Monday, October 17, 2005

Photo New York

These Mormons like punk rock.<br />

The show goes well but we're reminded that the only thing worse than artists are the snobs who buy art. Mike is good at talking to people (even rich folks) but the rest of us spend most of the weekend in and around the van (behind the blue velvet rope) drinking Jim Beam. I am feeling genuinely hostile towards the oft-condescending crowd of art snobs and millionaires.

salt lake city bondage girl by melina giorgi

It's been several years since I've been in New York. Unfortunately we don't get much time to just hang out in New York and visit friends because we're all busy with the show. The heavy rainstorms makes wandering around the city less appealing as well. Mike signs copies of his book and I'm surprised to find people are interested in some of the quick paintings I hacked out along the road. Some people get photos for free by peeling them directly off the car at night. Soon Photo New York is over and we're eager to haul ass back to California as quick as possible. Everyone's a bit sick of being around each other 24 hours a day and we're all completely broke. But we had a lot of fun. Thanks to all the people who helped us out on our trip.

photocar wall at photo new york by michael garlington

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Charm City

Baltimeore! after the long journey, We spend some time hanging out with Melina's friend, Panda, then it's four days of printing an assembling the installation for the show. We randomly run into John Waters at a photo store and give him some tickets to Photo NY. Where else but "the City that Reads?" Va-voom!

in the hands of the law!

hurricane refugees from N.O.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Waiting for us in Asheville, North Carolina was our old friend Topper “Top Ramen” Holiday and his ruckus crew of “AsheVillains”. After years of couch surfing at our place, it seemed we would finally have a chance to cash in some Topr Points and eat all his food, sleep in his bed, dump all our shit all over his floor, not do any dishes and spend all day watching crappy movies. Toppers lady and our gracious host, Kelly-Ann, had a fabulous feast awaiting us, and that night we went to the bar where she works and tried our best to show Asheville what photocar was made of. Topper and his Fist Family folks performed on stage and with the exception of a lost jacket and a stolen purse, things went pretty smoothly. The next morning we all agreed Asheville was worth a return visit, and came to the conclusion that any town where we didn’t get beat up, was a friendly town indeed.

The next day delivered two of our most promising photo opportunities yet. An authentic retired Mexican wrestler and his wife, and two backwoods boys showing their true American grit. We left Asheville the same way we left most of the towns we’ve visited, with a desire to stay longer, and then we were off to Baltimore and the final stage of our trip.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Hot Springs, Arkansas: a lovely place for fun!

Even though our trip has been riddled with problems from the beginning (car trouble, funding issues, clashing egos, internet failure, etc) for the most part we’ve been able to improvise with a little help from the nice folks we’ve encountered on the way. The hurricane destruction meant we had to cancel a lot of southern stops I was looking forward to including New Orleans and the Wichi Wachee Mermaids, but for everything that’ll have to wait til next time, we found something just as good.

We’d scheduled a shoot at the Arkansas Alligator farm. The helpful woman at the front counter informed me that the farm had been running for over a hundred years, and that the founder had been a driver for Al Capone during that time when Hot Springs was a destination for gambling, hookin’, and shoot ‘em up battles on the streets. After a lengthy explanation on how to feed bread to the goats, we were turned loose. We pet some goats, held some baby alligators and then Mike was into the pen with the full grown varieties, setting up his camera. While Chris, one of the alligator wranglers attempted to get a surly and hissing gator to hold still in front the camera (Mike’s process requires his subjects to pose for a relatively long time), John, a reporter from the local paper came down to interview us. He wanted to give us the low-down on unique things to see and people to meet in town. He had some friends that he was sure we’d want to photograph. Just down the street from the alligator farm, we met Zach and Cheryl, traveling musicians from Seattle, who’d found a happy home in Hot Springs and settled down to raise their newborn boy, and little girl, Eureka. A few minutes later, they were inviting us to stay the night, and decked out in their finest, giving an impromptu accordion and tuba rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Heaven” on their front lawn. An hour later, kids and warm beers in tow, they led the way to the nearby reservoir for an early evening swim. I can’t sing enough praises about Cheryl, Zach and their awesome kids, so I’ll keep it short - catfish, waffles, a bathtub outside, fire orange hair, and a dirty mouth; we didn’t want to leave.


Hot Springs, Arkansas: got to the campground just after dark and set up right next to the interstate, but its green, mild and overcast, nothing like the oppressive Louisiana bayou we woke up in yesterday. Two days ago we were in hurricane country dodging trees through detours in blacked out parts of eastern Texas on our way out of Austin towards Shreeveport, LA. It was a surreal drive at night, past Sonics, Dairy Queens, and car dealerships, made mute with no electricity, ambulances driving in the opposite direction, and cars left by the side of the road every hundred feet. In the dark we could make out destroyed billboards, rescue crews and paniced locals. The occasional gas stations, still open with their hurricane taping up in the windows (Rita had done her turn the day before), were packed in with lines of cars and people sharing news and gossip while they waited. Before that there was the little gas/café where the large young lady behind the counter served up fried food and a little small town sensationalism, telling us that all the roads were closed, everything was wrecked, and everything else short of hell and damnation- nothing new as far as local advice. We'd waited it out in Austin for three nights, partly for hurricane reasons, but mostly for the roller derby girls, David's southern hospitality, and a whole lot of women in bondage attire.

