The Wind I Had For Breakfast

The wind is shaking my house.  it’s brick.  every window is rattling like a freight train is practicing parallel parking in my attic.

I finished my roll of film in my 1935 agfa plenax.  while i do dishes tonite i will develop it, see what comes out.

(note, it was full of light leaks from the bellows)

I spent friday wandering baltimore, where i used to live, these slums, this white trash lower section of town, which was really blue collar when i was living there, but now of course my old house has been transformed into some sort of mini-shit mansion, with ornamental grasses where there used to be concrete, cracked and stained.  a brick walkway, a deck on the roof, but peeling paint on the trim.  its quite an effect.  it looks out on the train tracks.  which are maybe 25 from the front door.  so a train really did practice parking there, and it was less noisy/shaking than this wind, which is just tearing thru the town, making trashcans disgorge thier contents like drunks in an alley and spin thru the streets like new years revelers the wrong side of sober.

But back to baltimore.  these back alleys i used to travel, on foot, with camera, 8 years ago, ages ago, the alleys are maybe 2 feet wide, covered in trash, backyards butting up with chainlink fences and worn out tired toothless wooden fence slats with huge dogs so mean they dont even bark restrained by the concept of the fence but clearly not its actual structural properties.  backyards piled high with random cast offs from a plastic consumer society, broken childrens slides, rusted grills, broken bikes, disassembled mopeds, kites, rolls of astroturf, broken lawn ornaments.  its rich in texture and decay.  i grew up in dusty antique shops and going to yard sales and stealing from junkyards with my dad, and this is just an extension, instead of buying or borrowing i just take photographs of these backyards with my vintage camera.

sobo house backyard

The alleys twist for miles, you basically just emerge to cross a street, and are back in this warren of undulating passageways, forgotten and neglected and disused except by stray dogs and bums, who both use it for the same purpose, scat strewn over the refuse and broken concrete.  i round a corner and suprize a bum pissing on a brick wall, the urine running around his foot, deep yellow.  around the next corner i look around futively and do the same.  3 cups of coffee…

The air is clear and clouds are scattered, the wind has whipped away the smog like an old lady shooes a cat.   i wind my way back to a lunch counter of the old school, neon sign, abrupt waitresses.  i met an old guy, tom something, with a beret and long fingernails and a faded jean jacket.  before he speaks i peg him: old photographer.  he sees my yashica.  names the model just by seeing the back of it.  i try to keep the conversation short but get pulled in, and soon am in a 20 minute conversation about photography, art, art school, we both went to the same place, albeit 30 years apart…  we parted on good terms, my wallet is .3 grams heavier due to his business card.

casper, in hamden

A brief car trip north of the city brought me to hamden, a street of shops and foodie places interspersed with antique shops.  i got a hot tip on a vintage camera store, knock and enter and up some dusty steps and casper, 18 years old in 1941, bombing of pearl harbor and a draft notice as an 18th birthday present, stands there with infinite knowledge of movie and still image cameras, definately almost blind with cracked yellow fingernails and a worn red cardigan over a red plaid shirt, he holds my(starmers actually) rolleicord from 1950 and without even looking down knows what lens it has, what its aperture is…  we talk about the war, about how to dispose of vintage film (which turns into nitrate, powdered dust, explosive on contact with air, so he would take excess/cut movie footage and dump it into the river at midnight), how 35mm was invented, tube amplifiers, white people in advertising, and wood paneling.

i buy a 7 dollar vintage dark room timer from him.  it works beautifully and has a much nicer alarm ring than my soulless digital timer..beep beep beep beepppp… which makes you feel like you are dying in a hospital everytime you change the chemicals.

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