Posts Tagged ‘houston press’
I began to write this on the year-end “what we are thankful for” post I was editing for the Rocks Off blog on the Houston Press website, but I realized it was way too personal and probably better served for posting here.
I have come to referring to myself as the utility infielder for the Houston Press. John Nova Lomax, one of my all time favorite writers there, has graciously suggested that I have perhaps even elevated myself to the level of Bill Spiers! Truth is, I am tremendously blessed by the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people at a terrific publication. For that opportunity I am eternally grateful.
Over the past month, I have had the great pleasure of filling in for music editor Chris Gray, someone I not only consider a colleague, but a friend. I only wish my prolonged duties had come under better circumstances — he suffered a heart attack that has kept him out of commission for a while — but working in his stead has helped me to re-discover a love for music just as writing for the Press got me fired up about writing again. I find myself listening to more music, reading more news about it and practicing harder at the bass than I have in 20 years. I owe him a tremendous debt for this (as do the people who listen to my playing on a regular basis), but his healthy return will be thanks enough because I have no clue how he does it all. I’m seriously in awe.
And all of this reminds me of my dad. My father was a writer, a photographer and a teacher and my first real hero. He passed away almost four years ago and, as a result, never had the chance to read all I’ve written for the Press over the last two years. When I think about that, I’m not sad for what he may have missed — God knows, some of it, he’s better off — or that the man who was so supportive can’t share in it with me. Instead, I find myself grateful for what he gave me through love, jokes, wisdom and genetics. I’d like to think, of the hundreds of kids he influenced as a teacher over nearly 40 years, he would be happiest to know that his longest-tenured and, at times, most difficult student has not forgotten his influence and has made healthy use of it.
Finally, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for music this year. My long love affair with the bass was re-kindled over the past few months and it’s been surprising the discoveries I’ve made. It has restored my faith in an artform that admittedly I had nearly forgotten.
Oh, and I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention a few other key contributors to my life. My mom is the greatest woman I know. Period. I cannot imagine who I would be without here. A very close second is my girlfriend, Cathy, who, with all deference to the Power Puff girls, is the joy and the laughter.
I also want to thank Cathy’s niece, Jade, who constantly reminds me how magical music can be and what a dramatic impact it can have on your life. She is WAY too smart and talented to be 13. It’s terrifying.
Finally, to my band — George, Chris and Joe — who have put up with my crazy for longer than most of my friends, you guys rock and I mean that literally.
Wow, it has been a LONG time since I’ve written on this blog. Maybe I’m lame. Maybe I’m lazy. Well, I’m both of those things, but that isn’t the reason. I’ve been busy, damnit, and who are YOU to question me?
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Let’s move on amicably. Ok, great.
So, anyhoo, I wrote a cover story for the Houston Press this week. Kinda cool, right? The story is on KGOW, 1560 the Game, a small, independent sports radio station in Houston. I took the photos for the story as well.
Writing like 5000 words is not easy, but since my mouth is big enough to utter that many words in the span of mere minutes, it makes sense that I could type them too.
Plus, I’m not going to lie. It was fun and, quite frankly, a HUGE honor to be able to do this. I read guys like John Nova Lomax and Craig Malisow, who write feature stories with the kind of regularity I change my cat’s cat box litter, and I’m in awe. I can’t imagine doing this all the time, but it was a blast doing this one and I hope I can try my hand at something else in the future.
Until then, you can read this one:
It’s been a while since I did one of these kinds of updates – you know the kind where I tell you what I’ve been doing, you doze off and then wake up after a dream where I stabbed you in the arm only it wasn’t a dream because I was really just upset that you – a good friend like YOU – would fall asleep reading my story. Really, it’s just shameful.
But, here goes.
In the past month, I’ve spent a lot of time on the road. Some of it work. Some of it pleasure. That trend will continue going forward. First, let me just get the work part out of the way.