But back to hurricane country, 6 hours of driving brought us in late to the Shreeveport KOA, where the man on the phone had told they were giving priority to evacuees, but there was still room for our tents. As late as it was, there were people crowded on cabin porches drinking and animated. A woman came up to us wanting to know where we were from and gave us the low-down . . . she'd been in the hot tub since 4 the last night so that was ok even though the signs said it was closed; the guy camped out next to the pool was a real ass, but tonight we were lucky cuz he'd gotten drunk early and passed out. The humidity was so oppressive, cold showers did nothing, but the pool was a few degrees cooler so that's where the night ended up. The next morning it was hotter, no one had slept very well, and we were obviously the only jerks at the campsite that couldn't deal with the weather. The other campers/evacuees had been up for hours and were drinking beers and making social calls to each tent site. Everyone was friendly and seemed eager to share their story. Some were from Texas, evacuated from Rita, some others from New Orleans. One couple, Nisee and Duane, who came up to the car for a closer look, told us they'd left New Orleans for Nisee's sister's house in Lafayette, but had to evacuate to Shreeveport when Rita hit. They hadn't been home in a month, they'd lost everything. Nisee told me that even though they'd lost all the photo albums of their family, at least she'd grabbed her daughter's first communion photo and dress and that she was just grateful to have all her family with her, that they could re-build, they would create new photos ”just like the ones on the car.” Nisee and Duane were thinking of moving to Las Vegas where Nisee could work in the casinos. Another man from Texas told us about losing his new home and having no insurance, but that he was grateful to be alive, to have his family with him, in fact his kids were having a great time, swimming in the campground pool, and being out of school, “they're happy the schoolbooks got destroyed in the house.” He was thinking of moving to New Jersey where he had some friends. He told us to “rock the New York show, and let them know what's going on down here.”

Pictures soon . . . waiting on Baltimore to get em printed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Austin, Texas: Hi, How are you?

we love the Texas RollergirlsI think its fair to say we all fell in love with Austin, Texas. Aside from the heat, there was nothing not to like. We stayed with an old friend Dave Kahlili over the weekend, and quickly met some super cool folks. It was a busy weekend in Austin, with refugees fleeing a hurricane in Houston, to visitors for the Austin City Limits music festival, but we still had the best show in town. We met up with the Texas Roller girls on Friday and got some great shots. After wards some of the ladies invited us out, so we headed down to 6th st. Good times abounded and Mike even managed to get 86’d from a few places before we headed home for the night. Saturday our new friend Morgan who runs the Sin Sations sex shop rallied the troops and got us some sexy models to work with. We were too hung-over and over-worked to go big on Saturday night, and we wanted to get an early start to get to Daniel Johnston’s on Sunday so we went home early to watch Arrested Development and pass out.

Damian, Adam and Mike are already fans of Daniel Johnston and the rest of the crew have had an extensive introduction to his music during the trip so far. Any one familiar with Daniel Johnston’s simple, heartfelt tunes might expect him to be pretty introverted and shy but Danny was real friendly and made us feel welcome. Mike put it best when he said, “It was like meeting a Beatle.”

Pineapple shows his traditional Samoan scarification.

Pineapple shows his traditional Samoan scarification.

Daniel Johnston meets Adam Beebe

Adam and Daniel Johnston

Monday, September 26, 2005

New Mexico: Yuppies / American Indian motifs

The folks at the diner in Raton just loved us, and I realized that in most of the nation, coffee is included with your egg breakfast. People kept asking us to take them away from their dusty little towns and drop them off somewhere they think of as glamorous like Los Angeles or New York. They want in on the dream they think we’re living. I guess I want in on some of whatever they’ve got. Simplicity and space.

Soon we hit the mountains of northern New Mexico, the sun was warm and the light was that perfect blinding white that almost hypnotizes you while driving under the trees… light shade light shade light shade. It’s like some primitive chant repeated until your brain is set at ease and you stop expecting to see some strip mall or condo development settled into the scenery. We noticed a large creek following us switching from side to side through the mountain curves. We stopped, we stripped, we waded down into the rocks until the cold water puckered our skin and I don’t know about everyone else but I played my own little baptisim, plugging my nose and laying back like those old mass baptizings where hundreds of people dressed in white would follow a preacher down to the river to drown their sins. I let something go there, let it settle in my open palm flying out the window on the warm wind of this golden summer. At the bottom of the hills we stopped at a little artisan hut that had a simple hand painted sign outside saying “Art.” Good enough, we make art and so do they so why not. Mike photographed an old bronze caster who does huge commissioned statues of buffalos and Hank Williams for the local towns. He played ragtime on an old upright while a woman walked some of us through the bronze casting process. We passed the Rio Grande at sunset with the underwear we pinned to the curtain line flapping around in the heat.

Later in Sante Fe at sunset we wandered through the narrow high end streets watching everyone in white linen walk by as the light from tiny white Christmas lights mingled with the adobe giving off a slightly contrived yet somewhat calming light. Everything was too expensive. Beautiful and contrived and too expensive.

Driving through Roswell, NM at night I imagined the desert next to us a sea of India ink lit slightly from a half moon. We camped out under the stars in a state park called bottomless lakes. Really they are sinkholes and only two of the seven or so are actually fit for swimming. The rest smell too much like sulfur and are that strange blue green you only think is ok when there is a sign somewhere telling you that its alright to swim there. When we were driving in through the pitch black country roads the smells coming in through the window were an astounding array of putridity. Mike said he would like a cracker to put with the limburger cheese smell wafting through the van. For once it wasn’t one of us at fault, but instead the strange landscape.

Before falling asleep I heard what could only be described as a cow screaming. Too hot for a sleeping bag I fell asleep paranoid that the aliens my brother always warned me about were going to get me in the same way I imagined they were getting the screaming cows just a few feet from our tents.

Woke up to a swim in a blue sinkhole set against red rock and a realization that the landscape was beautiful. Shot some dairy queen workers, an alien enthusiast hell bent on building a hotel/ lounge modeled after an actual alien spacecraft, two cops in ten gallon hats and a sweet couple who run a tattoo shop / anti-alien propaganda store. All was well but news of the hurricane headed down south made us question our southern route.