Archive for 2007

Letter to AB

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

2067181022 fddb006f87 o Letter to AB

Huge thanks for that really nice letter. Yeah, basically I am totally and completely, in every way, enveloped, addicted, and generally speaking, quite simply mad about photography. Everything is a photo…It seems like it should hurt…but it doesn’t…It feels like it should be burning my eyes from the way I look at it, but it hasn’t yet. If feels like after 70,000 or 80,000 some odd photos, I should be getting sick of it but rather quite the opposite is true.

I have an impossibly long way to go but I think I am just starting to get it, and when I say ‘it’, really what I mean is the process of losing yourself and surrendering to everything, yet simultaneously owning it all. Fucking it and being fucked by it. Raping it and being raped by it, Loving it, and being loved by it. Losing it and being lost by it. Finding it, and being found by it.

I said last year, about this same time, that this is all I wanted to be doing but a year later, I find myself sitting at a desk, looking out a 35th floor window, onto the infiniteness of Tokyo, wishing I was out there shooting it, avoiding work by talking about it, tired from staying up till 4:30 last night really diligently and pensively and mindlessly working on it (because my current situation affords me two choices, 1. sleep or 2. photography. I can live without sleep…)

I have a show this weekend. I just finished two shows last week. I sold 2 pieces. I also gave some away. I am happy to be making stuff. I really like making stuff, but to have this hollow illusionary carrot hanging out in front of me is torturous. If there were a way to really live it, I would, but I am no closer to believing that is possible. I desperately need a new way to deal with this.

Yes, I got lucky with cameras. Somebody gave me basically one of the nicest cameras money can buy. Just gave it to me. I would love to tell you about it, not so much the camera itself but the process of shooting with it. The other one you are talking about is a Mamiya RB76. Its a beast of a camera, more like a hammer throw, and will make you feel like a MAN to handle it. But it takes the most gracefully looking photos you’d mistake it for a woman. I recently started taking polaroids with it, which makes me think of you. I made a camera a few months back, but it has yet to produce a single decent image. It may require some more coaxing…I have several others, I guess I am amassing small collection. I have one lens for each, nothing repeats. Some days/situations/people/moods/light require differ equipment, so I just go with the flow.

I was just thinking about you this morning. A pair of legs triggered a machine-gunning of memories of you through my head, which ultimately left me feeling satisfied. It inadvertently made me appreciate everything I have now. Shortly there after I passed through a corridor to the bright outdoors which lead to me instinctually reach down and change the shutter speed to from 125 to 250, the aperture from 2.8 to 5.6…and a 1/2.

Hope all is well…


Monochrome Rainbows

Monday, November 19th, 2007

1944180472 244c652b3e o Monochrome Rainbows

(Desert Rose)

Thursday, November 15th, 2007


2053057532 d6e10e27b4 o (Desert Rose)

One of Yasuko’s friends took us to this uber glitzy club one night in one of Ginza’s more expensive neighborhoods. When we got to the building, and saw another of Tokyo’s architectural feats of design, and I admit I was more than slightly worried that I would not only be forking for pricey cocktails, but forking out the ass for outrageously overpriced cocktails.

In the elevator, I noticed two young gentlemen sporting cravats and rolexes, while I noticed holes in my t-shirt. I knew I was in trouble, and I was having second thoughts, but at this point, there was no turning back.

The guy who led us to this haven for Tokyo’s rich elite was apparently the head hancho of sorts. I couldn’t quite believe that, as he was in his early thirties, yet my doubts were nullified when we, in our tattered clothes, were ushered into the main entrance hall, past all the people waiting in line, decked to the max in full regalia. Everything became slow-motion.

Our guy commanded the first class treatment that reserved only for Ginza’s high profiles. While secret serviced looking men pressed earphones closer to relay messages to each other that the boss was here and to make arrangements his guest, I could feel slight butterflies of nervousness in my stomach, yet they were simultaneously calmed by the reality of it all, and some degree certainty that everything was going to be taken care of, and that is was sure to be a good time. The main doors opened As we made our entrance, guided by our valiant leader, it was as if the seas had parted.

