Tag Archives: California

Faces Of Venice: A Collaborative Photography Project

Hello friends, it’s been a while.

I recently started a new job as a Digital Artist at a design studio in Venice, CA. It has been a fun opportunity with lots of learning to be done. I am using it as a springboard for myself to get back into something that I really love, photography. I haven’t been shooting regularly for some time and this is the perfect opportunity to resume my pursuit of this art form.

The people down here have so much character.

The people down here have so much character.

One thing I have noticed about successful artists is their constant motion towards refining their talents. In this vein I have started working on a collaborative photography project titled ‘Faces Of Venice’.

Jason, one of the wonderful souls working at J's Rentals on the Venice Boardwalk is a true Venice local and a perfect subject for our #FacesOfVenice project.

Jason, one of the wonderful souls working at J’s Rentals on the Venice Boardwalk is a true Venice local and a perfect subject for our #FacesOfVenice project.

Faces Of Venice is a series of portraits on Instagram detailing and documenting the locals of Venice, California. Here are a couple examples. Please follow along as we create what is turning into a very fun and exciting project.

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Burning Man 2015 prep begins…

Yup, it’s December 2014 and we are already starting work for OKNOTOK at Burning Man in 2015.  Some call us insane, some roll their eyes and say its ‘too early’.  But if you are a Burner, ask yourself honestly, does it ever ‘stop’ once you are introduced to the culture and experience of Black Rock City?

2014-12-08 11.54.47While some will relish the time off between Burns, others continue building, making, and turning inspiration into reality,  lighting up the sky in August.  Without giving away the fun details about what is in the works for camp OKNOTOK, there will be some changes and new sights to behold.  Make sure you party with us on the Playa in 2015!

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Long ride in Topanga State Park

I often think about how ‘productive’ I am being when I have down-time from work.  After finishing up my freelance gig with The Tennis Channel, I am back to searching for the next work

First rain I've seen in Los Angeles in over two months.

First rain I’ve seen in Los Angeles in over two months.

opportunity.  Productivity shouldn’t only be measured in dollars.  I’m talking about physical training opportunities, running, hiking, biking, etc.  I should relish the time off from work that I have because it allows me to pursue the things I love and affords me the ability to push my body and stay in shape for the next ‘big adventure’.

With all this in mind, I managed to get out for a couple runs including a half marathon distance this past week.  My left ankle (previously sprained at Burning Man) didn’t appreciate this distance very much.  I don’t want to stop running but I think I will stick to less then 10 miles runs to keep the impact down and give my body time to heal itself.  I am trying to help it along with LOTS of hydration and using compression after strenuous activity to help recovery.  To keep the intensity up and reduce impact, I turned to biking this weekend with a nice long ride in Topanga State Park.

A trail sign in Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains.

A trail sign in Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains.

Since I have been in LA it seemed like I had to drive a significant distance to find good riding or trail running.  This Sunday was a great instance of discovery as I learned that access to Topanga State Park is only a 15 minute drive from my house.  I accessed the great trail system from the 405 highway at Mulholland drive.  Parking is at San Vincent Mountain Park near the Skirball Cultural Center.  From this location you can ride some serious distance on a mix of fire roads and single track.

From the Parker Mesa Overlook you can see Santa Monica and Venice quite clearly.

From the Parker Mesa Overlook you can see Santa Monica and Venice quite clearly.

 

 

I intended to do about 20 miles and ended up grinding out just over 30…on the single speed.  While my bike choice wasn’t great, the terrain offered amazing climbing opportunities.  I was able to do a loop instead of an out-and-back and managed just shy of 5,700 feet of climbing.  It’s funny how I feel like the mountains here don’t even begin to compare to Colorado – true but the climbing exists.  This ride offered views of the Pacific ocean with some blazing descents.

Map and elevation profile of a trail ride in Topanga State Park.

Map and elevation profile of a trail ride in Topanga State Park.

