…sixty-three degrees in the living room this morning. Must finally be time to turn on the furnace. 

Ah…the smell of the first gas fired furnace heat of the season…


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!

I Know…Let’s Spend A Fortune On Disney World Tickets And Just Stand In Line For Hours!

What fun!

Scanning my Facebook stream this morning I see complaining about the lines at the new Space 220 restaurant at Walt Disney World. One user posted that they’d waited in line with family for three hours, only to be told the bar was open now and so kids could not be allowed inside.

Three hours. Anyone who has ever hung out with me knows how impatient I can get about lines, but I am stunned. Who stands in a line for three hours to eat?? For a ride…maybe. If it’s new and exciting. Sure. But…to eat? How about making a reservation? And if you try and discover it’s booked for three months in advance, maybe think of another place to eat that day.

I dunno…I’ve always been this way. Ask anyone who’s ever stood in line with me. But maybe more so now that I’m at the tail end of life and about to retire and my days will be all mine and I’m not spending the hours of those last days standing in lines doing nothing. At my age I’m napping too much as it is.

You don’t need to stand in line. Especially for three hours. Are you insane? There are Tons of good places to eat. There are lots of fun rides and attractions. Yeah…yeah…but none of them are the Next Big Thing. I get it. But I don’t. Life is short. Impatience is a virtue.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 2nd, 2021

The Sea Cats of Baltimore

This came across my Facebook stream a moment ago, and I just have to share

From Mikhail Voloshin (Facebook):

I just want to take a moment to gaze in awe at that cat’s face. If one were to try to imagine the hardest, saltiest, snarliest leather-skinned sailor to ever chill the ocean to ice with his mere gaze, and then imagine that that sailor was a cat, then you still would fall short of Herman here. This matted fluffball is a physical embodiment of the Platonic form of “sea cat”. This is the face of a cat who lives on jerkey and rum, who has sung shanties through both doldrums and typhoons, and who thinks nothing of scaling the rigging amid a squall. This cat has exchanged broadsides with Portuguese frigates, dual-wielded cutlasses in boarding duels, slit the throats of mutineers, and rescued crewmates both from cannibal spitroasts and governors’ gallows. He’s torn up his Letter of Marque, bribed a portside prostitute for the route of the Treasure Fleet, and held a dagger in his mouth while climbing up the side of a prize ship in the dead of night. He is eight months old, fifteen inches long, and weighs eleven pounds, and I would not want to cross him in a dark tavern.

Ray Chael says: “I would still pick him up and give him kisses and treats.”


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
October 26th, 2021

Mad Kings And Commoners…

This came across the LGBTQ Heritage/Memorial Project page this morning…

 

…and it reminded me to go dig into this man’s story a little more. Because last Disney trip I took while we were still talking to each other, I discovered that a certain someone kept a photo of this King of Bavaria in his wallet, and I don’t think that was entirely out of Bavarian pride.

They still call him the “Mad King”, but it doesn’t look to me like he was actually mad, but simply different in the way many gay men are. That view of him seems to be changing. He wasn’t a warrior king. He liked his artistic pursuits, was a big fan of Richard Wagner, brought the best of European theater to Munich, and built amazing castles. He looked to the French for the way they glorified their culture in the arts, architecture, and music, and saw how lacking Bavaria was by comparison. He used his own money to build his castles, not by raiding the state treasury as is sometimes claimed. And those castles have paid for themselves many times over in tourist money. He made Bavaria rich in the arts and architecture.

But…Bavaria. To bring the arts to Bavaria was perhaps amusing, but to have a gay King was intolerable. So I think when his only engagement fell through then were plans to depose and, yes, murder him put into motion; because as Emerson said, if you strike at the king you must kill him. In exile he might have felt even freer to be the man he was. Bavaria. They weren’t having it. The official version puts it as suicide by drowning, but you look at the conflicting stories and it’s probably he was shot trying to escape.

You wonder how many gay Bavarians see something of their own stories in his.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
October 18th, 2021

Weekend Of Nostalgia, Ten Minutes Of Terror

Well…serious doubt. I have a bunch of undeveloped film I need to get to, but which I’ve been putting off because Kodak mucked with the formula for HC-110, my go-to developer ever since I was a teenager. I know this developer. I get exactly what I want out of every film I commonly use, and I am comfortable enough with it that I don’t worry about using it with a new film I’m trying out. I adore this product. So when Kodak fucked with it I was pissed off. Then I worried.

