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Jimmy James

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Calm across the land [Aug. 28th, 2009|11:46 pm]
Jimmy James
Peace and order restored as of Thurs. night! Yay Michelle! We decided that we just needed to sit our near-teen down and have a talk with him focusing on him coming up with some constructive ways to help him feel better about the whole school predicament. I was late coming home from my shoot with the symphony conductor and so M had the talk without me and viola! She is so awesome. She's magically good with him. I know they talked about us taking steps to move into the city within a year, and I think mainly she just let him vent and help him face the fact that yes, he has to go to school, and that there's no way out of it at this juncture- that there are some fixed values in the equation. The big variable is how you perceive and react to it. Anyways honestly, I don't really know what she said, but they scrawled out a little contract-like thing, signed it and put it on the fridge, and ever since then it's been all games and funtime, and not the fun-frustration polarity that we'd been dealing with before. I'm not naive enough to think that it's all smooth sailing now- that's not how life works for anybody- but it's nice even to get a couple of days without battling him either to go to school or to go to bed. It's probably mostly about the huge shock to the system of going from summer where there were no limits or restrictions to school which is filled with them. Yesterday I heard Quentin Tarantino on Fresh Air talking about how he dropped out the beginning of 9th grade, and that he wished he'd known that 7th/8th grade was school at it's worst and that it would actually get better from there rather than be more of the same. Anyhow, I should shut up about all this. I keep hearing the phrase "I'll give you something to cry about" in my head, so I don't want to jinx myself or whatever.
I just got back from a long meandering walk with my dog picking pears from the multitude of pear trees around the neighborhood. The city was hot as hell today and muggy to boot, and I was toting like 50-60 pounds of unwieldy gear around the city and through the symphony hall, so walking around in the cool night, stretching for pears, listening to some Animal Collective, then having my iPod die on me and listening to the frogs and crickets was the perfect endcap to my day. I've got to enjoy all the moments outdoors I can since I'll be tethered to my computer all weekend working on processing photos- well, maybe a brief outing to the beach Sunday morning for breakfast. We're planning a big outdoor movie/ skateboard ramp neighborhood block party next weekend- trying to think of the best movie to show... I think I vote for Little Miss Sunshine. Any other good feel-good comedy contenders you'd recommend? Our last outdoor feature was The Big Lebowski.
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I really have things to write about . [Aug. 25th, 2009|11:59 pm]
Jimmy James
Jesus, I am really trying hard to stay positive and keep up energy levels during the day, but Christ! I just keep getting dragged back down. Well, that's not quite accurate. Actually it's not so much neutral to negative as it is huge swings up and down. Like up when I add up how much the invoices I've sent out to clients totals up to, and then down when the mail comes and none of their checks are there... again. I have so much money on paper, waiting for it to arrive... any day now, but have never been poorer in my pockets. Mostly I think it's funny, having to scrounge through the cupboards and make up weird dishes with old bags of split peas and dusty cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks (it was pretty good, actually) all because I don't have money to go to the store, or foraging for fruit for breakfast out of necessity- sure it's kind of fun and exciting. But in my weaker moments, it's kind of a morale-puncher. But mainly it only has the ability to get to me when I'm already distracted by the stress and drama of being a parent and trying to figure out what the ideal role is in these situations. It is tricky business. One second you're playing a boardgame having a great time, and the next second it's meltdown. You think you've got a smooth system set up, and then suddenly, the little man is like, Nope, I'm absolutely not doing that. Like tonight. The backstory is that he invented an ingenious bedtime self-regulating system- every morning that he wakes up without assistance and on time, he gains 5 extra minutes on his bedtime, but when he doesn't, it gets rolled back 15. Ingenious and it worked perfectly all last year. But tonight he decided he was done with it. Fruitless arguing, escalating consequences- an ugly and intentionally irritating scene that lasts for about an hour, and then suddenly he comes in and says, I'd like a BLT, a bag of Lay's, and an apple for lunch tomorrow. And I tell him, 'Alright'. And he says, 'I can have that for lunch tomorrow?'. And I reply 'Sure. I want you to be happy and have great lunches, but I also want you to manage your responsibilities too.' And then he's off to bed. End of standoff. (Epilogue: He still lost the privilege of his adjustable bedtime system temporarily and is back on a fixed 9:45 for a while.) Now before this, it's been an hour of intense debate on the idea of bedtime, on rules in general, on the (lack of) value of education, on vigilante justice, on trust. He had some valid points here and there, but mostly it was just a 'Screw the rules' sort of thing. (And honestly, I'm happy to see that he's got a healthy skepticism of authority and the status-quo.) But anyways, to see it all comes down to a BLT and a bag of chips? It's such a perfect representation of how confusing it is to be a parent of a 12 year old. But that's patronizing. How different am I, really? I guess the big difference is that I (sometimes) can play both roles, of the overwhelmed and the benevolent gift-giver. I mean I remember a mocha or the promise of buying a CD later that day motivating me to continue doing my work or to go to class in college. I guess everybody just needs a little something to look forward to. It's like how I can be so bummed out about the $900 Fastrak penalty (uggh) which we got for just the stupidest reason (I'm actually grateful because it was initially a $4000 penalty and we got it reduced), and then I can cheer myself up by using a dinner gift certificate we had saved to a good restaurant. I guess in a lot of cases it's a good skill to have, but obviously it can be abused if you use it to stay in a bad situation that you don't really have to stay in rather than having the courage to make the change, like some crap job or a lousy relationship.

