Artist In Solitude: Faulkner Short
I was so excited to go on this artist’s retreat in Garibaldi. I've spent a lot of time at Doc Huckleberry's but always with large groups of people. My family and a few friends go to Doc's every year to celebrate February birthdays. Tuna Crab Surprise, an annual party where a dozen or so friends pressure-can tuna and eat lots of seafood happens here. John & Emily held their amazing wedding here. Now here I am driving out to Garibaldi in a ‘98 Civic loaded down with thousands of images from my past trying to make a little sense out of them and form an edit. Trying not to have too many expectations about results. I'll just do what I can and try to stay productive.
It was eerie walking into Doc's with no one else but me and the glowing beaver diorama downstairs. I ripped a ten foot section of butcher paper from the dispenser in the kitchen and put it on the dining room table for a work space. 15 minutes later, the contents of my poor Honda covered every surface. Boxes of photos, light table, typewriter, scanner, lps and food. I felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to start.
Drove to Bay City, and found a basketball hoop to shoot at. Stopped at an antique store on the way back and bought Forever Changes on 8-track, and a box of Royaltone Ripple typewriter paper. Now I'm ready. Put Billie Holiday on the turntable and started sorting. Sifting through messes of all sorts. Literally and figuratively. Newspace, Gander Ridge, Center Street, me with soul patch, photo booth at Cafe Nola, Lightleak, old friends, and travels all over the world. I decided to pick out images from "The Ship," my family home. It's the most consistent photographic series in my life. Once I dove in, I lost track of time.
Outside it was wet, gray and slow. I worked in spurts. Eyes got tired, slept a few hours, up at 4am., records, coffee and food. My time there turned into one long event. Images swirling around, Charlie Feathers and Sun Ra linking sound with images and memories. Powered by Ling Cod and Smoked Tuna belly on Bernstein's bagels. I made calls to friends and family. One call to my parents I learned that an old family friend, Milo, had passed away at age 79. That news triggered memories. A photo of me standing on the seat of his Model A Roadster Pickup, Nick's Coney Island/Oola Boola's Wonderland, and Milo's round glasses on his solid frame.
I heard someone talking to my dad in the background while on the phone with mom. A guy my family has known for my whole life stopped by The Ship unannounced. He had driven up from Coos Bay. He's 70 and his wife of 40+ years couldn't stand to see his face anymore. Deep in debt, alone and scared, he needed to talk with someone he knew before he was married. He had to sell his property where my family spent a lot of time. My parents were there in 1967. They set up speakers in the trees and blasted Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band all summer while swimming in the Millicoma River. I once made an impossibly long 3 pointer there in front of a large crowd to win a game of horse.
Matto called and offered me a high paying DJ gig on the top floor of a fancy hotel downtown. The only problem was it was on the same day as Loly & my honeymoon the following weekend. I can't pass this up. Maybe I could drive out to Honeymoon cabin in Cascade Locks, settle in, drive back to Portland, spin records, and hurry back to Loly at 1am? Once I made that awkward phone call to my new bride, I decided to walk on the beach. The fog was blowing in with the sun blaring through. There was a wedding taking place at the Old Mill, where they hold the annual Crab Races. Most of the wedding party was out back having a smoke and giving me dirty looks. I sat down on a log to call Humphrey. Noticed the stump behind me had 2 pieces of dog waste on top of it. Wondered how the dog positioned his/her ass to make that deposit.
The pelicans were a treat to watch. They were feeding on these little silver fish I could see in the water. The birds would fly up about 15 feet, then dive in, and emerge shaking their heads and gulping the fish down. The raft followed the school down the shore into Miami Cove, where the Egrets were waiting as still as statues. Every once in a while, one would dart down with lightning speed to catch a bite. There I was, snapping away with my M3, mesmerized and calm, about 100 yards away from a cold beer at Kelley's Place, when suddenly both of my legs sank deep into oily black silt quicksand. I lost one shoe and barely got the other out. I dipped my 50mm Summicron in the mud while trying to dislodge my Adidas from the depths with both arms up to the elbow. Barely made it out. Covered in black mud, laughing at my mishap, I wondered what the picnicking family thought of me emerging from the brambles sloshing by in my only pair of shoes back to the house. I'm trying to decipher how that episode represents my artist in solitude experience/my whole photo career/my life as I know it.
After cleaning off, I went to the Hook, Line 'n Sinker for a righteous chicken dinner. The Seahawks game was on. Table 33 was open. 2 whiskeys in, the guy next to me was reading Kendall on commercial breaks. Strange man in camo went to the bathroom 3 times in 10 min. Probably doing blow. Finished my strong tall Jack & Coke, went home and passed out.
Got up a few hours later and worked feverishly until I had a box full of raw material for a book about The Ship. I'm getting to the point in my life where I have long ago memories. I'm telling stories as an adult. Took some self portraits, ate 1/2 dozen raw oysters and thought about Loly and our 1st date. 10+ years later I have a ring on my finger and a baby boy due in 2 months.