Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Make some popcorn, or a sandwich, sit down and watch this. I'm not kidding, do it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nevada Desert Towns

Nevada is chiefly known for what I document on a regular basis: The two main centers of gambling in the United States. But an even deeper passion of mine lies in the Nevada desert, on the highways between Reno and Las Vegas. Towns, some living and some figments of the past, pepper the landscape. These towns are what used to be the life blood of this great state. The mining towns that heaved up thousands of tons of earth to establish the silver state. The mining towns where tumbleweed bounces through the streets. Where some of the grandest buildings of their time still stand. In the spaces between the active hands of Nevada is the heart of the state.

Recently I visited the old ghost town of Rhyolite, and the dying town of Goldfield. In the posts below are my short chronicles of those towns.

Desert Towns, Nevada.


The desert slowly reclaims Rhyolite. The town once supported a thriving community and now it sits alone in the desert. The Nevada Historical society take care of in however it can. The stone buildings are all that remain. Being inside them is like walking through an archaeological dig site. Columns lie on their sides, foundations are cracked, bricks are strewn, few clues remain. But every so often as I walked inside a building I would get a flash of what once was.

The bank, clean save for a fine dust on the floor has people milling about inside. It's dark and cool inside. A woman walks with her husband to the teller. The owner of the bank sits in his office above the main floor looking down with pride. And suddenly I'm back in the glaring heat. The walls white with time and sunlight. The ground is covered with dirt, brick, stone slabs and desert plants.

Rhyolite, Nevada.


A handful of businesses remain open on the main road through town. Houses further out from the road are in various states of decay. Some have for sale signs that optimistically list a phone number. Others sit vacant, open, and empty. Shops are closed. The town is listed as a ghost town in most modern atlases. Those residents who remain stare blankly as tourists gawk and pose in front of what used to be a thriving community. The Goldfield Hotel, once the largest in the West, sits boarded up. The schoolhouse rots slowly as repair efforts are made in vain.

Further out, where no tourist dare venture, are the mines. A range of hundreds of mounds. Each one a mine. Each one fenced off with barbed wire. The earth in this area is stained yellow and red by what was pulled up from below.

The town of Goldfield, Nevada.


Doom Table, The letter "F", and The Great Spoon Shortage (AKA Food Service I)

The great posts for the length of one! I will tell of three things I found very amusing during my second day of work at the Club Fortune diner busing tables. Chances are none of this will interest you. But it should.

Doom Table.

The corner booth was filled. Three children. Two booster seats. Half an hour. It looked as if someone had walked in and roundhouse kicked the people's plates. And who put ranch on the kids menu?! I ask you because it was an interesting choice for children. About the only thing I'd trust a kid with is a sandwich or toast.

But specifics! I approached with caution and found the crayon drawings adorable, until I realized they spread onto the table. The jam container was upended, and grape and strawberry jelly packets were everywhere (reminiscent of playing cards when someone thinks they're clever and says "want to play 52 card pickup?"). The ranch (Why did they even have this much ranch I ask.) mini cups were all over the place. Most seemed to be hiding. In fact one was upside down under a pile of napkins, as if it was some sort of gooey landmine. And the crayons. Crunched, broken, twisted, strewn. Once I cleaned this table I took a step back to admire my work and found a silverware graveyard beneath the table. That and more jam.

The Letter "F"

As anyone who knows me well enough will tell you "That kid could get lost in a hallway, with arrows, and a sherpa." I have a thing with left and right and when putting down silverware I find that I often put the fork on the wrong side of the napkin, (not a life ending mistake, but I take pride in my work) the wrong side being the right side. So I with my mighty powers of observation noted that printed on the napkins are the words "Club Fortune Casino" or something like that. The point here is: the "F" in "Fortune" is on the left hand side. And I therefore remember to place the fork on the side with the corresponding "F".

The Great Spoon Shortage of 2008.

The morning rush swept in like a tidal wave. People demanding tomato juice, hash browns, refills and various other things. Apparently among the things they demanded, spoons were high on the list. So slowly, ever so slowly, we ran out of spoons. Without spoons I felt as if the whole operation would crumble. Someone would complain "The soup goes directly through my spoon!" And then in a horrible shill voice "Wait! This isn't a SPOON! It's a FORK!" At which point others would realize that they too had no spoons. And they would promptly have their minds freed of The Matrix and wake up in the real world where machines have taken over the world! But, thankfully, we got some spoons in the dishwasher ahead of schedule.

