Friday, October 29, 2010

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Rothko in Winchester Center

The wonderful thing about an abstract is that it only slightly resembles reality.  We catch a glimpse of what is real; we see it, but it is distorted just enough to make it different.  In essence, we see an extrapolation of reality.

Deep down within we know that the image resembles something we've seen before.  Our mind and our eyes try to make sense of what we see.  We go through a cognitive deciphering process to break the code.  Breaking the code in some instances is the difference between viewing a Pablo Picasso or a Jackson Pollock painting.  One offers at least the illusion of reality while the other offers no clues.  Both are strictly about the details.

We hit points in our lives where we can't discern the reality of a situation.  Our perception of our own capabilities become distorted.  The picture we see is ambiguous like an abstract painting.  It's okay to ask our friends for help.  Perhaps the picture they see is different from the one we perceive.  Perhaps they've got clues that we don't have.  The idea of asking is foreign for males but we could all learn to ask for guidance and coaching.

As a photographer, I don't always see or get the picture.  There are times I have to find the picture within the picture.  I crop and rework the image until the motive for my shooting surfaces.  In this case, I really did see a Rothko.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Small Town Diner

Yankee Small Town Diner

There are some very basic rituals in our lives.  The routine of the morning breakfast at a hangout seems to be a great tradition where oversized folks in little chairs are the norm.  Inexpensive food draws out the heavy contenders.  I can't say I blame them.  Value is important especially during tough times.

My voyeuristic photographer tendencies surface at these places.  I am drawn by the mystique of the hangout like Norman Rockwell was to a Thanksgiving day meal.  These are real people with mundane lives, salt of the earth types.  Not everyone was meant to be the corporate mogul you know.

If the truth be known, sometimes I like hiding in their midst.  I am one of them.  "How ya doing?  Mind if I join you?"  I feel at home and at ease.

There's not much that really separates me from them, a few twist and turns.  Our roots are similar and for a few moments I draw nourishment from them.  I know where I came from and I draw strength from those that surround me.  I am reminded from their communion that I have  strength to draw from.  Sometimes it's good to be reminded.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


He Had "a Lovers Quarrel with the World"

New England is the resting place of many of the thinkers and writers who influenced my thoughts.  By mere coincidence on my journey, I found the final resting place of my favorite poet, Robert Frost.

Pennies For Your Thoughts
The cemetery in Bennington, VT is the type of place where romantics would want to be buried.   It is a tranquil place surrounded by elderly maple trees and in the shadows of a white colonial church.  It's a place where patriots lie and saints await their awakening call.

Frost questioned the conventions of his time.  He despised the norm and was not afraid  to get us to ask why?  Thought and reason are not bad things.  Unquestioning and lack of curiosity are more dangerous to our development.

Graveside Birch
Beneath this earth lies a man who was not afraid to live and was not afraid to ask why things were the way the were.  "One could do worse, then become a swinger of birches."  Question it all and perhaps you can enjoy what life truly offers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflecting on Autumn

North of Granby, CT

For the past two years, I've tried to chase the colors of the autumn I knew as a child.  The weather plays a crucial role in determining just how deep the colors will be and how long they will last.  No two years are alike.  Coming from New England, I can tell you that we all look forward to the autumn.  It brings a welcome surprise each year.

Bountiful Pumpkins
Granby, CT
Autumn then for me was a time of both reflection and connection.  It was a time that I gave myself permission to enjoy the smells of fallen leaves and apple cider.  I looked forward to the promise of colors, the cornucopia of pumpkins, and bushel baskets brimming with freshly picked apples.  It wasn't as much the end as it was the beginning, a clearly marked season.

There are changes going on in my life.  I can't say that I was ready for the autumn to set in.  I anticipate that it will be colorful.  We talk more about spring than we do about autumn, but my experience tells me that autumn can be more interesting.  Spring only brings shades of green.

If I can learn to appreciate and anticipate all over what autumn brings, I know that I will be able to enjoy this season more.  It's time to enjoy all that I've done and the friendships I've made.  Just perhaps in my autumn I will find the renewal of purpose and hope that I've been looking for my whole life.

