Cuz people are cool #shoes #hipsters #footfashion
recently i had the privilege to work with the RIESTER agency shooting a new campaign for MidFirst Bank. the theme was relationship banking, and our images illustrated that by including a custom sculpture of the bank’s logo in the images with the models, as if posing with a trusted friend. the campaign will feature 12 images total, of 3 models in various arrangements. we shot the entire project in one day with a great crew and great support from MidFirst Bank. while the message is relatively straightforward, it is amazing to see everything that goes into the production of commercial images, even those that seem simple. hopefully you can see some of that in this brief video. enjoy!
here is a brief update on some recent activity… fashion shoots, commercial athletic shoot, portraits, and beauty work. been a busy month. today i want to chat about the fashion stuff. it was a shoot i have been wanting to do forever, so i was really glad to finally have the opportunity to shoot it. and i could not have a had a better group of people getting it done. styling was done by my longtime friend zoe hennessey. zoe recently transplanted to LA after a 9 year stint styling in NYC. she has styled for quite a few actresses, reality shows, and editorial work. make-up was done by the abfab corinna cooke. who is a total milf, and i call her “chestica” for fun. it’s a reference to well… you get it. hair was by katie hardison, and our lovely model was sam diaz out of arizona. she is repped by The Agency Az. she is totally hot and also a total cut-up clown. you should hear her burp.
anywho. our theme was the great southwest, and zoe pulled amazing clothes from LA, as well as phoenix (where we shot). some of the stuff from LA: Chanel, Leyendecker, Maria Francesca Pepe, Tanja Pignatelli, Lillian Crowe. from phoenix we got the total hook up from my friend Misty Guerriero, who owns and operates Vintage by Misty. if you are ever in the area. go there. i recently purchased a track jacket by Lacoste circa 1970. it is like Royal Tenenbaums cool. also from phoenix, american indian artifacts and jewelry from Grey Wolf Gallery. amazing. (thank you joseph). a huge thanks goes out to the wonderful people and horse wranglers from Spur Cross Ranch.
my sick ass jacket from Misty..
this shoot really inspired me to get out and use more natural light. it was just beautiful.. just being out there.. the silence, the animals, it was one of those enchanting places where you can close your eyes and visualize what it looked like 500 years ago with nothing but the mountains and the occasional indian camp. the wind was the same, the landscape, the sun.. just free.
so. some screen shots of raw images out of camera:
zoe tending to her task
sam demonstrating the correct way to rock out as i sang the Team America theme song: America! F$%k Yeah!!
there were horses, tortoises, pigs, dogs, chickens, and of course donkeys.
this is our star, Trigger. and yes, he is related to THEE Trigger, from the Lone Ranger. it was very emotional for sam, she actually almost cried when she got to ride him.
yaaay team. katie blinked.
when we wrapped, there were ACTUAL coyotes howling. so naturally, sam being multi-lingual, she howled back.
and some BTS from zoe..
thank you Grey Wolf and Misty.
kinda jealous of this one. iPhone. that’s it. damn.
PS: the final selects are now posted on my website www.ericcassee.com
when i was a young lad, my dad got a bitchin pair of binoculars one year for Christmas, or his birthday, or fathers day, or he just bought them. i can’t remember exactly. he kept them in his little cupboard with his cameras and a considerable zoom lens. we were not supposed to use them without a certain level of supervision, so for the most part they came out on camping excursions or sightseeing trips. of course, my brothers and i did not always adhere to these guidelines, especially since both my parents worked during the day by the time we were in middle school. so we would break them out occasionally to look across the street and spy on people, or just mess around looking for birds or whatever. we soon discovered that there is not a whole lot you can do with a pair of binoculars without some actual far away stuff to look at. so that ended as quickly as it had started.