I'm trashed, but that's okay.

I'm cut, I'm bruised, I'm sunburnt, I'm dirty, I'm tired, my truck has no front left tire, I have no money, I have no gas, I only get five or so hours of sleep tonight, I was yelled at for being where I wasn't supposed to be (twice), I was bitten by mosquitos...but

I'm okay.

Because today rocked. And I have photos. They will be up tomorrow (after three, because I work).

Come visit me if you have some crazy spare time or something. I work over at Club Fortune as a busser. Tomorrow my shift is from 7:00am to 3:00pm. I won't actually be able to talk much, but you can see me clean tables like a crazy person!

Goodnight. I'm going to pass out.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Food Service

Is a suprisingly complex operation. I mean if i'd thought about it I would have realized it. But a lot goes into it. It's pretty fast paced and keeps me moving. Blah blah blah. I like my job.

I'm headed to Goldfield NV tomorrow. I will be taking mad photos.

And just because this thought fits nowhere else: Damnit Joss! Why, Why do you have to torture me with this...this HORRIBLENESS!?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All That Glitters

Last night my dear friend Alex and I explored much like we would normally. We found a place. We walked around and for reasons unknown to us, but perhaps to someone else, our way was not obstructed by gate, lock or door. We found ourselves in the center of a forgotten mystery. And in the hours that passed we slowly pieced together what we had found. Maps of Arizona, shelves of chemicals, kilns of varying sizes, rocks, books, a bed, generators, antique furniture. Words to describe our treasure are as follows, given to me to post by that friend Alex. He sent this to me in the early hours of the next morning for all of you to read:

"When you wander the streets in Las Vegas, there are certain things you just don't expect to find, but you often do. You don't expect the condom lying at your feet near a busy intersection. You don't expect buildings from your childhood in the middle of the city to be randomly demolished. You don't expect the sweet lady who gives you 15 dollars when you really need the money for food. And you just don't expect the phrase "all that glitters is gold" to somehow become slightly more relevant to your own life.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is: wander the streets of the Las Vegas valley a bit more. Every once in a while something interesting happens. Like stumbling upon an abandoned gold smelting operation.

I sure as hell wasn't expecting what seemed like a cement mixing facility, and then a pottery facility, and then a furniture restoration operation, and then… Fuck it, I didn't expect any of it. Gold, directions on do-it-yourself gold extraction, enough chemicals to kill every horse in a medieval army… I'm sure if you tried hard enough, you could re-invent Greek fire in this place.

What made me happiest was the simpler aspects of things: an unremarkable man's photo album (I mean no offense) and a random mining and smelting operation that was once going on right in the middle of our wonderful city (*cough*)… And not super-industrial, either!

The mood was set by several surprising things being unlocked, and the occasion was almost ritualistically sealed sometime around moonrise.

And I strangely find myself wondering after all this: I wonder if there is gold on the moon….

Oh, and remember kids: all that glitters is gold! Or something that could make it, anyways!"

And with those words, photographs.

Update tomorrow.

I'm requesting that you tune into your favourite local blog tomorrow (I was referring vainly to myself) for an absolutely mind blowing blog. Here's a hint: All that glitters. I'm asking that Alex (my partner in doubleplus ungood actions) submit a block of text to be included in tomorrows post if he feels up to it. I'd post tonight but I feel particularly unable to write.

Tomorrow's post will also come with some really beautiful images. I'd like to say that what we found today was one of the most amazing secrets I've ever had the pleasure of uncovering.

I'm paranoid enough to regretfully inform you that the location of said discovery is for trusted individuals only.

In great anticipation, I take my leave.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Strawberry Skies

Okay, before anyone feels the need to point this out: Yes I am aware that Across the Universe used a strawberry. And no this is not based on that. Well, no more than it is based on a picture of a strawberry I saw when I was six. Without further ado I give you my Strawberry Skies final (maybe) image. The diagram for how it was done is a few posts back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Killers Musical

That's right. Someone needs to do it. Setting? Las vegas. Characters? A heroin addict, a stripper, a gambler, a student, and a homeless man. Plot? In one word? Escape. In many? The tale of five people unconnected at first but slowly drawn together by their need to leave this "two-star town".

Wow, I totally already have a mini plot in my head. If only I could write.

I have random flashes of what I'd want to do.

The homeless man lives near the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign in a drainage tunnel.

