artisitic something something

I struggle with artistic expression. I seem to have a lot of it…or rather, I seem to act like I have a lot of it, but in a lot of ways I don’t think I do at all. I pride myself on being a jack of all trades. I can draw decently, paint ok, write fairly well, have sporadic moments of inspired music creation, and take a pretty good photo…but am I GREAT at any of them? I tend to think not.

Which is fine. I consequently have a lot of hobbies.

I think to have true greatness (I’ve recently [as in just now] come to theorize) you must have focus. I either lack said focus or just don’t have enough interest in any one medium to devote all of my time to it. And I think that’s what it takes.

Also, having a day job is inconvenient to artistic growth.

I can see the evidence of this is my photos. Over the years, I’ve had flashes of minor brilliance, and they keep getting better over time. All this means to me, though, is that I need practice. In the same way a basketball players free throws get better with repetition, so do, perhaps, the creation of works by an artist.

This, to me, seems a bit tragic in a way. I’d rather the reality be that, struck by a divine light, I’d find myself furiously painting through the night as if possessed, the result of which is a masterwork. A switch is flipped and suddenly everything that comes out of my fingers brings tears of joy to anyone lucky enough to behold. I suppose this does happen, but not often.

It’s frustrating thinking of the possibility that the only thing keeping me (or anyone) from being truly great is the time to devote to the doing. So close, yet so far away.

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gay once meant happy?

I don’t give a lot of thought to gay rights. I don’t mean that as a criticism or a condemnation, it’s really just a matter of fact. It’s just not something I think about all that much, mostly because there’s such an obvious resolution: there should be no gay rights.

*gasp*

But then I continue: there should be no gay rights. There should be no straight rights. There should just be rights. Simple, no?

I have gay friends and colleagues…a few if I really think hard about it (it again not being something I often consider). In truth they are not close friends and colleagues, but that has little to do with their sexual orientation and everything to do with the vagaries of our lives and the way things wash out. I might just as easily say that I am not close friends with any Peruvians as the circumstances of that detail are in basics the same.

All of this prelude leads me up to this morning, tying my shoes in preparation for work, sitting on the couch in my living room with the TV turned to the news only vaguely holding my attention. A teaser for an upcoming report came on and flitted through my ear. “The state of ….voting on ….may allow gay marriage by the end of…”

I lifted my head only slightly, evening my knots. I hadn’t heard the particulars but I’d gotten the gist. Some state somewhere was on the verge of legalizing gay marriage. The newscaster sounded a little triumphant, as if it was another win for good. And it is.

But is it?

As I sat there, hands on knees and poised to stand, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Not sadness like depression, but sadness like when you see a high school football star 20 years past his prime and still wearing his letterman jacket, puffing out his chest. You shake your head with a slight smirk and think to yourself, “Now that’s just SAD.” And it was in this frame of mind that I turned off the TV and carried my thoughts with me to the car.

It IS sad…because it’s all just so silly. With everything else that goes on in the world, the starvation, the pollution, the killing and disease, THIS is what we as a society choose to spend more than even a second on? This is what there has ever once been heated debate over? But WHO CARES? Marry, don’t marry, whatever you want! Whatever anyone wants, why must we trouble ourselves with it? In a world as harsh as this one, shouldn’t anyone have the opportunity to be happy or not as they choose? It’s all just so little and SAD to even think about.

I already feel guilty for making as part of my justification, the fact that the world is harsh and life is filled with greater anguishes. Even without those true facts, the debate over gay rights is still so very vey sad and inconsequential.

Equal rights, good and bad, for everyone. End of story and just please don’t bother yourself with such trivialities any longer. Now go back unto the world and do something of consequence.

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begas raby begas

Day two in Vegas feels like Day five.

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solo flight

I’ve spent a great deal of my life alone.

First off, my family moved around a fair amount while I was growing up. I made friends easily, but at that age you don’t keep friends that move to the other side of town, let alone a whole other state. My parents often talk about their childhood friends, many of whom are still in their lives and I don’t have that. I’m not bitter about it at all, but I sometimes wonder if the reason for that is only that I don’t know any better.

Secondly, I am an only child. Just by virtue of this fact, I spent a lot of time by myself. I remember playing with Lego for hours on end on my own, setting up solo GI Joe and Star Wars battle scenes, getting a bit older and throwing knives and ninja stars around on my own. We had a basketball hoop in our side yard and I don’t honestly remember ever playing with anyone else. I remember a lot of internal free throw competitions and a ton of buzzer beater shot scenarios played out loud to myself, but I can’t see a memory of me playing with any of my friends.