Some of T's contrariness has got to be hormones and fatigue, and some of the rest is simply testing boundaries and pushing to see if he can just get rid of rules and make his ideal situation. And like I said, I really respect that impulse... the trouble is when it infringes on the lives of others, or equals reckless choices. (We're dealing with a lot more than just bedtime recently.) I believe that you have to be allowed to make mistakes in order to understand them, but I also feel that freedom comes with responsibility, so it's so difficult to navigate how to deal with these issues. All just to say that being a parent is hard. Sometimes I have the impulse to just totally jump on the "He'll just learn from his mistakes" train and let him do whatever and experience the natural consequences of it. And I guess we do that to some degree, but oh how much easier it would be if we just totally succumbed.

Wow. Hope I didn't bore everyone, but oh well if I did, I had to get it out. So much more about myriad other topics actually, but I'll save it for next time.
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(no subject) [Jul. 7th, 2009|01:05 pm]
Jimmy James
Quick update on what's been going on... went to Mendocino area this last weekend to try and finalize our awesome wedding ideas. Found a GREAT place for everyone to stay and a beautiful river (Big River) that runs into the ocean, but a few logistics regarding the super ceremony plan still holding us back. I have some calls to make to find out if it's all going to work. If not, it may go back to the Big Sur plan and abandon the ultimate ceremony element, which would still be awesome and maybe we'll develop a new ultimate secret element.
Had a shambles of a day yesterday from a business/technology standpoint, but ultimately upgraded my computer and all's well that end's well - Ghirardelli made their ad deadline and we got a great image for the ad. It was really fun doing the renegade anti-model shoots at the square; just finding people having a good time there and working with them like a model shoot. Much more fun than my experience working with pro models. A lot more laughing and jokes.

Also, finally finishing up with all of Kathy's wedding photos. So many great reception shots. See below for another all's well that ends well moment. Good times.

Going to go into the city tonight, looking for something fun to do, but would be totally happy hanging out with M. at my favorite coffee shop in the Mission reading Infinite Jest.
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(no subject) [Jun. 7th, 2009|10:14 pm]
Jimmy James
man, i swear, this has been the crazy-busiest last month of my life. that's a good thing, but i feel bad because i can't get the work turned around and back to the clients as fast as usual, which is really tough when we're dealing with events since people understandably really want to see the shots. but it's wrapping up now and now i've got my secret weapon (photoshop wiz trevor) in place to help me out. working on Kathy's wedding right now, and am going to be putting up a big ol' chunk of photos in an hour or so, but have an early wake up tomorrow for another all-day charity event. just for my own bearings... within the last month i have been on a mini-roadtrip with KA and Buster, had a show opening with giant photo canvases (still need to post photos of that), mini-reunion with Rob and Paul, walked around downtown galleries with Paul's dad talking about his invention which involves energy generated from magnetic discs, shot a huge hoedown surprise bday party which had crazy scenes at the end, shot a great barmitzvah with Rob, did a solid week of studio shooting for a travel accessories company, a related model shoot in SF, went to a skateboarding demo tour, met the grandnephew of the last czar of Russia who is a shrinky-dink artist, finally made it to the famous piano bar in Oakland "The Alley" with legend Rod Dibble, testified at my neighbor's sentencing on his behalf (he still wound up in prison), and I know I did more nice little stuff too that I'm forgetting, but oh well. to recap, lots of friends, lots of work (personal and commercial), lots of parties, some good dates with michelle, lots of good conversations. now i feel full from all this good living and just want to lay down for a while. but not yet.
