August 03, 2017 – Flags in the Pacific

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“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”
~Heraclitus

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August 02, 2017 – The Shores of Alaska

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“The more I see as I sit here among the rocks, the more I wonder about what I am not seeing.”
~Richard Proenneke

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August 01, 2017 – General Store

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“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”
~Robert Frank

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May 27, 2017 – Walkabout

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“It’s often about the simple things, isn’t it? Painting and photography are first about seeing, they say. Writing is about observing. Technique is secondary. Sometimes the simple is the most difficult.”
~Linda Olsson

I’ve collected a lot of portraits like this during my bike rides and walkabouts in Tucson. North Stone Avenue is rich with old barber shops, auto repairs shops, and unique private markets. In an urban and suburban landscape increasingly swallowed-up by Levittown-style housing homogeneity and glossy corporate businesses, it’s nice to see small, privately owned businesses. Sometimes the character is rustic, and many of these businesses are struggling, but they have a salt-of-the earth quality that I will always appreciate.

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May 26, 2017 – Downtown Tucson

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“Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Originally known as the Willard Hotel, this property on South 6th Avenue – a stone’s throw away from the heart of downtown – was renamed the Pueblo Hotel in 1944. This weathered sign was installed in the 1950s. The hotel and apartments closed in 1984, when I was only one year old, and is currently home to a law office. The sign remains, though, even if it might be a little misleading. It was restored to like-new condition back in 2012 and I’m really pleased that I photographed it before the change.

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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 21, 2017 – Drifter

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Silver City, New Mexico is a special little town. It’s the kind of town my family would stay the night on the way from one destination to another during vacation. It’s the kind of town that begs you to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and walk around for a while, with a greasy-spoon diner and some art galleries to explore. It’s the kind of town you tell yourself “gosh, if I could only find t he excuse, I’d love to live in a place like this.”

Sadly, it is also a small town and opportunities are scarce.
Sadly, it’s the kind of town that’s easy to talk yourself out of ever moving to.

So, from time to time, I would find an excuse to spend the weekend here. A drive through the Gila National Forest with frequent stops to take photographs of the landscape and wildlife. Coffee shops and leisurely strolls downtown. I’m not sure if “The Drifter” is still there, but I’m guessing it is. I could look it up, of course, but I’d rather just find out for myself the next time I roll into town.

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May 10, 2017 – Service

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“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
~Susan Sontag

I’m not sure if this place still exists. Unfortunately, I don’t even remember where it is. It’s probably somewhere on South Stone Avenue, or in the warehouse district on South Park Avenue. I suppose I could look it up, but it really isn’t important. I just remember riding my bike through the wrecked car lots, the warehouses, over the railroad tracks by the lumber yards and steel yards and welding operations.

I try to image what these places must have looked like when they were brand new. I can’t seem to conjure the image in my head. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salvage yard or a warehouse that looked clean and new, with fresh signage and rust-free construction. These places always look like they’ve been there forever – they always look old. Old and tired.

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May 09, 2017 – The Blue Door

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This is a building on Subway Street in Bisbee, Arizona, a small town that used to be the most productive mining operation in America. The mine isn’t fully operational today, and the town was in danger of becoming a ghost town after the mine shut down several decades ago. Low property values motivated an influx of artists, hippies, and dropouts, and it has become something of a vacation destination. It’s a beautiful town with a service industry, hotels, and local markets – one-hundred miles from Tucson, and one-hundred years away from modern life.

Sadly, this doorway is now obscured by a metal gate, and has been repainted several times. Famously, even though there’s no solid proof, this building is the oldest structure in Bisbee. It was supposedly once owned by screen actor John Wayne, and is currently a residence available for rent; I used to live in the small apartment next door. It’s a simple little building with few windows, dark inside but built to remain cool in the Arizona heat without the advantage of modern air conditioning. I managed to photograph the outside of the building before a gate was erected and a metal door was installed. It was genuinely beautiful.

But like so many beautiful things, it had to be covered, protected, and removed from the public eye.
I’m just glad I got there before it disappeared.

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May 08, 2017 – Deadwood

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Near the intersection of Stone & Ft Lowell in Tucson, Arizona is this heap of rotting bricks, right across the street from a family owned Indian restaurant and a gas station. Al’s Deadwood Place has been closed for a long time, probably close to ten years, but it still sits here, the ‘cocktail’ sign slowly fading, the cloth long-since ripped from the awning. I only set foot in this establishment once, but the experience was memorable enough.

Deadwood was the darkest bar I had ever been in, before or since. My girlfriend and I sat down at the bar, a chatty woman behind the counter excited to share her high-school son’s academic successes with us. The place was dead silent; no jukebox or radio, just the humming of the electricity and the crunch of ice when our drinks were being mixed. We were probably two rounds of tequila deep before I noticed that there was another man at the far end of the bar, clinging to the shadows, not noticeably conscious. He was slumped over, head down, reminding me of some kind of bar-fly a caricature.

There was nobody else at the bar. Just my girlfriend and I, college-aged and curious about the bar down the street, the chatty-Kathy, and the figured slumped over in the shadows. He reminded me of a generic cartoon drunk, like something you’d see at Moe’s Tavern in The Simpsons.

Who knew how long he’d been there? Who knew how long he’d remain after we left
Only the barmaid, I suppose.
This was easily the dingiest, darkest, dirtiest little hole-in-the-wall I had ever patronized.

I kind of liked it. I’m bummed I can’t go there again.

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