It’s all about the party.
Outside as the day progresses the light shifts from good to great. Hazy with a touch of yellow, even when the sun is high, direct and bright. Walking in a haze myself, looking at places I’ve been before, ringed by historic buildings that reflect a history I am unfamiliar with. I find myself with an insatiable hunger. The air is humid, tropical. The streets here busy but not London or New York busy. Asian culture front and center. A driver in a van makes a desperate move, honks and insults hurled from a tatted up local. It’s the same everywhere. At home, a quarter mile from my house, anti-Trump protestors rile up the racist, Orange County rednecks. After fifteen years in Texas I can still say that nobody does the redneck quite like California. America shows her true self and reveals the fissures that run through our daily life. Politics shows us that no matter how drugged we are on technology and Hollywood, no matter how perfected the facade, we are still a divided, angry land. We are the have’s and the have nots.
Opening night at Head On. The room is packed. There are prizes being award. Friendly faces going far back in my history. Questions about life, my wife and family, photography, books and my upcoming schedule. There is a snafu in books arriving. A specific book. Mistakes have been made, some of them mine, surely. It complicates things and is part of the reason I sleep from 11-4 but can do no better. Too much on my mind. Noises from street level have begun, setting my brain into motion. How long can I run on this amount of fuel? Miles plays through my laptop reminding me of another loud room on Blvd Filles-du-Calvaire in Paris, the place I first heard Kinda Blue.
But within the madness are gems. Real creators. People who come with wildly specific questions. These are the thinkers and the ones that will make something worth waiting for. “What is the spine width in centimeters for a 110-page hardcover?” “What is the selection process for being selected for distribution?” It goes on and on. This is fun. A small collective approaches. Four guys with that look. Documentary type guys. My own kind. I give them ideas. A set of magazines for the group, each photographer with their own pub then packaged and delivered. An agency book with five versions so each photographer has a book unique to them individually. A 6×9 trade book of behind-the-scenes work combined with the philosophy of what they do and why. Print will take you as far as your mind will allow.
Our booth defenses are overrun. The mobile phone reducing people to zombies who don’t think twice about SITTING on the books so that they can thumb through Instagram or Facebook. Post after post, minute after minute, eyes glazed sitting in a room of the world’s best photography but unable to break the shackles of what these devices and services have done to their will. The five-hundred people around you, the photographs, the awards, the conversation. Not enough. Gotta consume more, and more and more meaningless, trivial content. By the looks on their faces I’m not even sure they know they are doing it. I collect wine glasses and paper cups they leave in the middle of the book display.
Walking home I look around and realize how beautiful it is. This is a beautiful place. People seem happy. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’ll sit and watch for a while.