Friday, June 27, 2008

Thematic Photographic 4: "Wood" v.2.0 - More Guitars ('Cause I Promised)


"Fender Stratocaster"
Carrboro, NC - July 2003 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus Hosted by Written Inc.

"Huh Huh - You thaid 'Headstock'"
Carrboro, NC - July 2003 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus Hosted by Written Inc.

"And She Sings Too! - Kat and her SG"
Raleigh, NC - September 2006 (Click to embiggen)

Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi - Button Image by Smarmoofus Hosted by Written Inc.

For those of you who missed it, this week's Thematic Photographic is "Wood". Guitars are made of wood. I like guitars. And besides that, yesterday's "intimate guitar shot" got Winter all "shivery", and since I just love it when that happens, I thought I'd continue the theme today.

The first two shots came from the opening of a new show at Sizl Gallery about 5 years ago. At the time Sizl was still in its original location in Carrboro. (It's now located in Chapel Hill. Check it out sometime.) The guitars weren't part of the exhibit, they belonged to the duet that played for the opening.

The third shot is a slightly Photoshopped variation on a shot from an outdoor show at the RBC Center in Raleigh. The band is called Sugar, and this is Kat. She does the lead vocals, rhythm guitar and that thing that gets all the guys in the audience elbowed in the ribs by their dates. Hard. (She's also a bit of a lens magnet -- at least when I'm shooting for them.) As Sugar these guys operate as a cover band, but they've also developed a body of original work which they'll be debuting this summer under the name "The Design" (at least I'm pretty sure that's what they're calling it -- I've lost the email). Same lineup, just a different name.

From the "Can't Believe I've Never Done This" Desk
I got a message earlier this week from my friend Kristen inviting me to join her and some others for the Movies On The Lawn at the NC Museum of Art. And it occurred to me that despite the fact that I don't live more than 2 miles from the museum I'd never done the movie night. It's not like this is a new series, they've been at it for several summers now.

I really need to get out more.

Blog Years
Yesterday (June 26) was Carmi's fourth anniversary on Written, Inc.. That's a pretty major accomplishment all things considered. Or as I said then, "That's like 32 in blog-years isn't it?". At the end of his anniversary retrospective post, he posed the question "Why do you do this?". What drives your blog? Where does the energy, the motivation come from? The comments section was popular for that post, to be sure. But, as often happens, I discovered the thesis for a new post of my own as I realized how much I wanted to say in the comment I was writing.

I've had my own website for years. I started it back in the late 90's or maybe early 2000 more as a learning tool than anything else. I was teaching myself web design, and it gave me a little corner of the internet I could call my own. Some time later, I upgraded to a low-cost "pro" version so I could get my own domain name and more storage (and bandwidth) and get rid of the annoying ads for the hosting service that were a required part of the "free" package. And being a purist, I of course wanted no part of the page wizards and HTML generators they made available, so I coded it all myself. I taught myself HTML, javascript, CSS, and a few other essentials but I never quite made the leap to "web developer" that I'd planned to.

But what I did find I liked was that I could publish my work myself. This realization had dawned several years ago, but didn't become fully rooted in my consciousness until late 2004. Specifically, September of 2004 when I was almost accidentally published by one of the local weeklies. I'd been to an arts festival in Durham and encountered a rather militant (and clearly right-wing) woman hurling invective upon someone who'd done nothing to deserve it. At the time I was too stunned by her audacity to do anything more than gape until it was too late. But after having a chance to gather myself, I sat down at the computer and banged out an op-ed piece that I sent to The Independent Weekly with a note saying basically "here's a thousand words you can use if you need them". About an hour later I got an email from the managing editor saying that as a matter of fact, the person who was supposed to have submitted for one of the regular columns had flaked on them, so they did need an extra thousand words, and could I supply them a one-line bio to go along with my by-line. And so went my debut in "The Indy".

This was very cool to me. People were actually going to read my thoughts in somebody else's publication. It wasn't actually the first time that had happened, but it was the first full feature that I hadn't had to share with other people. For this week anyway, this was my column. It got good to me. I started to find other subjects, do research, write more stuff -- stuff I thought was way better than that first piece. But The Indy didn't need another thousand words. And week after week, my submissions didn't even rate a rejection -- just silence. I started submitting to other papers -- first locally, then practically anywhere. The Village Voice, Detroit Free Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer... I lost track. Not a word. Not even a syllable. This was turning into the journalistic equivalent of an internet dating site for me.

It wasn't fun. I was writing good stuff -- important and relevant stuff -- and it was being ignored. I was getting testy. Not only was I a little insulted by the complete indifference, I really felt like I had something worthwhile to say that might actually make a difference (this was right before the 2004 election). So I turned to the only media outlet I knew would publish me: Me. I posted all of my articles on my website and hoped that somebody -- the right somebody -- would see it. The counters on my pages told a different story, and I'm not sure how accurate they were anyway so it may be that I had even fewer than the handful of visitors I appeared to have (that I could tell were not me).

It was discouraging and sucky and made me wonder why I bothered. And for almost two years I wrote nothing at all. What was the point? Why write it if nobody's going to read it? Then I stumbled on a blog by someone who posted on a Hurricanes forum I was a member of. She went by the handle "Uberbeth" on the forum, and I don't know whatever became of her blog. Perhaps she moved it, or maybe she went the way of so many others. But the link doesn't take you anywhere anymore. But now Blogger (or Blogspot as it was known then) was on my radar. Here I discovered my dear friend JC who writes some of the best stuff I've ever read. Sometimes funny, often poignant, always edgy, she's my longest-running blogfriend ("running" being an intentional wordplay).

