Tuesday, June 23, 2020

My Clown Days

When I was young, my family was so poor they hired me out as a clown for parties.

Here I am at age four, heading off to work. The year was 1961.

Seriously, it was Halloween. I'm swinging a candy bag and there are paper-decorations in our house's front window. My clown-costume was hand-made by my mother.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Who says you have to go out to eat well?

My favorite appetizer, which I made and consumed tonight, is Smoked Salmon Caviar (from the terrific Salmon Sisters company) with capers and sour cream on Carr's crackers. It's a medley of intense flavors coming together in an orgasm of sensory delight.


Monday, June 15, 2020

My First Car

Do you remember your first car? I do. It was a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. A used VW Bug. Given to me when I got my driver's license at age 17 in 1974. I was a high school junior.

I loved that car and learned how to drive on it. It had a stick-shift (manual transmission) that taught me how to shift gears -- later useful for motorcycle-riding since almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions.

If you don't already know, I have a playful streak. Nobody could confuse an anemic VW Bug with a powerful race-car so I thought it'd be funny to pretend my Bug was a race-car. Toward that end, I added racing stripes, took off the exhaust pipes (making it loud), mounted a race-car steering wheel, and hand-stapled WHITE SHAG CARPETING to the interior sides and ceiling. Best of all, I installed a new horn that made the sound of a moo-ing cow. MOOO!! Hey, I was in high school.

To memorialize these modifications, I photographed the car -- with a fish-eye lens. I never do anything "normal." Here are some of those pictures which I just had printed from old negatives found in my basement. I plan to display these photos, along with the car's original ceramic gear-shift knob, in my future museum.

What was your first car?

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Old Film Cameras

Uh-oh... I have a new obsession -- old film cameras.

After marvelous experiences with my Holga and Brownie Starflex, I leapt at the opportunity to buy three old cameras this week in a thrift-store. They were ridiculously cheap which is a major attraction. Hobbies are fun when they don't cost much money.

I got an Imperial Mark XII (made in the 1960s), Brownie Starmite II (same era) and a much older Foth Derby (from the 1930s). All look terrific. The Imperial has super-cool retro styling from the Sixties and it's made from real Bakelite. The Starmite, to keep its cost down, was manufactured from cheap plastic. The Foth is very, very heavy metal; it feels like a barbell.

I'm learning the history of these cameras and how to use them. Some take 120-roll film which I have since it's what my Starflex uses. Some take 620 film which sadly isn't made anymore. The solution for that are workarounds where you load different sized film and make adjustments.

The Imperial and Brownies embody mid-century American life -- newly-ubiquitous use of plastic, hip designs, and emphasis on light weight and convenience. In deep contrast, Foth Derby reflects the ethos of Germany in 1930 -- primitive materials (steel and leather) and complicated analog design. It makes you feel like you're holding the Weimar Republic in your hands.

I'll give these beauties a go and show you photos later. Even if the cameras no longer work, they are tangible pieces of history that make great home decorations.

Saturday, June 13, 2020


Sharp knives are like motorcycles -- useful tools but inherently dangerous. They require full, constant attention.

My attention slipped this morning while making croutons, yielding a deep bloody cut. It'll be alright -- and taught me greater respect for danger. Which is particularly timely since I plan to ride my sportbike this afternoon at a spirited pace on challenging twisty roads. On the bright side, thank goodness it wasn't my throttle-hand!

Have fun today engaging in your dangerous hobbies.  :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2020


Nice weather has arrived. I rode to a park on a beach today which was mobbed with crowds of eager beach-goers, most of whom were not social distancing. People seem to think the virus is over. I hope that mistaken belief doesn't cause more illness.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Seventies Fashion

When I was young, I was enamored by the clothes adult women wore. They entranced me. One example is a dress chosen then by hip females, like my high school English teacher. Wandering through a thrift-store last Winter, I saw that exact dress on display. And it was cheap.

I snapped the dress up. I had to wear it even though it's too short. My body doesn't match the shape most women's clothes are designed for: I'm taller than the average woman so the dress is short. But... I want to wear it!

So here it is. Ignore the shortness and simply savor the style, as I'm doing.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


I had an epiphany a few years back when I saw a European public service announcement. It was broadcast there on TV; I saw it on YouTube. The video depicted a trans-woman cowering in a bathroom stall as a group of confident, attractive cis-women chat at the sink. The trans-woman is afraid to leave the stall for fear she won't pass judgment from the cis-women. The video ends with a written message: "There's no wrong way to be a woman."

Wow. Such a powerful message for me and those like me.

Cis-gender women and transgender women are both female, but our life experiences differ radically. Cis-women take their gender for granted; being female to them is like breathing air, normal and unquestioned. In sharp contrast, trans-women worry deeply about "proving" our stated gender. We often feel like we have to be hyper-feminine and stereotypical in our presentation to establish a right to female-hood. We're anxious about being accused of being insufficiently feminine and, thus, not genuinely female. But, as you certainly know, all women are women no matter how feminine or unfeminine they are. A masculine woman is still a woman and every person has the right to choose where they exist on the spectrum of masculinity/femininity.

Having the freedom to make that choice without having your gender-identity challenged is vital. One can't live in fear of the judgment of others. And, honestly, our gender is what it is, independent of the opinions of strangers. Their view is based solely on the superficial criteria of physical appearance.

A few days ago The New York Times published an op-ed written by a woman who transitioned twenty years ago. She wrote some things that resonated with me. Like this...

"When I began transitioning, I perceived the reality of womanhood only from outside and felt the need to embody an idealized femininity to feel like a woman among women. But over time, I’ve come to realize that every woman — whether transgender or cisgender — evolves a unique perception of herself, one that need not conform to any specific model of what a woman should be. Whether I grow my hair or cut it short, wear makeup every day or none at all, it would be an expression of the specific woman I am at that point in time. Making those judgments for myself is at the core of why I transitioned to be a woman in the first place: to express my gender how I want to, regardless of society’s expectations."

Looking into a mirror, she makes the point with her final line -- "I was a woman no matter how I looked or acted, because as long as gender matters to the world, I will always be a woman to myself."

Yup. And when it comes to appearing in public, "there's no wrong way to be a woman."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Back At Last

I used to post outfit pics every week or so. You may have noticed the absence of any since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. That hasn't been a coincidence.

There are several reasons, the primary being I haven't felt like doing them. Life suddenly seems too serious, too dangerous. I couldn't get in the mood for a photoshoot. These efforts take a lot of work and I wasn't up to the labor.

This week I finally felt differently. I broke out my camera and shot a new outfit. The impetus for the outfit are the pants which I found for $19 in a supermarket, of all places. There was a rack hidden in a corner that nobody was paying attention to. I love the bold graphic and the low price.

My goal is to have fun. To cast off the mental weight of the virus and just have fun. What are you doing to handle the pandemic?