July 31, 2004

Older


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Raining
Lomo LC-A


Today I am thirty-one years old.

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The above photo was taken last year. It was raining on my birthday then and it is again today. Damn you weather!

Posted by Gayla at 10:14 AM | Comments (21)

July 30, 2004

Race Matters


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This Ride Takes 2 Tickets
Taken with Great Wall DF-

A year ago to the day my brother found this bug. Last night he found this one. We put it in the garden.

I mentioned to my brother that I had just seen The Human Stain, a film about a man who keeps his racial identity a secret and passes for white. We proceeded to have a lengthy hour plus discussion about race and identity. He's having a difficult time of it lately. We're proud multiracial people. I'm really not sure how we came to that because our upbringing was shit, creating a lot of confusion, anxiety and unhealthy ideas about race. There are few positive incidents in my childhood associated with being multiracial and plenty of negative. The positive experience that stands out most was in grade 4 social studies. We had to present our cultural heritage and/or country of origin to the class as a project. I chose to present my West Indian side. My teacher did a really good job of explaining to a class of confused kids how it is possible and completely normal even that someone so light-skinned could have any identification with black. I'm still amazed by that.

But I don't think my brother had any positive experiences. I think it was mostly confusion for him.

Well now, as an adult my brother is experiencing what I wrote about here and it's having an effect on his sense of self. He says it screws him up knowing and feeling who he is but having other people identify him or perceive him in another way. He says the hardest part is that people often think he is lying when he explains his family tree. They insist he must be greek or spanish. It's a confusing thing made worse by the fact that we live in a world that wants to box people into clearly defined categories. But how much of life is like that?

I struggled with the same problem when I was his age. But at some point I turned a corner. It doesn't bother me now. People will always identify me according to their own perceptions and biases. If I spent my whole life being what everyone thought I was within any given moment I'd be a very fragmented person. I hope he turns that corner.

Posted by Gayla at 12:39 PM | Comments (5)

July 29, 2004

Oh My Head


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Old Time Truck
Taken with Great Wall DF-

Last night I received an anonymous email that blew my mind. Wow. I've thought about it repeatedly today.

Last night I went through my archives some and came across this post. I tend to go back to the linked article regularly because it's something I continue to contemplate. And then I found the following quote on Keri Smith's site. I tend to notice this kind of syncronicity in my life on a regular basis.

"All humans are storytellers with their own unique point of view. When we understand this, we no longer feel the need to impose our story on others or to defend what we believe. Instead, we see all of us as artists with the right to create our own art." -Don Miguel Ruiz

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I have to decide immediately whether or not to speak at an event next spring. I don't want to make this decision because I know what the answer is and I don't like it. I am terrified of public speaking and tend to turn these requests down as a result. But I can't continue to do that. I have to do this. When the book process started the very first thing that entered my mind was "Book=book tour=public appearances/public speaking." That was almost enough to stop me from doing the whole thing altogether. Most of my fear and blocks during the process have been a subconcious attempt to halt the inevitable... everything that comes once the book is finished... the possibility of failure, of ridicule... and of a book tour.

My last public speaking event was a terrible experience. I vowed never again. I'm okay with a few people but terrified of an audience. I'm okay on the radio or face-to-face with another person but awful in front of a crowd. I know all the tricks and they don't work. This last year has been so much about facing my fears. At times I feel like a scared child asking myself "Why are you doing this to me?" But at other times I know there is no other way.

Fuck.

Posted by Gayla at 05:23 PM | Comments (3)

July 28, 2004

Pretty, Old Truck 1


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Dodge
Taken with Great Wall DF-

One of the trucks. These trucks have become like the train photos. I like all of them.

I was thinking about this story in the shower this morning and when I looked it up realized I posted this exactly a year ago to the day. In a few days I'll be 31.

Posted by Gayla at 01:14 PM | Comments (8)

July 27, 2004

Taking Pictures


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Taking Pictures
Taken with Great Wall DF-

Mr. Risk taking pictures of the trucks.

And he of me. I hate that backpack/camera bag but it holds a lot of cameras and supplies.

Posted by Gayla at 11:28 AM | Comments (11)

July 26, 2004

The Great East End Bike Tour 2004


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Taken with the Nikon D70

Writing is back.