Third, I’ve lived alone a lot. My freshman roommate in college was kicked out of the dorms for fighting early in the year and never replaced…in retrospect, I think it’s pretty rare for a college freshman to live alone. I got an apartment with roommates the next year, but the last two years I went back to living solo. After college, my then girlfriend and I moved in together for a few years, but then I was on my own after we broke up. Moved in with another girlfriend a few years after that…and then inevitably went back to solo living after that one fell apart. In thinking about it now, I think I’ve lived alone for about 15 of the 19 years since I went off to college.

I often seek to be alone. Sometimes I go for walks and try to avoid passing people on the street. I will duck down alleys or abruptly turn around just to avoid the nod and smile. I’ve stood behind the screen door of my front door (which you can’t see through from the outside) waiting for neighbors to go back inside before taking my trash out or going to my car. I’ll hole up in my apartment for whole weekends without interacting with anybody.

And the funny thing is, I’m pretty social. I have lots of friends, I go out all the time, I’m fairly gregarious and socially adept…yet I am also very alone. Perhaps independent?

I wonder if it is that streak and that way about me that keeps me single a lot of the time. I always seem to end up pushing people away, ostensibly because I’m not happy with some aspect of the person, but perhaps it’s really more about my bewildering quest for solitude. I don’t generally feel lonely…but in reality I think I may very much feel that way but revel in the sadness of it. Something is in there about rather feeling pain than nothing at all? Or it may just be my odd sense of humor.

At any rate: SWM Seeking Roommate But Not Really

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I think it’s ironic that people are warned not to smoke in bed or to be careful to not fall asleep smoking on the couch when in actuality people should be warned not to smoke at all.

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tick tock

People say that age is just a number, though you’ll notice that you never hear any actually young people saying that. I’m 37 today. I don’t feel anywhere near that old, but unless my driver’s license is lying to me, it seems to indeed be true. I’m told that I don’t look that old, either, and I believe that that is testament to my clean living through alcohol consumption and hardly ever sleeping. It’s been…a year since my last birthday, of that I am sure.

Looking back, things have actually come along further than I would have thought at first glance. In less than a year I’ve turned my photography hobby into a non-paying business. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but it’s actually something I’m legitimately proud of. According to my photography website I’ve had a pretty busy year of taking pictures of fairly big-named bands, harsh landscapes, and beautiful model/actress/artists. I’ve had one work honestly published and others used as album art on CD’s and iTunes. I’ve had shots used in interviews and on model resumes. I’ve had people ask me for my card (and since made some so I can actually give them one).

For a guy with no formal training, I think that’s pretty good.

In the shower this morning, I realized to myself that I may actually be an artist and hadn’t realized it, yet. It’s something that I’ve always aspired to be but doubted that I had the talent for it…I’ve tried my hand at painting (unsuccessfully), drawing (semi-ok), sculpture (actually pretty good if I’m allowed some hubris), and have always taken pictures…but I’ve only now realized that hell, I may actually be on to something. Granted, the images are not yet earth-shattering, but then there’s plenty of non-earth-shattering artists of which I would be proud to count myself among their number.

Artist. Weird.

Also, my LA crap-rock band has their first gig coming up; and, though we are not accomplished musicians, we sound pretty OK. We’re not the worst band I’ve ever seen in LA, and brother, I’ve seen a lot of horrible bands. It’s a good feeling to create something melodic and actually be able to play it faithfully. That’s a good thing.

Not bad, really, considering that it took me 37 years to get here. Who knew it would be so easy…

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don’t you

Don’t you know, your own mind?
Don’t you know, your own mind?
Don’t care how dirty, don’t care how fine.
Don’t you know, your own mind.

This ride, it keeps making me sick.
There are too many paths for us to pick.
I’m tired of this fight, who’s right?
Is it time? Is the decision mine?

Is it too late for you and I to find the time to put our dreams in line?
How can we possibly align with the world beating out of time, and the lines…
they keep scrolling by.

Out the door you did fly, was all of it just based on a lie?
It’s true to you, if you make it so.
I have to now just go, go with this flow.

Based on a dream and nightmare made real.
Put the fear inside to lie and fester for a while.
Don’t you know, your own mind?

Out the door with no heart left behind.
So far gone, you’re out, even of your own mind.
Don’t you know, your own mind?
When it’s time to maybe only dully shine?
No, and you’re out of time.
Goodbye.
Don’t care how dirty or how fine.

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geekguy0378

I have many online personas.

