Photographs. Anecdotes. And observations on Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

"The Placebo Effect."

"In most cases, the larger the pill, the stronger the placebo effect. Two pills are better than one, and the brand-name pills trump generics. Capsules are generally more effective than pills, and injections produce a more pronounced effect than either. There is even evidence to suggest that the color of medicine influences the way one responds to it: colored pills are more likely to relieve pain than white pills; blue pills help people sleep better than red pills; and green capsules are the best bet when it comes to anxiety medication."

Excerpt from The Power of Nothing by Michael Specter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

War is the most concrete thing there is.

Nowadays in Sarajevo death is all too easy to imagine and is itself continuously, intensely present, but back then the city was fully alive, both inside me and outside me. Its indelible sensory dimensions, its concreteness, seemed to defy the abstractions of war. I have learned since then that war is the most concrete thing there is, a reality that swallows all, easily overriding any other mode of existence and levelling both interiority and exteriority into the flatness of a crushed soul.

Excerpt from "Mapping Home" by Aleksandar Hemon.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Untitled: January Ninth, 2000.

Through the fog, driving
My hands smell of salt water
The grit between my fingers
As if I had swam today
But it is my own precipitate:
Sweat, old sweat.

The fog comes and goes
A wind tunnel
But there is no sound of wind
But rather music, faint, crackling
A bass tone, drowing out
And the fog comes again.
I pass through.

Walt Whitman visited me in a dream.
I told someone sitting beside me
That he had lived through the Civil War
Like I lived through the fog.
Walt Whitman looked at me
his outdoorsman yet feminine beard
was grey and he had a lisp.
He said: "I stop somewhere waiting for you"
But all I found was the fog.

The fog deep in the ins and outs of others
Those like myself who had
"Had the experience but missed the meaning."

Fog is in the inside of the telephone wires
A sigh on one end
The mumbling of words that cut on the other
Like a car passing through the fog
Or a boat like an arrow.

M.C-Journal entry, 1/9/00.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A tree: My old amigo.

Striding up to a cedar, he patted the rough trunk as if it were an old amigo. "This tree is a relative," he said. "It has feelings like we do, so it should be treated with respect. If you make tea from the bark of this tree, it has a lot of power. It's good for colds and respiratory problems. But if you don't ask permission before you cut the bark, it may not work. So I always say a little prayer so the tree knows I'm serious and I want to share its power. 'Give me your strength for healing,' That's what I ask."

Excerpt from "What became of the Taino" by Robert M. Poole

Friday, November 18, 2011

Was Qaddafi all that bad?

"The worst thing that Qaddafi did was that Abu Salim thing," he said, referring to the 1996 massacre. "I mean, killing a bunch of prisoners in the basement of a prison, that's not nice, but, you know, these things can happen. All it takes is for someone to misinterpret an order--you know what I mean? Yes, the students were hanged in the seventies, and there was Abu Salim, but there was not much else. The secret police was around, but it wasn't too obtrusive. If you got thrown in prison, they allowed your family to visit and bring you couscous."

Excerpt from John Lee Anderson's article King of Kings. Above, an interview with a friend of the Qaddafi's.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Five Pictures in Hope of Endless Travel: Part Two.

Tulsa, Oklahoma. July, 2011.

St. Pete Beach, Florida. July, 2011.

Lake Michigan. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. October, 2011.

Joplin, Missouri. May, 2011.

Providence, RI. August, 2011.

Photos by M.C and A.G.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

You are what you eat.

Through processed food, factory farming, and the rush to get large amounts of food to the table as quick as possible, it's frightening what we have lost. On reading "True Grits" (based on chef Sean Brock's Southern food restaurant--Husk--in Charleston, SC.), Burkhard Bilger reminds us that the loss of extended crop rotations (some up to 17 years) and the substitution of more common, viable crops, has made thousands of foods disappear over the past century. Brock's intention: to go back in time (by diving into history books, diaries, etc...) and resurrect those heirloom vegetables that have been lost to convenience.
I pulled these two quotes: one poetic, one philosophical. Yet both inspiring.

"Southern food is more than a collection of recipes and seeds. It's a distillate of memory and hard-won experience, of ocean crossings and forest clearings, turnip winters and radish springs."

"It changed my life growing my own food," Brock said. "You start to see why farmers are so strange: they have a lot of time alone to ponder the questions of the universe."


Friday, October 21, 2011

Five pictures in hope of endless travel: Part One.

