Category: Art


A room with a view

I’m not one for making last-minute travel plans. Mostly it’s the cost that puts me off. I’m also not a fan of the stress that comes when everything is booked and you’re left with the feeling of, “Well, now what do we do?” And anyway, spontaneity is over-rated and unbecoming once one reaches a certain age.

That being said, it’s important to recognize opportunity when it presents itself, even if it’s not necessarily easy or convenient. For example: a high-school friend mentions that he’s got an extra ticket to a sold-out concert this weekend. It’s a chance easily dismissed, especially if attending the show means flying to another city. It will be expensive and time consuming. It’ll be loud and hot and smelly. And your buddy isn’t the guy you hung out with 20 years ago. So really, it’s not worth it. Move along.

Of course, the band is one of your favorites. And that plane ticket actually won’t break the bank. Not that this makes such a trip any more sensible.

These are the first and second thoughts I had when I discovered a friend from long ago had an extra ticket to see Lush in Chicago. Fortunately, I heard one of those third thoughts when my wife said, “You should go.”

So I did go. And it was expensive. And loud, hot, and smelly. And my buddy wasn’t the same person I once knew.

Lush (plus bassist Phil King out of frame) perform at the Vic in Chicago

And that was all okay, because as it turns out, I wasn’t the same person either. Catching up with Kevin, I was reminded that some friendships transcend time and distance. Such friendships are few, and it should be mandatory to have a drink with those friends at least once every decade or so. Someday they won’t be around. Someday you won’t be around.

The show itself was nothing short of fucking amazing, but as a longtime fan of Lush, you’d expect me to say that. I’m not a music critic, and this isn’t a review. If that matters, you can get that here. Suffice it to say that this concert gave me the rare opportunity for something more than a trip down memory lane for a handful of best-of moments. It was an opportunity to re-engage with music that has held a meaningful place in my life. I am, as I always have been, blown away by their art. When art moves you like that, it should not be taken lightly.

Most importantly, I am reminded to listen to those third thoughts: you should go.

Emma Anderson dazzles us allMiki Berenyi and Phil King are solidMiki Berenyi's voice still soars while Justin Welch drives the beat


On Managing Photos

I just deleted over 1200 photos from my recent trip to Japan, which is the most aggressive culling of photographs I have ever done. This is in addition to the initial elimination of some 300 or so photographs which were outrightly out of focus or poorly exposed. Clicking “Empty Trash” is not an easy decision, and I’m glad that I’m not a professional photographer. That would be like being the guy who has to put puppies down at the animal shelter.

Of course, some might argue that deleting photos isn’t necessary, given the ginormous size and relative cheapness of digital storage these days. I can get a terabyte hard drive for under $100, which is just ridiculous. Back when I was a kid, my father bought our first external hard drive for our overflowing Macintosh LC II. We got a LaCie 320 MB (yes, that’s megabytes, folks) for $350, which was a good deal at the time. “A dollar per megabyte, that’s a good deal,” I remember Dad saying. Yep. It was. In 1994.

Anyway, if data storage is so cheap, why bother getting rid of photos? For one, cheap is not the same thing as free. Secondly, if I just dump everything onto a bunch of hard drives, I’ve got to then manage those drives. I’d be stuck moving physical things around instead of more liquid data, so the problem isn’t really solved at all, but in fact exacerbated.

Ultimately, though, the problem is that it’s all just stuff. Granted, it’s stuff that I created, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do not need or want more things in my life. Certainly not things that are of little value, and the photos that I culled were all low-value. Many didn’t have high artistic or technical quality. Others were duplicates of ones I decided to keep. I think that if you’re going to to surround yourself with stuff (and let’s face it, we’re going to do just that) it should be stuff worth having around.

Having decided to keep a few things around, the task of managing those things arises. Even 500 photos is too many for a coherent story, so organizing them becomes necessary. Using Aperture, I’ve geotagged and added faces to all the photographs as per usual. Additionally, I finally devised a keyword (what Aperture calls a tag) system that I think I can use and more importantly, sustain. I borrowed from Scott Davenport who borrows from William Beem, and they offer decent examples of their own keyword systems. The point is to decide what is important and then make appropriate keywords for those things. Then, organize those keywords. Finally, apply the keywords. Voila! Organized photos. It takes a bit of forethought to set things up the right way, but the results are fantastic.

In the end, the extra work allows me to do things with the stuff, like tell stories.