Category Archives: Theater

I Can’t Take It With Me

I saw the University production of You Can’t Take It With You last night. The play was written in 1936 and won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1937. It’s about a woman, from an eccentric family of contented misfits that live life to it’s fullest, falling in love with a man, from a ridged tight wound capitalist family and clash of the two ideals. The play is still quite brilliant and seemed completely relevant to where we reside within our modern culture and what is happening in the current recession. But ultimately the play, for me becomes a complete summation of this Naked Man Project, all that I have been working toward and writing about the entire year. Ultimately revealing that we must seize the talents and gifts we are giving in this life and appreciate and enjoy those things we cherish most. In the end of the play the grandfather character states that so many people are never capable of doing what they dream. They become stuck in their lives, sometimes not by choice and then life goes so quickly that suddenly they wake up too late realizing the lives they thought they lived really have little meaning to what they have actually set out to accomplish. Dreams of youth pass compromised, left in the closet to be forgotten or ignored. The play suggests perhaps it time to clean those things stowed in our closets, reconnect to those lost dreams we have forgotten, and once again live our dreams because life is too short to let the simple pleasures pass without engaging them.

This has certainly been a year for me to get back in touch with my own idealistic dreams from youth and allowing those creative dreams to prosper. I certainly began the year in a different place then what I will end it. I have faced a lot of fears and anxieties and over come so many of the obstacles that held me back. One of my greatest fears was being able to express my appreciation for beauty of the naked male in a place like Montana. Previously feeling a certain amount of shame in my process, I keep it hidden in a place of security, veiled in secrecy, remaining in that metaphorical closet, yet knowing in my heart what my desire was, but to afraid to reveal it. Now I will end this year, content, sharing my secret obsession for beauty and art. I began the year thinking I was too old to be vibrant or have anything to offer in a modern culture based on the modern media of the Internet. Yet the vitality of my life and expression seems to have moved so many others and have found a niche following which now seems to flourish. With the modern recession it feels like we live in a dark time were we are discouraged to be in touch with ourselves. What is happening within our environment is stifling to so many that as a culture we are becoming weary and more often depressed. Last year I lived in fear of my world collapsing and it felt like it was a struggle just to maintain my existence. So I took this year off to focus on my creative process and myself and to truly follow my passion. This year I have not made any more money, but I have not lost any more money either, always in past spending a great deal of money to make money, mostly all that going to others. In so many ways it becomes a wash with nothing gained but ending up right where I started. At least this year I have lived the life of my dreams and followed my heart and so far it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Perhaps it’s time to examine your own dreams, remember things forgotten, that has been put far back in your own closets, and makes a leap. There is no time like the present. You have nothing to lose and perhaps you might just discover something about yourself you thought was once lost.

The Lost World Of Tennessee Williams

For some reason I have been thinking lately about the lonely death of the American writer Tennessee Williams. Here is a brilliant man who has crafted some to the greatest plays of all time for the American Theater. Things like A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. He choked to death on the cap of some eye drops he was trying to open with his mouth on February 25, 1983. How is it that a man with such a great mind for creating some of the most fascinating and complex character studies can pass away from something so insignificant as a bottle cap? Tennessee Williams is probably one of the most influential people on my life and work. As a young theater student in my twenties, when I had finally entered his remarkable world, I felt like I had finally found a home. He wrote about all the things we as culture in Montana like to keep hidden and considered taboo: alcoholism, homosexuality, addiction, beauty, the loss of beauty, fear, doubt, and self-loathing. A world where people were trapped by their often-brutal existence. Nothing seemed sacred to Tennessee. He himself grew up in a shattered world, feeling closest to his sister Rose. She was schizophrenic, in and out of hospitals, eventually becoming lobotomized; she became the wellspring for much of his characterizations. He used the dysfunction of his life to add life to those remarkable characters of Blanche, Brick, Laura, or Alma. Everything he wrote seemed to plummet into the heart of darkness whether it was a play, novel, or even a short story. His writing was filled with passion, honesty, and above all humility. When I entered this world I somehow knew most of these characters and could see so much of his despair and depression within myself. I became addicted and spent a year reading everything consumable about the man. Eventually I directed a production of The Glass Menagerie for my senior project at the University. I still get a giddy feeling when I read anything written by this master and am still captivated by the ground away versions of the Hollywood classics. That scene with Elizabeth Taylor blurting out the truths of Sebastian using her for procurement of young boys leading to his cannibalistic death before she is about to be lobotomized by his mother, Katherine Hepburn, who will do anything to keep the truth hidden in Suddenly Last Summer is one of the greatest moments in film history and still sucks me in with it’s intensity. I could write a year of just blogs on Tennessee Williams alone.