I'd basically take the final scene from my post "I walked out of town today". It would be very touching and involve one last look back at the twinkling lights. And I'm not sure whether or not the group (minus a couple of people) will drive off or if it should end with them standing around the car looking back at the city.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Words and an image.

I have found recently that my photographic philosophies are being solidified. I had previously crafted photographs because of some unspoken understanding of these philosophies. Now I tend to have real concrete words to describe the reasonings for things.

I'm starting to think I want to teach photography. Because from what I hear, a lot of things that I find important are being overlooked and flat out forgotten. With film quickly being augmented from the art so are a lot of the practices and beliefs that come with it. Someone, actually a lot of someones need to preserve these traditions. One thing that I fear greatly is the "shoot till it looks good" mentality that comes without a film background.

I could go on for hours about my philosophies about photography, but I won't. I'll simply leave you with a pretty rectangle. I have seen this photo, well the idea of the photo in my mind, many times. Ryan playing his guitar in his room. I finally decided to snatch the moment. And here it is.

Three quotes for you tonight as well:

"Go then, there are other worlds than these"
-The Gunslinger (Dark Tower I)
"Silently reflection turns my world to stone"
-The Killers "Tranquilize"
"And I am a master of this nothing place"
-The Smashing Pumpkins "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning"

Las Vegas Wash

Here I am again talking about the Las Vegas Wash. I took some more photos when I went out with Steven the other night. I think I'll discuss how hard these trips have been. I really enjoy cities and structures and decay. So these trips into nature can be compared easily to culture shock. I find myself stumbling around (metaphorically and sometimes literally) with my camera. Water? Trees? Nature? Grass? Fuck, where's the subtle comment on the frailty of society, the crumbling relics of our time, and for that matter the impermanence of things? All I see is an affirmation of the renewal of life, the dominance of life over hardship, the strength of nature.

Oh, I'm being told that those are some of the points of nature photography. My point is that this is all very hard for me. It's another mindset you have to fit into like a new pair of shoes. Please enjoy what I was able to come up with.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Creative nonfiction is a pointless subcategory

Seriously. I will fight this till I die. There is fiction (not real) and nonfiction (true events). It's easy. (Sparing all the metaphysical arguments about how one determines what is "real")

Creative nonfiction is simply nonfiction written well. You don't need a subcategory for that. That's like saying we need creative photojournalism. It's a pointless subcategory to make people feel special.

And if a nonfiction writer 'only changes some things to fit a greater storyline' that's what I call "bullshit". That's a fictionalization of true events. Calling it creative nonfiction is misleading and wrong.

Rant over.

No! No no no!

My actual reaction was quiet disbelief actually. I stood outside my truck just staring down at the thing lying on the ground. The light spilled out of the drivers side door illuminating the scene. The street lamp above made the scene isolated. The irony of the situation was that it would have made a great picture if the broken thing on the ground wasn't my camera. Don't fret too much. It was just the lens on closer inspection. I hope to buy a new lens in the very near future.

I have photos for you from today, but I'm too tired and probably sick with sadness, fear, apprehension, self loathing, and nausea to do much of anything.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I'm emotionally confused, but if you read my myspace blog you're aware of this already. But putting that to one side, there are other things. I posted some of this on Twitter, in fact if you want to know about my daily goings on you should look at that from now on (twitter updates displayed on the right-hand part of the blog).

I have a drivers licence. It is quite fun. I also own(ish) a truck. Gas prices make me want to die. I also have a job. Not a glamorous job, but a job nonetheless. I bus tables at Club Fortune, the local's casino near my house. It should be a nice expirence as the people there seem nice enough and the job should be easy enough. I took my drug test and I start sometime next week. There's not much else to say. You might want to look out for some photos from Goldfield Nv. in the near future (Not this Sunday but the next).

My fucking god.

Seriously. With the tears.

I never noticed how "tears" and "tears" are spelled the same. In that respect, I guess this post works on two levels.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My grandest canyon.

