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.