This project was done back in 2007 and was originally called Punched By A Ghost. I never shared it with anyone outside of my closest friends. SMH did not mean anything back in 2007, at least not that I was aware. Now the project has an updated title for its public debut in 2018. I like to think about how long after I’m gone these images will remain on the internet for someone to haplessly come upon. I consider it a virtual time capsule of an artist’s insanity. I realize from a technical perspective these images are considered novice at best, but they are no less enjoyable to view. I would love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment.
This project is dedicated to my mother Juleeva, who has been making me SMH for as long as I can remember.
Camera: Panasonic DMC-LZ6 with Leica lens
Focal Length: 13 mm
“Ross! Ross dear, come get your soup!” came the demure, timid voice of a twenty year old girl from the kitchen. It was Ross’s newest nanny, Miss Emily, and her efforts were in vain. Even if her frail voice wouldn’t be lost in the mammoth expanse of the Bronski residence, which it surely would have between the kitchen and the boy’s personal playroom down the hall, he was only there physically anyway.
Ross’s body may have been sitting on the floor in the middle of the room’s sprawling burgundy plush Berber carpet, but his mind was swimming deep beneath the ocean waves in a virtual reality induced world known as Inky Shadows, designed for kids. His VR helmet looked too heavy for his 4 year old head, and as he bobbed it from side to side to the music it looked like he was struggling to hold it upright.
Where does a baby octopus play
Where no sun or moon will light the way
Come on down and be the who knows
What lies below in Inky Shadows
It was amazing just how much time Ross spent in that virtual world, but it wasn’t entirely surprising. The grey walls and cavernous expanse of his mother Stella’s luxury condo with its disgustingly expensive, cold and sterile decor simply couldn’t compare to the lush colors and cozy nooks of Inky Shadows. Add to that a collection of cute creatures that sing songs and go on adventures and you’ve got the ultimate escape for a lonely boy seeking a connection. And that was certainly Ross.
It was 2104 and four years into parenting, Stella had had about a week’s worth of contact with her son in the last three months. On paper she was an excellent parent. Ross’s every need was swiftly met, just not necessarily directly by her. It wasn’t intentional, but ultimately Stella had only one love in life: her career. She didn’t hate staying home with him for the first year of his life, but the glow of new motherhood soon gave way to the gnawing ambition to get back in the office. It was a great time to be in business if you were in a position of influence, after all. The One World Government became a stronger conglomerate every year, and only those businesses who were savvy enough to take early advantage of lucrative contracts would survive. Stella was not about to be left out in the cold. To be fair, all of her efforts at work were with Ross’s best interests in mind, but none of that mattered down in Inky Shadows.
Heels clacked loudly down the hall as the dutiful nanny brought Ross his lunch of Lil’ Ninja soup made with tiny pasta throwing stars shrouded in darkness by a bean curd miso broth. After she brought him back from his underwater paradise to join her on earth, she knelt next to him and talked while he ate. Emily was the third in what was to be a long list of nannies, and the most talkative thus far. The thing was, she had such a timid voice it was easy to tune her out when she went on a ramble. She was a slight girl with meek, mousy features. Everything about her was as thin as her voice.
After going on for about ten minutes straight about everything from the guy she was dating to the gift she bought her dad for his birthday to OMG you’ll never believe what happened to her sister… there was a momentary lull. Ross looked up at her as though she hadn’t said a word and asked “Miss Emily, are you my friend?” It was the first time Ross ever asked someone this question, but far from the last. In fact, years later he would be faced with this very question in much more dire circumstances. He would find himself in situations where his very life hinged on the answer. But today that answer would come easy. Emily flashed a toothy smile and no sooner than saying “of course” was off on another bout of constant talking.
For his part, Ross’s father Donald was around when he could be. For the first few years of Ross’s life he and Stella’s relationship was at its peak. They saw each other whenever they could escape from work, and the coming of a child reinvigorated their passion in the bedroom. Stella had even abandoned her side pieces for him. For the time being she was content to give herself to Donald alone, helping to cement the belief in her mind that he was actually Ross’s father. This assuaged any residual guilt she would have had for knowing it was possible he was not. That was a dark secret to be kept to herself for many years.
