Something I Heard

Pete Seeger

PeteSeeger200  

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.

 

Peter Pan

2013.091080  

This morning I put on the Peter Pan original Broadway cast album for the first time since I was a child.   Mary Martin's 1954 version , for Asher who was eating breakfast with me.  He started singing it back to me right away, like he already knew all the words. I had forgotten how big a part of my childhood that album was. Could barely hold back tears listening to him crow.

What I wrote above is what I posted on Facebook.    The truth was I was sobbing uncontrollably.   How can those songs be so deep inside that when they surface so many years later, and your son is singing them back to you, it is like a well burst inside?

 

 

 

 

 

"King! I have a joke for you"

2013.08.20_009 2013.08.20_560

2013.08.20_580

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.

Live Lobster

2013.07.21_129_1 2013.07.21_154

 

 

 

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

  2013.07.01_002

 

2013.07.01_010

2013.07.01_027

2013.07.01_064

2013.07.01_141

2013.07.01_215

2013.07.01_242

2013.07.01_290

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.

 

 

 

Nebraska

georgeshead Ventured all over Nebraska on an amazing project for Pinnacle Bank.  Shooting stills and alot of video.  Visited farms, radio stations, and an elementary school in Lincoln where 22 languages were spoken.   Got to do what I love - meeting all kinds of strangers and being blown away hearing their stories.   Found the best parts of what we hope is America.  Found the openness I dream of.  Sounds corny....I know.  Still.   There it was.

Will share as the project rolls out.  Until then, you are stuck with my dome.

A New Year

It is killing me not wanting to post kid shots here. I created a blog for all the personal images of my little kids that I have not attended to.  Alas, I have to resort to adults acting as kids, like my friend here, Claudio Carneiro - star of Cirque de Soleil and Saturday Night Live in Brazil.

This New Year has launched full of steam and momentum. Lots of new work. Lots of ideas wanting to be cracked open. A crazy amount of laughing until it hurts. After catching his breath in the car tonight from laughter, Jackson (my 5 year old) said, “Daddy, talk about anything!” “Like what, Jackson?” “Oh, you can just talk about photography. I can’t stop laughing.”

Why I Love Atlanta

[flashvideo file=http://www.langestudio.com/blogmedia/TLC_KAREN-DAN-2_FLV.flv width=592 height=357 /] Over three years ago, I did a grueling three day shoot in Atlanta.   I set up a couple of appointments for the day after the shoot - but was wasted.   So I met my friend Matt Rollins at his favorite lunch spot, Star Provisions, for an early lunch and decided just to roam around and cancel meeting anyone afterwards.

I walked by a men’s shop in the same complex as Star, pressed my face against the front window, and saw a bunch of very well turned out salesmen throwing a football around the shop.  I had to walk in.  There was good vinyl playing.  A beautiful mix of well curated menswear - and a fine collection of shirts and suits they had designed for the shop.  The shirts were extra special - beautifully cut, great buttons, great fabrics.  I met the owner, Sid Mashburn who asked what I was doing in town (I think he knows everyone in Atlanta!).   I told him what I had shot, explained I was just wanting to wander - and had cancelled a meeting with the designer,  Stefan Kjartansson at Armchair Media. Sid did not approve.   He insisted, “Creatives do not skip meeting other creatives!”.   He explained, “I am friends with Stefan - you have to meet him.  I will drive you over to Armchair.”    So Sid drove me over, brought me in, introduced me, and I had my meeting. Everyone there was great. Loved sharing each other's work.  Sid took off.  I flew home.

Last week, I was back in  Atlanta again for a big shoot I will show here in the next week or two (or for a sneak peek, come to my talk next week in Boulder at Caffeinated Mornings.)   Tuesday, the morning after my shoot, I was having coffee at Octane with Mason Poe.  Mason and I worked on a big healthcare shoot for Microsoft awhile back and have remained friends.  During our coffee (and the most insane doughnuts from Sublime Bakery that Mason insisted I try - under little protest), my other morning meetings got postponed.  I randomly asked Mason if he knew Stefan at Armchair.  Mason explained that Stephan was a good friend of his, and that Armchair was only a couple of blocks away.  I said I should call first.  Mason said, “Don’t call.  They will not have time for you. Just go.  I will show you the way.”  So I followed Mason and he dropped me in Armchair’s parking lot.