My Dad wisely loves to tell me:  "no one leaves this world alive."  Learning how to enjoy each season is important.  We don't know what colors autumn will bring, but if it's anything like I've recently witnessed, even the end proves to have a colorful ending.  None of us knows the ending, but it will end.  In the mean time, I choose to harvest friends and memories.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Pond and Autumn Leaves
Near Winchester Center, CT

Weathered Home
Bennington, VT
It seems like the six days I spent in New England and the Catskills was simply not enough to take it all in.  The natural splendor is a cacophony against the old and run down mill towns past their prime.  Autumn in New England is not about the old and what was;  its about the promise of the harvest.  It marks the end of the farming season and the beginning of the harvest.   Colors punctuate the event.

Pumpkin Harvest
Granby, CT
As I walked through pumpkin patches, drove through back roads, and hiked trails from Connecticut to the Catskills of New York, I thought about the harvest in the autumn of my life.  It seems that along the journey, I've sown seeds of friendship unbeknownst to me.  While the colors of autumn overwhelmed my senses, the harvest of friendship filled my basket full.

I met with classmates and teachers that I had not seen in some cases for thirty six years:  A baseball coach who looked the same:  fit, smiling and wise; girls, now women, who always offered me their friendship and smiles and laughter, an assistant high school principal and former teammate,  and a next door neighbor,  practically my sister, who taught me to  enjoy pets even though I am allergic to them.

Leaf peeping was interspersed with the harvesting of friends and memories.  I had forgotten them but they had never forgotten me.   For one moment, as we met and recanted old stories, it was as if I had never left.  We were part of each others lives growing up.  They always had smiles for me even though we didn't have much at times to smile about.  I left back then knowing that I wished them all well, but I knew that I had to leave.   What was best for me couldn't be found in the town were revolutionary patriots and their families were  interred in family plots.  I simply did not fit in.

The harvest brought me back full circle to New England.  It was not simply the foliage.  The seeds of friendship planted so many years ago now offered me their bounty.  Familiar faces a little worn from time and personal trials greeted me in my autumn.  Yet behind every autumn, there's the chill of winter, and the promise of spring, summer and another harvest.

It occurs to me that there are many more seeds that I could plant along this journey.  Remembering to harvest is equally as important as the planting.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Traveling Up the River

Kaaterskill Creek Bend in Palenville, NY

Sometimes it seems like before you can move forward you have to swim against the current and up the river.  You go back to to find it's source and to gain better understanding of yourself.  In so doing, you begin to unravel the complexity of what defines you and why.

As beautiful as New England is I also understand why I chose to leave.  In the town I grew up, there was no future, there was no hope for someone like me.  It was during the tough times of adolescence that I formulated my strategy to leave and chase all of my dreams.  It was about opportunity and my desire to succeed.  

Already my moral compass pointed due north.  I watched some of my classmates succumb to peer pressures:  drugs and alcohol.  I didn't want to risk the wrath of my father and compromise my future.  I didn't want to add to my troubles and miss out on my dreams.  Always in the back of my mind, loomed the constant reminder that we were winding down a war, but my draft number was 65.   It seemed inevitable, either the factories or the war could get you.

Some of my classmates insist that I was intelligent.  To this day, I deny it.  It was simply fear and my desire to survive that kindled my ambition and perceived intelligence.  To that extent, by my own admission, I am a fraud.  Fear of failure motivated me for most of my journey.  It never was about pursuing my passion nor academic excellence.

While fear served me well, I've come to the realization that it no longer drives me.  Pursuing my passion is now my catalyst.  Doing this requires letting go of my fears;  the engine that drove my life for nearly a half a century.

So here I sit in New England getting reacquainted with friends forgotten.  I am trying to rekindle new sources of motivation and confidence that will drive the second half of my life.  Looking for clues and reminders of my success and learning to let go of what drove me most, fear.