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(no subject) [May. 11th, 2009|11:02 pm]
Jimmy James
Last night as I was walking Buddy down the darkest creepiest roads I could find back in the forest behind our house and listening to the most disturbing Aphex Twins songs from Drukqs to see how scared I could make myself, I found an old hardbound book on the side of the road, an encyclopedia of classical music written in German. I took it home and painted the first two pages with gesso tonight so that I can make myself a scrapbook out of it. It is exceptionally good for this purpose because it is loaded with creepy photos of dead classical composers. And the German words add more texture than distraction if they aren't painted over completely. I remember Kharis had made a scrapbook/diary in this fashion using an old art history book, and I always loved the idea and wanted to do it myself. Kind of a late-night, I-drank-too-much-wine-at-dinner, funtime project. I also like the element of preparing for the next day on the night before by having to paint the pages and let them dry.
On that scapbook-ish note, I checked in at the Chase Jarvis blog (super-acclaimed photographer based in Seattle) and think I may have hit my tipping point for the iPhone. Not that I really needed to be tipped at all - it mainly has to do with my bank account and waiting for the 3rd version to come out. But he's started a section of his site with great iPhone images that never get near Photoshop, and I want to do that too. I've got to admit it, even if I get a tiny digi-point and shoot, I'd never bring it with me, but I'd always take the iPhone with me, and that means I'd always be taking pictures with it. I want that day to hurry up and get here fast.
Today I got the cards in the mail for my opening reception and took a few more closeup shots on a hike this afternoon at sunset. I found a rock in the river where leaves had laid on it for such a long time that their veins seemed to fossilize into the calcite. So it looked like black hairs running around this white rock. The show's coming up soon, in 2 Sundays from now, and I'll be gone next weekend and the beginning of next week, so I better crank that puppy out in the next few days. Which I will, no problem.
My mom had an interview today. My parents moved up here for my dad's new job and so she had to give up her sweet job at Cal State Fullerton. In the meantime, she's been volunteering at a couple of places. Today it struck me though- she's volunteering at four different organizations. She certainly has no lack of energy, drive or ambition. Both of my parents are little dynamos in that way. Like little nuclear reactors inside of them. I'm glad that I was dipped in that gene pool. I definitely build momentum the more projects I'm involved in, so I get the four volunteer positions move. I can imagine thinking- "now I'm going to volunteer"- and then really cranking it out, not being satisfied with just the foodbank or just the book mobile or just the mobile diabetes clinic. Anyhow, that's awesome. My mom's tough, even though she has a soft sugar-coated outside. She still doesn't complain, or let it get her down that she's moved so much or had to leave her job- sure, she doesn't let my dad forget it either, but she's proactive and positive. I don't think enough about my parents on just an objective human level. I need to do that more- I really am lucky that they are who they are.
Okay- now it's time to tweak my site a bit. I was thinking of splitting everything up- one photojournalism site, one commercial site, one fine art site - but it's not really how I work. It all does draw off each other, and compliment each other, and it seems like a more fun and interesting site if it's more reflective of who I am. Go centralized hub and unified theory! Boo multiple personalities and inelegant solutions!
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(no subject) [May. 3rd, 2009|11:54 am]
Jimmy James
Last night we had root beer floats, a gigantic bowl of popcorn and a movie double-header of Cloverfield (followed by the South Park version with killer guinea pigs) and then Vicky Christina Barcelona. They were both really entertaining, though I pick Vicky Christina as the winner of the two. Saw The Wrestler last week and found it really captivating and uncomfortable, the director's specialty. It reminded me of all my Sunday mornings watching WWF wrestling as a kid and made me think about where all those guys like Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, King Kong Bundy, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog, Jake the Snake Roberts, the British Bulldogs, etc. are now, and wondering what they think of Ultimate Fighting or whatever its called which is so much more violence and so much less theatrics and peacock feathers. Today I'm going to be writing the captions for the Mojave photo essay so I can send it out to the editor. The sun's coming out after a rainy rainy few days.
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(no subject) [May. 2nd, 2009|01:14 pm]
Jimmy James
Last night we went into the city and ate at Rex Cafe, kind of Septieme-ish place, and afterwards went to The Mint, SF's main karaoke hangout. I was slated to sing What's New Pussycat?, but the clock ran out first. You've got to get there early and get your requests in if you want to sing. Pretty crowded place with stiff drinks, really great oddball bartenders and some talent on the stage, but you pretty much have to watch the action on TV's because of the horseshoe-ish layout with the stage in a corner. I really liked the colored bubble tubes as backdrop on stage though. We went there to scout it out for the Karaoke America project. Today we're running off to the city again to try some Bluebottle Coffee and maybe see a movie on Yoga masters.