We were lead past cigar smoking Armanied sugar-daddies and rubied courtesans drinking champagne. Serving hors d’overes were red-mohawked zebra striped leotarded voguers, while bizarrely erotic costumed goldilocks lit cigarets and poured shochu over ice-globed highballs. Scantly clad dancers burlesqued upon small stages throughout the club to the pulsating beat compliments of the bombshell blond of a DJ. It wasn’t but moments after we were sat at the throne lounge, that the first bottle of champagne was uncorked and we cheersing our own success. We had entered into Ginza’s Moulin Rouge.

I was on sensory overload and grinning from ear to ear. It was gutturally dark, but not dark enough for a summilux, which was burning a hole in my camera bag. All the forbidden fruit you could eat was upon the night but I wasn’t sure it was mine for the taking. I leaded over to Yasuko, “Do you think I can shoot this?” “I’ll ask,” she replied. “No no, I should ask for myself…” I turned to Yoshie, “Impossible to shoot this, no?” “Be our guest,” with a gentle grin was his reply.

I stood up and headed toward the crowed gather around the stage and nestled myself between it and the bar, close enough to see the sweat and smell the heat. I started shooting…

I got off about 10 shots or so off before anybody had began to notice me. It wasn’t until the dancer was hanging upside down pretzled on the pole that she spied my lens spying back at her….I froze…she didn’t…and the next thing I knew, her shoulder blades were sawing my attention in half as she hunted for the attention of the lens. That was all the approval I needed and it quickly turned into Michelangelo Antonioni and Pussy Galore. Before long, the crowd took a step back and it was just us, dancing and shooting, photographically fucking….

Finally her long legs outstretched the gap between the stage and the bar and soon she was maneuvering her way through Tom Collins and Martinis with poise. I kept firing away, and she kept the goods coming.

I was so mesmerized I had lost count of how many photos I had taken. It must have been 30 or 40 by now…check…yeah 36…But there she was again…hypnotizing me and the rangefinder was back to my eye.

I shot and shot and shot. I must have shot 100 photos..This was the bottomless roll of film…WAIT…Bottomless roll of film?!? There is no such thing!…Oh no…Oh very no…”Hey, where are you going,” I could hear her shoulder blades saying as I ran to the darkest corner of the room. Inside my shirt, I twist loose the bottom screw hatch and slowly pulled back the lid…and pluck my finger inside to confirm my nightmarish fear…


I loaded that fucker fast than it had even been loaded and raced back to the bar, with hollow and fraudulent composure and managed to take one more photo…this is it….

C’est la Vie…

Engetsu Gallery

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

1982714373 cfe57be552 Engetsu Gallery

I’m having a show here. Come by…

Day at Shonan

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

1109319931 fe07749171 o Day at Shonan

Yasuko and I went to Shonan for the second week in a row. We took the romance car down there, just the two of us this time. The skies were bluer than I had seen them in a while. For some reason, good weather meant small waves I oddly thought but this day they waves were huge. I felt like I was flying over them at times. Swimming is such a wild thing. I have always said that if there are aliens out there paying any attention, they are likely most interested in 1.) Trees and 2.) Water Sports. Its such a still un-ruined thing to do, and purely unadulterated fun. I got wicked sunburned but it was no matter. We had blue skies, big poofy white clouds, Fuji-san, and each other. This was our sunset.

Naked Bomb

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

1110082978 272e44198c o Naked Bomb

Edogawa Hanabi

I went to Hanabi in Edogawa with Yasuko. They began as we were walking down the shotengai to get to the river which will be a memory forever stained on my brain. As we were walking down the old street with the fireworks going off right at the end of it, a perfect summer night, it looked like something from a cartoon.

She spotted some funny little odds and end clothing shop with a cute little something hanging in the window. I ending up buying it for her. It funny little red-and-white-striped, towel tube one piece sorta thing to wear around the house and oh my god, she looks so cute in it.

We went down to the river and made a pallet out of the morning newspaper that she brought. We took of our shoes and got comfortable. I laid on my side with my ear to my shoulder, arm stretched out and spooned her. She propped her head up with her hand and nestled it back into my neck. It was a weird pretzel configuration that in all my years of snuggling I don’t believe I had tried yet. I could see right through the triangle of her head and arm, was a comfortable as a hibernating bear, and even dozed off.