We walked into the park late. It was too dark to really see much of anything, and we were just out of range of those pesky streetlamps (for the most part). The wetlands park is just off Boulder Highway. It's relatively tucked away. it's where all the rainwater goes before it drains into lake mead. the wetlands park is simply stop two in rainwater redistribution. Drainage tunnels lead to here which lead to the wash which leads to lake mead. First we photographed a small pond. Then we walked past a pipe sending water out in a great stream. We photographed this. then, in the distance we heard something. Like huge outlet pipes letting out hundreds of gallons of water. We crossed the barricade. I approached the sound. And promptly found myself at the edge of a small canyon. Whitewater ripped through the middle in a continuous flow. It was beautiful. It was the grandest canyon I'd ever seen. It amazed me. It was constructed out of rock and poured cement that the water had cut through. With flashlights, ambient light from the city and the moon we photographed. Here is what I will share.

The Dark Knight

Yes, this deserves its own post. This movie is quite simply one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed. The story of an epic and the visual realization to send chills down a photographers spine.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ah, employment.

For those of you who don't know, I now have a job. Or I will very shortly. I went to Club Fortune, and within a few minutes I was offered a job. So that's awesome. They sent me home and told me to come back at hree to go get a drug test. I got there and then they sent me to the drug testing place. And i promptly got myself indescribably lost in downtown vegas. This map shows how I view this "shithole where street names switch like a funhouse".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pessimistic thought of the day.

Arguing government with a friend:

"We're never going to agree on any of this. The government makes mistakes, but so do I. You can't expect perfection because it's not going to happen. If you expect perfection from a government then you're living in the wrong reality. All you have (Name) is idealistic philosophy which isn't congruent with a society that's rough. People aren't innately good or bad, they are simply people. And they behave according to themselves and what they think is right. Those opinions will never match up. And to expect these opinions on what is right to align perfectly is to expect every star in the universe to suddenly align themselves in a single file line and do a dance." - Me

(I reccomend checking out the comments on this post for more light on the subject)

Underpass photography

Driving around Las Vegas and Henderson reveals to the trained eye that there is much hidden beauty in this valley. Beauty that some might think belongs only in wilderness. But to me, and a few others, the valley is riddled with beauty in every corner.

Steven and I discovered a set of three (possibly more) bridges. The most beautiful being a red brick one. Under the first we discovered two homeless men who cackled quietly in the dark while we took photos. At the second we discovered beautiful water and toads. The third was plain and we turned back.

The first:

The second:

Alystra: Mourning

I visited The Alystra Site a couple of days ago. Few things remain. scraps of wood painted sky blue. Glass shards. Tile. And a foundation. A foundation that once supported the majestic casino. The space where the building once stood is like a massive grave site. The only remaining structure is the stage that was once within the walls. Beneath it was once a vault. Now it is exposed to open air and filled in with dirt. The marquee still stands, a depressing sight without it's partner. The marquee is now a massive marker, a tombstone for the the fallen Alystra. I walked atop the foundation and tried to imagine what once was. 'Here was the front entrance' I told myself 'And over here was the main gambling hall'. It all started to break down when I tried to continue. At least we have the memories, an a few pretty rectangles of frozen time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Okay, next year.

Next year I will not be returning to The Nevada Sagebrush. I may or may not still shoot for them on some basis. I don't want the paper to die, but I also value my own sanity. So, we'll see.

Also I plan to join a fraternity. That's right. Pi Kappa Phi. If I do not make it, I will not join a frat.

I will be getting a job dirung the school year.

I will be passing all my classes next year.

I will be politically active again next year. A return to my calling, heh.

And that's the news. I think some of you already knew most of that, lol. Alright. I'll be sure to update you guys on things more often, lol.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wow, big omission. Oops.

I totally forgot to inform the world, in the only repository for all news Daniel, about my intentions for next year. Well. Stay tuned, because this one's gonna blow you away.

No, it had to be said.

I was going to Twit, tweet, twitt, (whatever the action of updating to twitter is), this but I thought it deserved at least a short rant. I'm sure you've heard it all before, so I'll keep it short.

YouTube video comments reveal just how much rot is in the heart of this world. Seriously. Who the fuck gave these people a computer. And who taught them how to use it? I'm not usually a fan of this sort of thing, but my god. Make them all impotent. They'll probably wake up the next morning and think it was just a drunken adventure. Don't agree with me?

"scott blonkin shoulda man up and whoop some ass"

WHAT?! I don't even now what that means! Still don't agree? Well look at this little dialogue. I kept the names because they're important.

hey bud! im a 15 yr old, and i know how kids and adults think! grow up cos a little girl reads this stuff and u possibly upset her! your not high and mighty, your an equal, and you cant insult these people cos they did a great job! well done cast and crew, and ollivia, ignore this person, they are very silly!"