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(no subject) [Apr. 28th, 2009|08:27 am]
Jimmy James
Yesterday T flipped off the recess monitor lady while she was going after his friend and her back was turned, but another lunch lady saw him and he got busted. He's getting his first detention of his middle school career. As his "punishment" to be served at home, Michelle and I got him a biography about Gandhi which he's going to read. He was so relieved, but I think it's a far better consequence than just sitting at home for a few days being pissed that you got caught. Actually I want to read the Gandhi book too. I only read the autobiography back when I lived with Erik, and it mainly focused on his dietary habits, his sex addiction, and his wife's annoyance at Gandhi's stubborn self-imposed inconveniences of daily life- "We shall no longer be beholden to the butter makers; from now on you shall make all our butter. Nor to the laundry service; from now on you shall do all our laundry." It's tough being the support staff for a man of extremes. Tomorrow I'll be in Sacramento where my photo exhibit on the tragedies of the Family Court system will be shown on the capitol steps. A news story came out yesterday that is so typical of the kinds of stories I've been covering for this project, the only difference is that this one has a "happy" ending. You'll see why I think happy is a slightly ironic assessment of the outcome of this story after you watch the video. http://www.10news.com/kgtvnewsteam/19265275/detail.html#
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(no subject) [Apr. 24th, 2009|06:17 pm]
Jimmy James
Took dentist office photos all day for a friend and bartered for a cleaning and xrays, though I'm thinking I should try to swap it out and get that ZOOM teeth whitening treatment. Much more exciting than a cleaning, though maybe not as practical. I love the barter world- I just bartered with a sunglass shop and we traded two hours of photos for his website for a beautiful pair of designer sunglasses that I would've NEVER paid cash money for just because I would've felt it was excessive. But now that I have them, I see that they really are that much better than the 20 dollar pairs I'm used to. They are super comfortable, fit perfectly, and seem impossible to scratch. I also recently bartered photos for a 6-month supply of espresso at my local coffee shop, and with the chamber of commerce for 2 years of membership. Next I want to barter with some tasty restaurants, with a Japanese spa near us, with a nice clothing boutique or fancy shoe store. It's so much nicer than spending money. I seem to spend money on much more predictable items.
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(no subject) [Apr. 23rd, 2009|11:25 pm]
Jimmy James
Back from the Mojave Desert and I am shoving all other responsibilities and deadlines aside and working eagerly on the desert photos so I can submit them by Monday. So far, I'm really happy with them. I shot about 1200 images over the 4.5 days and have whittled it down to my favorite 45, but ultimately have to cut it down to 11 for the photo essay. The gist of the story is simply a portrait of the Mojave Desert- the new influx of renewable energy, long-standing poverty, new suburbs, and of course the ecological diversity and the abundance of the desert. I'll be posting quotes from interviews along with the photos eventually. Ideally I want to make a soundslides presentation and show 20 or 30 images along with audio of the quotes I taped. Here's a link to 11 images, some of my favorites, that I got over that span of days. http://88zero.com/clients/Mojave/Test2
I'll be posting all of them plus lots more to flickr. I feel so relaxed after getting home- like my soul had a yoga retreat. Some of the high points of the trip... sitting on top of the tallest sand dune in the Mojave Preserve at sunrise, watching the light flood into the valley. Hearing the low constant humming of the sand as waves of it slid down the side of the dune, like monks chanting. Seeing the perfect circular patterns around the sprigs of grass scattered on the dunes, patterns made by the blades of grass tracing the circumference of their span from the wind. Standing directly under the enormous windmills, their intimidating sound and speed and that creepy droning sound. Sneaking into the giant junkyard and fear upon seeing the dog prints in the sand, walking amongst the creaky mountains of smashed cars, and nearly losing my toes to a sharp piece of metal I carelessly step on. Finding a hole in the fencing at the solar field and crawling through one sunrise, walking amongst the silent troughs of mirrors. Hanging out with the wild horses on the preserve- they come over to inspect me and then bolt away as soon as I move. The wild burros are tamer, and their ears are so cute. Talking to Charles at the gas station, learning the salvage (aka. Mad Max) mentality of the desert, getting the tour of the station which includes the amazing men's urinal which is designed like a giant backyard rock waterfall fountain that you can pee in (a photo for proof will be coming to flickr). Exploring the burnt out and looted houses of Trona, talking with Jay who tells me the fires are all from tweekers and that the firemen don't even come out, they just let the houses burn now. Climbing the hill over the drive-in theater. It feels like I was gone for two weeks. I've got to write everything down or I'll never remember it all. Thankfully I've got some pictures to help me too. Hanging out with Triston this weekend while Michelle's down in SoCal meeting with my brother about interior design of his new restaurant. This year has been great so far- so much more saturated and vibrant than the last few years have felt.
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