When I decided that the time had come to quit smoking once and for all -- which is really when I began to seriously focus on this whole blogging thing -- JC's the one I turned to for help. I knew she had quit, and I knew if I posted my intent and told somebody about it, I'd feel accountable. That was all I'd really expected out of the exchange -- just someone to know that the post existed. I told her she didn't even have to read it, just don't tell me if she didn't. Well she did rad it, and much more. Within a couple of hours she had a post on her own blog (one that people actually read) asking folks to stop by and leave a comment, say something supportive (or threatening -- thanks Roo) and let me know that other people in the world cared if I suffocated myself. And the evidence is in my archives, in the comments -- especially from those first 72 hours. People I'd never heard of -- people who had never heard of me -- were coming in and offering support. Many of them had been through the same process, some of them had only secondhand experience, but all of them were willing to offer encouragement. I was amazed, and more than a little humbled by it all. And the expansion -- or explosion might be a more apt term -- started from there.

From JC's blog and the visitors she sent to mine I discovered the deliciously loquacious Tiff, the always straight-shooting DB, the thought-provoking Carmi and the hysterical-laughter-inducing 15-minute Lunch, among others.

They in turn took me to places like Gord's and Smarmoofus's and most recently Lara's. And their visitors led me onward to other fascinating places like Charlene's and Susan's and Winter's.

And at every intersection along the way, every new glimpse I get into someone else's world, every new insight I gain by reading someone else's wisdom, or humor, or even painful experience I feel like I come away richer. Maybe a little smarter, maybe a little more empathic, maybe a little more accepting, but always a little better in some way than I was before.

As a developer and aesthetist there are (many) times when Blogger's design interface frustrates me because I can't make it do what I want it to do -- even editing the HTML directly (which is what I usually do). But on most days, I like the fact that I can focus on my topic rather than the CSS stylesheets or javascript under the hood. And I really like being able to publish myself rather than depend on someone else to decide if I'm worthy of a few column inches. Most of all I love meeting the people I've met along the way in this relatively short (so far) journey. Maybe I'll never have anything on Page 1 above the fold, but a few people read my ramblings anyway.

So drop by Carmi's and join his celebration if you haven't already. And while you're at it, drop by Lara's too. She marked her second anniversary on the same day.

That's 16 in Blog Years.
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10 comments:

Kristen D said...

Yes, you need to get out more - and I'll help drag you out. This is what friends do.

Meantime, my favorite photo once again is the close-up of the...tuning portion of the guitar...headstock? I dunno what it's called, but it's a lovely photo.

See you tonight on the lawn :)

tiff said...

Have a wonderful time at the movies!

I've been 'here' for three years plus a little, and haven't yet been to one of the those events. Not only did I need to get out more, I think I need to buy a life at the same time.

I think a lot of us bloggers simply want to geth the words out; the subject matter (if indeed there's any real topic for the day) isn't as important as putting the words together, stringing along thoughts into something whole and readable, even enjoyable.

Much like this post.

Mojo said...

@Kristen: Looking so forward to it sug!

@Tiff: It's what JC calls "sweating out loud". She says it's just a process for ... processing stuff a lot of times. I guess that's true, but I do try to have a point at least once in a while.

Lara said...

hey, thanks much for the shout out! i'm glad you came across my blog - i love new visitors! :)

Johnny Virgil said...

thanks for the shout out. You're more eloquent than I'll ever be...

creme brulee aka GH said...

mojo,

you are such a writer.

in a comment at It Strikes me Funny today you said:

But the flaw inherent in petitions is that they offer no context for that number. We only hear one side of the conversation.

perfect addition to my thoughts; I may have to 'borrow' a portion of your literate comment for a future post.

well said.

gord h.

Mojo said...

@Lara: I'm glad I came across it too. It's a very inspiring couple of blogs (like your photos too).

@Johnny: Eloquent maybe, but you're way funnier.

@Gord: Feel free to quote me anytime. I'd be honored.

db grin said...

GAAAAH!

I just typed a post-sized comment, and effing blogger decided I should be more concise by DELETING IT.

That's why I'm on Wordpress.

Anyway, well written post, and I'm happy to have found you. I have one bass guitar that's way more photogenic than I am.

On blogging, the bottom line is diary. I can reread my stuff, whether written or online, and zip back to that moment in history - including feelings, people, surroundings, etc. Beyond that, the blog friends I've made are priceless - as dependable, valuable, and important to me as ever.

Good on you for being published in print, I hope to get there someday.

Mojo said...

@DB: Oh man I hate it for ya. I haven't had that problem with a post-sized comment, but I've had it happen with smaller ones.

Yeah, I get it about the journaling aspect. For a lot of people that's all it's about. And there is something cathartic about being able to unload on the entire world.

And the friends I've made this way are some of the best I've ever had. not just blogging, but online in general. (I got into that a few posts ago in more detail.)

Charlene said...

mojo,

and you mentioned me~~~ sorry it took me so long to get back here. my dad's illnesses really interferred with my blogging friday and saturday
~~~~~~~PLAWYK~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~BGWD~~~~~~~
~~~c~~~