We had a good day off. I will call it "The Great East End Bike Tour 2004". My body still hurts from all the bike riding. We rode to the Distillery District, walked around a few times, rode to Cherry Beach, east along the bike path, north up Leslie, west along Queen, north up Pape, back east again to Little India, west along Gerrard to the Riverdale Farm (It was closed. I wanted to see the turkey.), west on College, ate diner and eventually home.

I'm very unfamiliar with the east end so there were times when it felt like we were in another city entirely. It's enjoyably miserable over there. But you have to be in the mood for it. The Distillery District was boring. Mr. Risk and I decided that we prefer the periphery of places. Whenever we go anywhere we tend to want to head directly for the outskirts or the uninhabited parts. I'm not sure what that says about us metaphorically but the best parts about the Distillery District seemed to be around the edges. The highlight was a vast, empty parking lot across the street that contained a pair of old trucks. We went ballistic photographing those trucks! I could have sat in the parking lot all day. It felt familiar.

The Cherry Beach bike path smelled nice. The russling of beech trees in the wind was soothing. The wind itself sucked. No matter which direction we were travelling I was certain it was against the wind. Yes, the song did cross my mind more times than I'd like to admit.

I was pretty happy to finally have the opportunity to photograph the building above. I've gone by in cars and street cars on occassion but have never had the chance to stop and take some snaps. Finally!

Posted by Gayla at 11:17 AM | Comments (11)

July 22, 2004

Candy Cart | Blocked


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Taken with the Great Wall DF-

Probably the last of the Candy Cart for a while. See also 1 | 2 | 3. I know I shot a bunch with the Mamiya but they're either sitting in that massive pile of unscanned film or they're not developed yet.

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My stomach has been turning circles for days. I had a few weeks of design work to do on The Book which forced the writing aside. The design stuff was successful, everyone's happy, blah, blah, blah... and now I'm supposed to be putting the finishing touches on the manuscript. Total block. Can't write a single fucking word. Staring at the screen watching the cursor blink. Feel like barfing most of the time. This whole process has been very disjointed and my mind is finally refusing to co-operate. I have errands to run today and will try writing again tonight. If that fails I'm going to take the day off tomorrow. Will try being a human who exists for no reason other than to simply exist instead of a "producer" who makes stuff and exists soley to produce. My balance is WAY the hell off.

Oh and I'll clean my office of all this fucking debris. Paper everywhere! I had a dream last night that my editor woke me up at 2:00 am to talk about edits. I was sitting on the floor surrounded by a paper mess. But then she wouldn't speak. I started yelling into the phone telling her to say something and was agitated that she woke me up at 2 am to talk about work and then left me hanging. I tried to get up but couldn't because there were spider webs everywhere.

Posted by Gayla at 12:04 PM | Comments (8)

July 21, 2004

Chin Picnic | Candy Cart


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Chin Picnic | Candy Cart
Taken with Great Wall DF-


The toycamera book.

Posted by Gayla at 11:32 AM | Comments (9)

July 19, 2004

The Books Are Ready | Lupine


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High Park's Blue Lupine
Taken with the Windsor/Diana Hybrid (with close-up lens)

I try to catch a glimpse of the blue lupine every year as it flowers in High Park.

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The Toy Camera books are up for sale. Copies are going fast as I have several on reserve. There were 1000 copies printed in total. I am selling 30.

We also just came out with a new instamatic camera t-shirt (drawn by Mr. Risk). The illustration was inspired by my original One Step camera. One day I will get around to posting some actual instamatic photos. Too many pictures. Too much scanning. Still waiting for my personal assistant. Right after I get that personal chef and driver. Right.

Posted by Gayla at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

Candy Apples


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Chin Picnic | Candy Apples
Taken with Great Wall DF- with closeup filter

I'd never eat one of these but I sure did enjoy taking photos of them. I'm always drawn to the colour red.

Posted by Gayla at 11:25 AM | Comments (2)

July 15, 2004

The Cat


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Kitty
Taken with Nikon D70

I promised Bob some cat photos. This is our cat "Kitty" who turned ten years old on July 1! Her name is actually "Voltron, Defender of the Universe" but we're lazy bastards calling her "Kitty" most of the time. She has other names like "Miss Kitty", "Princess", "Nasty Kitty", "The Littlest Baby Kitty", "Noodles", "Fluffy", etc based on her mood and attitude. The above photos were taken the other day. I gave her a pot of ornamental purple fountain grass. You should see how haggard that plant is today. She LOVES it.