A couple weeks ago, I got a call from the Art Director at the Houston Press. I have taken photos for them in the past – mainly slide shows for the blog, but one or two shots for inside the paper as well. I was asked if I was available to do a shoot the following day (a Thursday) that might be used for the cover of the paper. It was explained to me that the photo would require some travel and that it might be a little odd.
I was also told that I’d be working with John Nova Lomax, a writer and person I respect a great deal, so I didn’t hesitate. Turns out, he and I drove deep into Cajun country in central Louisiana in search of a man named Kenneth Page who was determined to drive his riding lawn mower from his home in Waco to Florida.
John didn’t know exactly where Page would be because he didn’t carry a cell phone, but he believed that Page would travel on a few specific roads based on previous information and the fact that the roads were passable on a lawn mower. We spent hours driving and asking questions before finally finding him in Eunice. He spoke at length with John and the end result is a touching story about an odd gentleman with a strange dream.
I was fortunate enough to capture this man’s image for the paper. Page asked on numerous occasions if I was certain I wasn’t going to break my camera shooting him and laughed. He was a good-hearted guy with a ton of character in both his words and appearance.
The trip with John was as much fun as the resolution. He and I talked about friends and music (he used to be the music editor for the Press and is still what I consider to be the best there has been at his position as I’ve written several times). We listened to Zydeco music and laughed about encounters with locals pointing us in the right direction. It was a long, really enjoyable day.
Most importantly, the photos did make the press and the cover shot is one of my favorites.
Speaking to fellow photogs out there, that shot could not have been more fortunate. I found a spot for us to shoot the photo that looked appropriate with a good background. The clouds really played nice and gave me a good sky. When I got the shot for the cover, I had done a couple quick test shots to get light and told him just to be comfortable. He kicked up his feet, flashed me the peace sign and the first shot I got was absolutely the best one I took, bar none. He never flashed the peace sign again. He never had the same expression. The lighting was never better. Pure luck, plain and simple.
The story John wrote is fantastic – worth the read for sure. There’s even a sidebar that includes the story of our trip to Louisiana, which is pretty cool as well. In addition to the cover story in the Houston Press, the Dallas Observer ran it in their actual paper and the South Florida Village Voice affiliate apparently put it in their blog, though I can’t find it at the moment.
You can even see a video with Mr. Page filmed by John here.
Overall, it was a great experience and I’m thrilled with the results.
Ok, besides work, I’ve spent quite a bit of time at the beach. Weird for me, right?
Two weeks ago, C and I went to Port Aransas to stay at a lovely beach house belonging to the family of one of our friends. A group of us went and had an absolute blast from a 1am swim in the Gulf to much good food and silliness.
Fortunately for me, that scene would be repeated this past week. C and I rented a beach house in Surfside for the week – a really nice rental from BeachHouses.com (how did they get THAT domain name???) that we found when we randomly went to Surfside for the day several months ago. We were there for a few days just the two of us relaxing, swimming, reading and eating good food. By the end of the first day, we were like overcooked noodles, so intensely relaxed and de-stressed.
Despite the rain from a lovely tropical depression, we got in much beach time (C even managed quite the nasty burn, though she handed it with typical ease) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
By the weekend, the weather had gone from ugly to positively perfect and friends joined us. We ate way too much good food, relaxed on the beach and laughed ourselves silly. It was, in short, a fantastic experience. From bonfires and sparklers to wave riding and drunken sing-a-longs, it was just about the most perfect vacation ever.
Even the thought of having to get back to the regular work-a-day world of home didn’t dampen my spirits, especially since we concluded our week on the patio at Maria Selma, soothing ourselves with margaritas and Tex Mex.
In the next few weeks, I’m going to spend some more time shooting photos and hanging outdoors. I’ll be traveling to College Station to shoot a food event for Robb Walsh on Wednesday and going up to the Guadalupe River at least once in the next few weeks to enjoy more time on the water.
If nothing else, this summer has been eventful!