Are you still with me?   This was the hardest part.   Walking into a design firm UNANNOUNCED!  Just opening that door and walking in.  That was the key to all the good things that unfolded.  First thing I hear is Thelonius Monk playing - which instantly made me very happy I was there.   It was playing from the speakers on Stefan’s desk.  I said hello.  Probably stuttered a bit - but  was greeted with such a warm welcome, I was instantly so happy I had come by.   We caught up a bit, I went out to the car and brought in some new work to show.   I built an app from scratch to showcase the work live.  The app works like an origami unfolding - which was the perfect metaphor for the day.  After showing a bunch of videos to Stefan, Kenny Ferguson and some others, we were all craving Jeni’s Cherry Lambic.   I then mentioned another new design firm, Son and Son's, to Stefan.  I had been there a month before to see my friend Rick Anwyl, but everyone else was gone.   Stefan said his fiancee worked there and we should drive over.   So I piled into Stefan’s sweet little mini - and we were off to Son & Son’s.

Son and Son’s was started by Wade Thompson, whom I have also worked with.  It is housed in a store front on Peachtree.   Again I walk in unannounced, but this time with Stefan.  That first 60 seconds at Son and Son’s is everything I love about Atlanta...and indeed my work life as a whole.   First you just feel this hotbed of creative juices bubbling under the sun pouring in.  All the walls peppered with ideas.   Leather handballs flying.  Products waiting to be led further down the road by, “visionary leaders and unreasonable people who are hell-bent on leading change.” Then, with the first moment of recognition - all hugs and great cheer.   Rick is there and you definitely want to poke around wherever Rick is digging in - from re-branding small towns in Alabama to hunting birds in my backyard. Wade is sporting his white streak and leading the charge - blowing out his dream of design.    The fashion designer Megan Huntz is deep into working on something I try not to disturb.  And again, totally spontaneously, I break out the new work and we all laugh and dream of Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches together.

Then it is off with Stefan to Sid Mashburn’s shop.  All the men are wearing beautiful leather shoes with no socks.   Matt Lambert is sporting what I would call “casual perfection.”   You cannot put your finger on it, you are not even sure if you can pull it off.  There is very low sales pressure at Sid’s because you want to own everything.   I try on the blue suede desert boots.  Ask about socks with those.   They want me to check out their new audio room with the peacock.

Stefan suggests his favorite canteen, Star Provisions.   We walk over through Ann Mashburn’s bright white shop, and Stefan orders the Prosciutto, Sweet Butter & Parmesan on Baguette.  I go for the shrimp sandwich.  We are right at that place where all the dreams of what our work can be is meeting our creative souls.   It is pouring out.  Sid was right three years ago.  You never skip an opportunity to meet another creative.

Then out of nowhere, Sid Mashburn appears and sits down with us.  It has all come full circle.  This day.  In Atlanta.  We talk like we have known each other forever.   We are all inspired in careers that feel like they are converging right in the middle of the picnic table we are sitting at.  All pushing as hard as we can effortlessly.   All talking in a language of discovery we all speak.

Soundtrack for this post:

Madcon - Beggin

and Thelonious Monk at Newport 1959

Video from Atlanta features Dan Cavey and Karen Smith

Getting alot out of Goodbye

After moving into a new home - packing to leave on a trip (which I do often) is a new experience. Lately I have been forgetting one essential thing each time. Last time my dopp kit (almost killed myself with the cheap razor from the front desk of a fancy hotel), this trip, forgot to pack pants (although I did bring three pairs of shoes for a one day shoot).

Flying to Atlanta - slept halfway, then got my hands dirty with some newsprint...

“Learning to Love Volitility” in WSJ.   Nassim Nicholas Taleb comes in through the financial door, which is not the door I generally swing open. He explains “we must learn to benefit from disorder in a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way."  He writes of “black swans: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world.”

