I am currently in the deep Northern Woods of New York State – The Adirondacks – shooting a film essay loosely titled “The vanguard of Americana”. Here are some photos along with my intent on this mad project.
The Vanguard of Americana:
Here we are, 2012. The United States faces a time of flushed-out identity and the final link to the past century is slowly fading out into the dark corners of our memories. The bridge generation is growing into their 30s, the new wave born right into the internet and the baby boomers slowly pushing
into AARP vernacular. In this filmmakers opinion, there is a gap that must be filled when it comes to the importance of future history. The topic of this account: Americana Culture and the age old flight to the woods for catharsis. A celebrated event among American families dating back to the 19th century. As to the facts behind this cultural movement, it’s hard to rely on hard singular
facts; the reasons are abstract and impossible to quantify in one simple story. There are many stories, many reasons: health, family bonding, tuburculosis, deer hunting, wealth, poverty, opportunity,
escape, status etc. etc. An interesting variable to keep in mind is the blend of European atavism combined with Native American culture and tradition: through fact and fiction dating back to the early settlers, today we have the results of those early movements to this continent. In this film essay I aim to shed light on the mixture between the old and new with respects to wilderness recreation, for there is something deeper in a seemingly simple activity. There was certainly a time when recreation was non existent and survival the fundamental. I want to give viewers of this film essay an opportunity acknowledge the evolution into modern day America amidst the burgeoning technological revolution blending with old Americana traditions. What better place to establish the backdrop of such a concept: The Adirondacks. In the perspective of this film, the aim is to gather stories from people who have spent their lives here; those who embody stories of the past before their lifetime.
The focal point of this project is Old Forge, where I am a guest filmmaker and friend documenting the Happy Landing camp, also known as the Yellow Lighthouse on the Pond.
I am specific about American culture in this regard for many reasons. Catharsis in the wilderness is a global act without question: again, the mixture of indigenous and European prowess and customs. However, in the case of the United States in the 20th century – Post-modern era – recreation from urbanization holds as a template for the world process. Consider the communication of these figures in recent history:
The big 4: Huntington, Stanford, Hopkins, Crocker
The Moon landing
New York City Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie
Bluegrass and Country Western Music
And many other variables rendered too abstract to platonify.
Essentially, the philosophy behind this project and aesthetic approach is to capture how the past and future are cross fertilized through contemporary authors. As a contemporary film author, I find it my responsibility to participate in this vanguard to educate and preserve what would otherwise go lost in the chamber of untold-stories.
“…it will simply be these Robots walking around, feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and there will be nobody left to almost, to remind them there was once a species called a human being…”
A passage by Andre Gregory over dinner with Wallace “Wally” Shawn in Louis Malle’s 1981 film My Dinner with Andre: if you haven’t seen it, SEE IT.
The world today, yesterday, very yesterday and with a bit of courage, tomorrow, can be described backward and forward in so many ways by so many personalities; especially, ESPECIALLY those who carelessly forget the meaning of future history. However, there is no blaming to be done here. Let’s face it, this is a winner-take-all society and the glory lies in what and who is poignant, well published, vanguard, evenly marketed and all around entertaining. Not a bad criteria to follow; however, who are these winners? Where do they come from? When do they come from? Who discovers and who searches? Is it easily explicable? Can a small town in Ukraine be just as important as a book signing in Berlin? Excuse me, Plato, we have issues here. Dystopia and iPads aside, what is going on?
Considering storytellers here, only thing I can think of is that there is an invisible graveyard of writers (or any profession really) that history has forgotten.
“…with feelings, with thoughts… and that history and memory are right now being erased…” Carrying on from Andre’s speech over dinner, he goes on with Wally: “they’re feeling there will be these pockets of light…in a way, invisible planets on this planet, and as we, the world, grow colder, we can take invisible space journeys to these different planets and refuel…”
I believe Aristotle eruditely stated that poetry (storytelling in all mediums of imitation) is far more functional for history than stuffy historians writing backward later on. Imagine that old Greek buzzard sitting in a Denny’s – Sunday morning, early – piping words onto a notebook while more coffee is poured and half eaten pancakes mix with the pile of papers all around him. He writes, to wit:
At Dennys. Coffee is rancid but the light piercing through and that brunette breakfast server can’t be a better combination. Screw you, Plato. Describe this!
PS. I’m left handed, jerk.
That said, can we ultimately shun the miraculous automated structure of technological advancements that bring people closer together as the world (us) figure’s it out as it goes along – traffic accidents and supermarket self check-out systems included? Essentially that’s all we can do, really. Do you think the Internet was conceived bearing in mind that one day a stripper in Shanghai could find true love with a dental student in Moscow through a chat room? Time took care of that, along with persevering programmers and “insane” risk takers. What do you think these people’s attitudes were juiced on while stumbling upon life-altering discoveries we now take for granted? Stories – fact and fiction.
In honor of naïve participation, story writers mustn’t be discouraged by the competition and power structure of the literary world. Good writers will always be good writers, and the only way to be a good writer is to be surrounded by challenge, abstract inspiration and the ability to enjoy a private chuckle while in line at Starbucks.
What ought to be done is preserve the idea Mr. Gregory mentions above; planets of light and invisible space travel on earth. Circumstance and the right level of caffeine (or whatever turns you on) take care of the rest. Think of it more like a car mechanic saying, “You’re bummed? Go to a salon & mix it up, dude!” Go to a salon he says. Why yes, yes I will. What better place to go and listen to storytellers sharing their versions than a warm, safe and respectfully well-lit environment.
Imagine one of the many places in North America that would require some kind of astral plane of this sort: Orange County. Talk about the world growing colder; OC is a place where horizontally dismantled cities and text-message fueled traffic accidents could use a place for fly-on-the wall and auto mechanic authors to mix and shine. I suggest reading Brian Eno’s essay: The Big Here, Long Now .
