Traveling the back roads, looking for stories

Is it too early to be traveling? God, I hope not. I’m double vaxed and careful but I’m also conscious of my sell-by date and I want to keep on moving. So ready or not we’re heading out to find new stories in places mostly passed by. Once again, my friend Bob Harvey has been enlisted to drive the car and keep us laughing while we roll down the road, the Sirus permanently set to Frank Sinatra radio.

I figured out a new way to plan my travels before we went to Kansas…


Once it was the seventies and we were young and beautiful, much as you are now.

Paradise Ballroom sticker

To me, it still felt like the sixties. Money and drugs flowed freely, there didn’t seem to be any price for unlimited sex and I was still looking for a party. Jerry Brandt came to LA promising to supply one.


Life, as it was in small towns and out of the way places before Coronavirus

Cuba Kansas

Flint Hills, Kansas. The light is good here. In October, the sun is not so deep overhead, and there are long mornings and deep afternoons that give shape to the landscape. There are fields and rolling hills and miles and miles of dirt roads that take you to places little seen. Then there are the towns. Hundreds of them, each with its main street and a few blocks of houses spread around, each unique in its own way, almost all alike in that they are shrinking.


I got vaccinated yesterday, and the microchips are already at work!

A happy moment before the vaccination. I think the guy on the right actually puts the microchips into the mix!

In the end, it was easy. My wife and I got into the car, drove up to Magic Mountain, snaked through the endless rows of cones, answered the few questions, let the smiling woman make a perfect painless injection (practice, makes perfect y’know, they do thousands of shots a day) waited fifteen minutes to make sure the microchips were safe in their new home then drove away.


We are easily blinded by our narratives, useful as they are

Me and Bobby, hanging out in the garage before heading out to the bar. That’s me on the right.

The country is split down the middle by… oh, wait a minute, I just did it, started to talk about how we are feeling by beginning a story, by using narrative to talk about how we are feeling. It’s hard to avoid storytelling as a way of sharing information, and this time I’m not going to try. Instead, I want to recast the story of what’s going on at this moment, change the metaphors in hopes of shining a light from a different direction. Because whether left or right, once we identify, our narratives bind us.

I won’t pretend this…


The living room of the bungalow at the Chateau Marmont where Rebel Without a Cause was put together. Nick Ray and some of the students ponder the problems of finishing We Can’t Go Home Again

Deep in an L.A. afternoon, I get a call from Wavy Gravy. “Gas, Nick Ray needs some help. Do you know who he is?” Nah, not really, I don’t have a clue. Well, Nick Ray is the guy who directed Rebel Without a Cause, and The Lusty Men, and Johnny Guitar. He’s a legend in this town but he’s a broken one. Plagued by demons, done by drugs he still has a few friends but he’s totally washed up. He’s staying at the Chateau Marmont in the bungalow where he rehearsed James Dean for Rebel Without a Cause. The management…


ASP110, the bus I used to live on

The Hog Farm Reunion, Wavy Gravy and the Bus I used to live on

I joined the Hog Farm in 1969, a long time ago. I left a year later, got back on the bus for a minute here and there, spent time hanging out with the family at Pacific High School, met up with them at other stops along the journey, but as a family member, I was gone. I left, but I never quit. I became an executive, an Academy member, a temple goer, I lived a hundred other layers of life, gathering identities as I went. …


The roads and towns of Central Kansas, and the people who live there

The road that leads up to the Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie

When I first told my friends I was going to Kansas, most of them said: “Why would you ever go there?” and to tell you the truth, I didn’t have much of an answer. The simple answer was to shoot some vintage motorcycles, but that didn’t explain taking five additional days to drive around central Kansas looking for pictures and stories. The more complete answer was because I didn’t know what I would find. I like being in new places, ones where I don’t know what’s around…


We’ve come a long way, and I’m not going back

Me in 1960, when a mirrorless camera was a rangefinder

In 2018 with some trepidation I bought my first mirrorless camera, a Nikon Z7. It wasn’t because I thought it was better than the DSLR I had been using but because my old muscles were spasming with the weight of the camera I was using and I hoped that a package a pound lighter would help me keep on working.

Then slowly I began to learn what I had bought — a camera with major advances over any camera I had ever owned, film or digital. I hadn’t expected that. …


My ten top stories, the ones that keep finding new readers

You guys surprise me, you readers. Looking at the stats for my stories what I see is that the stories you like are all over the map. You visit stories about crappy movies I worked on, tales of fast cars and bikes, childhood memories, thoughts about photography, a mixed bag for sure. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, I’m the one who remembered them, asked them what they were about, wrote them down. But now, seeing them all together in a list I wonder why out of everything they are the ones that call you over time.

I don’t…

Stories I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Stories, pictures and ruminations about life, photography…

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