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Archive for March, 2011

We had just left an exhibition opening at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and we were walking down a length of wide steps to the street.

My friend was a little taller than my shoulder. Raven black hair fell to her shoulders; it was parted in the middle and she was always brushing it back. The ridgeline of her nose was straight, almost sharp. She wore lipstick lightly, like the first blush on an apple. Her eyes were a deep blue, the color of sky at dusk before the blue turns black. She wore a raincoat, a Burberry and by chance I wore one too, but with the collar up.  It was late fall. A few leaves scattered over the pavement and there was a nip in the air. We did not wear hats. She was married.

We were talking about some inconsequential happening at the party. An acquaintance from the opening passed us with a wave. My friend kept talking, almost whispering, about the people at the exhibition and I leaned my head over to hear her soft voice, and put my arm around her. She smelled fresh as the fall evening we were stepping into. No perfume. She laughed about a quip she heard and I did too and she looked up. I looked down, and it happened. We brought our lips together.

It was our first kiss, about three seconds long. Gentle, soft. No lust or desire or force but our lips vibrated. It was an instant commingling of…what? Our souls? Our being. A past life shared?

She tucked her head into my shoulder and, arms around each other; we walked north along Fifth Avenue. We said nothing.I shouldn’t say walked; we floated. We had found what all of us ever want, even if for a few moments. My body pulsed, my psyche, my soul, id, whatever it is, sang.

POP! WHACK! THOWP! I woke wide-eyed, sat up in bed. Alone, of course. I looked at the clock. 6 AM …A DREAM!

‘WHO WAS THAT???’

Never had a kiss so charged me.

Suzanne was the first girl I kissed. She was skinny, wore her hair in pigtails, and I think she was blind in one eye. I liked her. We were on the ground looking at the clouds, as kids will do. I leaned over and grabbed her shoulder.

‘I am going to kiss you!’

She smiled.

I said it again as if a threat.

‘ I am going to kiss you!’

‘Go ahead,’ she said, and giggled.

I pecked her lips, fast as a snake striking. I pulled back, stood up and ran. I was six years old.

The next kiss was five years later. Lil was 13. We were at a night picnic, on a Connecticut pond, sitting on a bench, very close, touching each other. We were looking at a glowworm I held in my hand. Suddenly we looked at each other and kissed—a very chaste, tender, kiss. Sex was not on my mind and I don’t think on hers. Frankly, I didn’t know a helluva lot about sex. It was a kiss of the moment turned magical by the moon mirrored on the pond’s surface. Lil and I weren’t that close and I never kissed her again. Then my family moved away.

Post puberty kisses were, ahh…moister. Sometimes I licked my lips and my tongue probed. Lust and hormones took charge, and finally I was deep inside a woman on a couple of fronts. All sex, and that was the way it was for a while. If I were Philip Roth, I wouldn’t be writing about kisses.

So who, I wondered was this woman of my dream? My ex wife, she had a thin kiss. I can recall a few that were sloppy. Some kissed too hard and sucked. So did I. Then there were the greeting kisses, more like a chicken pecking up corn kernels. And pretend kisses, with women I didn’t want to particularly kiss, or even touch. And then there were  those out-of- control passionate explorations.

There was one woman whose first kiss was like my dream but her kiss was reserved; she was hiding something.

Most of my dreams take place when I was younger and lived in New York City.  Perhaps I passed the woman of the dream kiss on the street and we had eye contact, perhaps it was the airline stewardess on that trans-Atlantic flight, and I didn’t have the courage to ask her out, but I could feel this electricity between us.

I just don’t know. I lay back in bed, that early morning, shortly after 6 AM, and thought about the dream. Sex was not the force—it was the sharing of a different emotion that was detached from our senses, although that is where it began.

This woman of the dream kiss. She lives within my imagination.  That kiss is a yearning for some sort of enrichment that swims under our physical and emotional planes.

And you…have you experienced such a kiss?

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Going Bust in Vermont

Gas for my car is, at the local station, $3.49 a gallon. Propane just went up another 50 cents so I am paying $3.60 a gallon and it is going higher. Some have paid $5.00 a gallon. My property taxes are increasing due to a new fire station. Even vegetables in the supermarket have escalated in price, and hamburger with 80% fat (could be more for all I know) is $4.00 a pound.