one of the things i have always been grateful that my father instilled in me was a very distinct love and respect for nature. when i was very small he would hold me next to the window at night before i went to bed to look at the stars, or try and count them. when we went camping we would do the same. in places like Rocky Mountain National Park, or in the middle of Wyoming somewhere, in those high wide open spaces the sky is black as ink and the stars are so numerous and intense you can see by them. and lying on my back staring into the sky i would feel something i could not explain then, and probably can’t articulate well now either. but it was as if my eyes were opened to the truth. i felt like i was a part of something so vast and great it could not possibly be understood. i would visualize the earth, spinning around, hurtling through space at an impossible speed… then i would imagine looking down on it from above, among billions of other heavenly objects, and suddenly anything that occupied my thoughts, my life, my existence no longer mattered. it just seemed so meaningless to bother with any of the petty human things we fill our lives with every single day.
one night some years later my brothers and i were messing around in the back yard around dusk. chasing lightning bugs as they hovered in the edges of the woods, among the light august fog that would descend before sunset. it was one of those warm humid nights in the summer when the kids are out of school, the air smelled like fresh mowed grass and barbecue, and absolutely nothing could be wrong in the world. as the sun went down and day finally became night, the moon came up- and it was as if the sun had rose again. big, huge, full… like out of a halloween cartoon. it was so large you could almost make out the sea of tranquility and the craters around it.
my dad brought out the binoculars and the zoom lens.
we sat on the porch and took turns looking at the moon. we could see so much detail… it felt like it was within reach. and if not within reach a very short balloon ride would do it. it made me feel small again. i realized that HOLY CRAP THAT IS A PLANET. RIGHT THERE. A FREAKING PLANET ROTATES AROUND OUR PLANET. and we can see it. it is there EVERY day. it rises and sets. it lights our night. it affects our tides, our bodies, our moods, our entire planet. and we forget that… this thing of nature that we take for granted. one of many natural miracles among us. we get back to our lives. summer ends. we go back to school. we grow up and get jobs. we buy things. we become responsible for those things… and so on and so forth. but today as i was pretty much letting my sunday pitter out, my neighbor came banging on my door. “are you watching the eclipse?” no- what eclipse? i didn’t even know it was going on. so i hustled outside to see it. my neighbor had brought over an old x-ray film to view it through (works awesome FYI). and so we took turns, looking up at this amazing natural miracle occurring right before our eyes. i was reminded of those warm summer nights in Virginia looking up at the sky. i went inside and got my zoom lens…
for Christmas, i flew back to the Washington D.C. area to stay with my parents who live in Reston, VA. i love to go back and see my family. it is one thing to talk to them on the phone, but there is a lot more value in some face to face time. for some reason my parents and i have an amazing relationship on the phone, but somehow once i am around for a few days, some of the old family habits creep back in and we revert to talking to each other as if we are back in the early high school years. this is good and bad i suppose. it’s good because my mom cooks gourmet meals for me and reminds me to wear a jacket and stuff like that, but also strange when i do something they may not agree with and the discipline tone comes out. it’s weird. and for god’s sake don’t get us talking politics or religion.
also, my middle brother has kids now, so it’s kind of a necessity to get back home and see them. every time i see them they are different… and bigger. and of course, watching my brother handle his kids is absolutely hilarious to me. you understand, this is the same brother i have grown up with and witnessed performing all sorts of irresponsible activities (most of which i was a part of) and it is awesome to see him all of the sudden be all fatherly and such. it’s kind of like watching evil knievel tell his kid to “slow down… take it easy..”
one of our favorite activities as young little scamps was to take our various toy cars and trucks, stuff them with rags soaked in lighter fluid, and use firecrackers or hairspray to set them ablaze as they rolled down our very steep driveway. there are also episodes involving marble fights, just plain actual fights, bb guns (my fault), the occasional torture of our younger brother, and the accidental destruction of some part of the house. when we were even younger, there was of course: lego wars involving the mutual destruction of each others creations, play wrestling, building forts, cooking toast on the heating registers, cartoons, double stuff oreos, actual wrestling, peeing in the woods, building dams in the creek, exploring construction sites slightly illegally, and the occasional torture of our younger brother.