Allegedly they made the change to make producing it more environmentally friendly. And it just happened to take away another virtue of the developer some of us loved: the nearly limitless lifespan of the concentrate. For decades we ignored the expiration date on the bottles of concentrate because we knew it would probably still be good for years afterward. From now on we would have to pay attention to that date.

And there was more. You use HC-110 by first making a “stock” solution from the concentrate. Then to develop, you dilute the stock further. Dilution ‘A’ is one part stock to three parts water. ‘B’ is one part stock to seven parts water. The more it is diluted, the longer the processing time, which works better for some films. Dilution ‘A’ gives you a very rapid development time. I always use ‘B’ as a “one-shot” developer. That is, use it once and discard it. That gives you consistent results over re-use which slowly exhausts a developer.

Kodak insisted that nothing regarding dilutions and processing times had changed with the new formulation. But the chatter on the photographer forums was full of doubts about that, especially when you actually mixed up some of it, because whereas the original formulation was syrupy and with an amber tint and a very distinctive (and unpleasant) odor, the new formulation seemed just to be water.

But from the photographer forums I heard that it was all good as far as dilutions and processing times. So I bought a bottle and for months it just sat in my basement darkroom while I worked up the nerve to try it. And thus, my backlog of undeveloped film grew.

And I dawdled. This happens to me when I have to shift gears because something’s changed that I didn’t expect to change and now I have to adapt to this sudden change, but first I need to overthink how. 

Then one day on a Facebook group dedicated to memories of growing up in Rockville, someone posted a shot he’d taken of a train wreck that had happened in the early 1970s on the main line out of DC. I’d covered that wreck with my Mamiya Press Camera for a local county newspaper. It took 120 roll film and had swappable film backs which came in handy when you’re in the middle of something. Plus, it gave me large 6×7 negatives which provided lots of detail with very little grain, even if I was using a fast film like Tri-X Pan.

So I remembered working that train wreck. And there, in that guy’s photo, to my delight, was I, walking back up the tracks and presumably to my car after getting some close in shots of the wreck, the Mamiya slung over a shoulder. 


Photo by Tom Lockard
From the Facebook Group “You know you grew up in Rockville if you…”

It was like seeing a window into my past, into a happier time…when that great big beautiful tomorrow really was in front of me…or so I thought…

I still have that Mamiya Press Camera. It is one of only two cameras I still have from back in my teenage days when I was aspiring to be a newspaper photographer, the other being the Canon F-1 I bought after a summer flipping burgers at a local fast food joint. The lens on it had frozen up and so I’d consigned it to the top of my camera cabinet, along with my first camera, the little Kodak Brownie Fiesta. But it had nostalgia value to me. I took photos with it that got into the local newspapers. We’d worked together back in the day. So even if it was no longer functional, I was keeping it.

It sat for a couple decades up on top of my camera cabinet, reminding me of a happier time. Now I had to see if I could get it working again. 

I looked online to see if I could buy another lens for it, since I doubted anyone would repair the one I had. As it turned out, someone had a nearly mint condition lens for it and I snapped it up.

So I had my Press Camera working again, now I needed to run some film through it to see if everything was still working. And also admittedly, to revisit the feeling of being a teenager again, working with that camera and imagining that someday I would be a professional newspaper photographer. As it turned out what I revisited is it’s actually somewhat difficult camera to work with since the viewfinder really doesn’t give you a good idea of where the frame is, and the rangefinder is very dim, which makes focusing it something you have to be careful about. But having those swappable film backs, like the Hasselblad has, is very nice when you’re in the middle of something. 

The trip to York turned into a two day affair. I went back with the Hasselblad and the Canon F-1N, and I knew I had stuff I really wanted to get developed and scanned. So now I had more film to develop, and today I dug into it with the new HC-110. Almost immediately I began to worry. The stuff really did look like it was just water.