It was a chilly overcast autumn morning outside of Estelle “Stella” Bronski’s high-rise luxury condo in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Inside, encapsulated behind her impenetrable floor to ceiling windows from the 38th floor she peered down at the muted, bustling metropolis far beneath her. As an elite, privileged and consequently isolated young woman, it was a visual metaphor for how she was accustomed to viewing the world. Any other morning she would be too busy getting ready for work at her family’s financial firm to stand there gazing out the window. But this was not just any other morning. At 25 years young, having recently obtained her Master’s in Finance and gunning to forge a bold and impressive career, Stella Bronski discovered about twenty minutes ago that she is going to have a child. Stella will not be in the office today.
The year was 2099, but no one was partying like when it was 1999. The world was still in the final throes of the Soft World War, or World War 2.5, as some called it. It was almost as though no one wanted to admit out loud we had brought ourselves to the brink of annihilation a third time. To Stella, as an elite, the war’s personal impact was no more than a flashing news clip or a rise or dip in a stock price. Still, she wondered what would become of all the chaos and how it would shape her child’s world. She made a promise to herself that morning to do everything in her power to ensure her baby had every advantage possible in life as she had.
Despite the irreplaceable loss of her parents to a tragic accident when she was a teen, Stella inherited enough wealth that she never needed to work. Nonetheless, her fierce determination to carve out her mark in the world of finance saw her through school with honors. Her extended family’s firm remained in tact, as her father had only been part owner. They loved her and through her uncles she always had a place to work and grow her skills.
Still gazing listlessly out the window. Still in shock. Excited? Scared. Excited and scared. In that order? Stella takes a deep breath and tries to reconcile with the morning’s news. “Ok, first things first,” she says aloud. “Who’s the father?” Stella’s approach to sexual activity was not as methodical as her book keeping. She wasn’t unusually slutty, but she was a healthy, attractive, young blonde known to have a little indiscretion now and then while maintaining a steady.
Her steady’s name was Donald and he was a professor at her alma mater, Syracuse University. “It’s Donald, right? Gotta be Donald.” Donald was ten years older, had never been married and had no children. They had been seeing each other for over a year. He had given her the impression he was in for the long haul. She was hesitant though, being younger and suffering from FOMO about settling down, despite loving him as she did. So they maintained a classic holding pattern made easier by the amount of time they both spent working on their careers. She loved the fact that he called her more often than she called him.
Nine months later, on July 12th, 2100, at 5:55 pm, Ross Bronski was born. Stella was still unmarried, but Donald was by her side. Together the new parents marveled at what was to be their future. Little did they know then, they were staring at the future spaceman of the world.
Being a Bronski had major advantages of course, but Ross’s meticulously crafted upbringing was clearly the result of Stella’s unwavering fortitude. Choosing to remain independent, she declined Donald’s repeated offers of cohabitation. Although there was never a blood test, they viewed Donald as Ross’s biological father. But he was always “Stella’s child,” which explains why Ross kept his mother’s last name. They never discussed legal custody, just casually shared in the responsibilities of parenthood. Donald’s role in Ross’s early years was somewhat tertiary to Stella’s, who was intensely involved in every aspect of his childhood. This while aggressively ascending through the ranks of her family’s firm and building a powerful portfolio of business bravado. She was a rising star in the Bronski empire of enterprise.
Donald was no slouch, himself. While his net worth was only a tiny fraction of the Bronskis’ billions, he was a brilliant and respected mechanical engineer who wrote books and designed machines used in mass production. This in addition to his professorship at Syracuse. His life ambition, however, was to design a rocket engine that would recycle fuel. Some said it couldn’t be done (more to tell later about this). Donald is an interesting character, super intelligent and very laid back, quiet. He was a thinker, not a fighter. His mellow ways played excellent counterpoint to Stella’s more Type A personality. Even when he was explaining or handling something extremely precise, he had a super casual way about him that was Bill Murray-like, and quite funny at times.