now everyone is grown up, well physically anyway, and there are responsibilities, jobs, mortgages, significant others (well.. not for me…) you know- reality setting in and the world attempting to crush our souls with the weight of survival. but when we get around each other within those family boundaries, it is pretty funny. we tease our parents about shit they don’t remember doing. we consume alcoholic beverages (which somehow my parents have learned a great deal about) together without having to pretend they don’t effect us in each others presence… and my brothers and i still eventually revert to some form of combat. usually because some smart ass gives us all a weapon of some sort for Christmas, and when we notice that all three of us got a same sized package, we rush to open them and arm ourselves first. past examples have included nerf dart guns, ping pong ball guns, potato guns, water guns, disc guns- it goes on- and once these packages are opened, complete mayhem erupts in the living room to the terror and or delight of those present whom have neglected to take the proper cover. this year, it was not a weapon, but helicopters. yes there were helicopters buzzing about chasing the dog, pissing off my sister in law, and crashing randomly into household objects. fun was had by all. we also had a video game. modern warfare 3. i am relatively video game naive. i haven’t had a gaming device in years and years, and my only experience is playing occasionally at friends houses. but based on that basic experience i thought i would of course demolish my brothers whom are now responsible functioning adults in their 30’s and how in the world would they ever have time to play games intended for cocky ass punk 13 years olds who taunt you mercilessly with expletives you would be shocked to hear from someone in prison.
so yes, we retreated to my youngest brothers apartment and i was summarily slaughtered over and over and over again by my suddenly video game nerd brothers. not cool. i almost had to revert to high school rules and start punching people. it is really frustrating to be asking about controls or how to aim while every 10 seconds someone shoots you in the face with an assault rifle and laughs at you could you lust let me live for one freaking minute you f*#@ing assfaces.
the repeated slaughtering aside, it was a great trip. being in the area it reminded me why i miss my family so much, and also reminded me why i left… i have some painful memories associated with the area, not because of my family- no way- but relating to heartbreak and the sort of mundane existence i see there sometimes. it’s kind of depressing to walk into a bar, or restaurant, or whatever and see the same people doing the same things they were 10 years ago. it’s all the same, except lots of people are REALLY fat and there are new houses and office buildings everywhere. i get restless there, like i am not doing anything, and the whole khaki pants happy hour corporate lifestyle makes me want to drive a car off a cliff. i do realize maybe my life would be easier if i just sort of joined the race- easier for me and those who support me- but somehow i just can’t do it. and i have tried. so being there sort of reinvigorated me to make 2012 a great year. unless of course it is armageddon time. in which case i am also eagerly prepared. but i am back out west, and excited to start new projects, meet new clients, and get this show on the road.
and now, some photos and such. let me preface these first few. these are scans my dad made from his gigantic archive of slides he took when my parents first got together. one thing i have always been wanting is to know who may parents were. and not really the sort of things that either of them could describe, but know them the way in know myself, my brothers, my friends. what they were like as young people.. i guess i can never really know that, but these types of photos help. look how COOL they were. my parents. cool.
check out my mom’s badass cut. it’s funny but that’s kind of how my hair looks now.. hmmm.
this is when they were starting out in newport news VA.
my dad as a pimp. please note the red couch and of course my dads shirt.
my adorable mother in the backyard she loved.
my father and his 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire of which he was immensely proud.
this is me present day wearing one of my dad’s jackets from a 1980’s micheal j fox movie.
and smoking a cigar with my youngest brother ethan. cigar + scotch = really stinky.
me and my nephew asher, the coolest kid around. fyi…
asher and lucy love iPhones. lucy also loves rags. don’t try to understand- no one knows why.
i went back to our old house, the first one i have real memories from. it used to be yellow… my brothers and i shared the bedroom upper right. it still has the wallpaper my mom put in it.