I awoke 10 minutes later. Neither of us had budged. This is the photo I took from her little window.

Fuck a Duck

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

1012165135 a282ede494 o Fuck a Duck

From the time I was about 6 til the time I was about 13, I used to play Legos with my best friend, Blake Stall who lived down the street from me. We also played G.I. Joe, Atari, and lots of other stuff. Sometimes, we would get all the kids on the street together and play “retardo-bowl” which bas basically playing football like we were all “mentally-handicapped.” How terrible….

Anyway, He would always say, “Fuck a duck.” I think he got it from hunting with his old man. Damn, I’m from a backwards place…

This photo is a tribute to good ol’ Blake…

Never Never Land

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

665613760 6167f228e7 Never Never Land

photo by motionid

Never Never Land
and the 21st Century Beats

Adrien, Sean, me, and Jim. Here’s the story of how this happened.

I really starts 15 years ago but basically I’m gonna fast-forward and jump around to a time when I lost a camera in a Kareoke Box. I had traveled all over America and Asia for several years with that camera without much noticing it becoming a extension of both my hand and eye. I took it everywhere and was amassing without realizing it, an arsenal of images documenting my life, sprinkled with a few artistic attempts. Needless to say, when it didn’t turn up the next day, I was devastated. It had been my trusty sidekick through a lot on hard times. But, having gone from without it working properly for a while to not working at all after having dropped it in the Andaman Sea, and notwithstanding the lessons of impermanence I learned in India and the concept of really seeing stuff and “being here now”, I decided not to replace it, ventured to see life without a camera…until that got old.

Soon I found myself in Akihabara debating between a couple of ridiculously inexpensive cameras. I finally chose one and took it home. I was back in the game. I took it everywhere…for two weeks…until one short day thereafter, it broke off a belt loop in the back of a taxi, gone forever.

My friend Narita convinced not to go back to Akihabara to buy another camera. He told me about Moriyama, and the GR, and I was instantly hooked.

It was all that Tom Waits cemetery grand toy piano diner grime that I already loved so much and him turning me on to that book really took my life in a whole different direction.

So I bought a camera and shot, for a year, not only documenting my life but also trying to find something more, trying to say something more. Expression, articulation, failure, success, learning and unlearning. Finally I had found my art.

Photography became the thing, and everything became photography.

I learned about street, I bought books, I dreamed. I looked for teachers. I would see Makoto’s photos around Shimokia. It went from, “who took this photo?” to “did Makoto take this photo?” to “Makoto took this photo, didn’t he.” I was really inspired by how candidly he captured the toy piano grime bliss. His photos made me smile. His photos were good. They weren’t trying to prove anything, they weren’t cropped, they were all there and one after another was memorable. He was the best photographer who I maybe had access to. I finally caught up with him in the very bar in the photo above. He had a camera on. and it went something like this…

Me: “Are you a cameraman?”

Him: “I guess”

Me: “What do you like to shoot?”

Him: “Anything.”

Me: “Do you live around here?”

Him: “Yeah.”

Me: “Me too…Do you know this photographer, Makoto? His photos are all over Shimokita.”

Him: “I am Makoto.”

Me: “You’re Makoto!? Really? I’m a huge fan. You’ve become somewhat of an hero of mine. Nice to meet you. Hey…Please be my teacher. I’ve taught myself everything I know, which is very little. I’ll pay you.”

Him: “No…I don’t have time…besides, you don’t need a teacher. Its better if you don’t have one.”

Me: “hmmm….”

He wasn’t a dick about it. He just was real matter-of-fact and I just took it. He unearthed a stack full of albums stashed in the bookcase at that particular bar. I was like a kid in a candy shop, totally floored.

Thats pretty much all I remember and thats the only conversation I ever had with him. A couple months later I heard he was sick, with cancer in a Hospital in Hiroo. I got the hospital room number from Achan cuz I wanted to take him so photos. but she told me not to go yet. That he would be out soon.

Two weeks later he was dead.


To be continued…