Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Huntington Brothers

Two years and two months to the day separate my brother (Tim) and me. As children, Tim and I spent most of our time together, running through the woods, building forts, snowboarding, harassing the neighbor girls, and pursuing countless bouts of obsession like Legos or Airsoft. Since leaving for Maine more than three years ago, I have seen Tim less and less. Last summer I was busy interning at Ralph Lauren and LL Bean Signature, while Tim was 3,000 miles away cultivating a small farm on a piece of family property. Despite our seemingly divergent interests, I am interested in concept design while Tim is interested in food politics and food systems, our ties have only strengthened as time rolls on.

Tim and I have spent the last two weeks playing in the woods, throwing rocks, soiling our clothes and getting dirt behind our ears and under our fingernails in the same way we did some fifteen years ago. Recently, we replaced our wrist rockets and homemade bows and arrows of old with a Colt 38 Frontier Single Action Sixshooter and Winchester Model 67a bolt action .22.

Self Portrait: Filson Mackinaw Cruiser, my Grandfather's Eagle Scout shirt from the 40's, Rolex Submariner on nylon band, and Colt 38 Frontier Single Action Sixshooter.

After some deliberation, multiple hoots and frequent spins of the revolver's cylinder, we headed out in search of a train to hold up, a bank to rob, or a posse of Pinkertons to play cat and mouse with. Despite our commitment to engaging in criminal acts, we eventually settled the steel sights of our trusty tools on some unsuspecting clay pigeons conveniently arranged in our backyard. Our half-hour gun fight left far more cartridges shot than targets hit and without a doubt, many New York financiers would have taken three to one odds on the clay pigeon in a duel. We swore, we shot, we complained about ear plugs, we kicked piles of dirt and we shot some more; I guess boys will always be boys.

Here are some more links,
The Huntington Brothers (Picasa).

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Campfire at Sunset

The sun sank behind the fir trees on a nearby ridge as my younger brother and I searched the hilltop for scraps of dry wood. After weeks of rain, dry wood was as rare as a liberal at West Point. Armed with a Leatherman, a magnesium fire starter stick, and a handful of receipts from the glove compartment of my dad's truck we set out to warm our cold fingers and hear the snapping of a small campfire.

A cold east wind flew through the gorge, bending Douglas Fir trees and complicating our attempts of starting a fire.

The last wisps of light drifted west as I scraped fragments of magnesium off the starter stick onto the receipt. I gingerly set up a small Tee-Pee around the dime-sized pile of magnesium and struck the ignition stick. For an instant, the flames lept up around the cedar kindling like second graders around an 18-year-old teacher's assistant. Despite my feverish attempts to blow over the miniature log house, the flames only darkened the frayed edges of the cedar, dying out completely within a minute. Unfazed, I pulled a rumpled oil change receipt from October, 2007 out of my pocket and started chipping away at the fire starter.

A small flame quickly warmed my hands and illuminated my shadow on a nearby bush. After thirty minutes of breathing wood smoke, dirtying my knees and periodic, frantic searches for pieces of dry firewood, the shy flames finally lingered. Quickly, the dinner plate sized blaze developed into a self respecting campfire.

Tim's well loved, size 14 Danners warming by the fire.

For the next hour and a half, Tim and I stoked the fire and chatted brotherly things. We watched wither and warp, and hiss and pop.

Some will talk over a beer, others over a caffeinated beverage, for me I will take a fire any day. I love the smell of smoke, the labor of splitting wood, the occasional teary eyes from changing wind and the lingering flavor of fire for weeks on your jacket or sweater.

Here are some more links,
A Campfire at Sunset (Picasa).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

At the Edge of the Columbia River Gorge

As a child, I spent a lot of time 45 minutes due east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. Protected by the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the land has strict and drastic growth limitations. State Highway 14 connects the sprawl of Southwest Washington to the tall forests, basalt cliffs, and waterfalls of the Gorge (as its called by both x-pat Portland yuppies and local loggers).

After ten miles of dense spec homes and sewage treatment plants, the suburban sprawl evaporates, exposing the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and its flood plains speckled by the occasional tree.