cool new tunnel at dulles airport.
and finally i leave you with a classic. one of my best friends in the whole wide world, justin, has three beautiful children. traditionally, we get together at his place on christmas eve and cook a big meal and drink lots of wine. this year i took a few videos with the ol iPhone, and here is one of Mia, the youngest. i have mentioned Mia before, she is beautiful and amazing. she clings to me like a spider monkey the whole time i am visiting and i love it. this year, she had guinea pigs to show me, and a new joke to tell me.. enjoy.
kids say the darndest things
better than bieber
as i may have mentioned before, my teacher slash mentor in my pursuit of photography is duc liao (www.ducliao.com). he is still mentoring me along the way, and it’s a lot like learning to play golf. the more you know, the more complicated it gets. i still have so much to learn, and so much of that knowledge to apply… i am very grateful to be so lucky to have someone who has achieved so much in the world of fashion photography as my teacher, and even more honored to have him as a very close friend. anyway, the reason i bring this up is that we recently worked on a small project together, which we do relatively often. usually this means i keep my mouth shut and watch what he does.
recently, we did a small budget shoot for a new and growing local magazine, vietLifestyles. duc is very committed to community, and he has a very Buddhist like approach to service to others. he is lending his talents to the magazine to help it grow and continue to enrich the community. to have someone like duc who spent 25 years in paris shooting for i-D, vogue, louis vuitton, hermes, celine, issey miyake.. (etc etc the list goes on for 15 years) to have this person contribute to such a fledgling magazine, well it is really amazing. recently duc was a judge for a model competition for the same magazine.. this particular shoot is for a pageant featuring local asian models. and since it is not the type of budget for a large studio, we converted a room in my house into a studio to shoot it. which is fine with me because i do all my testing there anyway.
here is a picture of duc:
duc now lives is scottsdale and has a beautiful wife and three gorgeous little girls. he left the fashion industry to live in the wide open spaces and see the sun, and opened a french bistro called scratch. if you are ever in scottsdale you must go there. amazing.
i digress again… anyway, the other day my house was filled with a large number of smiling, polite, and absolutely beautiful young women all competing in the pageant. the thing that instantly struck me as odd, was that they all were so close with each other, you would have thought they had known each other for years. but this was not the case. they had only met through previous engagements involved with promotion of the pageant. now, let me tell you something. i’ve worked with a lot of models. and i can tell you that if you were to put a bunch of american or french girls who are all competing for the same title in a room together, it would not be pretty. with a few exceptions, most would be catty, fake, and probably downright ruthless in the way that women are so accomplished at doing to each other. ah yes… passive aggression as fine as italian wine. but no- none of that. just giggling, laughing, singing, and camaraderie. amazing. here are the girls as they are arriving:
see that? sitting. together.
it is always a pleasure working with the group at vietLifestyles. it’s incredible. they show up with food, drinks, and payment. try finding that in a client. they are always polite, appreciative of the work, and so pleasant to be around.
here are the girls in their gowns:
what’s that you say? gee eric this is nice but i’ve seen pretty asian girls before… nothing out of the ordinary.. what else you got?
well. i’ll see you pretty asians and raise you pretty asians singing justin bieber. yeah. i got it like that.
check the videos below for the amazing vocal talents of the VietLifestyles pageant contestants and a little behind the scenes comedy…
threw together a quick shoot with allie cripe from photogenics while she was in town for thanksgiving. allie is one of those people who has such a distinct look that is it very hard to take a bad picture of her. editing is very difficult to say the least. i wanted to keep going with the dark look i have been experimenting with. the model just sort of emerging from darkness into light… but allie has such amazing skin, hair, eyes, everything… we just kept it simple and let her steal the show.
