Connections

03.01.14

1911278_10152270910583234_480429777_oIf you trace the lineage of how a family grows through the years it is never a straight line. It is a series of chance encounters, crazy decisions in the name of love, and big leaps of faith and commitment.

39 years ago today, Janet Paddock and Steve Cook brought into the world Stephanie. I imagine Janet, being a nurse and all too aware of everything going on in her body, still beingastonished at what she had created. I imagine Steve going down the halls of the hospital holding this new gift for the world in awe and wonder.

Shephie was born of love. Showered with love. Dusted with love. And she was going to be raised and spoiled with love. Stephie grew up carrying that love on the inside, and her heart on her sleeve.

By one of the wildest coincidences of my life, one night almost eleven years ago we met. I didn’t know I was looking for this kind of love, because I could never have imagined it. But when I saw it and felt it, there was no possibility of letting it go.

Every single day since I have learned about love, and so many other things from Stephie. I joke that she is always right, and I really believe that. She is the most understanding, the most inspired and really in a sea of craziness, an island of kind reason. Having our boys, she has showered that love on a whole new generation. If you could hear just the sound of her voice with them, you were understand everything I am talking about.

We are not together for this birthday. We are going to do our family’s great time honored tradition of time shifting and celebrate later this week in NY.

If any of you see Stephie today, please give her the biggest hug. If you are in a different town, please just write the date on anything and send it to her ( and since it is 2014, hashtag it: #03.01.14 ).

For inspiration, check out this video we did a couple of years ago in NY:http://langestudio.com/videos/030110

It feels alittle queer sending birthday wishes out in 2014. When we are together it is real hugs in real time.

And...if we are lucky….real love always.

Happy Birthday Stephie!!

Stephie is @stephanielange on Instagram and Stephanie Lange on Facebook.

#03.01.14

Pete Seeger

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I can’t begin to get everything I love about Pete into one post or ten. He has been such a huge force in my life. Such an inspiration. Such a powerhouse of strength and clarity. From that first concert I went to around the age of ten at the Carnegie Concert Hall in Pittsburgh - where the John Bircher’s were protesting outside and I was singing, “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley” so loud from the mezzanine that Muzz’s older brother leaned over and told me to stop singing so loud. To holding my son Jackson when he was only 2 by Pete’s feet in a blazing hot tent at the Clearwater festival and feeling that we were another two blessed links in the chain.Pete was all about the idea of “we”. When he sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (which I know is a strange idea, but just read up on it’s lyricist Yip Harburg ) he changed the last words to, “you and I”. Pete said, “When little Dorothy said, 'Why can't I?’ I’d tell her, 'You know why you can't, Dorothy? Because you only ask for yourself. You’ve got to ask for everybody, because either we’re all going to make it over that rainbow, or nobody’s going to make it.’ And so, sing it, 'If plucky little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why can't you and I?'" And the whole crowd sings these slightly different words. It's beautiful. And, of course, that’s the story of Noah’s Ark and the rainbow This world will survive when we learn how to coexist. Okay, we disagree. You like to eat this way, and I like to eat that way. You like to dance that way. I like to dance this way. You think of this word meaning such and such. I use the same word, but I’m thinking of something different. But if we learn the lesson of the rainbow, we will be here a hundred years from now.”

By some miracle one day in 1997, I got an assignment from Rolling Stone to photograph Pete Seeger up at his home on the Hudson. The story never ran, but it gave me one of the greatest thrills of my career. It was a cold, sunny spring morning. When I got to his house, he came out carrying an ax and said we had to chop some wood so he could boil the sap for maple syrup. So he lined up some logs and chopped away as I took my pictures. When he was done he grabbed his banjo, sat down on the chopping stump and asked what I wanted to hear. I told him I loved so many of his songs, but one of my favorites was an obscure one on a recording no longer in print (Pete Seeger Now) from the tent city the homeless had set up in Washington, DC. It was a song called, “Letter To Eve” - these are the lyrics:

LETTER TO EVE

Oh, Eve, where is Adam, now you're kicked out of the garden? Oh, Eve, where is Adam, now you're kicked out of the garden? Been wandering from shore to shore, Now you find there's no more Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Don't you wish love, only love, could save this world from disaster? Don't you wish love, only love, could save this world from disaster? If only love could end the confusion - Or is it just one more illusion? Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if . . . you want to have great love, you got to have great anger Well if . . . you want to have great love, you got to have great anger When I see innocent folk shot down, Should I just shake my head and frown? Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if . . . you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger Well if . . . you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger Or else it'll be just one more time The correction creates another crime. Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh Eve, you tell Adam, next time he asks you Oh Eve, you tell Adam, next time he asks you He'll say, "Baby it's cold outside; What's the password to come inside?" You say, Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh, Eve, go tell Adam, we got build a new garden Oh, Eve, go tell Adam, we got build a new garden We got to get workin' on the building Of a decent for all o' God's children. Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

If music . . . could only bring peace, I'd only be a musician If music . . . could only bring peace, I'd only be a musician If songs could more than dull the pain, If melodies could break these chains Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Four thousand languages in this world, Means the same thing to evrry boy and girl Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa! Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa!

Pete was all about planting seeds. Seeds of justice. Seeds of hope. Seeds of the power of song.

Pete said, “ In this wonderful parable in the New Testament: the sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousand fold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.”

I am on my way right now to the Dad 2.0 conference in New Orleans to speak on Friday. I will begin my talk speaking about Pete and how we, as parents are all farmers planting the seeds of our children's futures.

I will make my New Year’s resolution - which I made weeks before the news of Pete’s passing even stronger. My resolution is to sing even louder. With less inhibitions. With alittle less humility.

And to get planting…..’

I am linking a not very well shot clip of Bruce Springsteen in South Africa two nights ago singing, “We Shall Overcome.” Pete lives on. Bruce told Pete several years ago, “You outlasted the bastards, man!” And he did.

The picture is from my shoot with Pete from February, 1990 at his home in Beacon, NY.

 

My father at 90

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My father would be 90 years old today.He was born January 24, 1924.

He died in our arms January 24, 1998.

We used to tease that we started missing each other before each visit, knowing how quickly the time would pass and it would be over.

Every time we left each other, often at an airport, he would slip me $5. When I went to summer camp. When I went to college. When I moved to New York. $5 slipped into my palm at the last minute. Never more. Never less. When we were searching for a middle name for Jackson, we came up with Finn, which is a slang term for 5 dollar bill.

When I think of my father I think of how sweet he was. How much fun he seemed to be having. How much in the moment he was. I have written (and posted) about my father a lot. I loved him so much. And he loved me. And best – we not only lived it, but told each other.

As much as I have missed him since he has been gone, having my boys and being with Stephie has made me miss him even more. He would have been such a rich part of our family – and they would have thrilled and loved him to no end. It is a cruel trick when someone dies that they are frozen in time. They continue to have birthdays, but are no longer here. They never age in your mind, but they are harder to imagine. What would my father look like at 90? How much fun we he be? How much would he love these boys of ours and Stephie?

I can answer.

My father would be handsome and super fun. He would be bursting with so much love he would light up the sky. He would still have tickets to every Steeler game and Jackson would be next to him tugging at his terrible tweed coat. On his lap would be Asher singing out loud with those blue eyes that match my father’s, and on the other side, I would be the happiest man in the world. Knowing it was not the game but being together.

My Dad would be doing his damnedest to keep up with my mother.

It is never the destination, it is always the journey.

The attached photo is of Jackson in 2010 sitting on the lawn of the house I grew up in. He is sitting in the exact spot I used to wait for my father to come home from work. It used to seem like forever for his car to come around the corner and into the driveway. Then, when he came out of the car and hugged me, it was like he had been there forever. Behind Jackson are his two grandmothers, Aline and Janet.

Something I wrote 5 or 6 years ago....

I have been out sharing my book, The Unforgettable Photograph with alot of people.  Alot of amazing feedback.  Interviewers all want specific tips:  How to take great holiday pictures.  How to take great pictures with your phone.   For me, it all comes out of the same well of inspiration.   What I am discovering, is that well has been pretty consistent my whole career.  Aszure Barton posted this today from her site.    I wrote this 5 or 6 years ago. “Dear Aszure:

Can I say in my bio that I had a life altering experience seeing you (Aszure & Artists) perform at Jacob’s Pillow

Can I say that I stalked you for many months until we had lunch one freezing day and you let me in?

