Sunday, September 30, 2012

the summer of polaroid


Late summer, in technicolor.  (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid Spectra Pro.  Film: Polaroid Image (expired 2009).

***
It's the last Friday of summer, and I skip the office early to catch the university train and meet Sarah for lunch. 

"Food truck!" Sarah exclaims, almost squealing.

Before long, we're park benched underneath the campus canopy of lemon-lime elms, thrilled with our artery-clogging lunch of bacon perogy soft pretzels and peanut butter, chocolate, and cinnamon mini-donuts.  Sarah smiles.  I unfold my Polaroid, and snap a picture.

This, is happy.

In a summer which started with palpable uncertainty, I guess maybe this was unexpected.  But in an instant life where nothing should be taken for granted, I've learned that it's best to keep these rare, true colour moments and remember them for everything that they are.  And, just maybe, somewhere, it really is forever summer.

More starfish and waffles to come.


Happy about mini-donuts! :) (2012). University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Chicago night skyline.  (2012).  Chicago, Illinois.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Three corners of architecture with the Sears (Willis) Tower on the right.  (2012).  Chicago, Illinois.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Two mammals agree: Hungry Hungry Hippos is the best game ever. (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Klaxon Howl. (2012). Toronto, Canada. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Blinded by the sun! (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


M-Maybe, by Roy Lichtenstein.  Probably my favourite work of Pop Art.  (2012).  The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Boo!  (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


The Chicago Cubs vs. the St. Louis Cardinals on a Friday afternoon.  Cubs star shortstop, Starlin Castro, is at bat.  (2012).  Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Drinking Coke from a glass bottle, nothing beats the real thing.  (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


Reading room.  (2012).  Harold Washington Library, Chicago, Illinois.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo. 


The Polaroid girls.  (2012).  Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid Spectra Pro.  Film: Polaroid Image (expired 2009).

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

six ways from sunday: sleeping satellites


Carry the world on your back.  Cloud Gate, Millennium Park, Chicago.  (2012).  Camera: Panasonic DMC-GF2.  Lens: Lumix G 14mm f2.5 ASPH Pancake.

***
It's half-past blue hour, but the air still hangs heavy over Millennium Park after the swelter of a humid, hundred-degree day.  Undeterred, crowds of locals and tourists alike play in squares and spaces, late into the night.

I'm in it, snapping pictures, freezing small moments here and there.

This is summer in the city - and Chicago, has to be among America's finest.  Of all the art and architecture, character and life, it's the friendly energy of the people that keeps me buzzing as sleeping satellites blink across the heights of a cloudless, midnight sky.

If only summer could last forever.

***
Six Ways from Sunday is felix's daily starfish and waffles' regular feature music column. Your mix tape with a theme, clicking on the active links below lead you to full-length, third-party, YouTube tracks of the day's musical selections.


1. Help Yourself :: Sad Brad Smith :: Up in the Air (2009).   Kind of sadcore, yet hopeful.  Kind of acoustic, yet electronic.  Yup, sounds like standard Six Ways from Sunday fare to us.


2. The Promise :: When In Rome :: When In Rome (1988).  What? You mean this catchy, New Wavy number actually existed before Napoleon Dynamite?


3. The Tide Pulls from the Moon :: William Fitzsimmons :: Gold in the Shadow (2011).  Incredibly tight and refined, with no wasted bars and notes, like seemingly all of Fitzsimmons' tracks.  Also a beautifully shot music video.


4. Ho Hey :: The Lumineers :: The Lumineers (2011).  Credit KW over at the Wren's House for giving us the heads up on this would-be sleeper.


5. Still :: Great Lake Swimmers :: Lost Channels (2009).  The Great Lake Swimmers personify Canadian indie folk-pop - still.  The Great Lake Swimmers are underrated - still.  The Great Lake Swimmers are one of our favourites - still.


6. The Leisure Lost :: Reverie Sound Revue :: Reverie Sound Revue (2009).  Paradoxically sultry and sleek all at the same time, the last minute-and-a-half of this track will leave you spellbound, especially when driving through the city at night.

Friday, July 20, 2012

notes from the west coast


Two houseboats.  Coal Harbour, Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade Cool.

***
Saturday morning, I'm on the first flight west over the Rockies.  Destination: Vancouver.

This is Canada's Lotusland, gorgeous sea-to-sky gateway to the Pacific Rim.  On first glance, it's small wonder that most Canadians would choose to live here before almost anywhere else ... never mind the bubbly real estate or ever-present threat of rain.

Just my luck, it's blinding sunshine the entire way upon arrival, and it drives the locals outdoors in droves.  Truly, there is no living like west coast living on a sunny day.

"Would you ever consider moving out to British Columbia?" asks a colleague.  (Technically, I'm in town to get some training with the Feds).

I would (to answer his question).