So who is this Spaceman Ross, anyway? Well, to tell you that story in all its sordid detail, first we have to go forward in time about 100-200 years, and explain the dark but not entirely hopeless future into which Ross was born. Let’s do that now.
In the early part of the 2100’s the world had managed to somehow survive what was known as a Soft World War. Despite massive loss of life and property on localized battlefronts all over the planet, miraculously no major military campaign launched any nuclear attacks. There were many close calls, but in the end something quite astonishing resulted. By 2120, for the first time in human history, the wealthy and powerful elite class of every nation consolidated their power over the rest of us commoners. They must have realized they could make more money in peacetime if they managed us well. For the other 98% of human beings not in the ruling class this meant if you had a child he or she would never have to go to war, but they were never going to be super rich either.
It started with cease-fire agreements that read like sales pitches. It went on to multi-national treaties that were more like corporate mergers. It took several years to convince the most die hard boots-on-the-ground fighters to lay down arms in the name of good business for their leaders. After all, many of them fought for things like national pride and hatred of their enemy rather than business opportunities for the rich. Finally, the guns fell silent on the last of the zealots and dissenters. From then on if anyone tried to rise up against the status quo, they were swiftly dealt with in what were called “police actions” but were often executed by the military.
The newly formed One World Government was basically a huge international corporate conglomerate that owned every single bank and military force on earth. They centralized world currency and did away with all paper and coin. The rich were now totally and completely at the helm of humanity’s future, and they knew war was not our only danger as a species.
The world was not in the best shape environmentally by that time. Humans had done a number on it and in retrospect, years of past political debates over how to stem the tide of humans’ unparalleled destruction didn’t amount to very much in the face of our consequences. But the rich, being what they were, took a look around and said well the air quality is poor, but there’s air, people can still breathe. Then they said the water quality isn’t great, but there’s still plenty of water. But when they looked at energy resources, for powering everything from phones to aircraft carriers, they started to get very nervous. A big part of the problem was waste. They needed an energy source that could provide power while using very little resources to produce and was either reusable or left little or no environmental footprint. Scientists from around the world began to try developing such a fuel, but it was a slow and laborious process.
Then someone in the One World Government proposed something quite bizarre. I don’t remember his name, but he openly recommended that rather than limiting our search to earth for our solution, we should venture out into the universe and see what we can find that may be of use. At first the notion was risible, of course. His idea was thrown around at parties in some wealthy circles for a few months until eventually the elites realized the idea was actually gaining traction. To be sure, serious consideration of a space voyage to find a viable earth fuel was lofty at best and at worst a clear sign of the world’s desperation. Ultimately, the rich knew a multi-national space program would give the common people something to rally around together – an Olympic-magnitude human endeavor to save the species. They also knew there’s always money to be made in any human endeavor.
I was particularly pleased with this, it was taken late last night. Let me know what you think.
In some neighborhoods the people are in such close contact with each other they all gather at one’s house to watch football games, and barbecues or poker nights are always open invitation affairs. Still in other places, neighbors routinely go about their separate lives for years without uttering a word to each other, aside from the occasional hello.
I happen to live in one of the latter places, so when I received mail for my new neighbor, I couldn’t resist the urge to Google her name and see what came up. I know, sounds creepy, right? Well, I felt so too for a second, but then I reminded myself that I live in the same house as this person, she being just downstairs from my apartment. We are the only tenants in the split home, and I felt justified in wanting to know if there was any chance she would be cooking meth or having occult meetings down there. I realize I could have just knocked on her door and said “hi, I’m the guy who lives downstairs who you’ve made no effort to say hello to for months. Can I get your resume and references so I know you’re not a serial killer?” I decided Google was easier.