The infamous F.W. Woolworth's. Greensboro, North Carolina.

June, 2008.

San Francisco Bay at sunset.

March, 2009.

Loch Ness, Scotland, by boat.

May, 2005.

Somewhere between here and there. Utah.

August, 2010.

Old Jewish Cemetery. Prague, Czech Republic.

May, 2005.

All photos by either M.C. or A.G..

Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

"By 1915, however, the demographics of addiction had changed and so had American attitudes towards drug users. Cocaine had come to be seen as a drug taken by lower-class, urban men, who were often looked upon with fear and disdain. Opium had been tolerated in the United States for more than a century--until Chinese laborers began to compete with Americans for jobs. Since then, the more directly a drug has been perceived to be associated with minorities and the poor, the graver the danger it is seen as posing to society."

Excerpt from "Getting a fix" by Michael Specter.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The cult of Ikea.

To be a member of Ikea's cult, here are some things you need to know:

-It is said that one out of every ten Europeans is conceived on an Ikea bed.

-Pigs and skeleton's are banned motifs.

-Ikea uses a technique called "Bulla, Bulla," in which a bunch of items are purposely jumbled in bins, to create the impression of volume and, therefore, inexpensiveness.

-Ikea is the third largest consumer of wood behind Home Depot and Lowe's and ahead of Walmart.

-Ikea published 197,000,000 catalogues last year in 29 different languages.

-"Breathtaking" items are termed so because they are so cheap you can't afford not to buy them.

-Ingvar Kamprad (Ikea's founder) has been rated the 5th wealthiest man in the world. Living in the Swiss village of Epalinges, Kamprad has very little taxes to pay and has been accused of doing nothing for the village (financially or philanthropically). Kamprad's nickname in town is the Miser.

Excerpt from Lauren Collins' "House Perfect" in the Oct. 3rd issue of The New Yorker

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Immortal words of Kenko...

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations—such is a pleasure beyond compare."


"Adding to the day's sense of upheaval was a collision that occurred just outside 27a when the embassy chauffeur--a man named Pickford--struck a motorcycle and broke off the rider's leg. A wooden leg."
-Excerpt from Erick Larson's In the Garden of Beasts.
On reading ITGOB, I felt empathy towards Kenko's quote...the second excerpt was a welcomed absurdity (or pleasurable anecdote) while reading about the initial Nazi Political purges of the the Third Reich. What would the insanities of history be without humor?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

I trust only old books.

"Hla Htut has no time for any contemporary Burmese writing, be it novels, newspapers, or magazines. 'I don't trust them. They always lie,' he said. 'I understand it is not the same in your country. Your books and newspapers never lie, isn't that so?' I thought about it for a moment and was prepared to launch into a long and complicated answer about the warped images of world affairs painted by tabloid newspapers and about mainstream international news channels simplifying stories for mass consumption, but Hla Htut took my hesitation for agreement and summed up his theory on reading. 'I trust only old books,' he said."

Excerpt from Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Found this drawn in the sand at Madera Beach. St. Pete, Fl. Mid August. 2011.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Art As/Is Religion

Art without accomplishment becomes a form of faith, sustained more by the intensity of its common practice than by the pleasure it gives to its adherents in private. That it fills the habit of faith--makes communities, encourages values, creates hierarchies--is perhaps the best thing about it. The strongest argument for religion is not that it is in touch with God but that it is in touch with one another. The best argument for an art that no one can entirely like is that it makes us like one another more.

-Excerpt from "Life Studies" by Adam Gopnik
Some days I want to stay in doors and read, maybe type some quotes, add a picture or two, and reflect through this blog. Other days I just want to get on my bike and pedal as far as I can, hours later finally making home, exhausted.

Sometimes when I read a really moving essay, learn something new and profound, or just revel in the fact of how lucky we are to be alive--seeing, hearing, and feeling--my eyes will start to well up.

Both instances are acts committed in solitude. The result of both is the ability to appreciate, the desire to mingle and commuinicate, the need to empathize with people.

That balance is hard to find.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Repetition as comfort.

"The human sense of comfort depends on repetitive, familiar actions--our minds and bodies strive to become accustomed to predictable circumstances."

Excerpt from the "Aquarium" by Aleksandar Hemon.


Like the afternoon shower that comes every day, in Tampa, in the summer time.

But it's also comforting to see it on the fringe...On those days that it allows us some reprieve.

