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It’s quiet & crisp winter morning in Tucson; everything outside is perfectly still. I know it’s just my own anticipation, but it’s that kind of calm that promises action, just around the corner.
Sitting in my friend’s kitchen, my brain feels swollen after a night of story-telling & whiskey. I can taste sour hops on my tongue, and there’s a dull pain at the base of my neck. There’s something refreshing about walking right up to the edge – that is, of being a down-right parody of oneself – only to then stretch the old arms and call it a night.
This is my third time at The Fiesta de los Vaqueros. After enough time spent down in the mud with the rest of the competitors – hands freezing, chilled to the bone, camera equipment douched in mud – I’ve come to love this job, unapologetically. The crude, early morning light spills into the parking lot as it slowly fills, predictably, with pick-up trucks and livestock trailers, white dust hanging in the air, catching the orange light. A couple of retired bull riders, on their perch in the press box, survey the bucking chutes beneath them while rodeo officials pour into the announcer’s booth and begin unraveling mic cords and assembling a row of folding chairs. My good friend & fellow photographer, Will Seberger – we’ve come to jokingly revere our hangovers as just another part of the job.
I’ve done my equipment check, and I feel prepared – but I imagine I’m quite the sight. Hair skewed, glasses crooked, sitting in my socks & underwear in this otherwise pristine, tile-floored kitchen in Midtown Tucson. Hangover, indeed.
And you know – I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
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This is challenging work and there are stories to tell, but that’ll have to come later. Wish me luck.
It’s ‘go’ time.