william christenberry kodachromes

So much for my mental break....
I'm back,
I guess I never really left,
although it was starting to feel like I would have to.
So here I am,
we'll see how long I can stay....

I grew up in the 
Deep South,
born in the 
Big City,
raised in the oldest permanent
settlement in the United States,
Pensacola, Florida.
I mention this because a sense of place and history
have always been with me since I left there
and moved on to other really big cities,
such as London, Chicago, Miami and now
New York.

These William Christenberry images
haunt me in that they remind me of my childhood.
They make me feel young,
they make me feel like I belong somewhere.

I was born in 1965,
so this is exactly what it looked like to me growing up.
I'm not going to get into politics here,
but as you can imagine I grew up in a very
liberal, open minded household.
This was at odds with the
prevailing sentiments of the time,
and place,
but I liked that, the tension
of being different. 
Believe what you will, but
Southerners are open and honest,
and speak their minds.
Maybe that is why we get such 
a bad rap for being racists.
The whole world is racist.
Drive 15 minutes past the 
George Washington Bridge
here in NYC
and you will be surrounded
by rednecks, hillbillies and bigots.
Don't believe me?
Try it.

Religion was never a real part of my life.
It was in my father's,
and I'm pretty sure why it wasn't in mine.
I was christened in the Episcopal Church,
but I could count the number of times 
I have been in church since that day on
my fingers and toes.

Speaking of my father,
he grew up in a house in Vernon, Florida
(If you have never seen Errol Morris's
on Vernon, it is a must.)
not much different than this one.
Not run down like this one,
but the same architectural style,

Did this very specific landscape influence 
and/or shape my aesthetic?
I feel like it did,
at least in the same way it shaped 
Mr. Christenberry's.
I could have (and have!) taken all these shots before,
I say that not as I could have done what he did as well
 and as beautifully 
as he has done it, 
I say that in that I can feel in each one of these shots,
that I could have taken them.
I don't feel that way about many photographers,
and it is not just the familiar landscape,
it is more,
it is the feeling they invoke in me....

I remember seeing signs like this and being 
fascinated by them.
I wanted to take them, steal them, possess them,
but I wasn't sure why.
They had no value...
(Or at least I thought until I moved to New York 
and walked through one of the folk art shows....)
So what was it?
The voice? The passion? The simplicity?
The honesty?

Everything about these images
ring true to me.
But that is nothing special,
wherever, whenever you grew up,
if you are shown pictures from that place and time,
especially when you reach a certain age,
you will feel these same feelings.
These photos are special,
don't get me wrong,
but they are especially special to me,
because they give me that feeling,
whatever that feeling is.

"Child's Grave with Lamb"
Hale County, Alabama

Disco people rock
Yes they do.

I'm starting to run out of things to say,
not that I started this post trying to say something.
I actually was going to say, it was my plan to say,
that I wasn't going to say much of anything for a while, 
and that I was just gonna post pictures and videos and
keep the jokes and snide, sarcastic remarks to myself.
But here I am, saying more than I have ever said.

This yard is not dirt because they had no grass,
it is dirt because they swept it.
My dad would always point out a
when we would drive past one.
That fascinated me since in the neighborhood
I grew up in people
were obsessed with watering, fertilizing, and mowing
their yards.
Also notice how the trunks of the trees are painted white.
My memory is that they were usually only painted 2-3 feet up the
but these go way up.
Some say they were painted to keep away pests:
there are all sorts of theories,
but I feel they were painted for decoration.
It may have started somewhere for pest deterrence,
but I am pretty sure it was just to look pretty.

Matt O, the top picture is for you, 
(for obvious reasons)
and Matt B,
the bottom image is for you.
The designer and the DJ,
together again for a nite, a moment... eternity?

This last photograph is for you Jessica.
Because you, 
better than anyone else I know, 
can see the beauty
in decay,
and have an optimism for life that
doesn't see a rotting building,
but a beautiful and magical
Thank-you for that.

More here


  1. Beautiful words, interesting stories.
    (one could say we had a swept yard for many years during my childhood, but the funny thing was that I actually had a large sandbox with wood frame to play in on that yard, this came to mind while reading)

    1965, good people born that year(just celebrated one)!

    Keep saying things! And thanks for beeing back, even if it is only for a short while.

  2. Lovely post. I'm not sure what's going on for you, but I'm rooting for you & sending good vibes your way.

  3. Great post. Enjoyed every word and picture. Thanks!

  4. p..: i asked wendy the gardener about the white trunks:


    its easy - they paint them because of very early sunny days in the year.. the sunlight would warm up the dark bark too early ..the tree would think: hey its spring!
    i am in love !..and sets in pumping up all the juices..
    and.. in an instant a snowstorm ,frosty weather would set in and freeze the horny juices, the tree would be seriously harmed.

    p.- please cut back your sweet nostalgia a bit,and.. not evryone in this world is a racist.
    get in your tub and let your girlfriend paint you up to the waist in white sugary paint with a big wide and soft brush.
    stay painted for 10 minutes and then rinse it of and fall in love.

    '75 i made a tour through the u.s.(20.000 miles) and made about 1000 fotos of the vernacular in b/w (not red/neck)with the viennese eye.
    these i want to show you when you come to visit in may.

  5. HI
    Lovely post. reminded me of my yearning for the endless waterless drive through the Karoo to the cape.

    I hope everything starts to feel just right, really soon. Also hope you will take a break if you need to, but you would be so so missed if we hear less from you. Your "wanna sell that chair" had me chucking for days. Long ago you gave your potted house plants botanical names wish I could find that post. I am honestly thinking of printing your blog out and binding it. You just bring so much to the table and I hope you know it is not taken for granted.

  6. Findingfabulous, Thanks so much, that really means a lot to me... Also, I never thanked you for the amazing X-mas card. Now that was funny!

  7. Carl, thanks for the advice. I could use some good advice these days... I will also take you up on that private showing in May!!!

  8. p. looking forward to your visit.. you'll love it.

  9. You are simply amazing! So enamored with this blog, I check it regularly & it's great to see you back! :)