So much of my own imagery and the worlds I enter with my own photography have to do with the feeling, tone, and mood of Tennessee Williams characters and stories. There is a beauty in the darkness where we remain hidden. My work becomes about exposing the inner life of my characters in a raw and sometimes vulnerable way. There is so much depth hidden within all of us that is rarely allowed to surface. Yet there is remarkable beauty in that depth. This is the place I like to explore with my subjects. This has been a year of finding a wholeness within myself and I feel that dysfunction beginning to fade. I fear this may affect my work. I somehow doubt it because I have always got Mr. Williams to remind me of where I have been. To me he is the essential homosexual on my shelf. It’s unfortunate the upcoming generation doesn’t even know his name, as the quotes of his characters imbued my generation and gave life to an culture, fade into a lost oblivion. We no longer rely on the kindness of strangers, but instead become the strangers.

A Shift of Consciousness

I have to say I was a bit lost most of yesterday.  The website went up at about 11:30.  Glenn left at 1 pm for a week of UPS training to become a utility driver for peak season to spend the week in Billings.  I went for a long walk along the river to clear my head.  Though the sun was out it was not warm enough the melt the snow dabbled on the pine trees.  The leaves have not completely fallen yet and now there is snow.  It feels like I have been asleep for a very long time and have not really felt the changing of the season this year.  My fall has been inside, focused on a massive project and suddenly my senses are awake and alive again.  I did some light shopping and found some lamb chops at the store.  I love grilled lamb, but never have it because Glenn dislikes it so much. I went home and settled into a lazy afternoon of lounging about wanting to somehow celebrate, but mostly trying to figure out and put into perspective what I have accomplished.  I dabbled on cleaning the website here and there, not wanting to delve to deeply but to savor the unfounded glory.  It was time to see what has happened in the world in the past two months of my absence.  I began to look at fellow artist and what they have been producing.  It seems Facebook has now become a means of tagging and posting and less a means of communication.  And I began to ponder have we all run out of things to say to each other?  Perhaps we are all just becoming more focused.  I tried to watch a movie on Netflix, but it no longer seems to work.  Here one of my greatest passions has somehow imploded itself.  I had shut down getting the discs by mail when they raised the prices and I was so involved in the project, that I wasn’t watching them anyway and only kept the streaming, but had forgotten that it simply doesn’t stream on Sundays.  How could something so brilliant completely destroy the foundation of its livelihood.  I was very resentful at their decision to split the service, but I guess I vote with my dollar and I have said “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore”.   The theater world seems the same, Phantom is still running after 22 years with no end in sight, the new musical Pricilla seems to have grown stronger from its initial lukewarm start, and Hugh Jackman is returning in a one man show.  Now there is a talented man who can do it all, he was ever so brilliant in The Boy from Oz as he flashed that big warm smile at me in the 4th row many seasons back.  Avenue Q has down sized and moved to a smaller venue that seems to have revived its longevity.

I spent the afternoon drifting in a universe of my own creation, so near, yet so far from my current existence, drifting in and out of consciousness.  It was almost like I could see myself separating from itself.  Am I am even slightly aware of my own life?  Somehow it doesn’t feel like it.  As I began to realize I was caught in that post partum creation lull that I used to feel at the end of the tour or the jet lag you feel from flying across the ocean west.  I finally understand the meaning of lost in translation.  Oh yes and today it’s that odd shift toward or away from daylight savings time, which I can never figure out, where we are just naturally out of sync with the day.  It feels like my life has come to a stand-still and yet I look back at this year and am astonished by my own accomplishments.  All I can think is it’s time to somehow renew the creative process again.  I am now ready to get back into the studio and shoot something new.