My parents now both live in the Columbia River Gorge and I frequently drive through this game reserve on my way to and from Portland. Despite making the trip thousands of times in my 21 years, the beauty of the contrast between the gross urban sprawl of the Portland area and natural beauty of the Northwest always forced me to look up from my phone or magazine and take in my setting.

While driving home after a few errands in Portland on a despicable December day, the wind, rain and clouds flowing out of the Gorge inspired me to stop. I parked my car on the side of the road, turned off the Dire Straits, grabbed my camera and headed towards the fields. I hopped the barbed wire and strolled aimlessly through the fields. The minutes melted together as my mind started racing, keeping pace with the whistling of the wind through the grass and the pendulum like bending of the leafless branches on the occasional tree.

Drawn to the creaking of limbs, I followed the sounds, eventually settling on this lone tree. Bending and shaking from the winds rushing west from the desert east of the Cascades, I stood watching the clouds fly towards the big city like bubbles towards a bath's drain, or to those of the Luddite persuasion, toilet paper towards the sewers.

Here are some more links,
The Edge of the Gorge (Picasa).

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Trip to Winn Perry

Last fall I started hearing chatter about a new menswear shop in my hometown, Portland, Oregon. As time marched on and my interest in menswear continued to grow, I kept tabs on the budding shop in Southeast Portland. After a 12 month hiatus from Portland, I finally made it down to SE 11th to check out the shop's wide selection of menswear brands including Alden, SNS Herning, Band of Outsiders, Quoddy and Hill-Side.

Winn Perry sports a nice array of Hill-Side ties and bandannas.

Jordan, Winn Perry's founder, giving a breakdown of some of his offering ideas for future products and collaborations. Jordan named the store after his great grandfather and started the store after graduating from Portland State.

Some parts of the shop reminded me of Alex Carleton, like these Aldens, harpoon and chest.

Where the cards are swiped, the cash is given, and emails are answered.

Those Band of Outsiders plaid shirts caught my eye, I am just a sucker for red and blue.

Winn Perry has a nice mix of New England Nautical, Classic English and local Northwest.

Wherever I go, I find pieces of Maine. These Quoddy's looked great.

Some Pendleton pieces from the collaboration with Opening Ceremonies.

Rules for My Unborn Son showing proudly.

I am glad to see young entrepreneurs making a run at it in menswear and putting Portland on the Map. For a one room shop, Jordan has amassed quite the list of brands that would leave many of Manhattan's most coveted shops envious.

Here are some links,
A Trip to Winn Perry (Picasa),
Winn Perry.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cost of a Toss

A week ago, I sat on a snow-caked bench throwing my shoe in the air. My hands trembled as a chilling wind picked up, bringing the adjusted temperature down into the the single digits. I shook the snow off of the Vibram sole, rearranged the red laces, reset the focus and stretched out my hand. With a toss and subsequent "thump" of the shutter, my 5d Mark II took a 1/8000 second exposure, freezing my Danner boot in the air forever. Unsatisfied with the result on my three inch LCD, I repeated the process. As blood drained from my hand, I focused on the small image visible through the viewfinder for another 40 minutes deadset on getting the desired image. After 100 tries, my freezing hands overcame my uncompromising, perfectionist desire to get the perfect image and I retired my camera to my backpack and headed towards the car.

My stubbornness, overly critical tendencies and often stratospheric expectations instrumental in creating my aesthetic taste lend themselves to all aspects of my life and identity. Recently these traits have put a lot of pressure on the relationships in my life that I value most and forced me to take a step back and assess.

The cost of not getting your way or being over critical is not an uncomfortably cold hand (like with taking photos of flying shoes), but a break down of close ties. I can afford to toss my shoe in the air 100 times to capture an image but I cant afford to approach my personal relationships with the same selfish criteria.