Adventures in the Sequoia National Forest

This weekend was a good one, full of well-documented adventure.  Oh how I love to get out of this terrible, oppressive sprawl.  It’s not so much the density of people, or even the urban-ness of an existence here.  Honestly, it’s the air, stagnant and thick with hot exhaust and particulate.  I’m certain that I’m shaving years off my life every time I take a deep breath of this city’s vapors.

Andrew navigates the craft.

Andrew navigates the craft.

We found ourselves packed like sardines into the black GTI.  It’s elegant German engineering lost beneath the provisions and equipment for four of us to enjoy a weekend of camping.  We sacrificed ergonomics and leg room (temporarily) for a taste of the natural world which exists somewhere outside this concrete labyrinth.  Speeding North, the early morning pinks and reds slowly began to illuminate the sky.  Every now and again I caught a glimpse of the PCT as it paralleled parts of our trek to the Southern Sierras.

Breakfast found us in an outdated beige and tan building serving Mexican inspired cuisine.  Juevos rancheros filled my belly and would give me some discomfort later.  Over cups of coffee my travel companions and I discussed the details of life.  We also discussed whether or not the painting of the waterfalls on the wall behind us had the ability to turn on, projecting tranquility on the patrons of this affordable dining establishment.  We never could find the switch.

The Desert

After eating up miles of asphalt through the desert and hugging the corners of a winding canyon, the People’s Car zipped us through the isolated town of Kennedy Meadows.  We blinked and it was gone, Tom’s disc gold course a blur on the side of the road.  Jeremy recorded high-definition, time-compressed video while Andrew piloted the black rocket ship through the pines.  Marcy and I grasped the ‘oh-shit’ handles and felt secure under the groceries and other assorted wares.

Choosing our campsite and erecting tents, we explored our new surroundings.  A curious place, this forest.  We found ourselves perched on the edge of a large meadow, three strands of barbed wire separating us from it’s golden openness.  Trees rose up giving luscious shade, shelter from the alpine sun and it’s radioactive ways.  We walked amongst these elements concluding that we were happy and eager to trek.

We began by eating, a great way to begin.  Setting off on foot, our objective was clear – a rocky outcropping rising up from the far edge of the meadow.  We chose it because it was a high point and we explorers are always drawn to these types of places.  You know what I mean.  A place high above everything that surrounds it.  A place aching with the freedom of unbridled views and brisk winds.  From this aerie perch we viewed the landscape as if it were a model, a perfectly represented miniature world stretching out below us and outward to the horizon.  We ate more food.  We scrambled across and gripped at the rock with our talons.

Jeremy navigates some rock terrain.

Jeremy navigates some rock terrain.

Upon returning to camp, we promptly assumed horizontal positions on the ground or in a hammock.  The shadows lengthened, the sun turned more golden.  The woods embraced our tired souls and comforted us with a quiet that only a living landscape can provide.

Waking abruptly, we got back into our transportation and drove on dirt roads, upwards to the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout.  A brisk walk saw us to the base of a steel tower rising upwards into the afternoon sky.  Our natural instinct as adventurers is to climb upwards, upwards, higher!  And right there, at the top of this metal geometric fortress was a man.  His duty: viewing this stunning landscape of granite.  He watches the heavens, carefully identifying Vulcan’s electrical outbursts, plotting the locations where they smash into the earth.  This wonderful BLM employee is named Tom.

Tom points to coordinates on his specialized apparatus.

Tom points to coordinates on his specialized apparatus.

A day fully enjoyed.  We retreat to the comfort of our dirt patch to kindle a fire and fill our stomachs.  All manner of fancy appetizers whet our pallets for some schlongs which Marcy tosses on the cast-iron grate above our flame.  Wine is uncorked.  Memories are shared.  In this tradition of eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of others, great bonds are forged between friends.  We take time to play with the camera at night, truly a fun group activity.  Later, as the last one awake, I bask in the warm glow of the coals, red and orange, pulsing radiant heat.

