05 October 2012

. religion, architecture, and dessert in southern Italy .


The most certainty I have on any of these three is that I don’t believe in “the” god. I’m actually not even certain about that, and I’d rather say that I’m not certain about anything, really, except that there may or may not be some sort of god, and that the millions of tons of Greek architecture built in Sicily when there was just a tiny system of pulleys is totally mind-blowing, and that all those desserts from southern Italy are equally as ornate, confusing, and endless just as Catholicism and Italian architecture is.

All roads in those small towns lead to the center, which, most of the time, is a church. This, as an overhead view, is a cobblestone bicycle wheel. Religion is the heart of it all, the social glue to a small community, and peppered in every corner on the way to those religious houses are pastry shops loaded with perfectly piped, folded, and lined desserts.

And each one of those desserts closely resembles the exteriors of those old towns. A soft fold in the white dough in the beginning stages of sfogliatelle ricce calls out the layers of hard rock in the Chiesa Di San Ferdinando, Naples. The round tops of the hobbit-like trulli houses in Alberobello are the rustic, textured Sassanelli cookies. The entrance of the outdoor ceiling of Teatro Massimo in Palermo partners with traditional Pugliese braided almond cookies. The importance of sweets, religion, and ornate stone are so interwoven in everyday life that any one of the three seems empty without the other.

I like the sound of silence echoing in the interior of a massive cathedral. I like the crunch in my head when I take the first bite of a warm sfogliatelle. I like sitting down on an old wooden pew and the tiny squeak is like an explosion. I like the repetitive sound of a rolling pin. I like the clang of pretty church bells. And all of those together can create something as simple and beautiful as layered dough.

19 December 2011

take out the reaction of the person on the receiving end of your 'yes' or 'no' decision...






...and you'll learn to trust what you want and need instead of what you think others want you to want.

I found a box of old photos, unorganized, there for no other reason in that it gives me joy to forget about them and discover them again and again. A shot of my dad in his 20s with a very important mustache caption, my grandpa looking charming at a party in the 70s on the porch, my mom and dad’s wedding gifts circa early 70s, and a love letter from my grandpa to my grandma before they were married (previously posted in 2008)- all surreal and lovely and create a non-cohesive story of comfort, family. Below are bits and pieces of the love letters all in one:

Dearest,
One week from today we will be well on our way. Whether north, or south, or east, or west, which direction is the best? Keep on guessing Katie dear, and before very long I'll be near...Freddy and I went to the movies early this afternoon and saw Primrose Path. It made us lonelier...I really felt lonesome about 8 o'clock Saturday night when I usually called you, and I knew you were thinking of me too Katie. I really have missed you so much. All the clothes in the store windows remind me of the things you like and the dresses I hope you can wear. Katie dearest in less than a week we shall be with each other and will have so much to say...I'll write you again before I leave. If you get a chance write me a note in Rochester, a last line for your best boyfriend. I love you dearly. Your, John.

09 October 2011

france vs. italy or italy vs. france







I realized a few things during the 'Italy and France shoot adventure' (starting with landing in Milan, driving to Franciacorta, driving to the Cinque Terre coast, ending in Genoa, train to Nice, Italian train strike in Ventimiglia then quick 10 minute 80 Euro cab ride over the border, another train to Nice, a few days there, another train to Paris, drive to Fountainbleau with a little rock climbing on the side, drive to Charles de Gaulle, sit in 3 hours of traffic, flight to SF, mini wine bottles most of the way home):

- Italian drivers are the BEST. They have a mission and they’re not afraid to ride your bumper. I brought back some of the same driving skills to SF. I am the one behind you honking while you do 15 mph in a 40.
- No matter how good your GPS is, you’re probably going to end up on some muddy mountainside road blocked with some mountain animal.
- The more camera gear I carry on my back, the more I will eat pasta and heavy creamy stuff.
- If I have an absolute, nailed down shot list, 99% of the time it’ll be thrown out the window and something even better comes out of shooting in the moment. Less concrete = more fluid = sexier.

26 September 2011

detroit rock city.






Detroit. This is where I’ve been shooting for the past week. My friend Shawn inspires me to experience each assignment city so that I don’t fall into the cycle of shooting 10 hour days, back to the hotel, TV, room service, and repeat. So this time, after our shoot wrapped, it was downtown Detroit, totally surreal. Driving through, it felt like a war zone; every other house is abandoned, every other factory is a busted out shell, and some blocks are essentially a modern day ghost town. Because a lot of the buildings are owned by the city, you can easily walk in without technically trespassing. Even if you were, the cops have better things to do then to bust some 5 foot tall lady with a camera. These are from the Fisher Body 21 plant, used for car body assembly, and the Packard Car Plant, once a legend for building high end autos.

All I heard was the sound of dripping water (remains of the storm from the day before), the echo of footsteps, and occasional wind gust.

16 September 2011

be small forever








I want to recreate something bigger and brighter and more strange than it really is. This is the only way I feel like I can really make things interesting after the fact. Seeing them in real life is boring. The reality is boring. But when they're recreated, the unreal possibilities can be perfect. I miss the way I saw Paris and Provence when I was little. Everything was like a dream. Why did I remember some things like it was yesterday more than others, like how the cold cobblestone felt on my knees or the sound of the rocks on the beach being sucked back into the sea while my head was under the salty water?

I tried frozen lemons with citron sorbet for the first time. And now what I'll remember is the sound of my spoon scraping the sides of the frozen lemon. We can probably make a tiny symphony with only those sounds - rocks, water, scraping.

13 August 2011

A film awakening…










The image of the woman with the pink shirt reminds me of when I was 5 or 6, and we were at a house of my parent’s friend in France. They were gutting a chicken and all the organs were laid out on the table. One of the kids grabbed my hand and said with a cute French accent: ‘touch! touch!’ as I watched her push my finger to put a dent in what looked like a kidney or liver. They were all so slimy and I thought they were going to start moving and crawling off the table.

The image of the table reminds me of the hours and hours we’re ‘forced’ to stay and eat dinner each night. Do you remember what your parents made you eat and you couldn’t leave the table until you finished it? Mine was usually steak, and I remember endlessly chewing until it was completely mushy and tasteless, kind of like chewing on a wet sock.

19 July 2011

en fran├žais, si vous plait
















1. the sound of rolling thunder while the big dog snores on the tiles as you eat bread with honey.
2. thoughts as a run on sentence like this: what if bees wore tiny leisure suits and had tiny briefcases because it's like grand central station and wall street all wrapped in one in a big sunflower field and they are paid in honey!
3. relive your life a second time exploring a tiny detail.
4. chocolate on your face.
5. broken french.
6. melon and croque monsieur and yogurt and rose.
7. delicious.
8. c'est tout.