The Changing of a Season

It’s official, it’s the first day of winter in Montana, and I woke up this morning to see the trees above my bed, through the skylights covered in a blanket of white snow. To me this signifies the turn of the season as this also signifies the turning point of another phase of my life and existence as an artist. The chosen sampling of galleries for the website were finished last night and many of the bugs worked out through out the day so it will be officially up and running tomorrow morning. I am cleaning up link adding articles, and getting the blog transferred over today. Wow what a trip this has been!!!!! A peaceful calm is settling into my body this morning as I ride the edge of nervous energy of anticipation. I remember this feeling well from my days of working in the theater. It’s the dress rehearsal right before the show opens, when you know everything is in place and you are ready for the audience to see the production and you are just tweaking and refining the details. In a sense my entire life has been a production of some sort. As a kid I was always producing something. I think back to my brothers and cousins and all those shows I made them create in the barnyard on summer eves when we were little kids, they some how always believed in my crazy ideas and followed my strange endeavors. Will I always be this creative? Probably so, organizing the senior citizens in what ever center I end up in our scooter carts creating some sort of show.

I finally got a good night’s sleep last night and sleep in this morning. The truth is I feel like I could sleep for a week.

It’s game day in Missoula and I am still not feeling too well from the nasal thing that I have been fighting all week and so I have opted to stay home and watch the game on television, bummer. Though today’s image isn’t naked, I have to be with the Montana Grizzles in spirit so I am posting some images I took a few weeks back so I can feel like I can be there in spirit. Now that I think about it I feel like the Griz players about to emerge into the arena through the cloud of smoke to a stadium of avid and adorning fans. GO GRIZ!!!!!

The good news is I am catching up with myself and getting all the stuff done around the house that I have been neglecting for the past week.

Drawn Into the Darkness

In younger days I was drawn into darkness and often found myself lurking in shadows that were unsavory to others and probably not always safe for myself. Being a boy from Montana we do not always perceive dangers that others may be aware of within their surroundings, making us fearless. Being a stranger we may not always be aware of what the rules are and what is normal. Everything in Montana seems safe, unless you have a run away tractor barreling toward you because the diver has passed out at the wheel. I have spent a great deal of time in large cities and have only felt a threat a couple of times in my life. I spent a year in Washington DC working as a bartender for a club in the Dupont Circle area, had a roommate who was a porn actor, we did a lot of drugs and become party animals, some times to the point where I was not even sure how I even got home. In fact waking up one morning, my ankles sore and swollen to discover I had somehow ended up with a pair of pumps at the foot of my bed, I must have traded shoes, the previous night either with a drag queen or a woman with very large feet. I had always heard Washington was a somewhat dangerous town and had known people that were bashed, some of them quite severely, which in those days was quite often. As a bartender with a porno housemate, we become a privileged sort of celebrities who were recognized and often given a certain amount of advantage, in the form of little packets of treats slipped into our pockets. We were creatures of the nights, going to bed as the sun rose, sleeping all day. But I never felt a threat when I was out, even when I got stupid silly messed up. I had a good group of friends and we all kind of watched each other’s backs.

Yet I was always drawn to the darkness. There is beauty at night that becomes extraordinary; that most people do not always see. In photography it becomes very vibrant when it rains or is wet. That’s why you often see wet streets in movies shot at night, yes, even in Los Angels when it doesn’t rain, or not very often, because it makes the details in the lights pop. That beauty seems to become more pronounced in bad neighborhoods with a lot of structurally interesting textures, like alleys and areas of old abandon warehouses at night, like the meat-packing district in NYC. I am always a person who is keenly aware of my surroundings; I think this is another Montana thing that we develop a fascination with everything around us. So at night these areas awaken a feeling that I always love to explore. It becomes about who I am in the space or even possibly channeling past lives, who knows. But in cities these are typically the areas one always tries to avoid, yet these are the areas I like to linger. I tend to think I have a strong masculine presence that most people don’t really want to mess around with. I am very confrontational when I meet others and think I have a focus that sends a clear signal that I can hold my own if you come up against me. My observation skill keep me aware of what is happening around me so I don’t become an open target and can divert things before they can happen. But it is these areas that most excite and attract me.

In looking at my catalog for the website I see this feeling of lurking in darkness present in most of my images. It’s what makes it theatrical and heightens our wonder and curiosity about the subjects. I love the shadows and seeing things emerging from those shadows.