Top photo by Scott Ehlert.
Bottom by M.C.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Occasions in Connecticut.

A distance storm off the coast of New Haven, Connecticut. I sat for 20 minutes taking photo after photo in hopes to capture one bolt of lightning.
Three friends. Drunk. Fully clothed. I watched as their boat capsized.
Danielson, CT. My friend Vic in the forefront. A kid named Chris in the background sending himself off of a lake jump.

Shot with an I-photo application. August 1st and 2nd 2011.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Should I laugh?

Posted on a bathroom door at a local elementary school.

Photo by S. Ehlert.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Goth's Best Bass lines.

I'll have to admit, I'm a sucker for embarrassingly over-dramatic goth rock. I've always loved the creepy vibe, the attention to absurd post-punk leather attire, and wearing sunglasses at night. But put plain and simple, I'm a sucker for driving bass riffs...

Here are six of my top pics that, for me, epitomize what I love about this ridiculous sub-culture. Close your eyes, give em a listen, and enjoy.


The Sisters of Mercy: Marian.

The Cure: The Figurehead.

Christian Death: Church of No Return.

Fields of the Nephilim: Love Under Will.

Dead Can Dance: The Trial.

Souxsie and the Banshees: Arabian Nights.

Eat, sleep, ride, repeat.

"Cycling is an excruciated sport--a rider's power is only as great as his capacity to endure pain--and it is often remarked that the best cyclists experience their physical agonies as a relief from private torments. The bike gives suffering a purpose."

Excerpt from "Climbers" by Philip Gourevitch.


After reading this, I kind of wonder if this plays into my personal obsession with riding bikes? It's been 21 years--starting out as a relief against boredom. Now, it's an act I have (some will argue "want") to partake in to calm life's general malaise.

Above is a photo by Scott Ehlert of me and some friends' pedaling: a simple act to soothe endless complications.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

A public announcement to hit all demographics.

If you're heading off to war, a convicted felon, a child of overly competitive parents, a fan of Leave it to Beaver's daily affirmations, or one who would rather take the advice of hippies ("just be nice:" posthumous sticker addition), this little league signage on the back of a dug out might suit you.

-MC (Photo taken on a bike ride). July, 2011.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Confronting "The End Times."

The hoop-la behind ideas of the Apocalypse are mentally trying for me. The thought of those giving up their jobs to sit on street corners boasting the end times as if it were a party not to be missed. The man who, leading up to May 21st, 2011, invested $140,000 of his own money in signage warning of the imminent dooms day this past month. And every other poor soul obsessed (at what seems to be a cyclic 7 to 8 year period) with the end of the world as we know it. I'm beginning to believe that this fear is some innate sense passed down from generation to generation: a more tangible answer to the unfeeling/uncaring cosmos that we are spiraling within straight towards our death. Yes, death is meaningless. But all those years building up to our personal introduction to nothingness are ripe for human substance: To love. To experience. To share.

To confront these overwhelming thoughts, the poem below has offered years of solace.



On the day the world ends

A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the
rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.

-Czeslaw Milosz

We're off to Iron Mountain.

For years I've wanted to take the hour long drive up route 60 to Bok Tower. May 30 was that day: a brutally hot one. Like the many things we take for granted (in our own back yards), this architectural gem sits atop a geographical anomaly that until we visited, I had no clue existed. Iron Mountain: 295 feet above sea level and the highest point on the Lake Wales Ridge. But more interestingly, one of the highest points on this giant sand bar we call home sweet home.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Learning to Read.

"In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy"

-Salvatore Scibona: "Where I learned to Read."

I remember driving to school one late afternoon. Biology class. Piles of mind-numbing homework that could not be applied to the every-day grit that was the life I was living as a post-teen. I remember the shade of everything outside turning a dull orange. That time of day when everything slows down and your mind is allowed to turn upon itself. To think. To reminisce. I remember that day (sometime in late Spring) for the epiphany...I wanted to read. Not the biological nonsense I was paying for. Not the inapplicable math as part of my curriculum. Instead, I wanted to read about the connections of human experiences. I wanted to read something tangible.
That Spring, after opposing the recommendations of my advisor, I switched to a degree in English. Beginning that Fall, an educational void was filled: from then on, my life truly became a "more intense and enigmatic joy."

Thank you.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Existentialism: sometimes its the best therapy...

