A heavy reminder of mortality


Yesterday, Tina and I were digging through a couple different second-hand stores looking for things that might be suitable for our studio.

I looked down at my phone and a text informed me that a friend died.

Let’s call him Sam.

I think Sam was my age. Late 30s. I met him at our local watering hole back in 2007 or so. On the occasion that I was there on a Friday or Saturday night playing pool, Sam inevitably waddled in and put his name on the board.

He was a guy I pined to beat, as — at the time — he was better than I was.

Sam was quirky. He had a bit of a waddle when he moved. A slide of the feet. When he shot pool, he was quick, deliberate and exact.

At the time, I knew him by name, but he was more of an acquaintance. After meeting Bill, we all became friends. I had no idea Sam was a photographer, too. Just like Bill got me into concert photography, Bill got Sam into it.

Sam recently bought a bunch of new gear, including a new camera and lens. He really looked up to Bill, and from what I understand, looked up to me, too.

For the past month or more, he asked if he and I could do something together so he could pick my brain about photography. I told him, “Of course.” He loved the White Sox, and he said that when the season gets going a little more, he’d nail down a time.

Sam also loved to world travel, and he shared many secrets with me about how he finds cheap airfare. He would also send me messages about different art exhibits in the city that I should consider going to.

He gave me his passes for SOFA last year because he knew I was one of his only friends who would go.

Sam had a distinct artistic side. He was meticulous and spent hours, days and weeks creating longboards and jewelry. He loved to ride and show off walls of longboards he built.

The details of his death are still to be determined. And hurts me to think about, and I’m not sure exactly what I think about the whole thing. His privacy is somehow important to me.

I’m not one to consider him in the next world, whether heaven or hell or ESPN sports zone. But I would like to see his memory continue among his friends.

But, man, it’s such a heavy feeling.

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Making memories on Memorial Day


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Our Memorial Day weekend went swimmingly.

It was one of the hottest weekends we’ve had so far this year, and it was sprinkled with rain and thunderstorms.

I realize that Memorial Day is primarily a reminder about our fallen in the face of protecting this country and her freedoms. I have a hard time with the Hallmark-y-ness of it all, with people posting on Facebook or other social media with flags and or other statements of well, if we respected our fallen, we’d try not to make war anymore.

As if one voice has superiority over the next or that anyone gives a shit what you share on the Internets.

But for me, it’s a weekend that lands us in the warmer weather and is an excuse to gather friends in a country so great that we can spend a day together making memories.

Honoring that freedom by being free is honorary enough.

There’s another local phenomenon around Chicago, which I imagine is other places as well, called “Sunday Funday.” And it’s another excuse to get your ass out to bars, only this time on Sunday, and take the day before the long workweek to pound a few … only during the day so you can get home earlier.

I thought that Sunday Funday was one Sunday of the year, but apparently there is no limit to Sunday Fundays. Plus it was Memorial Day weekend, and any excuse to party in Chicago is usually met with open arms. Flailing open arms.

We don’t take part in these SFs, but apparently we’re in the minority.

On Sunday night, we were lying in bed only to be awoken to a guy yelling at another person.

I was stirred by the words, “I can fucking vomit all over your fucking cab if I want to!”

Silence for a beat or two.

The same voice: “Yes I CAN!!!”

“I don’t owe you FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS!!! Mother fucker, I detail cars for a living. It costs $10 to clean vomit out of a car.”

Another couple beats of silence.

“Fuck you, man. You can go fuck yourself. … Call the police! What do I care. … Go back to Bagdad, you stupid piece of shit. GO BACK TO BAGDAD!!!”

By this time, I had walked to the front windows and looked out to see who was screaming at who. It was a guy, with two other people.

When he finally slammed the car door, and walked away, he walked toward the sidewalk on our side of the street, then to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Then aimlessly in the middle for a few minutes.

It became quiet again, and I returned to bed and soon fell back asleep.

I couldn’t help but laugh a few times, though, before falling back asleep about the words, “I can vomit all over your cab if I want to.”

It’s this kind of attitude that is disrespectful to this country and all it stands for.