Aaaanyway… I didn’t find out anything about her but what I did find was a photographer by the name of Jean Geiser (1848-1923). Originally from Switzerland, Geiser moved to Algeria in the 1850’s with his parents. He inherited his passion for photography from his mother, who ran a portrait studio with a partner in Algiers. He went on to open his own atelier after his father passed away and his mother returned to Switzerland. In the years that followed, he became the most famous of erotic nude photographers, especially in the postcard format which was becoming all the rage in the late 1800’s.
Just take a look at some of these beautiful vintage photographs from such exotic places as Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria:
So what did you think? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below. Boudior photography has been around about as long as the camera, and some of the newer stuff you can find out there is nice. But there’s something especially exciting to me in discovering rare vintage photos, long forgotten in a world of media over-saturation. The very idea of travelling to a distant exotic land long ago and capturing natural beauty in any form is intoxicating, but I can’t think of any natural beauty more alluring than the female form.
It’s funny to think about how for the time these images were considered pornographic, especially when you consider the mass amount of graphic porn available at the click of a mouse today. It’s unfortunate how the deluge of smut pedaling in our society today has desensitized people to the high art of erotic photography. It has become devalued and unappreciated in a world looking for the next “2 Girls One Cup” extreme video. I don’t know (or care) if you enjoy porn, but could you imagine living in an era when maybe 3-4 of these postcards were your entire porn collection?
If you would like to know more about this featured photographer and his contemporaries, I found Helmut-Schmidt to be a great resource.
Thoughts? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you. If you happen to know of any other photographers to check out please let me know!
Lost Angel is not a rock band (that I know of) but a rock wall. It’s not just any rock wall though, it is the single biggest draw for climbers in Dream Canyon, Boulder, Colorado. Stunningly beautiful and impossibly challenging, it’s easy to see the attraction.
The video below follows climber Heather Weidner on her epic journey sending the Lost Angel by what is known as the China Doll route, an extremely challenging route only achieved by a select few climbers. Did I mention she is the first woman to do so? As if that wasn’t a cool enough reason to watch, the vignette artfully parallels her obsession for climbing to her relationship with her husband and climbing partner, Chris.
It is beautiful to see someone who has found their own personal China Doll route to a successful marriage and climbing career. Have you found yours? What are you really passionate about doing? Do you have a special someone who shares that passion with you? Leave a comment and let me know. The support of a loved one can boost your confidence, inspire and motivate you to reach new heights in whatever you pursue.
If you haven’t found your true passion let alone your China Doll route yet, all you can do is keep putting yourself out there and trying as many things as possible to see what moves you to pursue it further. This will help surround yourself with others who, like you, are just looking for their China Doll routes in life.
Even if you end up meeting someone who doesn’t share your passion for Afghani Buzkashi matches, no worries, but try to find a partner who has passions of their own.
On that note, remember never to be too critical of another’s interests. A lady friend of mine met a guy who was really into disc golf. I mean, really really into it. He was so much into it she complained to me awhile back that it seemed to be all he talked about. Flash forward to two years later, they are now a loving couple and guess what? She’s really into disc golf! More than that, she went from barely being able to throw a disc to joining tournaments and making a bunch of new friends. It just makes sense – that birds of a feather thing, but sometimes you just need some time to grow into your feathers.
Spaceman Ross is lacking passion in his life. Sure, as a spaceman there’s a little sense of adventure striking out into the unknown, but it has become a bit of a grind. When isolated in his shuttle, sealed off from humanity on a mission, he fantasizes about what he would be doing on earth if he were home. More than that, he wonders if he will ever fall in love. His job is like a prison, and each time he returns to earth he feels like he’s re-entering society, having been locked away for such long periods. Plus it’s hard to chat with people about sports, current events or popular tv shows when your shuttle receives transmissions months after they’ve aired on earth. Not all of his communication is so slow, he can text message about as quickly as we can. Entertainment transmissions are not deemed a priority by the One World Government Space Program and require much more data processing time.
The Grateful Dead – China Doll This song is not entirely related to the post other than in name and the fact that it is a beautiful tune.