Can I say how the shootings we have done have re calibrated my internal rhythm?

Life is only about rhythm. I photograph the beats. I have had to work through actors and presidents, surgeons and bakers, civil rights heroes and muses to finally…finally get to Aszure – who pounds the floor and spits and insists that beauty is not always pretty…. and yet it is always beautiful.

I have been taking pictures since the age of 5. I am obsessed with the next five minutes, the next ten pictures, a map into a dream. I just became a father and am quickly learning a language with no words. I think a lot of about the connections we all crave with each other. I try to photograph from the inside out.

The photographs are only the excuse to get to know you and ask this one question that has been bugging me….

I spend a lot of time trying to remember specific moments and photographs give me a fighting chance.

I take mostly mental pictures.

My pictures are becoming more and more cinematic. Rather than presenting a singular moment as the truth, I have been shooting the whole arc. I have been stitching the moments together into little movies. I like making you shiver.”

 

 

 

 

 

Not yet aftermath

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Boulder - 9.15.13

The ground is so wet that for days there will be the fear of terra firma transforming into quicksand.   Mud and water tearing through homes and businesses and schools breaking down all defenses.  Roads buckling under our weight.  Disgusting piles of soaked carpets torn out and piled everywhere.

Each step to Monday is pushed back by the new realities in a place where reality is usually baked in sunshine.    It is all a balance of gathering teachers, shoveling mud, and waving mirrors at rescue helicopters.

We always duck when we bicycle under the bridges along the creek.   Now we have to dismount and do the breaststroke.

We were lucky.  We stayed dry.   Islands in a newly formed sea.

Stephie and I  stayed up way into the morning crafting the Ted Talk I give next Saturday night.  Now I just have to memorize it.  Was given the technique of imagining the speech in different parts of something familiar like your house.   What if you are renting?

Got a massage from Karen Delorenzo this morning, then soaked with the boys in the rain.   Met Karen when she was pregnant with Malachi many years ago on my first assignment for Rolling Stone.   Went to Milwaukee to shoot the Violent Femmes, and stayed at the drummer, Victor Delorenzo’s  (and Karen’s) house for several days.  The total budget was $75.

Malachi was playing with Langhorne Slim at Red Rocks last night and came to pick up Karen who was staying at our house.  Then we all went to watch football at a local Boulder sports bar with Jackson.   Malachi was there laughing and cheering on his Packers.   Jackson’s head was spinning around to 10 TV’s all with different games.  Langhorne came in wearing a red knit hat and was that warm.

Before we had kids, Stephie and I followed Langhorne all over the UK.  Some nights they were playing for ten people.  Some nights alot more.  I told Langhorne how amazing it was how his career has evolved.  He said, “I would be doing this no matter what, but yes, it is really nice how many people love what we do.”

In the first 30 seconds of a massage you know exactly what you are in for.    When Karen first touched me on the table, I told her, I have been waiting 20 years for this massage.

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 With Langhorne Slim and Jackson

 

"King! I have a joke for you"

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I photographed BB King a couple of weeks ago in Baltimore.  At the end of the shooting, he called me over, and as I kneeled next to his chair, he said, “That was the most enjoyable photo shoot I have ever done.”    He then said, “When you go home kiss Jackson for me.”

I had talked about my boys alot during the shooting, and told BB that he could kiss Jackson (my 5 year old) himself when he played Red Rocks in two weeks.

This past week, Stephie and I took Jackson and his grandmother Janet to Red Rocks.  First up was a visit in the fancy touring bus.    Jackson went right back to BB holding court in the back and gave him five.   “BB”, Jackson asked.   “Call him Mr. King” Stephie corrected.   “We are musicians” BB said, “there are no formalities.”    Then Jackson stood right in front of BB and said, “KING!  I have some jokes for you.”   Jackson then told the one about what do you call a woman in the middle of a tennis court?   Annette!   A couple of knock knock jokes.   We were all hysterical.   When I tried to politely slip out, BB asked us to stay longer.    He then whispered to me, “Do you see the way Jackson is standing there, poised and talking to me directly?    My mother died when I was 9 ½ and I never learned that.”

