Friday, August 31, 2012

one month on

OK OK a report is due. What is this blog about? I'm serious, I just arrived in Lubbock (one month ago, more or less). Yes I'd heard a few things about it before I arrived, but, I try to have an open mind and a ready cell-phone, because a lot of what I see strikes me as very interesting or at least different, and I want to document it. That's part of what this blog is all about.

The mirror aspect of it gives me some composition opportunities; I'll admit I've been playing with that. There are many interesting photo opportunities in town and on campus; I'll admit that if you'd been here your first twenty years or so, they might not look like much, but if you arrive from a tiny town with much less, and none of this West Texas stuff, it's very photogenic. One problem is that for me to whip out my camera while I'm driving, in traffic, is really quite dangerous, and I might have to make sure I'm a passenger more often, or, learn how to pull over and park more safely. For example, the other day I was trying to find the driver's license bureau, which is downtown on Mac Davis Street. Somewhere downtown I admitted to ourselves (my young son was with me) that I was totally lost and I found a picturesque downtown block and pulled over to park and ask someone for directions. Unfortunately every single building was uninhabited, as far as I could tell. It was a beautiful block, but entirely devoid of people. I looked quickly at my mirrors to see if I could take a picture, but, unfortunately, no. And I couldn't simultaneously 1) drive, 2) figure out where I was, and 3) check my mirrors.

I'm carrying around a few questions that I intend to use this blog to answer, though sometimes I may answer it photographically, other times by blabbing away. First, it's our first football game-day weekend, and I intend to watch the show; I realize I'm in the heart of football country and it's obviously a cultural spectacle. Parking spaces have game-day status which is different from weekday or weekend. I'm kind of interested by a football culture that is in full swing, as opposed to where I was before, where it had almost died out altogether. Second, I read the other day about the original settlers of Lubbock County, in Estacado; I wanted to investigate that, maybe go there if I get a chance (this may have to wait)...what was that all about? Third, what are people saying and feeling about certain local folks who made it big, like Natalie Maines, Buddy Holly, Shelby Marx, Mac Davis, the Flatlanders? I understand that some of these people have had mixed feelings about being from here, and have left behind some mixed emotions among the local folks who of course are left living in a town that others may have rejected for whatever reason.

It reminds me of a time I was young and hitchhiking around the country, and came through Beaumont Texas only to be picked up by a guy in an old plumber's van driving west and saying he was going to Austin. Now this guy is probably still out there, may even remember me (though probably not), and may even find this and respond. But in any case, his story was this: he was good friends with Janis Joplin. When she went to San Francisco, she spoke to a crowd once and disparaged her old friends back in Port Arther who were "being plumbers and that kind of thing"...this, he said, stuck him in the heart. He was, after all, a plumber who had had musical dreams but had nevertheless stuck with a steady living. Back to Janis, she said she was stuck in that horrible place (Port Arthur) and couldn't imagine living out a life that way. Now keep in mind that Janis was a bright candle, but she had only a few more years if any to live in this world. Actually I'm not sure if she was alive at the time this guy and I met, though I suppose I could find out. In any case, he had thrown his guitar in his plumbing van, and set out west across Texas for Austin (only to break down in a place called Sealy).

My theme here is that we look at what we've got sometimes, and it isn't enough, it's lacking, it's confining. Believe me I've been there and I couldn't be surprised if any of my kids said that about any of the places I've lived. But here's another idea: you take a camera out there, you look at stuff, and you work on always having a fresh perspective. You work with rearview mirrors until you have a set of compositions that reflect some of these feelings: wide open spaces, endless roads, precious shade, old Texas countryside, the contrast between the inside of one's van, and the image in the mirror, or, the image in the mirror and the view out the main window. There are lots of possibilities here; you can see that I've barely begun, below. And I mean no disrespect to the people, the area, the sights themselves. You may read into them derision, bleakness, or confinement. You can read into them what you want; I don't necessarily feel that way, yet. Or rather, let's put it this way: I'm as aware as anyone, it's all what you make it. I'm one of these people who can look out over a flat, dusty, endless plain, which might scare or intimidate others, and say, it's just me and God out here, the big windy plain, the huge sun, the endless earth, and I'm ok with that. I'm a newcomer to Texas; I'm still finding my way around. But if you're going to quote me, take that last part. Hope you enjoy what you see...

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