Whether you are locked into the hermetically sealed confines of a spaceship out in the cosmos or just stuck in an airport here on earth, the holiday season may be a lonely time for you. Often it is our jobs that keep us from our loved ones. Maybe it’s a recent breakup or the stress of dealing with those pesky family members that makes this time of year not so merry. What ever is going on in your life right now, just remember to take a deep breath and remind yourself of two very important things.
First, all your life circumstances that existed before the holidays will still be there afterwards. All the hype, good and bad, that you may feel around this time of year is just you getting inside your head. So just let it go. They’re just a few days on a calendar, maybe a few awkward gatherings, you can get through it. You got this.
That brings us to thing number two: you and only you control your shuttle. If you feel yourself getting super stressed out because you couldn’t buy that certain gift or didn’t make it to your neighbor’s after-party, just remember they are only failures if you choose to view them as such. Trendy gifts or social gatherings are not things that should be causing you stress anyway. If those are some of the more stressful things about your life I’d say you’re doing just fine. Ross will be lucky if he gets a good enough signal from earth to even have decent WiFi this holiday season. So, things could be worse.
If things are seriously worse for you, like you just lost a loved one as someone I know has, please remember that unlike Ross, you are not locked in a hermetically sealed shuttle and you have an entire world of other humans around. So find one, even if it’s a stranger, and don’t isolate yourself. Whatever your situation, my heart goes out to you.
Even if one person is having an amazing holiday this year, next year they may not be so lucky. If you are one of the lucky ones this year, keep an eye out for the lonely Spacemen out there. Maybe invite that dude at the office who can’t fly home for the holidays to your family shindig. Who knows, it might make the whole event more enjoyable. More than that, in the most extreme case you might be saving a life. Sorry, that was dark. The point is, it can be lonely here on earth sometimes, but unlike space it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some One World Government approved methods of staying strong this holiday season:
Volunteer. Nothing can get you in the holiday spirit more than giving of your time and expertise to those in need. Go to https://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find opportunities to get your mind off things while helping others.
Exercise. No better time than the present to start getting in shape for your next interstellar adventure! Gyms are open all the time, and usually there’s plenty of room since most people slack off this time of year. So while others are getting fat off empty carb-laden cookies and candy, you can be getting a jump on that New Year’s resolution.
Make. With the internet being what is today, you can find all the tools and instructions you need to build damn near anything. Maybe it would be the perfect unique gift. Maybe it’s for yourself. Find something you’re interested in and even if you don’t have any experience just give it a go. Why not? Spaceman Ross once built a birdhouse that was so shitty I literally watched a bird starve to death next to it. It’s not about the finished product, it’s about the experience.
Reconnect. Remember back when you used to go to such and such place with what’s his face? Yeah, those were the days. Hey, I wonder how what’s his face is doing, man I should give that guy a call. You get the picture here. Sometimes people have a fear of reaching out to someone they haven’t spoken to in a while even when there is no bad blood there. Get over that. Chances are, the person you’re thinking of has thought about you too and would love to hear from you. You could suddenly have plans where there were no plans before.
Adopt. Sadly, many domestic animals without loving homes will not be having a joyous holiday season either. Why not bring two lonely souls together by adopting a dog or cat? Be advised, this is not at all a good idea if you are looking for a temporary pick-me-up for the holiday season. Adoption should only be considered if you are really interested in becoming a permanent pet parent. Make sure you have the means to provide for it and do your homework beforehand, of course. You may also be interested in offering your services as a pet sitter or dog walker. Many people travel for the holidays and this might be a more suitable option for you.
Hike. If the holidays aren’t your thing or this year you just want (or need) to focus on yourself and get your head together, hiking/camping can be the perfect alternative. There are few things more cathartic and enlightening than being alone in nature. It’s good exercise, and if you hike the right area you might get a glimpse of rare wildlife. Don’t forget your phone, I mean, camera.
If all else fails please don’t hesitate to fritter and waste those lonely hours this holiday season reading and commenting on this blog.