Worse, although allegedly the concentrate didn’t expire until late 2023, some small amount of something had crystalized out of it while the bottle had been sitting there, and I didn’t notice until I’d emptied the bottle into a mixing bucket and felt something rattling inside. I tried adding water to get whatever it was back into solution but it wouldn’t budge.

Now I was really concerned it was a bad batch. But I pressed on and decided to test it with the two 120 rolls of Tri-x Pan I ran through the Press Camera, which were themselves a test of the camera. I had images on them I didn’t want to lose, but which I wasn’t entirely happy with either because it’s difficult for me to compose to a “normal” focal length lens and that’s all that camera has. I reckoned that if nothing came out of the tank I could always run another couple test rolls through the camera and try a different developer. After venting to Kodak about what they did to my go-to film developer.

So I mixed up my chemicals and did the thing I’ve done so often I probably do it in my dreams too and just don’t notice that its dreaming. I have a nice Weston thermometer and the old Kodak Darkroom Dataguide and it looked to be five minutes of developer, followed by a splash in stop bath, and four minutes of Rapid Fixer. As I poured developer into the tank I was nearly convinced I would only see blank film when I opened the tank up again.

But when it was time to pour the developer back out of the tank it came out a dark rose red. Not exactly what the old formulation did, but close and I was encouraged. It meant Something was going on in there.

After the fixer I took the tank to my utility sink where I had the film washer going, and opened it. Success. Exactly the density the negatives were supposed to have.

Whew!

Now I can get to the other stuff. I have some good ones in those rolls. Post some of it maybe this weekend after I’ve got some of it scanned.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Weekend Of Nostalgia, Ten Minutes Of Terror

Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…

Maybe instead of blaming the cultural homophobia he grew up in, I should consider the language he was born to…

Also…

 

Communication between us was probably doomed from the start.

Now if he was reading this, which I know he isn’t because he told me straight up once that he never reads my blog or looks at my cartoons, he’d probably be getting all ticked off now. For as big a tease as he is he has a really thin skin and hated being teased back. And speaking of language barriers…I think it was sometime during one of my 2014 visits I began to see with clarity that we are just not very compatible personalities.

I was struggling with basic beginner level German and bought a t-shirt at the Epcot Germany gift shop that said “Ich Bin”, which in English is “I am”.  Now, I’m the kid who grew up under the icy cold glare of a bitter Baptist grandmother who despised my dad (and his entire family I later learned) with a venomous passion, and there I was bearing his face and handy for taking it out on because he was clear on the other side of the country and I was right there in arm’s reach. So by the time I started my walk into puberty and had that moment of realization that I’m gay, I already knew there would be people in my life who would hate my guts over something I had no choice about and no control over. So that Ich Bin t-shirt tickled a part of me that’s fiercely defensive of my own unique human identity. I Am. But it did it in a kinda fun way. Or so I thought. I am. No, not German. Not my dad. Not your favorite homosexual stereotype. I am Bruce Garrett. Deal with it. Ich Bin.

And…he could not. I wore the shirt into his restaurant and when we met up I pointed to it and said “Ich Bin…I am”, because I was proud to show him that I knew at least two German words and could put them together. German grammar would later kick me in the teeth and I gave it up, but that was to come later.

He looked at me scornfully, like I was somehow making fun of him, and said, “And what’s funny is you trying to teach me German.”

I must have looked at him like he was a total stranger I’d just run into who happened to look like the guy I’d crushed on madly in high school and it was confusing me. What the fuck man…are you Serious? Did you really think that’s what I was doing? 

Wow…where the hell did That come from? You’re not really the person I thought you were…

Most people experience that moment with their first teenage crush back when they’re teenagers, not when they’re in their 60s. You have a good cry over it, take his picture out of your class notebook, and move on. But while my generation was allowed to see the promise land, most of us could not walk into it. We will always live in a time before Stonewall. So geht es… Looking back on it, and the torrent of abuse we all got thrown at us from every direction, I’m surprised any of us found their other half. No…it wasn’t a language barrier. We were just a couple of gay teens who, in a better world, would have figured it out, gone our separate ways and kept looking. But that was not the world we came of age in.

I still have that t-shirt. And I still wear it proudly.

What I am is what I am
You’re what you are or what?


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…
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