[Journal Menu]

[Home Page]

[Oakland Cam]



[100 Books]

[Other Sites]


Near Portland, Oregon

August 6th, 2001

Aged Over Time
This should be shorter, shouldn't it? I'm not sure that I'd consistently read this journal if I had to wade through what I'd obviously have to wade through. Doodle-dee-do. Tomorrow, maybe. Long today, short tomorrow.

It is ten in the morning (Sunday) and I'm thinking of going to the Oakland museum to see the Gordon Parks photography exhibit. When I think of Parks, I think of his movies, but he started as a photographer for Life, the first black photographer for Life, at a time when to be a photographer for Life was to be at the center of the photographic universe. The show has been at the Oakland Museum long enough that it's probably not too crowded. There's an Ansel Adams show opening in San Francisco, but there's been a lot of hype in the local press and it will be a zoo. Plenty of time sometime later, maybe, for a zoo.

Monday. Enjoyed Parks. There was one photograph in particular, my reaction half calculation, half emotional impact. A photograph of Ingrid Bergman taken in 1949, just after she'd left her husband and run off with the director Roberto Rossellini. Bergman in the foreground, the photograph taken on the street of a small Italian town, three old women dressed in black in the background, wraiths of judgement and propriety watching Bergman and, one assumes, the photographer, as they passed. Nice. Very nice.

The calculating side of my head thought about the assignment: Parks, I assume, had been around for a while in 1949, but Bergman was a big star and considered a great actress, a great artist in her own right, and any photographer who would shoot her under those circumstances, famous Life photographer or not, would have felt the pressure, personally and professionally, to deliver something more. I have to think, Parks shooting Bergman, he had the thought: "don't fuck it up". He didn't.

I'm writing this on Monday evening, as noted. The weekend seemed overly long, the Parks show, Bainbridge Island, Washington taking the new (used) F3 down along the lake and then through the Grand Lake theater district to shoot pictures, dinner at a Chinese restaurant, feeling tired, went to see America's Sweethearts at the Grand Lake before walking back to the apartment. Long day, long walks, tired. Finished Ellroy's White Jazz in the evening, finishing about midnight, way past my bed time. I got up this morning an hour later than usual and still felt like twelve tons of gravel at the office, leaking out of my chair and bouncing across the floor, thinking "what in the hell am I doing here?" A little better this evening, although I'm going to bed pretty quick.

A thought about Ellroy. White Jazz is the fourth book of his LA Quartet. I was introduced to his work, when I watched the movie based on his book L.A. Confidential, which I liked very much, and then read it and the rest of his series. I realized finally, while reading White Jazz, that I was remembering the Ross McDonald Lew Archer detective books. One revelation leading to a suspect, leading to another suspect, leading to an ending of sorts. X did it, Y did it, Z did it and then, no, it was T, whom you didn't expect. You wondered if MacDonald himself knew until the end, running things maybe on a roulette wheel with characters names in place of numbers. White Jazz is wonderfully written in a staccato bits and pieces jazz oriented style, not easy to pull off, but at its core, I was reading a less polished, albeit more interesting, Ross McDonald stumbling forward toward the same denouement and plot.

That's probably not fair. I read most everything Ross MacDonald wrote during the seventies when I was writing myself. Ellroy - I don't know - Ellroy has the demons and he has the chops, I don't know much else. Takes me a while. I'm slow and more than a little dumb. Let Ellroy rest on the shelf, read him later, read an old Lew Archer now, maybe, and see how he's aged in comparison.

The banner photograph was taken in my sister's back yard in Portland and the second photograph of my cousin's daughter, was taken on Bainbridge Island in Washington. The quote is from The Zen Koan, by Miura and Sasaki.