Look at the tongue!

Delicious grass.

Kitty was very sick two years ago and came VERY close to dying. Here she is in the hospital. Here she is on her first day home after surgery. It was a terrible ordeal. We love that bitchy cat.

Posted by Gayla at 11:20 PM | Comments (14)

Mr. Genmaicha


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Ice Cream Truck
Taken with the Windsor/Diana Hybrid

This photo was taken on a day when I convinced Mr. Risk to play hooky and walk around taking pictures. I think that was the same day we went to Henry's and I bought that Spartus Folding Camera.

I expected more from this photo when I took it but I still like it. Most times now I can fairly accurately guess how a photo taken with this camera will come out.

We don't eat soft-serve but we sure do have a fixation with the trucks. They play a little plinky tune. One day Mr. Risk did some research and discovered that the song actually has lyrics that go something like "Here comes Mr. Ice cream man, bringing fresh ice cream."

We talk a lot about how good it would be if the trucks sold green tea and fried egg sandwiches on spelt toast with fresh basil leaves and a slice of tomato (okay I added in the details. It's lunch time. I'm hungry.) We've even modified the lyrics to "Here comes Mr. Green Tea man, bringing fresh hot tea." or "Here comes Mr. Genmaicha, bringing fresh hot tea."

Can someone get on that please?

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And the books!

Posted by Gayla at 12:13 PM | Comments (5)

July 13, 2004

Toy Camera Book | Sports Hall


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Sports Hall
Taken with the Windsor/Diana Hybrid

Okay so as I mentioned the Toy Camera Books have arrived. Unfortunately my life is work/eat/sleep with deadlines galore and I haven't had the time to get going on my plans to sell them. When I get a chance I will be adding them to our online store where they can be purchased via credit card. Until then, if you're interested, contact me and I'll set aside a copy for you and email you personally when I get things set up.

I will be charging $38. US per copy. However I will sign each copy and include a 6" x 6" print with each. Each print will be on nice archival matte paper. The print will not be one from the book because I'd rather print colour. The book is printed duotone black/warm brown. See how CLASSY? I'm still deciding but am leaning towards this one which is one of my all-time faves. Feel free to make suggestions from any of my toy cam archives [Windsor, Holga, Spartus Full-Vue] but I am going to decide on one or two images to print. Or should I keep it a surprise? You tell me.

Here are my photos that went into the book 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 was previously unpublished.

Posted by Gayla at 11:42 PM | Comments (8)

July 12, 2004

Old Warehouse Revisited


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Old Warehouse
Taken with Nikon D70

Here's the first photo from our second "visit" inside the warehouse. I took this one with Mr. Risk in the distance to show the scale of the place. This panoramic does a good job of showing scale as well.

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In Urban Deck Wildlife - The raccoon came back! Mr. Risk found it asleep in the same spot this morning. It took a lot of persuasion to get Rocky to leave (we're very creative at naming the animals). Baby bird #3 is still going strong. On Saturday I discovered ladybug larvae (very good. Plus I was able to get photos which were needed for the book!) and three-striped beetle larvae (very bad. But again I needed photos for book so kinda okay).

Ed: I have lots of insect photos I could freak you out with. You should see the spider I found in one of the gardens! The leaves actually rustled when it moved. Even I was a bit freaked.

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The Toy Camera books arrived this afternoon. They look terrific. Classy. I'm disappointed about being the very last contributor shown. There's just something shitty about being last.

Posted by Gayla at 10:56 PM | Comments (9)

Today is Untitled


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Legume Flower
Taken with Nikon D70 (with close-up filter)

I've lost interest in the Barber Shop photos I said I would post. They've all got something wrong about them: too much window glare, flare off a giant fluorescent panel that was lighting the room....

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I've got a ton of work this month. Last night it suddently dawned on me that it might be my last opportunity to go anywhere in a while so we hopped on our bikes and rode to the theatre to see Fahrenheit 911. It was a real emotional rollercoaster; laughing one minute, crying another. I'm not an American and I've always had a basic understanding about corruption in the government. I've also always hated the Bushes. Yet the film still had a strong effect on me.

I vividly recall the day I discovered there was a George Bush jr who would likely run for president. I was stunned but figured they were so transparent surely people would not vote in another Bush who was so clearly a sad, little boy trying desperately to emulate his father. But then...

