Saturday September 8, 2001

Nothin to say about this. Just a toy in the dirt. But notice the flash falloff following the inverse square law: Light output is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.

The only time I feel compelled to butt in on someone's picture taking and act like a know-it-all is when I see them shooting stuff that I know won't come out. It's kind of sad. They snap away and feel assured that they've freeze-dried the moment for posterity but all they did was waste film. A typical example is a nighttime flash shot of some distant object. I saw this at burning man a lot. Your basic disposable camera flash goes about 10-15 feet. Everything beyond that is enveloped in blackness -- even bright lights don't show up on film. Having the flash turned on actually prevents you from getting the ambient light because the camera tends to let less light in when the flash is used than when it's off. This picture of the toy was taken moments before sunrise and it was almost daylight out, but using a the flash made the background scene appear almost black. If you switch it off, (if you can), your camera will try to slow down and open up to let as much light in as possible. Things will get blurry if you don't steady the camera but at least you will get those nice city lights or that rock concert / baseball game or those lights on Niagara Falls.

Friday September 7, 2001

Susannah in the snow. There was a big green lazer shooting out of the Emerald Castle and it wasn't really that dusty but my camera saw things differently.

Thursday September 6, 2001

I was reaching over to try to clean up the semen and I knocked my clock radio on the floor and it suddenly turned on the radio. I usually turn if off right away when this happens but I heard a voice coming from the little plastic box (that I got when I opened my first checking account here in SF) that made me lay back and put my head on my pillow and just stare at the red numbers.

Dr. Charles Stanley had me agape. What occurred to me as I listened to this excellent sermon on How To Handle Those Who Hurt You was how much the behavior he was describing was like what I experienced last week at Burning Man. That warm fuzzy. That unconditional love was such a powerful force out there in the desert that the very moment I started to sway under it, I checked myself. With it came a mild unease. Like something inside of me was telling me to run. I think it was my "cult alarm" going off. Reading the signs coming into camp (get over yourself, no spectators, pick up your counterculture utopian rhetoric guide at the gate) was a little like the orientation at Bible camp: "Here we offer love. If you refuse, you will be branded an evil troublemaker. We have not made up the rules. We only follow them."

As Dr. Stanley read "But I say unto you, that whosoever",-- the very words of Jesus -- I heard an echo in my head of William S. Burroughs' soggy recitation of The Sermon on the Mount from "Dead City Radio" and was comforted and conflicted. His was the voice of the devil. At the end you hear the old codger muttering: "Of course it's absolute, it's biological suicide. It's absolute madness, no, it's just ridiculous."

38 seconds into this RealAudio you hear, "Now, it's not easy to love an enemy, but it is possible, if we have the right attitude."

10 seconds into "Love Your Enemies", Mr. Burroughs says, "It isn't easy to love an enemy, as this goes against your most basic survival instinct. But it can be done, and, turned to an advantage."

And that, (thank you Bill), is the question of morality. What is our nature? And should we follow it or try to overcome our nature with willpower? Is there a Golden Rule encoded in our genes? I've got to know, can both Dr. Stanley and Dr. Benway be right? Is there an element of what Jesus says that is part of our nature? Because knowing what I know about emotions tells me that there must be. Namely, that humans are not moved by ideas, as much as we would like to believe. 90% of what moves us is playing on survival mechanisms developed early in evolution. I'm talking before there were even humans. My clock radio had pulled me into a morning reverie.

The sermon ended and the "DJ" came on to talk about what was coming up. This is part of a 5 part series. Other subjects include:

If it itches, but I don't scratch it, is it God?
How can there be Evil when there is so much god?
Straightening out the money crunch.
Why do good things happen to bad people?
What does God say when I pray? I can't hear him.

Right now there's some (undoubtedly fat and sweaty) southerner blathering on about the wrath of god and the wickedness of man. He has showmanship, yes, the ability to make one's heart race with his very words, but I hate him and long for the simpler teachings of Dr. Stanley. He's my Christianity. Whops, did I say hate? I meant, he's aesthetically unappealing to me.

Wednesday September 5, 2001

This was written a week ago today so I thought I'd put it up. The scene is Nevada, on a dried up lakebed.

It's six twenty two in the morning and my left thumb is sticky from tangerine and tender from, no strike that, (I just looked), blistered, from a bout of unsafe fireworks play. A big white swollen blister. A little silver digital camera. An eight pound Dell laptop. God, in all its glory, revealed to me carnally.