But for now, we have other things to address.  We will, however, file this thought in the back of our minds for later.

Next summer stop: Chicago.

More starfish and waffles to come. 


Pacific skyline.  Vancouver, Canada, as seen from Stanley Park.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo.


Breakfast at the Giovane Cafe + Winebar.  A famous GC+W sugarbun is on the left.  Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade Cool.


The Gelato King.  Bella Gelateria, Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade Cool.


Polaroid reflections.  Coal Harbour, Vancouver, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo.


Sidewalk citrus.  Robson Street, Vancouver, Canada.  (2012). Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Polaroid 600 (badly expired).


Sea otter back float.  Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, Canada.  (2012). Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Polaroid 600 (badly expired).


Stanley Park Totem Poles.  Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Vancouver, Canada.  (2012). Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade Cool.


Great sashimi, too much sake (sorry for the blurry photo).  Kingyo Izakaya, Vancouver, Canada.  (2012). Vancouver, Canada.  (2012). Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Polaroid 600 (badly expired).

Sunday, July 01, 2012

the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind


Soar like an orca.  Note the little kid in the bottom left of the frame, doing her best impression of the orca.  Love it.  Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo.

***
A week before I'm slated to leave for Vancouver, I give in to friendly peer pressure, make the phone call, and set up the date.  It's true. At this point, there really isn't much to lose.  More than anything, it's just healthy to have someone else to think about for a change.

A few days later, I arrive early and find a seat along the brick-side of the university-area coffeehouse.  I wait, mind half-calm and half-jittered, thinking to myself how, even after 34 years, this never seems to get any easier.

Just then, the front door swings open, and the soft light of the 7pm sun fans across the room, and there she is, tall and brunette and pretty, and she walks towards me before she meets my eyes and stops.  

"Hi, I'm Tara," she smiles.

"Felix," I reply.

We hug.

It's a nice moment - and we go on to have a nice evening.

So happens, nothing much becomes of it, but I guess that's dating.  There are a couple of more outings and nice moments after that first night, but we go our separate ways from there.  But that's ok.  As summer breaks, at least things seem to be moving in the right direction again, and it just feels good to be back out there.

Hope springs eternal amidst the sunshine of the spotless mind.

More starfish and waffles to come.


Rachel and a bunch of balloons at the Ping Spot.  Edmonton, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo.


Big yellow taxi at the corner of Granville and Helmcken Streets.  Vancouver, Canada.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2.  Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade Cool.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

true colour will save the world


Here at homebase, team starfish and waffles still believes that true colour will save the world. (2012).  Few will appreciate how difficult it was to get this shot.  Imperfect as the instant print may be, I think the colours are beautiful.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade by Nigo.

***
Feeling better might not be for a long time.  The thought clouds my mind most obtrusively on these quiet, lonely weekends, where I seem to have conversations only with myself.  It feels counterintuitive.  During the week, I'm surrounded by people, and there with the best of them.  Yet, in the end, being this close leaves me on the other side of good enough, and I wonder if it's better just to not be around at all.

I step out into my Saturday morning with a Polaroid SX-70, the original magic camera, and hopes that true colour will somehow save my world.  The need to create something meaningful with a medium as imminently challenging as the earlier generation Impossible instant films is a consequence of my disillusionment.  The emulsions are unpredictable.  The result is imperfect.  But at least the creative process is real, and I think it's a little bit of beautiful.

Not that most would actually understand.

These days, I rail against the mainstream in photography because I don't want another of what I hold close to be taken from me and trivialized.  The Instagram crowd?  Fake sentimentality brought to an iPhone near you by a clever software algorithm and a multi-billion dollar corporation.  The yuppie class with expensive dSLRs left on "auto mode" around their necks?  Narcissists, more interested in buying respect with shiny, expensive toys rather than earning it with actual skill.  The portrait semi-pros with Photoshop skills?  Good businesspeople, cashing in on an undiscerning general public with cookie-cutter poses at $300 a session.

I know it's terribly unfair to make such stereotypical accusations, but I hate the commoditization of creativity.  It leaves me angry.  Why does society reward those who take shortcuts, disrespect the process, and are ultimately undeserving of the spoils?

They took away my writing, too.  The Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest generation have made creative expression in 140-characters or less an art form for those with consumption-oriented attention spans to match, all the while letting an enterprising few profit exorbitantly from the abject sameness of it all.  Ugh.  Here at starfish and waffles, we've been online for more than seven years now.  While I harbour no inhibitions what we've done here is great or even very good, and even though probably the only folks still reading this are me, the bear, and possibly the cheetah, at least it's all been real.  And this should count for something.

"You wear your heart on your sleeve," Rachel had said, "and I don't think that's a bad thing."

I didn't - and don't - necessarily think so either.  Still, feeling better may take a long, long time.  In the meantime, I say fuck it all.  I'm going out to take some more Polaroids - and may true colour one day save the world.