With such high expenses, Vermonters watch it very carefully. It is why they don’t dine out very often, do not buy clothes unless it is absolutely necessary, stay away from the dental technician, cancel vacations or trips to relatives.

And shun books and photographs. This last I know too well, for it is what I sell. Independent book stores are dwindling, and so are the chains—Borders is in bankruptcy. Vermonters rarely buy my photographs, and I am caught between two rocks. Galleries want 50% commission on sales. If I keep the price low at Vermont galleries, I can barely cover expenses. If I put it too high, no one buys. If I use a bookstore to sell my books, I lose up to 65% of the retail cost in commissions. Out of state galleries tell me to raise my prices and forget the local market.

So I decided to switch sales to the internet and I now have two websites. http://Www.petermillerphotography.com holds my portfolio; http://www.petermillerimages.com is home for my books and photo archives, which I am slowly putting online. Both sites have shopping carts.

The web is beginning to work, with sales coming in from Boston, New York, Maine, Arizona and the mid-west. To pay for this, to reinvent myself, I have to up my line of credit. My house secures this line of credit. Let’s not include my other assests, such as my photo archive and stock photography income.

So the bank, where I have not missed a mortgage payment in 30 years, turned down my LOC application. I have more than enough assets, I have cash flow to pay my bills, but I do not show enough income on my tax returns to satisfy the bank. Of course this has always been true; photographers can expense and depreciate most of their income.

I am applying to a credit union and I will let you know what happens. I hear from others who are self employed that their long-term banks are turning them down.

I’ll write more about this later.

What is happening, though, with the high cost of propane, fuel oil, property taxes, and general expense of living, is that many Vermonters are leaving the state—or planning to leave, if they could only sell their home at a decent price.

And it makes sense. One couple I know left Vermont for New Mexico and bought a house with a similar appraisal. They estimate they save $10,000 a year in expenses; their property tax is $4,000 lower.

Vermont was founded on entrepreneurs—the self-employed. Almost all of the people in my books, Vermont People and Vermont Farm Women, are self-employed. Now it pays to be employed by the state, town, or large corporation, the type of people the banks love because their income is assured (and these employees have pensions, vacations and other benefits).

Well, there are a lot of generalities peppered in here but you get the idea.

 

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Yes, this photographer is going back in the darkroom. Many dismantled their wet process space and sold the equipment. I didn’t so my Zone VI enlarger, Aristo head, long sink and Jobo ATL 1500 film developer are in place.

I am making editions of prints limited to six, starting with a few of my images from Paris in the 1950’s. I want a paper that was a warm tone to reflect the feeling of this time. The photographs were taken on the streets between 1956 and 1958, when I was a Signal Corps photographer stationed in the City of Light. Many of the photos were published in my book The First Time I Saw Paris

The paper I chose is made in Czechoslovakia. It is called Fomatone warm tone classic MG 131 and is available from B&H in NYC and Freestyle Photo from LA.

It has a cream base and a warm tint. This is increased by using selenium toner 1-18 for no more than two minutes, to my eye. It gives the feeling of age and a softer impression than a cold paper (which I am also testing). I air dry the paper and need to put it in a dry mounting press to flatten it.

I think this paper will also do well with my Vermont scenics taken on cloudy days.

Why am I making darkroom prints when I have two Epson’s? I am searching for a look not so perfect, that has a feel of being hand made rather than turned out by a machine. Also I believe some collectors consider prints made by the photographer more valuable. i certainly am charging more for them. And I think they are a good investment for me or my children. My first prints will be made on 11×14 paper.

I am making darkroom prints of a few selected prints up to 16×20 inches. Most of my photographs will be Giclee, a fancy word for ink jet prints.

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A Letter from New Mexico

A friend sent me this note —one person’s opinion which reflects more on how our government has supported dictators and their military muscle rather than the people.

“I wish Egypt would go away. We’ve been sending them billions of dollars every year and now we have to up the amount to the trillions because they have no money in their ATM’s and their banks are closed (they just opened-pm).

I’m not proud to be an American. They hate us as does the rest of the world. Why do we send every country dollars when we have no dollars? What does “deficit” really mean? Where are we getting these dollars we don’t have?”

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