Peripheral City

Peripheral City
Peri, played by Josh Elrod

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why I Don't Have a Camera Even Though It's What I Studied

There is something about total surrender to fear that washes the soul clean, like bleach clean, complete with burning eyes, nostrils and chemical burn. It's like mass-murderer clean, boiling bones clean, the kind of scary clean that basically wipes out life.

Oooohhh, scaring myself. I was so afraid of life, who knew? A big-mouth show boat like me, or so I thought. I had to hide behind a camera for decades in order to feel safe enough to experience what it was I was experiencing (as filtered through convex glass, refraction, and optical flipping, onto celluloid, then projected onto silver coated paper in dark rooms, or projected onto walls in dark rooms - 'dark rooms', an essential part of the process of not being present). But, then there is that Quantum Physics element I now understand as the element of participation in the creation of our own lives we take part in everyday. I was changing reality in the act of absorption and projection, a curated reinterpretation or reorganization of information visually. Basically, I couldn't just live life, I had to process it and make it something else. A book, an image, a series. Cameras were, and still appear to be an absolute must.

So, the painful, life-altering, childhood incident came in the middle of one sunny summer day and shifted everything. Foggy kid awareness sharpened and everything came into acute focus. On that day, my sister and I, age nine, were skipping home from the Pearl Street Market, down Lopez, towards Dad's on Brookline St, knowing that the grocery bag swinging between us held something forbidden and luxurious, something so taboo as to cause deep rifts of hatred and resentment between my separated parents: Fruit Loops. Banned at my Mom's house, sugary cereals were an excellent weekend event at Dad's, a high to look forward to. We waited almost lustfully for the weekends to come to get away from hippy mom's raw carrot sensibilities and gorge ourselves on Chef Boy-ar-Dee, MacDonald's and Lucky Charms. Skipping home with drug of choice, one may be compelled to do silly, unwarranted spastic movements, for me that day it was a decision to kick a large black plastic trash bag filled with who-cared-what. In this bag, much to my maligned discovery, sat waiting sheets of broken glass that would tear through derma, muscle, artery, vein, stopping at bone. On the ground where I lay felled, watching the flesh of my leg cleave apart, the fatty white tissue filling in with pin-prick red speckles, then suddenly spurting out a violent pulsing geyser of blood, I really had no clear idea of what was happening. I remember the scream that split the day and the thought, 'Did that come from me?" Then the squirting brilliant red against a backdrop of vibrant light blue - intense glowing neon colors, then in my father's arms, then on the bathroom floor with a towel tourniquet, my twin sister crying, "Does this mean she'll get all the Fruit Loops?" and me thinking, "I know I only get half," then being on the hospital bed as the nurse stitched me up and thinking, "Why are they saying that painful needle stabbing my leg has pain killers in it? Put the fucking pain killers in it crazy people, and while you're at it, stop looking at me!" Those were my thoughts.

Then, the revelation, a camera was lifted to my eye and I got distracted.

My mother held the view finder in front of my face and I looked through into that tiny rectangle reality. I could handle that much at least. Plus, this was a machine that was off limits, and to have her say, "Just keep taking pictures, press the shutter, it will take away the pain," well I'll be damned if she wasn't right. So it was access and aenesthetic all at once. A dream come true.

I never was without a camera from then on. That is, until I was twelve years into studying, seeking a photo and film life, only two classes away from graduating with honors, when I lost sight, moved to NYC, attempted to work in the industry which was creative suicide (see blog before this one). Then came the bleach, and a lot of Fruit Loops (metaphorical, a transformation of one drug to another). So, it's no wonder that I am on a strict diet of no sugar or white flour to keep away arthritis on the anti-inflammatory diet, This may seem like a crazy left turn, but there is a point, a physiological symbiosis to my losing site of the goal. When your joints don't move, you can't function. Now, who knows what came first, the spirit not moving or the joints not moving, but it doesn't really connected. Not having a camera all this time was like having spiritual arthritis. I have resumed my projects now that I'm off all forms of sugar.

I'm currently fund raising on Kickstarter for the still/video camera of my dreams. When I have the camera, I will shoot these stories that I promise you didn't know you cared about yet. More about my drive for a camera:

More on Quantum Activism:

More about arthritis and the anti-inflammatory diet at:

More about sugar addiction being the source of many other life threatening addictions:

More about spiritual/artistic blocking (although nothing about diet/addiction correlation, which I think is relevant):

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