I was like Ansel Adams pointing the lens on the monoculture streets of Scottsburg, Indiana. I've taken
photographs of babies being born, the passing of the Olympic torch, Courtfest
in September, and The Leota Country Frolic in June. I snapped images
of the 1987 high school Marching Band formations while flying in my best friend's dad's plane,
Pigeon Roost Monument, snow covered white, the smear of black
smoke in the sky when our house burned down.
I even photographed my best friend's car after he
wrapped it around a tree. The blood from his arm was a black smear down the gray car door. He
was OK, but never drives over the speed limit now - he's like one of those
old men in a fedora with white hair growing out of his ears. When he
accelerates his knees tremble. He should have never tried to make the light.
can't bear the sight of blood in color because I have it in my head in black and white.
This was my Technicolor dream. Now it's nothing more than
glossy images on Kodak Paper, this black and white that lasts forever.
I stood on the corner of McClain and SR56 with my lens pointed towards "Stoplight
Liquor Store" while the KKK passed out flyers to willing recipients.
They didn't see me behind a cherry red firebird parked at Dean's Pontiac
- at least I don't think they did - I hoped.
I snapped a black and white of one's face as he lifted his hood to wipe
back the sweat on his forehead. I was struck at how plain and average his face
looked - he might have been late 30's, his hair was short and clean. The
face could have been my brother's - thankfully it was not.
I felt the blood pound in my head as I saw some of the faces in the cars.
Some reacted with fear, some with familiarity- my favorite were those who
rolled their eyes in boredom at such shallow, banal concepts of these hoods
and their misplaced hatred.
I'm not able to see the world through their single dimension. I see colors until I feel I can go blind with them, cram the thoughts
together, for an instant, and then snap away in black and white. Click, click click, fade, fade, fade...
Later, when I passed them in my car I shook my head and rolled up my window. I
hoped that I didn't know any of them. I prayed for a wind to blow them all
away - it never came. The indian summer breeze wasn't strong enough to counter the cold air they blew.
I wanted it to fade, but it fades to black and white and it
will last forever.
At night I drove out to the open field that we, as overly romantic
teen-agers, named "Orion's Desolation". I hate even thinking the name now
because it seems so silly and sappy - damn the things that are part of our
history- but it was where we made out and drank beer and sat on the hoods of our cars and talked about the world. I parked on the tractor access road and lay alone on the warm hood of my
silver LN7 with my feet on the bumper to keep my ass from sliding off. I was a
contrast of hot at my back and chill from the air.
The field stretched wide arms around the sky and a single gravel road
bisected it. In the summer, the waving rows of green corn marched all the way to the distant,
circling forest and rustled in the quiet darkness. In the cool autumn night it was empty and pale and bedraggled, drained of color.
But the stars… the stars were alive with color, and bright - lasting forever in that place. The smear of the Milky Way
was a speckled ribbon tied to each horizon. It's the one thing I've
never been able to photograph the way I want. I wanted to hold the shutter
open for hours - but knew I would get nothing more than pale smeared lines across the
This kind of night was blinding color for me, cool night in a Southern
Indiana Autumn. I wanted to capture the shade of each star, I
wanted to zoom into the blazing light of Venus to see her phases, to cut the Pleiades out of the sky and paste it in a book, or string
Orion up on my wall and keep it all year long. I wanted to have summer days and
nights with Orion in my skies, a warrior to fend off the monocrome.
I wanted it to endure, a technicolor night that faded- black and white- into memory.
It gave me black and white - and it will last forever.