2/26/03 Columbia County, NY I’m being

2/26/03 Columbia County, NY

I’m being forced to vamp a little bit because someone stole my digital camera while I was on the subway two nights ago. I’ve been trying to deny it, but relentless searching of the car, and the retracing of countless steps, has turned up nothing. And I was on a PACKED #2 train during rush hour where anybody with limited pickpocketing skills could have unzipped my jacket and absconded with my beloved camera while I was zoned out listening to Johnny Marr.

It was only when I discovered it was gone that I felt like I’d been robbed of a huge element of self-expression. I take pictures the same way lonely men look at their own names in the phone book: to prove that they were there, that they exist. It’s a distinctly un-Buddhist principle (as is all archivism, I’d expect) but I’ve been in love with the photographic image ever since my first camera at 8 years old. My allowance was $1.50 a week, and I spent all of it, every Saturday, on a fresh roll of 126 cartridge film. The fruits of those labors are still around:

my grandma walks up the street in Pontypridd, Wales (our ancestral homeland) in 1978

Plus, I tire easily of blogs that have no images; I feel like I’m not really immersed in their owners’ lives. And though I’ve been guilty of the occasional Photoshopping (my chin, bullshit adult acne, etc.) I think it’s liberating to expose yourself to the world and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. I spent the first fourteen years of my life avoiding being noticed, convinced that my existence was nebbishly discounted by all who mattered and now, I keep a diary on the internet that gets me into trouble every fifteenth day or so.

I wrote a pretty successful column for the student newspaper in Chapel Hill for a while, and one of the new editors decided we were all going to have our pictures next to our names. I was horrified at the idea, because then I’d be judged on (the way I look + the way I write) rather than just (the way I write). I staged a small revolt among the other columnists, and convinced the paper to run cartoon caricatures of us rather than photographs. I felt that I got a lot more accomplished as a cartoon character, and was allowed infinite freedom within that space. When I talked about romance, nobody looked at my picture and said, “Well, of course he thinks that way just look at him!”

Age, however, has mellowed me into not caring about those things. I have always known that I could be considered quite appealing, but you had to acquire a taste for me. Like Perry Farrell said in Jane’s Addiction: “I am skin and bones, I am pointy nose… but it motherfucking makes me try.”

In that end, the relentless pictures on this blog are a necessary solopsism, a way for me to exorcise the worst parts of my childhood and maintain a comfort level with my physical existence. I have friends, like Chip, or relatives, like my mom, who don’t fully inhabit their bodies. Like a tortilla chip, their corporeal forms are simply delivery mechanisms for the good stuff. In a large part, I feel the same way, but this blog allows me to assume a human shape without retiring into blushy embarrassment.

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