Posted by Gayla at 11:35 AM | Comments (7)

July 11, 2004

Blanket | Warehouse


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Hunting Blanket
Taken with Zero 2000 Pinhole

I also photographed this blanket with the Nikon D70 a while back. Click here.

I'm drowning in photos. I've got A STACK of film waiting to hit the scanner. I've got GIGS UPON GIGS of digital pictures that need to be sorted and culled. I find when this happens I can't see clearly. I can't decide which ones I like and which ones are blah. It all becomes a blur. I try to recall my initial response to each photo because that tends to be the most honest one.

On Friday we went to the R.O.M (Royal Ontario Museum) for free night and then took a long route home, walking nearly the entire way. I got some nice night-time images of a barber shop that I want to post. I have to admit that I'm enjoying taking night photos with the Nikon. I also have to admit that I've come around to the Nikon and sometimes it's the only camera I take with me. I'm a rotten digital-lover!

Yesterday we got inside the old warehouse again. It was cleaned up but still good. Some of the details were gone. The bathroom was slightly less disgusting. I took TONS of photos. But again... can't sort through them. Too many.

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The Toy Camera book is officially out. I haven't received my copies yet but am highly anticipating their arrival!

This is The Year of the Book for me. This is the third book I've been in this year, and then there's The Book (the one that IS my life right now). It's very exciting and also incredibly terrifying. I like books. I've been planning to print and bind a tiny book of some of my photos if I ever have free time again. I bought the paper months ago but it's just been sitting here. Time. Time. Time. I need to reconcile my differences with it. There's never enough of it.

Posted by Gayla at 11:37 AM | Comments (5)

July 09, 2004

The Ponys are Still Going Around


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Pony-GO-Round
Taken with the Windsor/Diana Hybrid

Posted by Gayla at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 08, 2004

My Grandmother


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Scylla

I didn't take this photo. This is an old photo of my maternal grandmother from an unknown time in the distant past. This is not the grandmother I remember. This is, and this is. This isn't (although I believe someone told me she was 40 when this photo was taken).

It's a bit early to be talking about my grandmother. I usually talk about her on her birthday which is July 26. But this year I have thought about her a lot. She's been dead a long time now and we had no understanding of one another when she was alive, but I've really come to know her in many ways. A lot makes sense to me in a way it didn't.

Today on a whim I went into A Different Booklist. I've been meaning to go in there for quite a while. I'm desperate to find a good book that covers West Indian history. There is a lot I need to understand. But today I went in there because I'm desperate to read something new. I recently picked up Charles Bukowski's "Ham on Rye" and "Post Office"; both books I have read MANY times over. But they don't do much for me now. I have many positive things to say about his writing but to be honest I'm just fucking tired of the same old shit and the same old same old same old. Tired.

By chance I picked out Jamaica Kincaid's "The Autobiography of My Mother". I've only just begun but it seems to be the perfect book for me at this time. There are a lot of similarities. The main character is part Carib, part Scot, and part African. My grandmother was part Carib, part French and part African. The village she mentions in Dominica is where my grandmother is from. There are many other similarities. This review struck me:

"A mother's love or rather the absence or withdrawal or compromise of that love, lies at the heart of Jamaica Kincaid's fierce, incantatory novels... The figure of the mother represents more than the woman who gave them life; she also represents the vanished and enduring past, a connection to earlier generations of women and blacks who endured the indignities of colonial and postcolonial oppression.... Ms. Kincaid conjures up the whole world of Dominica in all its beauty and casual cruelty... a world in which the ghosts of colonialism still haunt the relationships of contemporary women and men."

I have only recently begun to understand these things from my own experiences and where it began... at least as far back as I can trace it which is my great-grandmother. My grandmother Scylla took a lot from me, but one thing she gave me was knowledge of my lineage, my history. When I was a kid she would talk about her life -- well not really talk more like mumble and not really to me but to the air. But what she didn't know was that I was actually listening attentively and taking it all in -- saving it for later.

I recall reading something in a bell hooks book once about the enduring effect that slavery has had in passing a certain type of violence and misery from generation to generation. A certain type of defeat you can only know when there is no hope... When your soul has been crushed and destroyed a thousand times over. At times I can see the continuum... the connection between the women in my family so clearly. The way they have inherited despair and sadness and passed it onward. I can see where it began and I can see how it has changed as it passed between the generations. I can see how fortunate I am to be who I am, so much more able it seems than the women before me to create a very different outcome for myself and to see the world... to see life in a very different way.