A small branch of happy. (2012). Edmonton, Canada. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


The Garneau Theatre anchors my favourite corner of the city. (2012). Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


Saturday morning barista. (2012). Da Capo Caffé, Edmonton, Canada.  Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


Cappuccino. (2012). Da Capo Caffé, Edmonton, Canada. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


The electric railroad. (2012). Health Sciences LRT Station, Edmonton, Canada. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


South America. (2012). Rutherford Library, University of Alberta. Edmonton, Canada. I borrowed the globe from the librarian, but subsequently overexposed the shot :(. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


The morning news. (2012). Edmonton, Canada. The large undeveloped patch on the top left is where the film emulsion failed to develop. Such "poor pods" are not uncommon in earlier generation Impossible Project films. Camera: Polaroid SX-70 Land Camera Model 2. Film: Impossible PX 70 Color Shade 09/11.


Rachel and the office Coke machine. (2012). Camera: Polaroid Spectra Onyx. Film: Impossible PZ 680 Color Shade 05/11.

Monday, April 09, 2012

seventh heaven


Yay! The star editor of felix's daily starfish and waffles celebrates seven years online.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid Spectra Pro.  Film: Impossible PZ 680 Color Shade.

***
Happy Birthday to us!  April 10, 2012, marks seven years online for felix's daily starfish and waffles which, in the digital age, is a bit of longevity that we're quite proud of. For the few of you who still make the time to log in every now and then to share in all of the highs, lows, starfish, and waffles - we thank you.  We hope you're still with us seven years from now, and beyond.  Yay!


Roasting a couple of celebratory marshmallows at starfish and waffles headquarters.  (2012).  Camera: Polaroid Spectra Pro.  Film: Polaroid Image (expired June 2009).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

grin and bear it


A rambunctious Malayan sun bear cub at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia.  (2011).  This little guy bit me!  Fortunately, it was all in good fun.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.

***
"AUGGGGGHHH!! THERE'S A BEAR BITING MY LEG!" I exclaimed.

Because well, see, there was this bear, biting my leg.

Fortunately, the Malayan sun bear cub was just playing and refrained from piercing any skin, presumably thinking my calf was nothing more than a new, fun chew toy. Unfortunately, the batteries in Kim's camera had run dry and I didn't have the presence of mind to snap a picture (because I had a bear attached to my leg!), so we have no documentary footage of the two bearkeepers wrestling the rambunctious little guy off of me.  Somewhere, the editor was laughing.

We were volunteer bear keepers for a day at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, on a program put together by Free the Bears, an Australian-based NGO.  It had been a good day.  In the rapidly developing country of Cambodia, it's not surprising that nature and wildlife aren't at the forefront of most people's considerations .... but it was nice to see the friendly folks at centre doing their part, trying to raise awareness.  And from the looks of it, I think the rescued bears appreciated it, too.

The day before had also been a good day, though markedly different.  From the back of dusty tuk-tuk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, was a frenetic mess of motorcycles, population, and atmosphere.  It was a shock to the system after the isolated silence of Vietnam's Con Dao Islands, but who could really blame Phnom Penh for this?  It wasn't long ago that crazed dictator Pol Pot razed a nation and murdered a generation, so frantically making up for lost time was, quite frankly, overdue.

Back at homebase in the lobby of the newly opened Royal Mekong Boutique Hotel, the lodging's Minnesota-educated owner mused about how it was just nice to be able to work for himself.  His attentive staff bespoke of what was perhaps the most incredible enduring quality of Phnom Penh: even with the burden of heartache, the people here were friendlier than most.

This bodes well for the future.   


A couple of Malayan sun bears (Ursus malayanus) taking a dip in the pool on a hot, sunshiny day.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


If I didn't know any better, I'd say that this Malayan sun bear was grinning.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


Pesei, our terrific guide from Free the Bears, with a baby from the local village.  Phnom Tamao, Cambodia.  (2011). Phnom Tamao Wildlife Centre, Cambodia. (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


The bustling streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).   Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.


On the grounds of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.  Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 14mm f2.5 ASPH Pancake.


Dreamspace.  Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (2011).  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 20mm f1.7 ASPH.


A child portrait.  Choeung Ek, Cambodia.  (2011).  After a visit to the haunting Killing Fields of Cheoung Ek - one of the most brutal backdrops of the Khmer Rouge's atrocious regime - it was nice to watch the children laugh and play.  The human spirit prevails again over the oppression and ideology.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: Lumix G 20mm f1.7 ASPH.


George, an adorable sun bear.  Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, Cambodia.  (2011).  George was rescued from poachers who had treated him badly.  At the sight of humans, he still sucks on his foot as a security blanket.  The more you watch bears, the more you swear that they are part human.  Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2. Lens: M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8.