I look for stories that celebrate life’s more intimate moments. In doing so I’m questionably the same
person who knowingly wansts to be a visual storyteller.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Why don't we do it in the road?"

Feathers, pool noodles and line dancing cowboys were mainstream during the 2012 Chicago Pride Parade. A crowd estimated at 850,000 celebrated as a community the concept of acceptance. Refusing to be marginalized, thousands marched, though not in too straight of a line, in order to say that love should have no limits or laws. I felt proud. And it was good to hear a Whitney Houston song. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valium Times

While in Nassau, I heard a radio announcer wish his listeners a Happy Valumtimes Day, a sort of vernacular that inspired me to come up with my own nomenclature; Happy Valium Times Day. As this is the season where the taste of jilted love is all the more bitter, a tranquilizing muscle-relaxant might come as a relief. And not just for the afflicted, but for all those who might be near in space, time or relationship. 

While on a date, I got caught in the crossfire of a man who was experiencing some displeasure on Valentine's Day. I don't know his name or story, but a man at Potter's Key Dock, Nassau had a fight with another over, well dignity; that's what we all fight about anyway. 

It started at a low grumble but then the sky cracked open and the man, under the influence of his own upset, took a Valentine's Day pie and pressed it in the moosh of another. Then a beer bottle went screaming by, and I made the decision to move. Maybe it was a gut reaction, but I made sure I was out of harms way before I unpacked my camera, and it cost me the shot. 

I've learned to stay out of the path of crime, and this often translates into my photojournalism. While I might be right all up in there, still, somehow, at times, I'm just outside of the firing line. Instead, what I come away with are those moments of reconciliation and affection. 

So for this Valumtimes Day I've decided to post a photo of a young girl who shows her adoration for kittens on a calender. And when we strip it all down, all we really want, including that man on Potter's Key Dock, is the kind of innocent love that we can put in a frame.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

tuna 2

Sailing isn't for the squeamish. This also applies to boat owners who can expect to encounter a variety of sensory experiences. Sometimes there's just too many elements; too much land, too much water, too much air. And in Fortuna's case, a 1927 wooden boat, there was too much fire....intentionally set by a homeless man who had a beef with the yard owner.

Fortuna, named after the goddess of good fortune but beginning to signify what she is costing my father, is being restored for the second time. She has a legacy that spans 85 years and encompasses a cast of characters.

Restoring her to health this time is Billy, one of only two traditional wooden boat  builders located in the midwest. On Sundays you can find him in his workshop, which he's transformed from a place of quality craftsmanship and innovation to a gentleman's den equipped with fine cigars and brandy. Though I was disappointed to discover that no one wore a crushed velvet smoking jacket.  

Monday, October 31, 2011


Last week I went to see my childhood sailboat, a 1927 Herreshoff Fisher Island. It's been on the hard for close to a decade following an encounter with an arson at a south side Chicago boatyard.It was as if I was visiting a retired racing dog or an old timer who didn't much care to leave his porch swing. Charred and missing planks, a spar and a deck, she was still grand.

The plan is to get her ready to launch by next year. It's possible. And things should move forward as more people have been enlisted to help. It's become a community project of sorts, just like when I was a kid and we did more sanding than sailing.

While built as a cruising boat for a family of four, 'Fortuna,' a 45' sloop, has the pedigree and design to compete. She's quick, graceful and always reliable. Even with 68 ribs stricken with dry rot she never failed us...took on a lot of water though.

Fortuna might be an old technology, but she has value to those who always want to have something to fix. And like my daddy always says, "She's a good old boat." But that was then, for now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

cub competition

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the World Series. It was a long journey, beginning with four elimination games in the postseason. Achieving the title was unthinkable, which made their win in game 7 a tremendous theater. 

Recently, I enjoyed watching my nephew's fall baseball league playoff game against the Niles Cardinals. Chris' team, the Athletics, had a fighting chance to win, but things happen as they often do in competition. Mixed in with some good plays was some sloppiness, and the A's were eliminated from advancing to the championships. There was some disappointment from the 4-10 loss, but no real heartache. 

For these 11 and 12 year olds, it's still about the experience of hanging out with your pals. The wholesome plot line is that regardless of the final score, they anticipate pizza and bedtime. 

And while the Texas Rangers will spend the whole winter wondering how the Cards got away with it, these youth leaguers will anticipate football season, school holidays and snow forts. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

breaking through slates of grey

It's not easy giving up the beach come fall. Fortunately for those who find the beach a fashionable, luxurious and healthy thing, Chicago temperatures mimicked summer this weekend attracting hundreds to the city's shoreline. Many looked to absorb some extra vitamin D, or prolong their cockroach color before the approaching dreary months.

Everyone appears more beautiful while in the sun and around water and sand, but Yelena Liderman particularly had a lot of beauty about her. The 75 year-old was dressed in a two-piece and her lipstick could be seen across the jetty. She was as comfortable revealing her past as she was sunbathing.

Yelena left her homeland of Russia twenty-two years ago to start a new life in America. Though relatives had left for the States years before her, Yelena decided against the transition as she feared that immigrant status could strip her of certain freedoms. But the political and social climate under Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the '80s moved her to begin a new life oversees. While in America Yelena learned to drive; she was fifty-something. Ultimately, she learned the language, found work and watched her grandchildren grow. Three years ago, she buried her husband.

Yelena has braved more than most, and she wears that liveliness that keeps her going. It's no wonder that someone would want to take her portrait.