Day two greets us travelers with cold morning air.  Reluctantly our entourage breaks camp, eats cold yoghurt (Noosa, the best), and piles back into our vehicle.  We’re rolling further West through the forest, over a mountain pass, and into the Kern River Canyon.  The landscape is changing.  Gone is the dry, thin air that once desiccated our lips and noses.  Now, the shadow of large trees holds in the damp smell of the forest floor.  Lime green moss clings to the red, deeply-furrowed bark of old giants as we turn at a sign labeled ‘Trail of 100 Giants’.

That sense of insignificance we all feel in the presence of great things is washing over me from high above.  This colony of giants is both welcoming and unsettling.  Are these trees happy or vengeful?  Would they say to us, ‘thank you for preserving this grove’?  Or maybe, ‘fuck you Henry Ford’.  I’d like to think the former.  I just hope they don’t drop an un-needed branch on my head in an attempt to settle the score.

Marcy navigates the forest.

Marcy navigates the forest.

Our troop frolics and meanders through the ancient sentinels, heads cocked at an awkward angle to glimpse the highest reaches of the canopy.  Some of these trees are over two-hundred and seventy feet tall.  Strolling right up to them like they are old friends, we run our hands over their spongy bark and duck under their exposed roots or into their burned out centers.  This amusement park beats the hell out of anything made by the hands of men.  Individual cells organized themselves over millennia into these magnificent organisms.  How humans could commit such a crime as defiling this amazing planet that has nourished and provided for us is beyond my capacity of understanding.

The weekend is coming to an end and we must return to the coast.  We would love to remain in this mystical place, among rocks, sticks, and soil.  These places are not ours to keep.  Embracing the impermanence of ourselves we can embrace the impermanence of the world, the dynamic and chaotic collection of matter that makes up our reality.  Organizing and reorganizing, elements and thoughts blend together into a collective consciousness which vibrates and echoes out into the black void of the cosmos.

Photo Credit - Jeremy Rousch

Photo Credit – Jeremy Rousch

Jeremy’s photo really shows just how large these giants are.

Where the hell have I been?

I am JACKED right now.  The caffein in this americano is helping me remember days spent in the café in the town of Lone Pine, California, biding my time while my shin splints healed.  The further the PCT recedes into my rearview, the more precious the memories become that I can still hold onto.  Just last night Banana Boat and I enjoyed some FaceTime, recounting our glory days while we struggle to find as much pleasure in regular life.

My last post was back in July?  Wow.  I had just gotten off the trail and found myself newly located in Hollywood…Hollywierd.  If ever there were a place more at odds with my personality, I’d like to experience it, just for a moment for some perspective.  Believe it or not I am enjoying my time here.  I am enjoying my time with my Father and his partner, both of whom I have only seen occasionally in the past 10+ years.  I have also had the chance to re-connect with an old middle school friend not to mention make a bunch of new friends.  Overall the social experience here has been quite pleasant.  I am glad to report that the more places I find myself living, even temporarily, it’s always possible to find cool, interesting, genuine people.

The boys, the Man about to burn behind us.

The boys, the Man about to burn behind us.

Speaking of interesting social experiences, I just returned from Burning Man.  The only thing you REALLY need to know about the experience is that it was life-changing and I will be going back.  Without writing and exhausting narrative of my 12 days in the desert vortex, I feel like it is my duty to correct some common misconceptions about this gathering.  First of all, this is not a concert or music festival.  Music is a major part of the event but it is only part of the experience.  Not EVERYONE is nude.  In fact, naked or partially naked people are definitely a minority at Burning Man, although you might not think so based on popular images of the event.  Either way, not everyone chooses to whip out their goodies.  Along the same train of thought, Burning Man is not some crazy sex-romp.  Sure, it could be a sexual experience if one was seeking that kind of adventure but again, you would be a minority.  It was for a couple of these main reasons that previously I never attended the event – mostly because a significant other didn’t want me going to this magical place.  Understandable (although ridiculous at the same time if you really KNOW me).

