Archiving the Greatest Hits of My Life

Photography

revaz-birthday-small-0903“We’ll have too many memories.”

My friend Revaz, visiting his family over the holidays from New York, made his declaration rather facetiously after I commented on how many photographs I’d take on his birthday outing. I’ve known the guy for roughly 12 years, but it’s rare if we see each other more than five times a year. So, it was a no-brainer to take a Friday off for his 34th birthday, drive him to one of the best diners in Sonoma, and then schedule a tasting at the hipster-iest winery on the planet for great photo-ops. As you can see, deer head.

I agree with Revaz. Eventually, I think I’ll have way too many memories to sort though. We all will. But that’s exactly what I want. I envision a future where I have an archive of the greatest hits of my life: beautiful detours, my son and wife, my best friends, my best birthday, and my family. (I bet there is terminology for wanting this archive that some neuroscientist somewhere has coined. If you know it, tell me what it is.) I’m not ready to say forgetting is terrifying, but it’s a little bit scary.

Last year, my dad sent me a few family photographs my cousin had scanned and sent over to him. One of them (on the right) I had never seen before. I never knew this lovely thing existed until the day my dad emailed it to me. Since then, I’ve tried my best to understand everything I can about what was going on. Where were we? Why am I wearing white pants? How old am I? Who is taking the photo? Why am I smiling like a kid who just discovered a $20 in his back pocket? For me, there are simply too many…gaps. I don’t want that to happen.

I spent the afternoon of Revaz’s birthday adventure in Sonoma trying to capture the best of the rainy day light. I took overheard shots, anticipated conversations, and followed my son around to see what his smile would create. I stopped, as I always do, to participate, remember conversations, laugh, and enjoy everything around me.

But the archive is always important. And I managed to capture one image in particular that, to me, is already forever etched in my memory as an illustration of the day. I’ll let you guess which one it is.

Lastly, I won’t dedicate an entire blog post to this topic, but I will simply say that I’m investing in this space again. As my friend David has noted, owning a little piece of your own “internet real estate” is fun. I began blogging in 2000, lost a majority of my nonsensical stuff in a 2012 blogopacalypse, and I haven’t budged much since. But I miss you, blogging community. Let’s kick it again.

nostalgia

Capitalizing on Nostalgia

My life

Timehop is a mobile app that scrapes your various social networks to provide daily snapshots of what you were tweeting, updating, and publishing around the web one, three, five, and maybe even nine  years ago. One gratifying moment I look forward to is Timehop’s scraping of my Flickr.com account, the recently revamped photo site, and the showcasing of my underexposed, contrast rich, and horribly composed experimental moments of my youth. Usually I feel a tremendous pang in my gut that makes me visually grimace (although to myself), but then recedes. Shortly thereafter, I remember that these images came from many years of exploration and experimentation, and delight sets in. Emotions from distant years surface and, instantly, nostalgia.

Alex NYC

This Blog Won’t Get A Lot Of Page Views And I’m Content With That: Part I.

Blogging

I wake up. Google feeds. One thousand websites to scour for the best story of the day to duplicate, repackage, and sell to Latinos.

We have to make sure it’s “digg gold.” We can’t use “newsy.” We can’t use “flowery.” We have to pitch to everyone. Sell Gawker a story they already wrote about. Google trends says the zip code 71209 is “Volcanic.” Write up the post. Best not to be “too racial” about it.

Check the numbers. Sports Illustrated linked us. Nice.

Have we posted about the Mexican model who recorded a sextape on her cell phone? “It’s huge!” Sell it.

Silence. Silence. Silence. For days and days and days. 1,000,000 page views and I couldn’t be more vulnerable to bashing my head in with my new DVD player.

Twelve hours go by and I’m still in my pajamas.

“Alejandro, I don’t care about good writing. I care about page views.”

What is this place? It’s myopia maximized. I’m writing for a Latino audience, correct? Hello?! 427 different beats crunched into a cramped 10 hours. I swear there was something about this project that involved Latinos.

Linked to Gawker again. Not, like, a hyperlink. People think the website is Gawker. Right. It’s the model. I forget.

“Alejandro, it has to be GQ fused with Maxim, or maybe Esquire. But you know. Like, Latino.”

No. I really don’t.