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Showing posts from February, 2012

Continuing a 32-Year Conversation With Myself

I've always been a fan of what I call "found object journaling." While most of my journals use freshly purchased wirebound notebooks, I sometimes find and use notebooks discarded by others for my thoughts. Like a crab finding an abandoned shell, I move right in and make somebody else's notebook my literary home for a few months. These notebooks are often from school classes, tossed away as soon as a class ends. They're rare, but they exist.

My latest find is a real gem. I know, because it's my very last class notebook from Princeton University, "Spring '80" written on its yellow cover. After I graduated I held on to it as a record of my closing months at Old Nassau. I knew I had it, but never paid much attention to it until I finished up a volume and decided to use the 40 or so open pages in the massive 130-page, narrow-ruled notebook now. So the classes of the 22 year old me are mixing with the daily thoughts of the 54 year old me. I think of i…

Photography on the Border

A theme that cycles through my book, especially the earlier chapters, is life on the border between Texas and Mexico. I very rarely went to Mexico, and for the tamest of reasons. But others went for untame reasons and I heard their conversations growing up. Drugs, cheap liquor and Boystown—the name of the red-light brothel zones.

The rawest reason jumped out at me during a recent visit to, of all places, the International Center of Photography in New York, one of my favorite museums. The exhibit that caught my eye, and took me right back to the banks of the Rio Grande, was a look at the contact sheets of the Magnum photo agency. Contact sheets are direct prints from negatives on to  photo paper, how photographers used to assess their work, finding the best and weeding out the rest.

One of the Magnum contact sheets came from photographs for a book called "Boystown: La Zona de Tolerancia," published in 2000 by Aperture in association with the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern a…