here are some clever iPhone photos of allie getting ready:
hairstylist extraordinaire jamie stevens:
shannon loves her sweater:
corinna adding some final touches:
and from the final product:
see more at www.ericcassee.com
during the summer, it is rare to see a good, acceptable form of accumulated condensation that one could actually qualify as a cloud. but now that the “winter” months are upon us, i am happy to welcome back my good friend, the cumulonimbus:
so today being so beautiful, it inspired me to get out and do something i rarely do. take pictures of the sky… or skyscapes?
i was pretty excited to get out, i love to road trip, and it’s been a long long time since i had a longish drive to just listen to the road hum by, and the wind rush around the car. and one thing i can say about living out west, is there is lots of space. and once you get free of all the red traffic lights and the endless grid of streets, it is hard not to floor the gas pedal and just go for it. so much open blue sky, cooler temperatures. it is officially motorcycle weather people. and that means speeding tickets… so i will be sticking with the toyota for now. plus, my dog hates to ride on motorcycles.
so yeah, i loaded up miss fluffy pants (my dog Reika) and we headed out free as birds to speed through the open country. i often look at other drivers faces when they go by, and i always notice who is pissed off, who is on the phone, who is in a hurry, who is fighting with their boyfriend/girlfriend (hilarious) and who looks like they are hammered. but i’ll tell you what, nothing gets more smiles and waves then a big white akita sticking her head out the window with her tongue hanging out of her mouth.. squinting into the wind. smiling from ear to ear. so to all of you who laughed and smiled as i drove by today, you are welcome.
i pulled over often, and this drove the dog insane because every time we stopped she thought we were getting out for party time, but most of the time i was close to a road, so i couldn’t let her get her white fang on. eventually we got somewhere safe enough for her to get out. dirt roads, middle of nowhere. she took off like it was free kitten day at the pet store. did i mention that Reika is afraid of gunfire? or anything that resembles gunfire? (like someone hitting a baseball, a table collapsing, a vacuum cleaner, or a skateboard landing on pavement). it is then that my 95 pound dog that is bred to fearlessly fight bears turns into a quivering panting mess. and did i mention that in arizona you are required by law to own at least 56 guns and to carry at least one on your belt next to your fanny pack and pager on which ever side of your giant gut is most comfortable with your fake army shirt tucked into your jeans from 1984 when you go to starbucks? cuz shit. you never know when someone may want to steal your double caff double sweet and low skim latte.
so upon getting out of the car finally, i saw this:
not a good sign. (ha. get it?) and my previously very excited and happy dog that was at this point quickly receding into the distance at approximately 35 miles per hour chasing a rabbit suddenly heard a very loud gunshot. (there must have been another dangerous yield sign threatening some damsel in distress). it sounded like a civil war cannon. needless to say, it did not go over well. and in about 12 seconds i saw this:
this is Reika hightailing it right back into the truck at full speed where she would remain cowering and shaking until i got in and closed the windows as we made our escape. not a good day for Reika.
i can only assume that the cowboy hatted gentleman that was going all dirty harry on cactus and aluminum signs was also frightened for some reason, because as he came around the corner in his truck he repeatedly made the mistake of disproportionately applying the gas while making incorrect steering inputs. silly guy, he was stuck spinning in circles.
but i did manage to take these.. i am in black and white phase…
eventually when i get a lot more of these, i may make a small collection for the website. i intend to head in this direction again, but somehow incorporating people portraits into them.
so for now, enjoy the clouds. and for you firearm junkies out there, remember: traffic signs don’t kill people, people with traffic signs kill people.
every now and then in life, if you are lucky, you will come across someone who is truly genuine. a real person absent of assumptions or ego, and these people are wonderful people to know not only because of who they are, but because they help remind us all what life is supposed to be about. at least that’s my opinion. this is a brief story about one such person, whom i like to call cowboy joe.
i first met cowboy joe a few years ago. i was assisting at the time, and i was working on a series of editorial spreads for the french magazine BIBA. the stylist, kanako koga (http://www.kanako-b-koga.com) wanted to really have a great environment to showcase the western themed clothes she was using, and since cowboy stuff was all the rage in paris at the time, they ended up shooting in arizona.
