Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sorry, No Pictures

As I feared, the disc that I found in my grandparents' old disc camera contained no images. I received the film a few days ago and it was pretty badly fogged, but even so, I didn't see any traces of an image whatsoever. I was really hoping for something spectacular, though it's very likely the camera was never used. Most likely, they received the camera as a gift and never used it. Like the VCR that we gave them or the answering machine.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Empty House and Discontinued Film

I don't have a lot of really good photos of my grandparents' house. The photos above were taken in 2002. After my grandparents died, we moved all their stuff out of the house, painted the rooms and put in new carpet to get the house ready to be sold.

Before the new owners moved in, I spent a day photographing the empty house. Not surprisingly, the photos aren't very satisfying in providing a connection to that specific place. Because the carpet in the photographs was not my grandparents' gold 1960's carpet, there is no spark of recognition. Their furniture and knickknacks have been cleared out to make room for the new family. Any connection that's made is the result of squinting and imagining - not the same as identifying specifically with objects and textures. In that sense, the photos are less specific but more universal.

One of the items that I ended up with was their old Kodak disc camera. I was surprised to see that there was still a disc inside. The film is probably from the 1980s, so my expectations are pretty low that there will be anything on this disc. Even so, it's a little exciting to think about what this disc could hold. Maybe a photo of their dog Domino or a birthday party. Or the plum tree my grandpa planted in the backyard. I sent the film to Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, one of the only labs that still processes and prints disc film. (They are also the last lab to process Kodachrome.) I'll post the photos here if there's anything worth seeing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Today of course is the 50th anniversary of the day that is called "The Day The Music Died". Or less famously, the day that Waylon Jennings didn't die. Sadly, in rock and roll, "Live Fast, Die Young" is a cliche grounded in reality.

I've never been to the site of that plane crash, but in 2004, I photographed the graves of a few Michigan natives for inclusion in a book of rock and roll gravesites. I visited the graves of Fred "Sonic" Smith and Rob Tyner from the MC5, Florence Ballard of the Supremes, David Ruffin and Paul Williams of the Temptations among others. All of the graves I visited were surprisingly modest and well cared for. Jackie Wilson's grave is not Jim Morrison's grave and that is as it should be.

Fred "Sonic" Smith's marker is a stone from a mountain in Scotland where he and his wife Patti Smith used to hike.

The Temptations' Paul Williams' gravesite. He died in 1973. I took this photo in November of 2004, more than 30 years after his suicide, and his grave had fresh lipstick prints.

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