We then headed over to the stage.   This was Jackson’s first real concert.   We walked  up the ramps through the great backstage at Red Rocks where everyone from the Beatles to Sinatra to our friend Mac Miller walked the halls.   Got into our seats up front.  I had a pass to shoot after they cleared the other photographers out, and thought Jackson might  like being so close, so he joined me.   BB’s second song, “You Are My Sunshine” seemed like a very strange choice, but was so much fun since Jackson knew the lyrics.   On “The Thrill is Gone”, BB spotted Jackson in the audience.  From the stage he said, “There is my friend Jackson, we hung together before the show.”  He then reached in his pocket and tossed a pendant from the stage through the air, which Jackson caught (thanks to alot of Little League practice this summer).

Later, after the set, Jackson was showing his pendant to everyone and said, “I will never forget this night.” If I was ever nervous for him starting kindergarten, it was all gone.   He will be fine.

On A's 85th Birthday

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My mother has a big birthday today.   She said it is a non-event.   There are those that want a big fuss for their birthdays - and those who want to hide. Then there are those, like my mother who live every single day like it is so special, that when you go to buy a present or make a big deal on a day like today, it seems futile.

My mother is the most alive 80 something woman I know - and can dust most 70 and 60 something’s, too.  She shakes the Pittsburgh cultural tree every single day for the ripest fruit.   The museums, the concert halls, the theaters - her movie club with the critic from the Post-Gazette - they are the turf she runs on.   If something is sold out it just becomes a game, not a deterrent.   She has yoga, lunches, lectures, classes at CMU - and a slew of friends old and new who leap frog to keep up.

You could argue it is all a manic sprint.  She often asks if she is crazy at the end of long daily emails detailing her adventures.

Many people try to sum up their lives, and collect all the history on special birthdays.   My mother is just living too fast and too hard to stop and look back.   No dusting off old pictures.   No regrets.  Just teaching us all to be so alive and rich with experience that looking in the rear view mirror is something you do when your last breath is spent.

The gift she gives us all everyday is sharing her adventure , her curiosity, her insatiable sense of wonder.   Having children is planting seeds.  I’ve gotten a whole plantation from my mother.   As for my little boys, they have their own whole pocketfuls of seeds from their Gran A.

Peaches in my father's garden

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Last night I was reading about Alex Rodriguez having lived his whole life in the shadow of a father who abandoned him at age 9.    Was thinking about the garden his father failed to plant.   The seeds of trust and honor that never fertilized.

I then read my good friend, Mark Epstein’s piece in the NY Times Sunday Review.  First, I love Mark.   Just love him.   He is so much crazier and brilliant and funny than he lets on.  Maybe our favorite time together was squeezed into my little Alfa convertible driving around San Diego with the top down, with the music cranked (we were listening to the most subversive of Dan Bern), like we were the rock stars we are afraid to be. Ok, we are rock stars, just don’t dress the part.   The Jew-Bu rock star shrink who can make you feel like you are completely alive and the photographer rock star who was hiding behind his camera until just last week when he came out with a metal funnel for a megaphone.

Mark wrote about the traumas we anticipate and recover from.   He wrote about his mother recovering from his father dying, then sharing a secret of another husband in another life she had buried.   He wrote that allowing grief to breathe is ok.

My brother, mother, and I were all around my father, holding his hands as he took his last breath at home in 1998.   The first thing my mother said to all of us right at that moment was, “He was a great guy.”  She then packed up his clothes and got on with her life.   It was not that she didn’t miss him.  It was not that she felt cheated that he was gone on his 74th birthday and she is now about to celebrate her 85th birthday.  It was just that my father had planted so many seeds and was still alive in that garden he had planted inside all of us.  We just had to appreciate all that was still alive about him, not just the part that was gone.   Not that we did not mourn.  Not that missing him will ever go away.   It is just when they say, “stay hydrated” - they are talking about watering seeds in the private gardens our father’s planted.    Meanwhile, my mother has her foot pressed hard on the reaper and is still harvesting like each day is peak season.  The grim reaper is at bay, afraid of the scarecrow.

