I’m going to be 42 for a long time


If you asked me today, “How old are you?”

My response would be 42. I’ve been answering that same way for the past year.

That makes me a liar.

I was born in September of 1975.

I’m only 41. I’ve spent a whole year as a 42 year old, when I could have been reveling in my 41s.

What an idiot!

So for the next year starting September 7, I’ll be able to honestly tell people, “I’m 42.” No more of lies. No more deceit.

Here’s some news: I’ve been writing again. Almost every day. My morning routine right now is getting up about an hour or two before my wife Tina. I either make a pot of coffee or a single cup of instant coffee, packets that I picked up in France last April. Because everything French tastes better even instant coffee. Ha.  Continue reading

MinnesotaStan collected a bunch of #45 links, images and stories for me to repost here. Thanks, Stan!


trump intro.png

We here at Le Café Witteveen are dizzy daily from the onslaught of the word “Trump” every minute of every day, in print, in audio, in motion.

MinnesotaStan at TYWKIWDBI echoes that sentiment and has even tried to stay away from too many posts about it citing that his readers love his blog because it’s a distraction from hearing/reading that damn name one more time in the day.

I loved the link dump he posted recently and wanted to share a link here.

Here’s the link: Trump clump #1. Check it out.

There are too many highlights to repost here and it’s a great collection of superfluous reminders of how awful this president is.

fbi.jpg

An academic approach to biblical studies


From my experience, it wasn’t until I approached biblical studies from an academic stance that the many, many, many questions were given more reasoned answers.

I was recently turned on to a link from Yale and its biblical studies class online. I’ve recently been listening to it.

An insightful lecture is this one, which covers how Noah’s story was informed by the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as much more reasoned answers to questions regarding the snake, who is clearly not “Satan” and a better look as to who and what “God” really is as he (they) was/were depicted to the early Jewish culture. It also exposes many contradictions, which I was taught “were NOT contradictions” just like “miracles aren’t’ magic!”

If you, yes you, only listened to one lecture, listen to that one I linked to above

I caught the band MEW on their US tour …


mew_jbtv_jwitteveen_08122017_-portrait.jpg

The band MEW stopped in at JBTV last week to play seven songs the morning before their show at Park West here in Chicago.

Above is the portrait I took of them before their performance.

They seemed super cool. Reserved, but super talented and their fans LOVE them. I imagine their show last Saturday was well attended and enjoyed to the N’th.

To learn a bit more, here’s a bit from their Wiki:

“Mew are a Danish alternative rock band, consisting of Jonas Bjerre (lead vocals), Johan Wohlert (bass) and Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen (drums). Johan Wohlert left the band in 2006 before the birth of his first child, but made a return in 2013 while the band were in the studio, before making his first live appearances since his departure in 2014. Guitarist Bo Madsen left the band in June 2015. This was confirmed in a statement on the band’s official website on 1 July of the same year.[1]

Whilst their music may be classified as indie and on occasion progressive rock, Bo Madsen said “I usually say we are ‘indie stadium.’ A mix between ‘feelings’ and ‘thinking’ is usually good.””

Here are some stills I took of their performance:

MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017MEW perform at JBTV, August 12, 2017

sexy time! make a date with your art


On my calendar for July 21, 2017, at 7 a.m. it reads, “street photography | location: downtown chicago.”

If I don’t book my time, I will not do something.

Lately, I’ve been charging myself with eschewing social media, the news, and general distractions to concentrate on me, my art and creativity.

I’m trying to build new habits and give up on ones that are mentally or even physically distracting from productivity.

Just like working out, there are times when even if it’s in my schedule, I’ll almost do anything to trick myself from going. But I was determined. And I went.

Armed with a Panasonic GH5 and a Hasselblad H5D-40, I set out. I drove down, left the Hasselblad in the car and just shot the GH5. I did both video and stills.

When I got back to the car, I thought, “Fuck it. I’ll end today. I got some good stuff. I’m headed home.”

I text Tina to tell her I was on my way. Then I looked up and saw an image that I needed to take. I reached for the door handle, stepped back out, opened the back door where my cameras were, and pulled out the Hasselblad.

I took this image:

B0001147.jpg

I text Tina afterward and said, “Nix that. I’m headed out with the Hassy.”

So off I went.

I took photos for another hour. I met some people.

Like a woman who saw me and yelled out: “Hey, Camera Man!”

She was sitting outside at a Dunkin Donuts across from Columbia college. “What camera is that?”