But yesterday, Tina, Talulah and I drove out to the ‘burbs to celebrate American Freedom with our friends. We moved in and out of shelter to avoid the rain.

Bill and I ended up getting several hundred photos of our group. Enjoy some of them here and below the fold.

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Explaining away ghosts and gods is easy, unless you’re somehow unable to do so


Me? I don’t believe in ghosts, goblins, gods or anything supernatural.

I just don’t.

I read this article recently in The Raw Story titled: Our ancient caveman instincts may explain our belief in gods or ghosts.

The article’s author, Steve Kelly, writes essentially that we believe in ghosts because we survived human history by giving supernatural rationale for a rustling of leaves or a volcano. Science hasn’t yet infiltrated the evolution of the human mind enough to make a dent in the irrationality of pervading religious thoughts.

Kelly writes:

Notions of gods arise in all human societies, from all powerful and all-knowing deities to simple forest spirits. A recent method of examining religious thought and behaviour links their ubiquity and the similarity of our beliefs to the ways in which human mental processes were adapted for survival in prehistoric times.

It rests on a couple of observations about human psychology. First, when an event happens, we tend to assume that a living thing caused it. In other words, we assume agency behind that event. If you think of the sorts of events that might have happened in prehistoric times, it’s easy to see why a bias towards agency would be useful. A rustling of a bush or the snapping of a twig could be due to wind. But far better to assume it’s a lion and run away.

Oddly enough, the information wasn’t that big of a mystery revealed. It’s a late arrival to a party that’s already been packed up.

Ain’t nobody who’s religious going to read that article and think, “Man, this has convinced me that my religion is based on a weakness generated by evolution …”

Why?

Because evolution itself is a pejorative evoking negative thoughts immediately.

An article like this is only good for the kids who subscribe to the idea that there aren’t ghosts and goblins.

In Louis C.K.’s SNL opening monologue a couple weeks ago, he talked about religion and God saying:

I’m not religious. I don’t know if there’s a God. That’s all I can say, honestly, is “I don’t know.” Some people think that they know that there isn’t. That’s a weird thing to think you can know. “Yeah, there’s no God.” Are you sure? “Yeah, no, there’s no God.” How do you know? “Cause I didn’t see Him.” There’s a vast universe! You can see for about 100 yards — when there’s not a building in the way. How could you possibly… Did you look everywhere? Did you look in the downstairs bathroom? Where did you look so far? “No, I didn’t see Him yet.” I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave yet; it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’m just waiting until it comes on cable.

And, no, I have not looked under the stairs, either. Nor have I looked behind every planet or star.

A god, gods, ghosts or goblins do an amazing job at hiding, though. They do it so well that there’s absolutely no, not one shred of evidence to indicate that the bump in the night is anything other than something natural with natural causes.

The evidence points to science, and when something seems unnatural, it’s likely something that is explanative and you didn’t wait for the explanation and made up your own conclusion or the explanation hasn’t been conceived yet.

In sum, I don’t know there’s nothing else as Louis C.K. so boldly pointed out. But I don’t know there is either. And that difference makes me happy to have a natural understanding of natural worldly events.

Thank goodness.

The random incoherent thoughts of Deepak Chopra


 

Screen-Shot-2014-05-21-at-4.44.53-PMAlthough a joke, this web site generates random words into sentences very similarly to the always dimly lit bulb Deepak Chopra.

I mean, really. The guy confuses otherwise smart people to think of him as intelligent. He’s a random word generator mixing science with the art of woo.

I love these two random generations:

The universe is at the heart of universal balance.

and

Perceptual reality constructs a jumble of fulfillment.

Generate your own Deepak Chopra quotes here.

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the face of a man who is smelling his own farts


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My wife is upstaging my ass in this photo, so I had to turn on the squinch face.

I look like I’m about to bust out laughing.

This was from the wedding we went to on Saturday night for our friends Steve and Filip.

It’s so hard to believe that it was the first event in I don’t know how long that I haven’t worked or come home with umpteen photos or videos.

It felt good.

We land the keys to our new place on Friday. So we’re going to move in over there and break champagne over the bow of the building.