This morning Jackson crawled into bed and I planted a seed for his garden.  The seed about playing by the rules, not cheating, never telling lies.   He got it, but there is only so much seed sewing you can do with a 5 year old.    We switched to talking about the peaches that appeared this weekend. Jackson does not like peaches.  I told him the peach I had last night literally knocked my socks off.   Told him if he took a single bite it might knock all his clothes off.   Then we headed downstairs.  Crawled slowly around the corner of the kitchen on our knees until Asher finally discovered us with peaches in his mouth and the milk from his cereal dribbling down his chest.   We all started laughing.   Was laughing more when we were all eating peaches, socks flying off of Stephie’s feet, and the rest of us dancing around naked.  Indulge those peaches in the next couple of weeks.   Each one is a beautiful perfect seed from my father’s garden.

Soundtrack for this post - while I am listening to "Blurred Lines" this summer like some addiction - Robin Thick, Prince, and many others all circle back to Sly Stone.   Listening to, "Just Like A Baby" - from There's A Riot Going on.

Then....just as I was about to hit publish just now, I stumbled on this other Dan Bern song, "Kid's Prayer,"  which ends with this advice:

Talk to your kids

Play with your kids

Tell them your dreams

And your disappointments

Listen with your kids

Listen to your kids

Watch your kids

Let your kids watch you

Tell your kids the truth

Best as you can tell it

No use telling lies

Your kids can always smell it

Cook for your kids

Let your kids cook for you

Sing with your kids

Teach your kids the blues

Learn their games

Teach them yours

Touch your kids

Find out what they know

Be sad with your kids

Be stupid with your kids

Learn with your kids

Cry with you kids

Be yourself with your kids

Be real with your kids

Embarrass your kids

Let them embarrass you

Be strong with your kids

Be tough with your kids

Be firm with your kids

Say "No" to your kids

Say "Yes" to your kids

Take it easy on your kids

You were a kid

Not so long ago

There are things you know

Your kids will never know

There’s places they live

Where you will never go

So dance with your kids

Paint with your kids

Walk with your kids

Tell stories to your kids

Watch movies with your kids

Eat popcorn with your kids

Tell secrets to your kids

Stop for rainbows with your kids

One day your kids

Won't be kids

And maybe they'll have kids of their own

Let’s hope they talk to their kids

Play with their kids

Tell them their dreams

And their disappointments

 

amen.

Live Lobster

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In the mountains this summer, at a dinner called "Dinnerpoloza" organized by marketing wiz Claudia Batten, we sit down and throw the dice.    Looking under the table Claudia sports tight red stretch pants (definitely not Boulder standard issue spandex), black shoes with red soles and a very sparkly shirt. Claudia explodes with ideas and fun and that down-under accent that makes all of the rest of us sound so normal.

She is with the great sculptor Mark Castator who picks the wine and passes his newest sculpture installations around on his phone. We talk Game of Thrones, tumblr hashtags, and a 14' table in the works.

We are joined by John Bradley and Missy Schwartz new to Boulder via SF and Wired Mag. We go around the table pulling the best ideas from behind our ears, then sharing. Hidden gems. No NDA's.   Talk like everything we are drinking is not making us gay. Stephie was being friends with Mr Hendrik's and some cucumber that was as summer as you can get. Uh oh....I am actually not feeling so clear, do I fake it or submit to the buzz? The talk circles around 3 married couples who are really happy together. Like a big skinny dip. In Boulder on this night, at this table, we are feeling very alive and gay and straight.

It all evolves ( and there is no D at the beginning of evolve) into Honey Boo Boo who taught me about the importance of posture when I shot her last month and have not slouched since. Have to share the tips about posture.

Two nights later in the mountains, we are at Bill and Elizabeth's mountain house looking out at the most beautiful night.  Full moon.  Friends from the east who also settled out west. Kids bouncing all over. Elizabeth is working margaritas and massaging the kale salad. Corn is shucked and steaming. What is missing from this summer? Lobster. Fresh live lobster. It is the only thing I am missing. Not missing the beach. Not missing hot steamy days in the city. Find an Asian market in Broomfield. Right above the nasty box of big live frogs is the tank of live lobsters. I ask the man who doesn't speak of word of English where they are from. He answers with one word, "Boston." Right answer. "I'll take 4" So here is the scene last up in the mountains: The sun setting over 14 peaks and the full moon rising. 4 dishes of melted butter. 2 lobster crackers (this is NOT the well supplied beach larder). Some wine and salad and corn. And a trumpet.