We come to expect everything to work 24/7.   Utilities that never blink.  An internet that is constantly pinging.  Fuel that is always there with a swipe of a card.  Aisles and aisles filled with bounty that spoils us with it’s riches.   Try going to Whole Foods just as they are opening in the morning when it is deserted, and walk the aisles alone. The biggest decision when you are there this week seems to be whether to get the organic or heritage turkey. All the shopping madness and the side dishes. Hands digging deep inside the cavities with stuffing.  The frozen turkeys are fine.

Then Jane Brody’s piece on JUNK .   Our move this last summer allowed us to let go of  volumes of stuff with little time to consider anything. The realtor said we did in 3 weeks what takes most people six months. It felt liberating, though a bit foolish looking at all the things we bought and didn't use.  We have a smaller kitchen now where there is no room for excess. One bathroom. All those CD’s had to go. Their only purpose had became remembering music I liked - not serving it up.  My father used to have a horribly messy office in the back of the house in Pittsburgh. He couldn’t throw anything out. He always told us to just pull a dumpster under the window his second story window when he is gone and TOSS!

In Atlanta for a shoot I can’t discuss for a couple of weeks.  It is a big shoot, lots of moving parts. Not to compare at all - but listening to this interview on NPR with Mick Jagger about getting ready to perform rang bells. And at the end of the interview....Jagger says "goodbye" in a way that you instantly appreciate how seductive he is.  Earlier in the interview, he talks about all the music you can get out of two notes on the harmonica - and then, he gets even more said with two syllables, "goodbye."

Wrote all of this before landing and getting another update from my friend Jonny Daniels in Tel Aviv.  Another friend wrote, "we are a world gone mad."   The rockets in Israel are not “black swans” because though being highly consequential, they are not unexpected.   Hope seems moot when they are trying to negotiate life and death with missiles and iron domes.   We send prayers to the holy land - for peace and understanding.   Although I was told too many times when I was over there last year  that peace is not an option.   I can't imagine a way forward without a path to peace.

and yet....music still gets us through....

listening to a British musician, Ben Howard sing the title to his new EP, "Burgh Island."

listening to "Gimme Shelter" after the NPR clip above

and listening to all these full concerts on You Tube - which is rich with music.   Like this one from Bon Iver at Cochella last summer - and it IS magnificent.

The email from Jonny:

At 10am this morning a siren went off where I live, my 3 year old daughter is at kinder-garden, there is nothing more frightening, the fear is no longer what will happen to me, its pure fear for your child's safety. Thank G-d and the Iron dome no-one was hurt.

The situation here is crazy, its an unacceptable situation, we gave away Gaza (Gush Katif) for peace, and got rockets.

These are not people we can make any kind of deal with, these people want our destruction. (read their mandate) Hamas are Al Qaeda. When the world agreed to go after the Al Qaeda they have to understand that these are the same muslim fanatics.

While this is going on, we have arab members of Knesset saying - “Israel is breaking international law in Gaza, all for the sake of Netanyahu’s election campaign,” MK Zoabi charges. and other Members of Knesset Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi who participated in a moment in silence for the Gazan victims of Operation Pillar of Defense, at a meeting of their party’s leadership in Nazareth on Saturday.

As a father to a beautiful little girl, there is nothing I want more (and we all do) than peace. but its not going to come through talks , its going to come by being strong.

Please now stand for Israel. Stand for whats right.

Am Yisrael Chai - The People of Israel live.

This Must Be The Place

There is a promise you make when you move to Boulder. DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT THIS PLACE. Shhhhhh...... “Oh, it is ok” “Yes....winter....” The truth is a secret.

It is early morning. Rode my scooter downtown through the crisp cold sun with the Flat Irons to my left. Jasmine Pearls. Nina Simone crooning, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” - but the real spirit of the week is Jorge Ben singing, “Take It Easy My Brother, Charlie.”

I have been meeting wonderful people in Boulder (and Denver) these past weeks. Alot of creatives. Alot of chefs (who are also creatives of course). Alot of people talking about how people communicate.