There are tricks to living on a char, Khalilullah says. He builds his house in sections that can be dismantled, moved, and reassembled in a matter of hours…He uses sheets of corrugated metal for the outside walls and panels of thatch for his roof. He keeps the family suitcases stacked neatly next to the bed in case they're needed on short notice. And he has documents, passed down from his father, that establish his right to settle on new islands when they emerge…His real secret, he says, is not to think too much. "We're all under pressure, but there's really no point to worry. This is our only option, to move from place to place. We farm this land for as long as we can, and then the river washes it away. No matter how much we worry, the outcome is always the same."

Don Belt: Excerpt from an article on Char's (small tidal islands) within Bangladesh.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Liberal's achilles heal.

"Darrow wasn't a philosopher; he wasn't even an iconoclast. He was an agonist. He would argue one way; he would argue another; he just didn't want to see bigotry thrive or watch a man die. He liked to say that creeds were dope: 'No one can find life tolerable without dope. The Catholics are right, the Christian Scientists are right, the Methodists are right, the drunkards are right.' He thought his own dope was pessimism. It wasn't. His dope was compassion. He despaired for humanity mainly because he didn't meet many of his kind of addict. The problem is, you can't teach sympathy; like imagination, either you have it or you don't."

Jill Lepore writing on the life of Clarence Darrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Going too fast for myself I missed
more than I think I can remember

almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back

that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them

this morning the black shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying

Are you ready this time

-W.S. Merwin
I have a hard time standing idle. Being productive, being in motion, moving forward are what keep me motivated. It's what makes me feel, it's what makes me feel alive.
But in doing so, there's so much I overlook, so much I tune out...I often let my horse blinders get the best of me.
To take a second to understand my shortcomings, it might take a loved one to belittle me, it might take losing something or someone. Today it took this poem: a subtle reminder. Thank you.


Monday, May 9, 2011

The Tamiami Trail and US-1.

Before the infamous "Alligator Alley" there was the Tamiami Trail which connected, well, Tampa to Miami. There is one lane going north, and one lane going south cutting deep into the Everglades. Daytime speed limit: 45mph. Nightime limit: 35mph. A slow road indeed, but a road that forces you to see what truly makes up Florida--the exotic, the dangerous, and the sublime.
Once through the glades, you connect to US-1. A very different road...congested mostly, but a congestion that is skirted by 140 miles of ocean splitting thousands of small islands. Pure expanse in both directions.

Here is what I found...

Remnants of a cold war missle base. Key West.

Royal Poinciana. A dime a dozen in the keys, I know, but still perfectly majestic either way.

Key Deer. Endangered? Yes, we got lucky.

Bahia Honda state park and what's left of the Flagler railroad.

Nature's custodians or Zoroaster's minions? Vulters and an alligator meal. The Everglades.

Unidentified bug. The Everglades.

Did someone plant this or did a random seed happen to blow over from Cuba? Who knows? Very old, very tall Cuban Royal Palm deep within the glades.

M.C.-May, 2011.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Waters: deviate genius.

"My movies are a political act against the tyranny of good taste."

John Waters--passing statement on NPR's "Wait, wait, don't tell me."

Why are women cast in motion pictures?

"Often, the woman is in a movie just to make sure the audience knows the guy isn't gay."

-Catherine O'Hara on women in the movie industry.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Narcissistic validation of the self's primacy.

"I can imagine the sick mental pathways by which suicide comes to seem like the one consciousness-quenching substance that nobody can take away from you. The need to have something apart from other people, the need for a secret, the need for some last-ditch narcissistic validation of the self's primacy, and then the voluptuously self-hating anticipation of the last grand score, and the final severing of contact with the world that would deny you the enjoyment of your self-involved pleasure..."

Jonathan Franzen writes on David Foster Wallace's suicide. The New Yorker, April 18th, 2011.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Barber Shop Talk (overheard)

Barber: What would you like?
Client: A Princeton.
Barber: Haven't heard that in awhile.
Client: Is that not what you call it?
Barber: No, that's it. Damn right it's called a Princeton.


"I carry a pistol in my belt and an automatic rifle in my hands when I hunt wild turkey."


"My brother-in-law was diagnosed as a schizophrenic back in the 60's. He thinks Obama is the anti-Christ. I guess that's what you'd expect from a crazy person."


Overheard today while getting my hair cut--M.C.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Being at the right place at the right time.

"Nellie," my next door neighbor's cat. Practice makes...a perfect place to perch.