this is kanako, seen here trying on a pair of gucci onion ring glasses:
one of my many responsibilities during the week was picking her and her assistant tiphane up at 5:00 am and then driving to the location with a large trailer full of gear and clothing. it was during this time that i developed an appreciation for coffee and decided i need to learn some french because it was a little awkward there for a while. we shot all over the place, and despite the heat, the long hours, and being berated in words i could not understand except i knew they were bad because of the tone, it was a wonderful experience and a great time working with new people and making friends. (i would eventually have the honor of working with kanako and tiphane again in paris.) in addition to the above mentioned duties, i also was put in charge as a liaison between american businesses /contacts / location managers etc. that preferred to speak english. if you are at all familiar with arizona, and towns like apache junction or payson, i would highly recommend not walking up to cowboy types and speaking french.
and hence i came to meet cowboy joe. this is cowboy joe:
i call him cowboy joe because that is how i was introduced to him. i was asking a woman at a livery stable about acquiring a horse and handler for a day of shooting and she told me “well you gotta talk to cowboy joe..” and she gave me a number to call. so sure enough, arrangements were made, and on the day of the shoot, cowboy joe showed up with a horse in a trailer and we were good to go. cowboy joe is about 6’2” maybe 200 pounds or so, and a very solid guy. he has a large round head, with a big smile, and a handshake that leaves no questions about his history. this is a workin man. he was so polite, so friendly, and such a gentleman, all the ladies on set were swooning. the production manager, lisa, was often caught saying “that’s what i want, a big strong man who’s not complicated. i’ll be in the kitchen cooking and he’ll come home from the range all tough and sweaty and drink a beer while i get dinner on…” i laughed at this heartily because if you met lisa she would seem like the farthest thing from that. i’m talking badass tattoo’s, art degrees, all the way left, and the most bitchin music collection ever. so yeah, everything went off without a hitch (ha! no pun intended) the horse was great, we got amazing shots, and i even got to lead the horse around a bit and feed her carrots. horses are like dogs, they are really personable, very friendly if treated well, they just poop a WHOLE LOT BIGGER. we thanked joe tremendously and went about the rest of our week. and i thought that was the last i would see of him..
about two years later i got a phone call from an unknown number… hello? “howdy eric, cowboy joe here! how are ya?” ok so for a minute i did that thing were you stop walking or whatever you’re doing and try to decipher who exactly you are speaking to and how did they get your number… then it came back to me. holy crap! hi joe! we had a nice chat catching up.. then came the reason for his call: he was getting together a musical act, and needed some publicity photos, could i come out and meet with him and check out his operation? sure thing i said. and here is where the story gets amazing.
in the time that had passed since i last saw joe, he had become single again, his dog had died, his side business in construction was gone, he stopped working at the livery stable, and had almost died from being thrown from a horse. yet he was as chipper as ever a man could be. i went to see joe. since he was no longer at the livery, he was working from horse barn to horse barn throughout arizona as a handler/trainer/whisperer. i am not sure what you call it to be honest… but he is really good at it. when i met him at the stable he was currently working in, i discovered he was living in a trailer built sometime after world war II, it is white and blue, everything works, and that’s about all i know. it was very retro, matched the pickup truck he pulled it with, he parked in in the lot next to the stables, and this was where he had been hanging his hat and kickin off his boots for some time. it was here that i learned more about joe. he was working at another stable when his injury occurred. he was helping out with a seemingly gentle horse in the ring as a favor to a friend. he had gotten to the point where the horse trusted him and he could ride her. but on this particular day, the horse had other ideas… he was thrown off very violently, and hit in the lower backbone by the bucking rear end of the horse as he was being launched. it took him a minute or two to get up, but he did, and of course went about his day as if nothing was wrong, though it “hurt like a sonuvabitch”. eventually, days later, when he could no longer walk, he went to the hospital. (see? very manly.) he had some busted bones, torn muscles, and some infection setting in, and he was in bad shape. he was told if the infection didn’t clear up in a day or two he might not make it. friends came in to help out. after a long stint in the hospital, he recovered and got his sea legs back. on the day he was to leave the hospital he learned that the horse was to be put down. and at this moment, something occurred to joe. he knew what he wanted to do. he had almost lost his life because of a horse and decided he wanted to spend the next chapter of his life working with just one. he drove straight from the hospital to the stable where the horse was. he offered the owners $400 in lieu of destroying the animal. he drove home with her that afternoon. he named her “Love”.