My office is right above the OZO coffee shop in Boulder where every meeting seems to converge. Bands of runners exhale in front. Bikes posses cruise in. Highly caffeinated. I have a balcony you can sit at right above, spread out your Muji notebook (and your portable screens), drink that hair sprouting brew, sit in the sun, look out at the mountains, do your work. I met Jay Ferracane on the balcony.   Jay rode in on the last wave that discovered Boulder. He is teaching me about introducing yourself to a new town. He’s organized a monthly talk, Caffeinated Mornings, for creatives that he has met. I am speaking there Dec. 7. So happy to become a part of this town.

Boulder is a community of people who make alot of good decisions. Who have figured out a way to work hard and live good, healthy, fun, creative lives. A place where you can get to the stuff you could never quite get to, which is saying alot. Where people let you in. Where people tell this stranger, “You are going to love Boulder, and Boulder is going to love you.” I know you bring your baggage everywhere you go. I also know there are certain evolutions in your life, almost like bridges you can go over and see things alittle more clearly.

A friend from LA asked me last night if I missed NY. I still work in NY, and have alot of friends and clients there. Enough people have told me how lucky I was to get out before the storm. That is not why I moved. What makes NY hard also makes it great. The promise of NY is there a thousand times a day - just before the curtain goes up, when the mortar and pestle hummus is served up at Balaboosta, that moment when the door swings open from the train station onto 7th avenue. All the hard edges. All the times your knees hit the seat in front of you. NY lives with you and without you. I just could not find in NY what I need right now. It is not NY’s fault. I just needed something I could not explain (even to myself).    Life in Boulder is not laid back - it is just organized differently.

I write this to say. I am here. I am happy. I am there, too. Only now, it is for visits.

I got a call from a design firm in Atlanta this week who were not sure where I was living.  “George, we have an assignment. Two days travel. Two days shooting."  I asked the location. “Boulder.”

Out of control

My friend Jon Fisher sent this picture of the house in Maplewood earlier today.    Although there are pieces of us still there, they are mostly memories, not our physical lives.   The house survived the winds - less can be said about the tree across the road and the power line which lies dangerously crippled from the fierce wind howling.

I am in Boulder.   It is strange watching reports of life's most intense chapters from afar.   Watching the buildup on a computer screen and reading friend's posts online.  Watching the control you think you have over your security becoming swirling colors on a map and warnings delivered from strangers.   Watching on a beautiful day the prognosis becoming so bleak.   Watching homes saddle up to become bunkers.  Seeing the work that takes us away from our families everyday with such urgency suddenly close up shop, bringing my neighbors and friends together with the wind and the silence.

We take turns sending notes of comfort from afar.   This time I was not there.  Only watching people on an embarrassingly bad weather.com set warning about impending doom, then trying to prove how right they were ( and they were too right this time).  Listening to reports on the radio and trying to imagine what couldn't be described.  Studying pictures that didn't begin to tell me what I was desperate for.  Yet it was all so upsetting.   Through the night I listened to the wind from the Jersey shore whip in my ears from the radio streaming on my phone.  In the morning I rushed to see the pictures and imagine everything.

We are living days that are extraordinary -  yet they remind me of how much they are like every other day.  Where there are millions of stories of us living lives that are precious and remarkable and inspired.   Lives that that tell our collective story in minutes to a friend sitting next to us on the train, to the person we get coffee from everyday, to our children.   My work is about trying to show what makes us all so special. Watching how people have coped through this crisis, even from afar  - gives me so much hope.

My heart breaks for all the destruction and pain - yet, especially in New York, I see all the love that seeps out of the cities wounds, in the quiet with no power and a crippled infrastructure, allowing us, even for a moment to appreciate how much we have.

Months of obsession with the campaign was killing me.   It was soulless and mean.   Then it all got pushed aside by the wrath of nature and power of human resilience.

My son Jackson was 5 yesterday.  As we were driving up the mountain to celebrate at lunch, he called his friend Theo in Maplewood.  There was no answer.  He left a voicemail.

"Theo, I hope you are okay in the storm.  I hope it will be over soon and nothing got broken.  Love,  Jackson."