It hurts me not to fix grammar, but whatever. This response was fine if a bit naive. But then came this:
trust me, you don't know how adults think, "sxychick1234." i'm not saying i do, but you DEFINITELY don't. get an appropriate name for a 15-year-old, you stupid skank, that's disgusting. use your brain. oh and before you say it, ha ha my name's penis i'm soooooo mature."

His fucking name is PENIS. What the FUCK?! "Your name sucks, but don't make fun of my shitty immature name."

Alright. Sorry. Okay I was going to post a comment from the list under a political video but I just can't read any more. Reading the political comments is like watching gorillas do ballet. These people misquote, cite fake history, make shit up, bicker, and basically make a mockery of Democracy. I give up.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The band of our generation.

The best band of our generation can be decided now. Because quite frankly any music made after this point is going to be "that confounded new noise those kids listen to!". The criteria was simple. "What band has made the most significant impact on not only music but also the hearts and minds of our generation". So, I have decided (no need to fret and worry) that the two bands that will hold a joint show to determine who will take home the crudely constructed trophy made of Popsicle sticks and glue are:

The Killers and The Goo Goo Dolls

Thank you to everyone who auditioned, we regret that you all cannot be the band to define our generation. Some runner ups in no particular order include:

The Postal Service, Linkin Park, Blink 182, New Found Glory, Green Day, and so on.

Three photos.

Not a lot tonight, but I'm pretty proud of what I have for you.

First, a cute kitty. Because I said I'd do it.

Second is a "sketch". I call it a sketch because it's a practice shot. The final picture is going to be more close up and have a lot more detail in the figure. Plus there will be a costume.
It's based on this amazing moment that's been burned into my mind as one of the most stirring images I have ever seen. My best friend Gabriel was in a play, or was it a dance. No matter. The whole thing was spectacular, and I fear I'll never see it again. In fact I probably won't. I think that was part of the point. Anyhow. In this play (Shadowland) there was a character. He was a man among fools it seemed. He stood apart. And the world itself seemed to me falling apart. he could see this. And in one moment as all the characters did various actions without dialogue, he walked to the back where a gate seemed to hold the world back. He put his hand up to the gate and gripped it. I know I inferred a lot of this. But I don't care. I will make this shot, immortalize it. Because as of right now the image only exists in my head and maybe a couple of others.

Last we have a composite shot of lightning in the Las Vegas valley. It's not something you see very often. This is the first time I've ever been able to photograph it. It has been one of my goals in life and I'm glad to have done it. Now I'll just have to perfect it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some changes needed to be made.

In honor of breaching the 200 post marker, (this is post 202) I have changed the color scheme of my blog drastically in order to perhaps point it in a different direction.

The blog has mostly resided in the dark and brooding realm of which I am quite fond. Dark studies, old buildings, ancient practices, hidden worlds and the like. But as I once put it one must sometimes "suffer the light" to make any sort of real change. So We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll post some writing. Perhaps a cute picture of a puppy (or a kitten if that's your thing). Point being. Look for some change. Or if there isn't change complain to the management.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


So I'm back from my mini-vacation on the Las Vegas strip. I brought my camera thinking I'd be inundated with things to take pictures of. And in one sense I kind of was. But I ended up just leaving it in the hotel room and enjoying everything without thinking about pictures and such. It was nice.

However, when I went out alone that night for the express purpose of getting photos, I found it ridiculously hard to actually take any. I have this belief about photography. (And other photographers disagree with me deeply. And indeed other photographers are very good at this very thing.) But I despise the building and architecture shot. There is an exception to every rule however. And I'll probably break this rule hundreds of times in my lifetime, but a building is like a giant sculpture. Taking pictures of it and claiming it as your own seems cheap to me. It'd be like walking into a gallery and taking a picture of a painting. So I was pretty much at a loss on the strip. A line of buildings so beautiful it's crazy. Lights flashing, glowing, dancing. I found myself unable to document most of it. What I got was about three shots on the strip that I liked.

Walking back to the hotel room I repeated to myself that it was okay. Not every outing had to be a success. And then I walked back into the hotel room. And right before me was the subject of the last five shots you'll see.

The hotel room was amazing. Lit almost entirely by the green lights aimed at the MGM building I found myself working with contrast in entirely different ways. I feel the results are pretty pleasing. I could have shot the room all night, documenting how we used it. But I grew tired and eventually fell asleep on the windowsill.