L1000279I have really begun to enjoy Bike Week in Daytona Beach. This was the second time going and it keeps getting better. I don’t ride a bike anymore—in fact its been a very long time but when I did I enjoyed it. It did give me a sense of total freedom, which is something one begins to cherish as we grow up. I love the crowd here. It is a “live and let live” group and almost anything goes as long as you keep it to yourself. I like to think of it as  boobs, beer, bikes, butts and bellies and they are all in abundance here. This is as hot of Evan and his girlfriend who I met here. I was photographing him and he noticed me so we spoke. He asked me to take a shot of them, which I did and sent it to him. He then asked if he could take a shot of me and his gf and of course I obliged.

The previous week I went to Calle Ocho in Miami which is another festival for the hispanic community. It was not much different than Bike Week. That was boobs, beer, butts and salsa.

Book_151In a few months it will be Caille Ocho—the wildest street festival in the US. For one day in March, about 1,000,000 people (mostly Cuban) dance, eat, drink on a 6 block stretch in Little Havana Miami. This photo is from my last visit there a two years ago. I plan on going back this year because although I have been there twice, I was never really happy with what I shot. I felt that somehow, I had missed something. I used to feel that way about shooting in New York. I would go, shoot, and come home disappointed. It took a while to figure out what was wrong but I eventually did. It was about expectations. I would get all hyped up about these thing sand go there expecting to stumble on great shots immediately—and when I did not, I would get down on myself and miss all the excitement around me. During the past few years, I have learned to expect nothing and keep my eyes and heart open. It has made a world of difference.

dsaxe: http://www.dsaxe.com

Miami_Art

 

It was another warm afternoon in Miami. After a relaxing lunch in the Grove, we went to the Art District for some strolling and beer. Although most of the galleries in this area are mediocre at best, there was enough good stuff to see to make it worth it. However, some of the best art is on the buildings walls, outside on the street. It is one big outdoor art gallery. As a photographer, though, what makes it interesting for me is the blasts of color mixed with the harsh shadows of the Florida sun. There is nothing like it. As I said after strolling around and stopping for a beer we were on our way back to the car and Voila! Here was this mother with her child talking on the phone.

art_dealers

Art Basel Miami is a trip. First of all it is huge—beyond huge, covering most of the floor space of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Dealers come from all over for this 4-day orgy of “wretched excess”. For the dealers it is the place where thy come to meet collectors, sell their art , and network with each other. For the public, it is a peep show of bad art, bad fashion, and bad manners. Its where everybody comes to show off. The dealers have no interest in this. For the most part they sit on severe ill-designed chairs dressed in black suits with excessively shortened jackets, staring at their iBooks. The woman dealers are dressed the same except they are shapely with blond hair and I think their role is to reel in the male collectors but I am not sure. For all they care, they could be sitting in an empty room. When a colleague, or a known collector shows up, they come alive and the sucking and stroking begin.

As I have previously mentioned, 95% of it is dreck, 4.5% is Eh!… and the rest is very good. There are always interesting pieces to be seen but you have to stumble through an endless throng of  “the public”, artists and near artists, filthy rich people (who are probably actually looking for something to buy) and young people who are dressed up as artists (or so they think) because they are outfitted in outlandish costumes, bad hair and other oddities that will get you noticed. There was even an old couple (I think they were aging lesbians, however they could have been men) dressed as women in matching costumes, There was endless plastic jewelry covering most of their bodies. They were bald, and covered in pasty make-up. Very exciting.

This photograph is of a few dealers in conference. Who knows what was going on. A deal gone bad, a check gone bad, a prospective client gone dark?

I shot this photograph a few years ago at a street carnival in Miami. I have always liked this one but more importantly, it is on the subject of music—one of my never-ending on-going themes. On reflection, I sometimes wonder what it is that attracts me to these “themes’. What is the hook? Being a photographer is about reflection, it is about examining the things that are going on in your life. It is about self-discovery. At least that is how I see it and so on the subject of music, this is where I came from.

Years ago, way back in the last century, I was a young kid with very little going on in my life when I met my friend Harvey who would be my best buddy for many years to come. It was at the end of my high school career and I had no future and no past to think of. It was that special age—that bridge from teen to adult that some get through easier than others. We would spend our time hanging out together all the time and it was at this time that I discovered Jazz. We would spend endless hours in his basement, smoking, listening to Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evens, etc. and talk/dream/wonder about the years to come. Eventually we ended up on separate paths, although we still talk to each other about once a year. The main part of this though is that this is where my love of music began and continues to be a major part of my life. It is in my head. To this day, if there is nothing going on upstairs, or I am a bit depressed, or whatever, I can still put myself back in that basement and play “Green Dolphin Street” in my head—every note, every solo.

These days, whenever I am wandering around with a camera around my neck and I hear music, I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame. It could be a street festival (like this one), a street musician, an outdoor concert, some guys banging drums in the street—anything, with sound but to me it is all about those days as a kid, smoking cigarettes, and listening to jazz in that smoke-filled basement.

I have also said, when I take photographs, they are about me. When I choose to photograph something, it is because it is something from my past, my dreams, my life that pops out at a particular moment. It is a statement that says, that this is where I stood, on a particular day at a particular time and this is what I felt. Photographs to me are very, very personal.

Every year around this time, I head south (about 60 miles) to Miami for Carnival on the Mile in Coral Gables. I sit in the sun, drink beer and listen to some Salsa and Blues at Carnival. This is actually a two-week affair because next week I will be doing it all over again for Caille Ocho which is a Cuban street festival in little Havana. Again I will sit in the sun, listen to salsa and drink beer. Actually I will not be sitting because with one million screaming festival-gowers jumping up and down, finding a place to sit is a bit difficult. In any case yesterday was a warm-up.

I love Miami, Sometimes I wonder why I live in West Palm Beach but that is the story of my life—or anyone else’s for that matter. We always wish were someplace else. I shouldn’t complain though, I am slowly beginning to deal with this issue. As I get a bit older, I am more complacent and eventually I will get to be somewhere else so really it is all about patience. And best of all, wherever it is that I end up I will probably be drinking a beer.


I recently spoke about going to Caille Ocho in Miami and thinking I came up empty as far as photos go so I thought I would give it another try last year. My initial thoughts were that it was a waste of time but every time I go over the photographs I come up with something new. I am beginning to think that there is no such ting as “coming up empty” and that it is all about patience. The more often I go through the discards, the more little gems I find.