So with the sudden insight that I don't have to describe anything to you, I shot myself. But I shouldn't have wasted the flash on those pics of my dirty Vans. Batteries will be batteries, and thus, the frequency of beautiful events is inversely proportional to the amount of power in my cells. I struggled with the most beautiful images at their end: franticly swapping pairs of alkalines in an out (I had 8 extras) after my NiMH batts threw up the "no juice" sign.

I have a plastic martini glass filled with water (and powdered lightly with dust on lip). I have an apple (dust?, yes, dusty) and a tangerine. Not dusty -- at least not on the parts I'm eating. If I shift my head just a little to the left, I block the rising sun with the sheet hanging from the ladder that props this parachute up. Trying to type on an LCD screen when the morning sun is shining into your face is hard, because when you look around, you get spots in your eyes. Sitting on a plastic inflatable chair shaped like a phone is easy because my butt is in the part you talk into. And neither hard nor easy, but nearby, a snoring Japanese punk rocker is lying on an inflatable rolodex. The white fluffy stuff on my peeled tangerine dried to a crust in the time it took me to write that.

Time, and the events that it carries past me, are floating away like a boat undocking from a pier. I'm supposed to be seeing my lover off but I was late and I forgot my glasses. I just wave at the big boat and hope she sees me standing here, all dirty and tired and happy.

The whole fucking canopy is glowing gold and silver, gusts ripple through. It sounds like when your upstairs neighbors are walking around or doing something and you're like, "What was that? What are they doing up there?" The wind on this parachute is making noises like they're having a small mixer upstairs, just friends, you know, but who'd they invite? The wind doth protest and I am unable to release the idea that the sounds are like something else, instead of just what they are. Latent over-sensitivity to stimuli, yes, it's apparent to me, but nothing I can do about it.

Om Flambe Mothership Sunrise

1:04 minutes
or download 6.5 megs

When you run a Nickel Metal Hydride battery down, unlike an alkaline, you get a "power bounce back" if you turn the device off for a few seconds and let it "rest" and then turn it back on. If you have no way to recharge, and if you're patient, you can milk NiMH batteries for what I would guess is an additional 10 percent of their capacity. I have other batteries, but in my camera, two double-A Energizers, fresh out of the package are good for about 2.3 seconds of video before they are completely drained. My Sanyo is the most efficient AA battery sucker I've ever seen. I put in another pair thinking that it was a fluke and the batteries were duds but the same thing happened. I've taken to aiming and holding my finger down on the shutter button as I close the battery compartment in hopes that the camera's reaction time is quicker than mine and it will get a shot off before the screen blanks.

I have no recharger and I have no patience. All I have is the sun rising and it has made me impatient -- not impatient with the sun but with the batteries. If you were dying of cancer and your daughter was about to win the Indianapolis 500, you'd want to get a picture of it. Even though you may die before they are developed and trying to operate your camera at this point may mean you miss seeing the finish. At least I'm guessing that's what you would do because that's what I feel like right now.

The tangerine was juicy and sweet, but the crust almost took the top of my mouth off. It turns out that I do have to tell you that. John is sleeping on my film cameras.

Well, time for you to go back in the ziplock, my son.

Tuesday September 4, 2001

Saw my friend Dan Coffeen today. His nose stuck out and the shade from his baseball cap moved like bat-ray wings over it. When he contemplated something, the shade wrapped wings around it. But when he said something, the wings slid back to expose it.

We don't have jobs. I told him that he should boycott the liquor store next to Java Supreme and he thought that sounded like a fine idea. He told me that he'd abdicated his musical direction to the good folks at Aquarius Records years ago and I agreed that was a fine idea. I said that he was about to discover the best music that he had never heard and that I was going to tell him about it. He said he'd send a filmmaker my way.

I learned "Stupid Preoccupations" by Vic Chesnutt today and I also a devised a rigorous frequency analysis (after hours of mind-numbing specialized audio software piracy) of the internal noise generated by my vidcam in hopes that I can create Parametric EQ settings to cancel out the noise. I was fairly successful, finding really obnoxious screeching tones at 1350, 1780, 2081, and 2693 Hz. This technical shit allows me to bring you the sound of morning wind ruffling through the silk of a parachute.

However, today, I'm going to post a movie that has no sound. I think it's better that way.

Sunrise in the Parachute

:03 seconds
or download 288 kb