That’s not actually true. I have limited online personas and only a fair amount of online presence. I have a blog (surprise!), I think I still have a Myspace account, I’m on LinkedIn and vaguely recall some Friendster activity back in the day. I’m an irregular Twitter poster and I’m still mostly addicted to Facebook. I have a photography website.

Did you know that, audience of 3? Perhaps not. I do, it’s at davekleeman.com

It’s something I put together, maybe a couple of months ago to artificially create legitimacy around my burgeoning photography career. I’m being self-deprecating, of course, but I haven’t made any money doing it (not that that should be the yard stick for success). I’ve had offers to be paid, but I couldn’t bring myself to take money from friends. It’s a hollow victory in mind. Once an outside party pays me, however, that will be something to be proud of.

I’ve not been without some small success, though. I’ve done album artwork, my headshots have been used by models, dancers, and actresses, band shots have been used in press coverage, and I was published in an honest to goodness music magazine.

Not bad for just starting out, I’d say.

I’ve exhibited some hubris, if I’m honest. I’ve had business cards made…though I’ve only given them to people that already know about my site. Eventually I’ll cross that shmoozy boundary into actively seeking recognition and work and pressing my card into peoples’ hands. For now, though, I’m happy just taking pictures that a small group of people do seem to like.

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how many posts can start with leaving on a jet plane?

On a plane again. Again. I don’t travel as much as your stereotypical business man, but I definitely travel more than the average person. And even if I don’t take a ton of trips, most of them are great distances and long periods of time.

This one, though, is a minor blip. LA to Wisconsin through Chicago, back to Chicago, pause, return to LA. Oddly, the flight from Chicaho to Madison apparently never returns as the only way I could find to get back was to fly through Denver. Sorry what?

So I’m driving from Madison to Chicago. 3.5 hours. But I’ve never been there and I’ve packed my camera. This is how I know that photography is becoming an obsession. I’ve planned and packed for the off chance that I can get a picture of a cow in a Wisconsin field.

Does Wisconsin have fields?

 

*several hours later*

I haven’t seen any fields, yet, but I’ve sure as hell seen a lot of lakes. This is like the Twilight Zone. This is the capital of Wisconsin (Madison), yet there are the quiet sounds and smells of nature everywhere, the speed limit is 25mph and observed with a fervor, and the airport had maybe 100 people in it, 48 of which were on my flight. Where IS everybody?

I like it, though. It’s CLEAN and smells GREEN. Granted, I’d probably get bored fast, but it’s a nice respite from the concrete jungle. I’m actually looking forward to the drive back to Chicago tomorrow, if only so that I might see nothing at all.

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you’ve come a long way, baby

I’ve taken pictures for the better part of my life. I have a few albums at my parents’ house of pictures of almost basically nothing, captured forever on a 110 camera I was allowed to use. There are shots of a jack rabbit through my bedroom window in Texas, blurry from the motion as well as the screen. There are some of plants. Just plants. There are a few of temporary brilliance of the space shuttle piggy-backing on a 747, but it’s otherwise all shlock.

A little older and I got a Yashica 35mm that I got a little bit more considered with. I at least took pictures OF something for a change. There’s the kid getting trash-canned in summer camp, a fountain, a shadow from fence latticework, a seagull behind a boat in the setting sun. Some of them are not bad, and a bit of the artistic imagery is starting to shine through.

Fast forward a bit more and I have a Minolta SLR with a couple of lenses. This camera went to college with me, to Europe, too holidays and points in between. I never took the stereotypical college photography class but I did learn how to develop B&W photos from a friend who did. I spent many a solitary hour in the darkroom looking at my images come to life…some of which still hang on my walls to this day. Pictures of hallways, a ditch digger, my girlfriend. Granted legitimacy perhaps because of the bleak color scheme and perhaps because of my developing eye.

Next a Fuji digi-cam, stolen then replaced with another one I still own. Nothing of significance happens during this multi-year period. It is a dark time.

A year or so ago, a friend at work got a DSLR, and in a fit of jealousy and envy, I got one, too (a Sony). Then it became all pictures all the time and a long-lived passion was re-ignited. I started taking pictures of bands, earned a few photo-passes, got in a few online magazines, shot some album covers, and was even published. Things were better. So much so that I upgraded in a little over a year and now rock a Canon 7d, a half-a half- a dozen lenses, a home studio, business cards, and a website (davekleeman.com).

What a difference a day makes.

I’ve yet to make any money doing this, but then, it seems it may only be a matter of time…

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