Colleen was a girl I met in the third grade. She lived across the street from my grade school. And when she didn’t feel like attending she walked across the street through the school building and out the other door to return home without being seen by her mother. Yes, that is my kind of humor. This many years later she remains a good sport. Imagine during our early conversation she said to me, “I like beer.” Well, “I like pretzels.” It’s all relative I guess. Beer and pretzels go – right? A year ago I met her again.
Yes. I did this in Photoshop. I’m lazy. I just kept the focal length the same and we each shot a frame standing in the same spot. Paste and clone. It’s not as close as a selfie but it works.
There are classic hot dog stands in Maine. Bob Draper and Kevin Frary introduced me to Wasse’s in Rockland. They have a couple more stores now. And the market carries hot dogs in a brilliant unnaturally red casing that you know is bad for you. Here is a lesser know institution in Boothbay. The name is self-evident. It looks like a one-man operation. Lots of folks come around. Even on this cold chill September day, there were folks braving a cool breeze and threatening rain. Business is enough to support a souvenir shop next door. Or is it the souvenir shop that brings people by? There is a menu with lots of other stuff. But why would you not order a dog?
Today it’s about the story of some other dear friends. I’d say ‘old friends’ but you might take it the wrong way. It was a celebration at their place and I didn’t get a single focused shot. Light was great but the digital camera failed me. And I didn’t look at the screen. The good news is… no wrinkles, anywhere. Fuzzy is okay, I can make-up the details myself. Sometimes it’s possible you don’t want to remember all the details. We’ve been friends since the kids were in preschool. That’s a lot of years ago.
The photo was taken in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on a lake in the fall. It was an early morning with a still wind. The reflection is self-explanatory except that it’s turned on its side. No, no Photoshop. It actually was the real deal. You don’t get this too often. But the story is of four couples, friends for many years (too many to say here) who would gather periodically to hangout and do whatever. In this case it was getting on a pontoon boat for a little early morning cruise. Sorry, if you don’t look your best early in the morning before coffee and tea. The guys were cooking breakfast.
Just like those buddy movies, David and Michael remain best friends to this day. They met in grammar school and have stayed steadfast ever since. This was one of the autumn trips we took to Bear Mountain. They were just a couple of buddies having a quiet walk in the woods. To complete the circle, David called me this past autumn for directions to the lake. He and Mike, with Sarah and Josh, were planning to hike in the autumn around the lake again. It’s pretty special to have that memory carrying forward.
You all know that I am not Muslim. It’s Ramadan and I was invited to an iftar dinner. I live in a compound of physicians and so it was a group of ‘docs’ who got together. I am also not conversant in Arabic. During the course of conversation everyone was laughing. One internist’s husband had a first name – Jihad. He was I guess 30 to 40 years old. At the time he was born it was not an inflammatory name. Other cultures name their children Jesus, Angel, or Neveah (heaven spelled backwards).
Definition of JIHAD
1 : a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; also
: a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline
2 : a crusade for a principle or belief
But the laughter was over a story of Jihad being stopped at airport security. It turns out that he (Jihad) works for the Bin Laden group. Really! So anytime he travels he’s marked as “Jihad” who works for “Bin Laden.” And his wife added he was once asked by a customs official if, …”he’d named his son Osama?” There is a Bin Laden Hospital nearby to where I live. And it is a popular name – Osama.
I guess there are worse things to be named. And there are some things you just can’t make up.
I made this shot back in December when Farid and I took his kids to the Red Bull Flutag event in Jeddah. His brother had special passes and we were in the VIP section. It meant no crowding. And the kids got a hat. I’ve done some group shots of Farid and the kids. I recently loaded them on a CD and he took them with him when he visited the family in Lebanon. When he returned he had this shot on his iPhone and told me that everyone in the family was making prints and framing the shot. I made this shot without any special effort. It’s just the photo sense that I have developed with experience. I’m glad that I did not have pressure to produce a money shot. Anyway it’s flattering to know that someone is appreciative of your work. This photo will be in their family forever, my gift as a friend.
I took Farid. He’s never been. And in the Sands Hotel, there’s a franchise – cash only. I guided him to the hibachi and we picked streak. The chef came out for his knife and spatula routine. The difference is that they have heavy plexiglass that hangs down to within six inches. Protection! I guess he won’t be flipping any shrimp into the waiting mouth of the diners. After the cooking, the plexiglass rises. It’s another mystery to me. Farid can’t tell me, he’s never been here.
That would be him there on the left. Faisel [exercise group] is in the middle. He was invited along to the banquet though I’m not sure of his relation to the Spine Summit. And the US Ambassador was also invited, accepted, but did not attend. I still don’t get how things work. So faculty and friends and many people I met for the first time gathered here. A good time was had by all. We got a tour of the museum, ate skewered whole roast lamb, and watched local musicians play and sing. No belly dancing…too bad.
This is for Susan. She’s the sentimental archivist among us. It’s a nostalgic last group photo of five families who used to summer on Lake Champlain at the Tyler place. For my family it was the last summer we went. The others had stopped already. It’s amazing how one image gives you so many memories. Four couples have remained pretty close until recent years. It’s too bad that that has changed as well.