Invisible and visible writers have participated in literary salons dating back to the Levant’s, Ancient Greeks and, later on, during the oddly-shaped baroque period. I believe it was Horace who set the standard of literary gatherings to either please or educate. 17th century French and Italian writers pushed these gatherings into a sort of underground movement, preserving Horace’s “aut delectare aut prodesse es.” A small group of college kids in the city of Orange began a little underground of their own. A literary safe house of sorts calling out for story-writers to participate with respect and heightened listening skills. Nisreen Breik, a soft-spoken talented writer and inimitable host brought people together who would otherwise never find themselves sharing the same air. This was and still is the potion of this torrential salon simply titled: Short Story Reading. Thereafter, momentum took form for the next two years following the baroquian formulae, giving writers a voice and learning lessons to find what they didn’t think they were looking for. This planet of light takes place every other Thursday in the city of Orange at a hideaway café known as The Ugly Mug.
For those of you who live in Los Angeles, the train ride to Orange is an experience in and of itself. Relax on a quiet 45 minute sunset ride out of downtown into a sleepy Spanish-style depot 3 short blocks from the venue. For more information on train schedules, visit metrolinktrains.com or amtrak.com
For more information you can e-mail the host email@example.com to schedule a reading slot. This salon is for those to read and listen. Non-authors and admirers of storytelling are welcome to join and experience what a true literary salon can provide.
Started: Dec 17, 2010
8:30 PM-10:00 PM
3$ cover (readers and attendees)
Located at The Ugly Mug Café
261 N Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866
I was invited to join Cargo Collective publishing site for my vignettes.
You can find me at cargocollective.com/theattitudeofeachother
A dear friend of mine is auctioning off her camera collection for a really good cause. Here is an inventory list. Sorry, no prices. Inquire within. Have a great Holiday close to 2011.
Agfa Solinette II German camera with leather case
Mercury II Universal Camera Corp with leather case
Gold Crest Light Meter in case with strap
MVP plastic camera Rohlik specialties company with Impac manual electronic flash – flash never used still in packaging
Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic Camera R4 with 3 boxes of flashcubes – 3 cubes per box (4 flashes/cube) (has manual for camera)
Polaroid Land Camera Model 80A
Pocket Kodak Model No 1 or 1A in original box with manual (dated 1929)
Kodak Brownie Camera – No 2A Model C, date on inside is 1925
Kodak Brownie Cameras – No 0 – date on inside is 1916
Kodak Duaflex II (may not be selling)
Small Kellogg’s cereal spy cam (may not be selling)
Kodak Brownie Movie Camera Model in original box with manual
Bell & Howell Super Eight Perpetua Autoload Optronic Eye 8mm Movie Camera model 311 with leather case
Polaroid Automatic 215 Land Camera with manual in attached case
Vanguard Spartus with flash attachment (no bulb)
Kodak Brownie Starflash Camera Dakon Lens with case & manual
Kodacraft metal printer model a & 2 trays & bulb (not sure if complete?)
Polaroid Land Camera Model 95B with lens kit, flash attachment, manual, case
Nikon OneTouch 100
Samsung Maxima Zoom 80Ti
Continental Color-Flash 250S
M35 AFZ Super Zoom 90 (may not work?)
Dan Knishkowy is a philosophy student at Hamilton college. I met him at the Angel Deradoorian show at the Opus café. Hamilton College. He opened up for her. This clip was shot somewhere in the grey area between Clinton and Utica New York. 25 degrees, hands numb and snow trickling down. Enjoy.
I’d look into the early 20th century Russian vanguard of Supermatism with respects to the alignment of post modern thinking through the square. Other than that, this is a bathroom in a loving home I had the privilege to spend Thanksgiving and my birthday. East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. It was 2010 and I was a couple of weeks away from setting out for Rio de Janeiro. Days after this photo was taken I wrapped up my assignment in New York, darted across the continent to San Clemente, packed, then took a flight to South America.
Stay tuned to this site for further reading on my bizarre stories threaded with love, loss, lessons and cinematic storytelling.
Nassim Taleb is a Lebanese born Economist Philosopher. I was introduced to his work not long ago and have since found great pearls in his blog: FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS. A diary of notes and equations.
Here is an extract.
132- Life’s Barbells –The Barbell Heuristic
(Barbells are more robust than monomodal strategies.)
Walk most of the time, sprint as fast as you can on the occasion; never jog.
Fast for long periods of famine, then feast; never diet.
Endorse Nick Clegg & David Cameron, in combination, never labor.
For social life, a linear combination of Fat Tony & philosophers outperforms the frequentation of middle brows.
Go for city-states under loose empires, never nation-states.
Be a flåneur, lounging most of the time; then work as intensely as possible for a maximum of one hour; never work at low intensity –the 4-Hour Workweek.
Do nothing most of the time, then workout like a nut as intensely & unpredictably as possible.
Invest mostly in close to no-risk, (cash inflation protected, 80-90%), and maximal risk securities (10-20%); never in medium risk.
Read trashy gossip magazines and classics or sophisticated works; never the New York Times (or something even more aberrant, Newsweek).
Talk to graduate students or the highest caliber scholars; never, never, never medium academics.
Lose all your money, never half of it.
Respect those who make a living lying down or standing up, never those who do so sitting down.
Separate the holy and the profane.
Do crazy things (break furniture once in a while), like the Greeks and stay “rational” in larger decisions.
If you dislike someone, leave him alone or eliminate him; don’t attack him verbally.
The photo above is me preparing gaucho style sirloin on an open flame. Utica – NY
Current location: San Clemente
A commissioned project led me to a computer factory in Upstate NY. This is a basic montage extracted from the longer film.