Thursday, August 28, 2008


Agnes and Phoenix
New York, NY
August 2008

Phoenix was born to my dear friend, Agnes Dahan, at Beth Israel Hospital at 9:38pm on August 8th after twenty two hours of labor. Phoenix was to be Phoenix were she a boy or a girl, and she came into the world with a lovely face and a head of dark, curly hair.

Just a few hours earlier in Michigan, my dog, Paris, passed away in a vet's office. His condition was even more dire than I had comprehended when I brought him home in July. My parents were present, and I talked to them shortly thereafter. I have spent the end of my summer grieving this loss, but I am truly relieved that his suffering has come to an end. And thanks again to everyone who reached out.

A friend asked where I think his spirit is now, and over the past three weeks, I have sought to answer that question for myself. So far, I have come up with five simple answers. His spirit is in dreams and memories. His spirit is in my heart, of course, and the hearts of many who knew him. His spirit is in dogs who I see on the streets of New York and who bring intense pangs of love and affection. And his spirit is in photographs that I cherish now more than ever - his soulful expressions, his seriousness, his silliness.

Sometimes, as a photographer, I almost lose sight of the fact that most people take photographs precisely for this reason - to preserve an impression of someone or something they love. That power and beauty of photography resonated with me in a profound way when I first opened my box of snapshots from our ten and a half years together.

As summer in New York winds down, I spent the afternoon accomplishing the last few essential things on my list of what to do in August. I watched Frozen River at the Angelika Theatre, an astonishing film about a pair of women struggling for survival on the snowy border of upstate New York and Canada. I saw black and white photographs by Scott B. Davis shot at night in the Land of Sunshine at Hous Projects. And I made it to Julie Saul in the knick of time for When color was new (vintage photographs from around the seventies), including work by early color photographers who never fail to remind me why I love this medium, like William Christenberry and William Eggleston.

Tomorrow, I leave on the Greyhound for Binghamton, NY to spend Labor Day weekend with my new girlfriend and her darling mother. I was excited to learn that not only is Binghamton the Carousel Capital of the World, it's also the hometown of Rod Serling ... creator of ... The Twilight Zone. How cool is that?

For now, my full attention goes to the radio, and to Barack Obama, and to one of those most inspiring moments in political history of my lifetime.

Cannon's Grocery
near Greensboro, AL
copyright William Christenberry

Untitled (Vizcaya, Miami)
copyright William Eggleston

1 comment:

Brandon Holmes said...

Wow, Tema, I really think that first picture is great. It's a very beautiful moment.

I'm sorry to read about the loss of your dog. But some new life will come from his passing you know.