this is a picture joe sent me of him and love:
here is one i took one morning…
so joe starting working with love.. they became inseparable. they spent everyday together, morning noon and night. she slept in a stall a few meters from his trailer, and he sang to her on his guitar. at daybreak, he would start his coffee and go and get love out of the stall. she would follow him back to the trailer and they would have breakfast together:
amazing you may say! lovely story! indeed, indeed… but check this s#@t out. guess what he is training the horse to do? not only has he got her fear of people conquered, and she knows a few dressage moves, and she is basically a kitten with- again- very large poop, he now has a complete choreographed routine that involves him playing guitar and singing as the horse does her moves, and then stomps along with the tune on a large wooden box. he also has her trained to carry him about with no reins so he can play the guitar and sing while riding her. she knows the words to the songs, and corresponds appropriately. true story.
i asked joe to play me some of his songs…
he has a few sponsors interested, fender, and a clothing manufacturer… it is his dream to travel and do the show at rodeos or horse shows or campgrounds and host sing-a-longs.
we sat there in his trailer and talked almost all day. i got to meet his partner in crime, ray. ray has skin like well tanned leather. his legs are permanently bowed. he has had almost every bone in his body broken at least once. he was a jockey a long time ago and talked fondly of his first derby win, and how he left the track to buy a brand new mustang with the winnings over 50 years ago. he showed me the newspaper clippings of his victories… he lives in the house at the stable, behind which joe parks his trailer. he has long wispy grey hair and smokes camels. his hands feel like sand paper. i doubt he is afraid of anything this world has to offer.
this is ray:
neither one of these men are well off. far from it. joe and ray live the most conservative lifestyle imaginable by most of us. i am a king in a castle compared to joe. i sat in his dusty trailer that he had bought years before air conditioning was around. (fyi this is arizona people.) there is no computer, no internet, no tv. just an old radio and his fender guitar. i looked at the photos, books, knick knacks from lives past scattered about the trailer. we talked about our lives, he showed me his bible. we talked about faith. there was a few pictures of a woman here and there, but he was far more upset about losing a good dog then he ever was about any of his lady friends. he proudly displayed his saddle and bridle set he had custom made by a friend who works with leather and silver. it was absolutely beautiful. he has been through so many hardships i think i would find unlivable. i worry about being alone, about being able to have and support a family, and if i were in joe’s position, this would trouble me a great deal. i would probably disappear into alaska with my dog and a shotgun christopher mccandless style. ( if you don’t know the reference, read the book ‘into the wild’. it will change your life.) but not once, not for a single millisecond in 6 hours of conversation did joe ever complain, look sad, or lament anything that had happened in his 60 odd years. he laughed loud and honestly, he listened carefully and patiently, and he shared his life with unconditional trust. he is the happiest person i have ever met, and he shares that joy openly.
and now, as i have left one way of life to try to make my way as a freelance artist… i get mired in thoughts that don’t matter. i end up wasting time with people that don’t care about me, and i get caught up in the politics and bullshit we all see around us everyday. competing with each other for some kind of success, constantly evaluating, judging ourselves and others, trying to find happiness wherever we can, but never knowing how to define it. when i get too far down this hole, i think of joe. in his trailer, in 110 degrees, with nothing but a horse named Love and a guitar. and there he is. smiling, happy, alive.