June 07, 2017 – Carlos Arzate

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Living in Tucson for a majority of the past fifteen years, I saw a lot of bands come and go. Many of my college buddies had garage bands and a few of them had it in them to hit the downtown music scene. Most of them have scattered to the wind these past few years as degrees were earned, families begun and careers established. There are some,though, who have had some serious staying power here in Arizona, and Carlos Arzate is one of them.

Carlos Arzate is a singer-songwriter, native to Tucson, whose songs draw inspiration from his personal life growing up in the Sonoran Desert. I believe I read an article in The Tucson Weekly that described his style as “Sonoran Soul.” It’s got a ring to it, but it implies a softness that, while present in many of his songs, doesn’t communicate the dynamism of his work.

Arzate is just as expressive and kind in person as he is on stage, and he’s deeply anchored in the music scene, collaborating with other prominent musicians. I have enjoyed every performance and would absolutely recommend checking out Carlos Arzate & The Kind Souls. The songs tell a story, communicate an emotion and paint atmospheric pictures.

This is one of my favorites, written as a first person narrative of a laborer who chooses to risk the dangerous journey across the desert to the United States in search of a better life.

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May 30, 2017 – Tumacacori

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“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Tumacacori is the site of Mission San José de Tumacácori, an 18th Century Franciscan mission. It takes its name from an earlier mission site founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691, which is on the east side of the Santa Cruz River south of the national park. This particular mission was founded at an extant native O’odham settlement and represents the first mission in southern Arizona.

The later Franciscan mission, now in ruins, was never rebuilt once it was abandoned after repeated Apache raids in the 19th century. Nearby Tubac was besieged in 1861.

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May 25, 2017 – Ideal

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“Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.”
~Susan Sontag

There’s little that I could even consider writing about today’s image. Sometimes simplicity and irony speak loudly enough for themselves. This image was made before a greater part of downtown Tucson was renovated. I would have to drive down to South Sixth Avenue to confirm it for myself, but I’m assuming that this business is either something completely new or has been refurbished.

Of course, it’s always possible that nothing has changed at all.

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May 22, 2017 – Glenwood

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Glenwood is a small little hamlet in Catron County, New Mexico, less than an hour north of Silver City. Officially founded in 1878, fewer than two-hundred people live there today; the silver and gold rush had, once upon a time, attracted a healthy number of people looking to carve their way into the riverbeds and canyons to earn their fortune.

As part of the Gila National Forest, there are some pristine landscapes. There’s also a small little area known as ‘The Catwalk,’ a National Recreation Trail, which follows the route of the old pipeline used by mining operations along the side of Whitewater Canyon.

Little else is here save for abandoned houses and defunct businesses slowly being reclaimed by nature. Just my kind of place.

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May 18, 2017 – Middle of Nowhere

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If I could, I would live my entire life on the road. I’ve been told that I can be a frustrating travel companion, always wanting to take the longer route, avoiding the interstate, and stopping constantly to take pictures. The obsession with ‘making good time’ has ruined travel for a lot of people – for me, it’s the diners, the gas stations, the random encounters, the getting lost of it all that means the most.

I make frequent stops and I ask a lot of questions, and I always have my camera with me.
There’s a lot to see out there and I’m just the kind of guy who finds boring things, like today’s image of the day, to be really interesting. But when you’re the kind of guy who can fill ninety minutes fidgeting with a few paper clips and a rubber band, or folding index cards into paper footballs, then photography is one hell of a great passion to develop; there’s never a dull moment because there’s always something new to discover.

Today’s image was made in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t take notes. I’m pretty sure this is somewhere in unincorporated areas of Western Kansas, but this could be New Mexico, too. That whole region looks the same, really, and driving through it feels like an eternity. But it’s the perfect stretch of road to turn on the radio, roll the windows down, and let your thoughts drift. There’s nothing more glorious than flying down the road with only your thoughts (and maybe your camera) to keep you company.

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May 17, 2017 – The Warehouse District

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I can guarantee you that I’ve published this image before – probably on this website – but I’m too lazy to search around and confirm it. Regardless, this is one of my favorite images from that period of my life. I had recently been laid off, and my girlfriend left me for one of my other good friends – a bass player in a local band – and I was pretty much the definition of ‘down and out.’

Pretty melodramatic in hindsight, but I was living in a renovated garage with no air conditioning or heat – the place was a cinder-block dump, maybe four hundred square feet with termites and concrete floors and a bathroom smaller than a closet. The monsoon was sticky and hot, and I remember nights huddled in the shack with friends, hand-rolling cigarettes and listening to music, playing guitar, passing the time with idle conversation and cheep beer. I didn’t have much, but I didn’t need much. It wasn’t a bad time, looking back – it was just difficult, and new. A few romantic flings, a minimal approach to living, few responsibilities – I made it through.

I used to ride my bike, every day, to Raging Sage, a coffee house a couple miles down the road. I probably read two books a week during that period of unemployment. I always kept my camera with me, too. I rode all around the city looking for interesting things to photograph. South Euclid Avenue was filled with interesting textures, buildings, warehouses, graffiti, and other industrial ephemera. And this is one of my favorite images from that period, right along the railroad.

Sometimes having nothing – or next to nothing – can be the most liberating thing in the world. I had a couple of months where I didn’t have to answer to anybody. Sure, I was applying for work and trying to get back into the market, but I had a lot of extra time, and it was extra time that I had never experience before in my entire life. I read books and rode my bike, entertained guests at my little casita, and enjoyed the company of a few lovely women. Looking back, it’s one of the more romantic periods of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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May 11, 2017 – Père Lachaise Cemetery

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This is an image that I have always loved, and it was a happy accident. After traveling through Europe, I came home with a giant pile of film that needed to be developed. I was still in my early days with photography and most of what I brought home was absolute garbage – but I shot enough film that I ‘lucked’ my way into a few decent images.

While I was in the darkroom, drawing my first prints from the Paris Cemetery rolls, somebody came in and flipped the lights on, not knowing that I was there. When this happens while a print is being lifted, it can create an effect known as ‘solarization,’ where the light short-circuits the developing process because the printing-out paper is still light sensitive. That’s why the highlight areas of this image are a neutral gray with what appear to be glowing edges.

I can’t even recall whose tomb this is; I just remember that the carving grabbed my attention and I took a photograph of it. Maybe somebody out there knows – let me know in the comments.

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