On the flight home from New England to the Northwest, I finished Edward S. Curtis's biography, Shadow Catchers. Curtis' inability to compromise and approach to his personal relationships with the same criteria of his capturing images of Native Americans resulted in an extremely depressing personal life culminating with his death at 84 in the house of his only child that would put up with him. I share this story and metaphor not as an excessive public self critique, but because I feel it has relevance to a lot people and is a topic often overlooked. The challenge is to let my critical eye, high expectiation and conviction to my values florish with my work but not define my relationships with the people around me.

Here are some more links,
The Cost of a Toss (Picasa).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Changing Seasons: Winter

Winter comes on early Maine. Starting in early November, the imminent threat of snow lingers on the fringes of the ten day forecasts. When the snow finally arrives, Mainers show their true colors and break out plows and shovels and attack the snow with the tenacity of a teenage boy attacking a zit on his nose. The snow and freezing cold usher in a new tempo and force people to adjust to the harsh conditions. I like it. This collection of images shows the contrasting aspects of my aesthetic and the rugged seasonality of the place I currently call home.

Sitting on a bench over the quad last fall I took off my shoe on an ADHD impulse and threw it in the air.

Paul Smith Hudson Canvas Sneaker in January.

Common Projects Court Sneaker in April.

Vans Era in August

Ralph Lauren Wingtips in October.

My Danner Mountain Light II over the quad on a chilly Thursday in December.

Here are some more links,
Changing Seasons (Picasa),
Changing Seasons (ART).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Playing with Small Radio Control Planes

Ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to fly. As an elementary school student, when asked what superpower I would have if I were a superhero, I would immediately reply, "I want to fly." The possibilities of invisibility, living forever or being the strongest person in the world failed to register as a blip on my radar. The idea of seeing things from a different angle always has and always will intrigue me.

Recently I have spent a lot of time chasing buzzing RC planes around fields, climbing trees, gluing plane parts back together, and soldering electrical components after frequent crashes, all in the hopes catching a few glimpses of ordinary objects from a few hundred feet up.

With a quick toss into the wind, the foam plane soars into the air as the electric motor buzzes. The plane bounces around on the breeze, slowly gaining altitude. I relax and the whir of the plane's motor slowly fades to faint hum.

For aerial photography I have been using a Pentax Optio A40 velcroed under the wings of a small electric plane. With a flick of a switch on the radio, an infrared trigger hooked up to the plane's receiver fires the camera shutter. Driving along I-95, these black lines in the pavement, tar patches, register as nothing more than an annoying vibration, but from an altitude of 300 feet they look like something from movie 2012.

Test firing the Optio A40's remote shutter. The plane's tail is barely visible in my Vuarnets sunglasses.

Tucker and Dan's eyes to the sky.

My shoes from a different angle on a chilly December afternoon.

I think it's very important to pursue things that are fun regardless of apparent face value practicality. I have no idea what will come of taking photos from small RC planes, but it sure is fun to see them fly around above.

Here are some more links,
Playing with Planes (Picasa),
A Sunday Flight (Picasa).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Bench by the Sea

Sitting on a stone bench, I watched the cold morning's wind skip across the Atlantic like a stone on a pond. I kicked some moss into the wind, stretched my back and nestled my fingers into the depths of my down jacket to protect them from the constant nibbles of the late fall breeze. For an untold amount of time, I repeated this process in a distant daze known only to a morning person with ADD. I pondered this and contemplated that.

This Thanksgiving I forwent the 3,000-mile jaunt back to the Northwest and instead made the 75-mile drive down to Cape Elizabeth. For the first time in my 21 years, I spent a holiday without kin but with a close friend and his family. In the mornings I would wake early and wander down towards the crashing waves and whistling wind.

The constant sound of waves crashing against the jagged shoreline formed a rough melody for my daydreams. Suddenly avoiding the occasional overzealous wave and staying out of ankle-deep tide pools whilst hopping from one kelp-covered rock to another replaced my superficial worries.

Meandering down the shoreline one morning, I climbed over a large rock to see a rock bench set into the a hillside. Despite a dilapidated sign offering a halfhearted warning, I kicked back and made myself comfortable.

Oh life's simple joys...

Here are some more links,
A Bench by the Sea (Picasa).