-Photo by M.C.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The cut-up truth of the absurdity of War.

The Finnish people now have a chance
to withdraw from their hateful partnership,
after the privations of life in Nazi internment camps
and the terrors of a “hell train” on which they left the Reich

while a record night attack by the RAF which hit Stuttgart, Munich
and other targets with more than 1,000 four engine
bombers carrying 3600 tons of bombs,
hinder sappers struggling to clear the debris

when two star players on Bloomfield high school's
1934 state champion football team
are together again in a war prison camp in Germany

unbeknownst to them a Detroit obstetrician is convicted
of conspiracy to violate the war time espionage act,
None of the foe found in the "Ghost City"

all the while the county game warden has been setting traps
during the last few weeks to catch the rabbits
that threaten to be pesty later on,
Forces listed “one elephant”
among the supplies and equipment taken from the enemy.

A Mopping up party was clearing
the last hold outs
from the last dug outs
on one of the marshall islands:

As a fuse was set to discharge the demolitions
a man came running out with his hands held high
"don’t shoot, Ive got a brother in brooklyn.”

Today, variable cloudiness
occasional rain;
Tonight and friday, variable cloudiness
occasional rain, somewhat colder.

Excerpts spliced and pasted from Passaic, NJ's "The Herald News."
March 16th, 1944

Monday, March 21, 2011

Those damn Luddites.

"The original Luddites would answer that we are human. Getting past the myth and seeing their protest more clearly is a reminder that it’s possible to live well with technology—but only if we continually question the ways it shapes our lives. It’s about small things, like now and then cutting the cord, shutting down the smartphone and going out for a walk. But it needs to be about big things, too, like standing up against technologies that put money or convenience above other human values. If we don’t want to become, as Carlyle warned, “mechanical in head and in heart,” it may help, every now and then, to ask which of our modern machines General and Eliza Ludd would choose to break. And which they would use to break them."

Excerpt from an article by Richard Conniff: "King Ludd's War."
Smithsoniam, March 2011.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The miracle of Eucalyptus oil.

Vendor: "There's many advantages to the use of Eucalyptus oil. It helps with head aches, general muscle pain, and it works as a flea repellant."

Customer: "So, what does it do to fleas?"

Vendor: "Once you put it on your cat or dog, the flea smells it, doesn't like the smell, then dies."

Customer: "Let me go ahead and buy that 20ounce bottle"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who will burn in Hell: addendum.

The signage I saw during Gasparilla was missing some key candidates. If it were my call, I'd cancel that list and instead call out these terrible people.

On the front of my sign:

"Carnival Clowns
Neighbors who play their bass too loud
Rush Limbaugh
Sea Gulls who steal food
People who wear v-neck shirts with boat shoes
Rick Scott
Hummer drivers
Growers of ironic mustaches that wear scarves in the summer
Human Ponies
Evangelical furniture salesman
People who park sideways in parking spaces
Tea baggers
but mostly human turd burglers"

On the back of my signage:

"Hell is a bit too harsh--but some sort of punishment will do"


Who will burn in Hell?

On the front of a man's banner held high over his head:

Immodest women
Gangster Rappers
Porn Stars"

On the back of his banner:

"You will burn in Hell"

Gasparilla Parade. Tampa, Florida. 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So what...

"So what, vegans are healthier and live longer. Let them be the last one's living on a dead planet."

Poached from

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Mechanic: 8am.

Overheard conversation while waiting at the mechanic's:

Mechanic: "Can I help you?"
Customer: "Do you work on Saab's?"
Mechanic: "I work on everything."
Customer: "Well, mine is special."
Mechanic: "All cars are special. They all break."

Febuary 11th, 2011.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lovecraft's adverbial density.

"Although Lovecraft's work was dismissed in his lifetime, contemporary writers including Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates have celebrated him as the heir to Edgar Allan Poe. Lovercraft's prose may have the highest adverbial density in English: 'I saw the freshly glistening and reflectively iridescent black slime which clung thickly to those headless bodies and stank obscenely.'"

Excerpt taken from Show the Monster by Daniel Zalewski.
Photo by M.C.. Providence, RI. August 2008.

Friday, February 4, 2011

You must be a communist.

While paying my way into a vintage Florida art show/flee market:

Doorman: "Do you want a red or blue stamp?"
Me: "I'll take blue."
Doorman: "I'll give you red."
Me: "Why?"
Doorman: "You look like a communist."