 

And this song is playing in my head..... Your Heart is a Black As Night

When A Fire Starts to Burn - 4th of July, 2013

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The 4th of July is not the beginning or end of summer.   It is not really the middle either.  It is towards the end of real green.   It is warm days, cool nights and dry here in Colorado.  It is skies packed with more stars than the ipad app of the night.   It is pitching baseball after baseball after baseball until the balls finally start sailing over my head.

It is hard to work in summer.   The long days don’t define work and it is never really dark enough to sleep.   Deer rest by the bikes under the deck.  Corn silk is littered all around the grill.  Clothing is optional.

Generally on the 4th I sing George M. Cohan’s anthem to my boys, like my father did on the 4th ( although I think my father was thinking James Cagney’s version rather than the real Cohan.)     I remember holding Jackson under a huge flag in the park in  Maplewood teaching him the lyrics.

This morning I was thinking about the young firefighters in Arizona.  Everytime I read about someone dying - especially that young - I think, “that is all you get.”   They were strong soldiers fighting a fight I can understand - though in the next breath the news talked about the climate changing, and all of us are driving what is terrorizing the weather.

Always thinking about Woody Guthrie and Louis Armstrong on the 4th.   Louis because he claimed he was born on the 4th of July, 1900 (though probably not born that day I will give it to him anyway and listen to “Weatherbird” with awe - all that magic he made in that crazy duet with Earl Hines).

Woody Guthrie - the most patriotic american I ever knew.  We all have our gifts.  His was not being a great father or husband, but he shared a view of this country that was true and benevolent and inspired.   “This Land is Your Land” came on in the house this morning.  These lyrics stopped everything we were doing :

 

In the shadow of the steeple

I saw my people

At the relief office

I seen my people

As they stood there hungry

I stood there asking

Is this land made for you and me?

 

Nobody living can ever stop me

As I go walking that freedom highway

Nobody living can ever make me turn back

This land was made for you and me.

In Boulder we are eating like kings.  Farm to table. Organic.  Gluten free.

Food of the gods.  Until they start chewing for us, too - I am happy food is honored and respected and grown with such passion.   I wish everyone was able to sit at these tables.

In Lincoln, Nebraska this spring I went to a high school where they spoke 22 languages.  In LINCOLN, NEBRASKA!   The school was a miracle of a tight community with open hearts.  Unemployment was low, but many were working poor and could barely afford food.   The children were fed during the week at school, and then sent home for the weekend with knapsacks full of food to get them through the weekend.  There was no ridicule.  There was just a sense of people helping each other.   In the 4th grade class everyone was reading over 100 words a minute.   The bright strong eyes of the teacher taught as much as the books.

We have talked about that school alot in the weeks since I was there.   The boys sent their lemonade stand money there.  I am sending these Woody Guthrie lyrics out there today for them.   In shadow of this magnificent land here in Colorado.  In the plains between the mountains.

We are turning off our screens, pulling over on the side of the road and feeling, for a moment, small and timeless under a bright blue sky bigger than the ocean.  We are holding each other and letting time stop, even for a brief moment.   We all get alittle more time,  which means we can sit still and live large and love each other even more....and not stop walking.

I am going to sandwich this post of July 4th reflection with a new song (When I A Fire Starts to Burn)  I heard yesterday from a band of brothers ( Guy and Howard Lawrence) in the UK.  Check out that video!

 

And a series of pictures from my family over the last couple of days.

Happy 4th all.

 

 

 

Daddy is a Joker

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I tell the story almost every day of walking Jackson for the first time in a stroller. Stephie and I stopped at the end of the driveway, looked at each other, and said, “Now we are one of them.” Nothing is more true, even though I had no clue what was ahead.