I told her.

“Wow! What are you a fashion photographer?”

“I’m mainly portraits and interiors.”

“You gotta come talk to my class. I teach across the street.” She pointed at Columbia.

“Cool!”

We exchanged info.

Here’s her image. She called herself “The Pope.”

B0001240.jpg

After that I took a portrait of a guy. He asked for $10 to photograph him.

We did a short seven or eight frame session.

I said, “What’s your name?”

“<unintellible multi syllable word>” he responded.

“What?”

“<unintellible multi syllable word>” he repeated.

“I’m not sure what you’re saying,” I said.

“Well, my friends call me: T to the M to the ACK.”

“T-mack?”

“Yes!” He pointed my way.

“T-mack it is!”

Here’s his portrait:

B0001242.jpg

I also took more shots that I loved.

You can view those below. Enjoy.

 

B0001151B0001191B0001235B0001198woman_kidP1011671B0001217B0001197B0001189B0001193B0001237P1011482

the devil wants my lenses


I take a French class every week. Recently, the topic of discussion was superstitions. We talked about Voodoo, Réne Descarte, rationality, culturally specific superstitions (French superstitions vs Turkish superstitions), etc.

I find all religions/faiths and many cultural behaviors to be superstitious, and while I claim to not be superstitious, I often question my claim as superstitious thoughts creep into my head all the time.

When something happens in a pattern, science explains that sometimes — we as humans — attribute these things to something larger than ourselves, like a deity or a devil or any other number of fairies, goblins or leprechauns.

Superstitions claim misfortune might be caused by breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella inside, walking under a ladder, being taught a lesson by a parental god, being tested by a wily devil, not praying the right prayer, or simply failing to knock on wood that one time I said, “I have the best lens choices in the universe!”

Knock on wood. 

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had to replace two lenses. These are literal misfortunes, as I feel like replacements have cost me a literal small fortune.

One of the lenses was — in a general sense — inexpensive (around $600). The other one was for my Hasselblad, which is the rough equivalent of buying property in Trump Tower.

My Hasselblad is medium format camera. Working with a medium format system is like owning a luxury vehicle like a Ferrari. You don’t take the car in for anything without seeing your wallet lighten by many pounds.

I had to buy a battery for it recently and it set me back $375. A battery for my DSLR would cost between $40 and $65, for a generic brand or name brand respectively. There’s  no generic option for Hasselblad.

Buying a new 35mm lens — which I use most for interiors or architecture — would be $5200. On eBay, you can find used ones for $1500-$4500. But that’s risky as I found out. I ordered a used one off of eBay and it was dead on arrival. So I had to send it back to the seller, which ties up several thousand dollars until the return is processed.

Because we have a big interiors job next week, I ordered another one. I don’t use credit cards, so I’m basically tying up liquid cash.

Another unfortunate lens mishap happened in my studio. I was using a camera to videotape an update. Here’s a shot below of part of the space. There’s a long strip where I can throw a ball with my dog. We occupy the area behind where my camera is for photography.

12973157_10153370683956836_7453284149502306052_o.jpg

I had my dog with me last week. I was washing my car in the shop area and I had a camera setup to record an update for a vLog. The floor was wet and it’s already very slippery.

As I was about to throw the ball to my dog, she was headed straight for my camera on its tripod and her head was facing me as she ran away. “Nooooooo!” I yelled as I sprinted after her. She turned. Started slipping. And I slipped trying to get to the camera, but it went down.

If a camera is a face and a lens its nose, it landed smack dab on its snout. The lens shattered. Fortunately the camera was unharmed (cross fingers and knock on wood).

Ha.

On the surface, it’s tough not to see these financial blows are not some kind of message from an unseen force attempting to discourage my creativity.

Is this a message from the Lens Gods or the Productivity Gods saying, “We don’t want you to be productive?”

We want to use financial stress as a distraction! 

My view, though, is to not let those superstitions to prevent, paralyze, stymie creativity. I’m pressing on. These things happened. They just happened. That’s it. They were accidents. They were and are explainable by natural causes.

My human brain might try to attach mystical explanations or place more emphasis on them because in a pattern … lens lens lens lens + money money money money = stress stress stress stress stress — that somehow is attractive.

There is no amount of prayer, of self sacrifice, of worshiping the unseen that will bring back those lenses nor would it protect my other lenses that still work.

Shit happens. And it’s when I try to attach superstition to natural events that I get caught up in distractions from creative expression.

Well, fuck that.