Thursday, July 06, 2006

“Summertime, And The Livin’ Is Easy”

I actually don’t know if that’s a quote from someone famous, it’s just something my friend Jake always says... and so I associate it with him. As far as I know, Jake coined the phrase.

Essentially he was saying that now that summer’s here, it’s time to take it easy. Don’t work too hard (as if that’s possible, summer is always a slow season for guys like us), no need to feel guilty, just go to the beach and chill. Or, if there’s no work and you can’t hang around doing nothing, work on a personal project or go travel and shoot or whatever.

As far as I’m concerned, when work slows to a trickle, it’s the perfect time to catch up on neglected paperwork or copyright registrations or cleaning up my office... at least until I get antsy and have to shoot something new, something for myself (and I will, don’t worry, I have lots of project ideas). But first I need to be organized, so a good reorganization of the office is a priority.

In the spirit of the old English saw, “Once begun is half done,” I got right into shuffling paper and moving stuff around. And being as I’m taking it easy (remember my friend Jake’s philosophy?) I even let my eight year old, Alex, spend a day with me in my office.

I spent the day with Alex, going through the closets, the cabinets, the space under my desk, everywhere, As I was pulling things out and shuffling them around Alex was getting into all kind of really cool stuff (well, if you're eight, just about everything your dad has in his usually off-limits office is really cool) and eventually we found a shoe box that I’d not looked in since 1978.

“Dad!!” came the cry from across the room, “what’s this???”

“Not now, Alex, I’m busy,” I shot back.

“Dad!!” he shouted again, “are these pictures?”

Now I had to go and see what he was talking about and, sure enough, he had the shoe box open and he also had a handful of my Polaroid SX70 images.

The original Polaroid SX70 was a beautiful tanned leather and brushed aluminum single lens reflex camera (one lens, you viewed and shot with the same lens so what you saw is what you got). It collapsed and folded flat when not in use and it used a flexible rubber "bag" bellows to accomplish that compactness. In the summer of 1978 (and on into the early part of 1979) the Polaroid SX70 was my medium of choice.

One day I was making a portrait and I inadvertently got my thumb stuck in the bellows of the camera. This was one really cool thing I discovered by accident... that if you stuck your thumb in the bellows as you were making an image it would bump the mirror as it moved and you would get a really far-out ghost image. Needless to say, thereafter I purposely stuck my thumb into the bellows at the instant of exposure and shot a whole series of eerie portraits that way. The one above is a favorite. It's my friend, Gene Kurakin, in the turret of his apartment in Brooklyn. Gene was always interested in the mystical whether reincarnation or the power of pyramids, stuff like that. The portrait above really speaks to his personality.

I did some other miscellaneous messing around with the camera, some examples are here. Of course, it was a personal project I did that summer when there was nothing else going on and, as my old friend Jake would say, “the livin’ was easy.”


Blogger Ermiyas Mekonnen said...

There are some quotes from friends and sticks to your head, my friend always says when he is down, "Everyday you learn". Brilliant blog I will keep an I on your blog from time to time.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Mo said...

Hey Joe,
Love your blog, but gotta set you straight: "Summertime, and the living is easy" is the opening line of Gershwin's "Summertime" from "Porgy & Bess."
Regards to the family!

6:50 PM  
Blogger Joe P. said...

Mo... see how unsofistikated I am?? In fact, I didn't know Jake had any Gershwin in him either (we're Springsteen fans!!), but I had a sneaky suspicion that it wasn't truly his line.

Welcome to the blogosphere (I'm new here myself) and I hope you come back often for all the news. You know, it beats a six hour drive!.

Best to all your girls!!


10:21 PM  
Anonymous Carl May said...


Usually don't read blogs, but because it's Friday afternoon (when I have finally completed the work that should have been done Tuesday), I jumped here from the signature stuff of a Stockphoto message you posted.

Being a Californian, which, of course, is close to being a Philistine, musical theatre does nothing for me. But some of the lyrics are among the best-concocted, most clever pieces of creative writing I've seen. Classics like Oklahoma, South Pacific, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof--don't poke your finger down your throat, they all have a few gems. Find them and junk the rest if you don't like the genre.

But maybe the best of all is Porgy and Bess. Look up the rest of the words to "Summertime" now, before we hit the autumnal equinox. Then at least skim some of the other P & B lyrics. There are phrases you can use in there. The music isn't bad, either, and finds quite a bit of favor among jazz artists.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Joe P. said...


The amount of grief I'm getting for being illiterate is astounding. Already looked up Gershwin, Cole Porter too (looking forward to seeing a production of his "50 Million Frenchmen" this weekend). I like musicals, really, just never heard anyone but my friend Jake reference "Summertime." ...until I started blogging. Live and learn.


9:19 PM  

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