So what IS Burning Man?  Well, you can read about the guiding principles on the BM website if you want a definition.  The best way I can describe the event is PURE LOVE.  I have never previously been in a social environment that is so caring and accepting of ‘the individual’.  EVERYONE is welcomed into the Black Rock Desert and received with a warm hug and respect.  In this desolate wasteland you will embody your truest self and everyone will love you for your bravery and honesty.  Ok, enough about that – the take home message here is that if you have EVER had even the slightest interest in Burning Man, you should go.  I will post a link as soon as our time-lapse video is done being edited and online.

After 12 days of travel, music, very little sleep, and immersion into this new culture, I returned to Los Angeles.

Since my return I have been very actively seeking work.  I am slowly wondering why I choose

Some graphic design fun

Some graphic design fun

such an obscure major in college.  I have applied to MANY jobs, most of which have not even returned phone calls or sent confirmation emails, assuring me they have received my resumé.  This is a competitive job market.  All (most) PA work on films is usually unpaid unless you have previous experience…ok.  Serving/restaurant jobs all require 2-4 years serving experience…ok.  Basically catch 22 kind of stuff.  I do have my second interview since getting here tomorrow.  It is what it is.

For President 2016

For President 2016

I have started doing some freelance graphic design on the side, building my portfolio and learning as I go.  My online portfolio can be found here if you have any interest.

I am trying to stay positive by doing fun things (that don’t cost much money) during the weekend when friends have time off from work.  Most recently we went down to San Diego county and surfed at San Onofre State Beach (just

Foot - 0  Shell - 1

Foot – 0 Shell – 1

North of the old nuclear reactor).  That evening we camped at the State Park.  Great time with great friends.  My friend Jeremy put together a great little video shot and edited entirely on his iPhone 6.  You can find it here, San OnofreSurf Day.

Morning drinking is the best drinking

Morning drinking is the best drinking

Ok, I’m losing interest so instead of rambling I will end this post.  Thanks for following along, will try to make the updates a bit more regular.

The last month in review

My eyes struggle to focus on the computer screen. Today I am on recharge. Sleep schedules have changed like the phases of the moon and today I’m waning. A little more then a month ago I was waking to first light and falling asleep at dusk. This memory feels like ages ago. Things are a little less regular these days, work dictating my cycle of rest and consciousness.

The whole time I have been unemployed, my inner dialog keeps telling me, ‘when you are really ready to work, you’ll find a job easily’. That theory that we can manifest our desires isn’t proving quite as easy as the book made it seem. I never counted on things just falling into place without any work though. Life this past year has been somewhat challenging and I don’t expect that to just change. So here I am in LA trying to get something going. I have to say, things are looking positive.

I started writing freelance for an online blogging site for which the pay is terrible. I look at this job as more of a training opportunity to hone my writing skills. One of the biggest challenges is writing on topics which I have no knowledge of. This requires research to produce interesting copy. I have also been working with a family friend, preparing his house to go on the market. I did a bit of sanding, staining, cleaning, yard work, and landscaping. In the evenings I usually make the time to go for a run up the Maxwell fire road in Wilacre Park.

On the weekends I have been working in Santa Monica with some friends to prepare camp OKNOTOK for Burning Man which is just a few short weeks away. I helped Jeremy construct the frame for his outdoor workspace/shed. As a large team we disassembled the new tower, painted a lot, and moved camp supplies into storage. I still can’t believe that within a month I will be headed to the Black Rock desert in Northern Nevada, a journey I have wanted to experience for more then five years. Am I mentally and physically ready for this experience I signed up for? I look at burning man as a technicolor, multi-media art project with my brain as the canvas. Or is the desert the canvas?

And finally, the last three days have been a blur as I worked as a production assistant on the film, ‘The Broker’. This independent project was a great introduction into the industry, giving me insights I never previously had. Luckily, due to the small size of this production, PAing included lighting, grips, and photography. I learned a lot and worked with some great people. Although I didn’t get paid for my time, I certainly have a solid foundation with which to more forward with this type of work.