Being a father is loud and non stop and then just exhausted and beautiful. It is holding hands and letting go. It is making sure everything is clean and safe then getting all messed up. It is chalk on the sidewalk and water balloons bursting. It is clean plates and endless chicken tenders. It is discovering everything for the first time and creating habits that bend. It is those brief moments of zen when everyone is buckled in the car as you walk around to the drivers seat. It is Woody Guthrie and The Music Man and Twist & Shout. It is birthdays taking forever to come than over way too fast. It is having this all this time alone as a family, then watching it all go public. It is seeing Santa Claus and Obama. It is Maplewood and New York City and Boulder and Nashville and Pittsburgh . It is watching Stephie become the most patient, most loving, most beautiful mom ever. It is missing your boys every moment you are apart and many moments you are together. It is planting seeds. The Louis Armstrong seed. The swimming seed. The football seed. The Titanic Seed. The art seed. The seeds of wonder. The seeds of possibilities. The seeds of confidence. The seeds of fear. The seeds of trust. The seeds of maybe and the seeds of promises kept. The seeds of being there and the seeds of distance.

When Jackson was born someone told me the process of having children is the process of letting go. I know that is true. I know that part of my job is helping that along. Just for this time – right now – I want to hold my boys so tight. I want them to jump in my arms. I want them to swim over to me. I want to feel all that love. I want my full time job to be protecting them. I want to laugh so hard we cannot breathe (they have both gotten used to playing cleanup hitter telling everyone, “Daddy is a joker” to explain all the things that don’t make sense). I want to hold them so tight when they are hurt, kiss the part that got scraped…..I want to lick their tears. I want to take pictures just to prove that moment existed. I want to study their beauty.

Before I had children I never imagined I would ever be a father, and now I know this is what I was born to do.

I found a tape of my father and I traveling across the country - actually driving into Boulder in a hail storm many years ago. Just the two of us. The conversation is mostly just describing what he was seeing out the window. It was not over reaching or terribly profound - it was just us being together - which listening to now is alot. The only way I can reconcile my father being gone and not here with my boys is the thought that he is everywhere inside of us. In Asher’s eyes. In Jackson’s & Asher’s embracing of everyone we meet. In the joy we all share.

No one teaches you how to be a good father - just like no one teaches you how to be a good husband. It is listening to the words and listening to the silence. It is holding back tears and letting them flow. It is being strong and knowing your limitations.

So fellow fathers - maybe we can do something we never really do. That is think for a moment how lucky we are. Hope we really are doing the very best we can. How we can hold that one breath when we are all together and never let go.

_W4Q1904

 

 

 

Society

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I once went to Karl Lagerfeld's apartment in Paris to photograph him.  On every step  winding up to the front door, there were two Diptyque Tubereuse  candles.  By the time you got to the top you were completely intoxicated.    When I was there, I photographed Christy Turlington in Lagerfeld's formal study, up on Karl's lap with him drawing on her thigh.  That same trip I photographed Christian Lacroix making out on the sofa in their apartment with models posing all over the room, ignoring them completely.

Now more than ever we need those people of impeccable taste and exquisite style as role models. Love the conversation with Sofia Coppola and Lee Radziwill in this week's NY Times issue of T.   Love someone addressing privacy and good taste - and even manners.   Love the portraits of Sophia by Jason Schmidt, too.

If you missed it, there was a wonderful piece on Lee Radziwill ( by Sophia Coppola) this  past winter with this great video interview.

And a related post on privacy on the NY TImes Magazine 6th floor Blog - with my comments here:

I often wonder how a two year old would respond to the sea of iphones pointed at them on their birthday if they could decide what images were going to be posted. Should we be asking them permission? Is the birthday paparazzi assault fair even among friends?

Releases? Permissions? The may have some legal significance, but no real ethical meaning. The people who sign most releases have no clue what images or context they are agreeing to. Most sign away their rights before the images are even taken. Professionals in publishing protect most subjects more than they ever would know how to protect themselves. Artists have other freedoms, but no less responsibility.

These pictures are observations that respect the subject's identity. If you want privacy there are lots of shades available, or places to live in more obscurity.

This is 2013. Everything is public, and you are legally allowed to look for two seconds.