And from only a few pages into the book:

"Ma Eunice was not unkind: she treated me just the way she treated her own children -- but this is not to say she was kind to her own children. In a place like this brutality is the only real inheritance and cruelty is sometimes the only thing freely given."

Posted by Gayla at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)

Pony-GO-Round Pinhole


Pony GO Round

Pony-GO-Round
Taken with Zero 2000 Pinhole

So many photos of the Pony-Go-Round. 1 | 2

Wait until I start posting the photos of the candy apple cart.

Posted by Gayla at 01:17 AM | Comments (7)

July 07, 2004

Night Walk


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Night Walk
Taken with Nikon D70

These photos were taken on a night time walk down Tyndall where there are lots of hi-rise apartments. Here's an ashtray/garbage can. The lobby in particular had a Kubrick-esque creepiness about it.

Do you remember the late night programs "Night Ride" and "Night Glide"? I specifially enjoyed one that was just scenes shot in a mall at night. Some fur-coated people were walking by an escalator that was panelled in glass. It was very 80's/early 90's in the worst way possible.

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Our deck has become a wildlife sanctuary. The plants I grow attract an assortment of beneficial insects and spiders. That's intentional. Then we had the baby birds, 1 & 2 plus the vast number of sparrows and starlings that have nested in the cracks of our building for years. This year has been high in baby bird deathes. This morning I went outside to check on my plants and was given a shock! A large raccoon was underneath a table and had popped its head out and snorted at me. It kind of made a gargling snort. I jumped and exclaimed very loudly and then ran inside immediately because raccoons are damn huge with large teeth and claws. It was backed into a corner and had become quite aggressive. After the adrenaline subsided we went back outside to chase it away. We know raccoons visit at night (they steal my tomatoes, dig up my carnivorous bog and try to get into the garbage can) but we don't want one living there because of the cat.

It went underneath the deck but eventually came out. At that point we noticed it had a fresh gash on the side of its leg. That's probably why it decided to hang out. That and the luxury 5-Star accomodations of a basket underneath a table. I called the Humane Society but a few minutes later the raccoon decided to leave. It hobbled a bit on one side but seemed mostly okay.

Posted by Gayla at 01:13 PM | Comments (8)

July 06, 2004

Pony-GO-Round


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Pony-GO-Round
Taken with Nikon D70

These photos are a classic example of how a photo can lie. It looks bright and cheery but the reality is that this pony ride was creepy and unsettling. This ride has been around since I was a kid. I can't believe they're still doing it.

But the artwork was beautiful.

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Last night we watched War Photographer about the photography of James Nachtwey. I wasn't emotionally prepared.

Posted by Gayla at 11:23 AM | Comments (9)

July 05, 2004

Off the Tracks


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Off the Tracks
Taken with Horizon 202

The companion to this photo.

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Latest song addiction: Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing - Stevie Wonder

Posted by Gayla at 11:35 AM | Comments (8)

July 02, 2004

CHIN Picnic - Holgaroid


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Canada Day at the CHIN Picnic.
Taken with the Holga(roid) with Polaroid Back

Nobody in town seems to have this particular Polaroid film in stock. Fortunately I just happened to have a few photos left in another Polaroid camera (Square Shooter). Unfortunately it is now all gone.

The Holgaroid is fun but the Polaroid back covers up the viewfinder so I have to guesstimate my framing. The first few pictures stank but I seemed to get the hang of it by the time I got to these two.

Posted by Gayla at 12:55 AM | Comments (12)

July 01, 2004

Canadians: Slightly Less Fucked Than You


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Flags Galore
Taken with Nikon D70

I'm really not patriotic in the rah, rah, rah sense of the word. Like I wouldn't drive down the street hanging out of the sunroof with a giant flag, or paint my face red and white with a maple leaf. But with all this shit that's been happening in the States and now that that fucker Stephen Harper didn't get in as Prime Minister, and Mike Harris is no longer the Premier of Ontario and that fucking idiot Mel Lastman is no longer mayor of Toronto I can say that I'm a whole lot happier I stayed in Canada.

Canada: Slightly less fucked up then a whole lot of other places and perhaps slightly less fucked then yesterday.

Happy Canada Day!

Posted by Gayla at 01:59 PM | Comments (2)