Nothing has change but everything has changed.  I wont be buried in the peaceful cemetery  that graces our beloved Winchester Center.  That cemetery will not be home for me.  I will have a different home and a different journey, but I will not rest there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Valued Customer

Hauling Human Freight
Cattle Cars in the Sky

The airlines have apparently found the last of the remaining Nazis.  These men have been asked to utilize their logistic skills to design airplane seating for the "New World Order".  Seating will be minimally functional and totally inhumane.  This is not about comfort or service it is about logistics and profits.

Apparently, someone whispered into the ears of airline executives that passengers do not want comfort and will only pay for cheap flights.  Give me an airline with relatively good service and comfort and I will pay a premium.  How we are currently being abused on long distances is simply not right.  We are not freight; we are humans.  This was three and a half hours of misery.

Well I better get over it, i've got more of the same tomorrow.  Valued customer, my ass!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dark Clown

Dark Clown

Sometimes the image I want doesn't always appear the very first time.  It may take time before I can fully get the picture that I intended, the picture that's within.  That's the case with this image.   By definition clowns are happy but this one seems to have two sides.

There are blessing with being creative.  We are given the ability to see and sense what others can't.  What is obvious to me may not be as obvious to you.  I can accept that but it doesn't preclude me from seeing.  This is my journey.  I choose to share my experiences with you.

This is not about reality or even truth.  It is about my perception.  It has no absolute right or wrong.  There's no quiz and no penalty.  It's simply how I see it.  I choose to share it with you.

This image was taken with my Canon 5 D Mark II, processed with both Photoshop CS5 and further interpreted by me at 37,000 feet on my iPhone en route to San Jose, CA.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mustang Swing

Jack Walton
Mustang Swing

This morning was full of unanticipated treats at the local farmers market at our town center.  A group of musicians called Mustang Swing played a bluesy form of cowboy western swing that just made you set a spell and listen.  As you know earlier this week I got hung up on Randy Travis.  By weeks end I was ready for the real steel guitar music featured by Mustang Swing.

Having Fun
Matthew Walton & Kristyn Harris
The real treat came in the petite sixteen year old Kristyn Harris a cowgirl from McKinney, Texas.  Kristyn may love her mustangs but this young lady has a Patsy Cline future.  Equally as talented was Matthew Walton on the steel guitar.  The pair accompanied by musician parents Teresa Walton on bass and Jack Walton electric guitar sang retro cowboy swing era music as if they had just heard the likes of The Sons of the Pioneers,  Bob Willis, Patsy Montana or Gene Autry on the radio.

This good old fashioned western music was enough to keep me humming all day long Sioux City Sue and Roly Poly.  Come to think of it, I did marry a "cowboy sweetheart".  There's something special about all of this.  Music transcends our melancholy.  There's plenty to sing about, still.

Mike Harris
Thanks Mike Harris for listening to me.  We started out as perfect strangers at the beginning of the show and parted as friends.  Keep up the work with your daughter.  You are obviously are a great inspiration.  Thank you for sharing her talent with us.  She has truly found her element.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sticks and Stones

LBJ Grasslands
Alvord, TX

It's one of those mornings where my brain is a little foggy.  The coffee maker appeared to be malfunctioning only because I left the water in the pot instead of pouring it into the coffee maker.  Let's just say I am not quite lucid yet.  However, I can still tell a story.

Growing up was not easy for many reasons.  I was the only Puerto Rican kid in my hometown of Winsted, CT; it was a fact I hid because despite Rita Moreno, it wasn't cool to a "Spic".  Our town was so small that most thought I "passed" for Italian.  (In those days that was a politically correct complement.)  Most were Irish or Italian in my town and if you were Polish you were from Torrington.  My teachers in elementary school constantly tested me, like a rhesus monkey, to see if I could actually achieve like the others.  After all it was obvious that I had an  ethnic handicap.  Despite my teachers, I believed in no child left behind before it became main stream.  (This child new he was destined for better things and he still does.)  

Being so chubby that it required a squad of boys to get me up on the the dreaded gymnastic horizontal bar did not make me extra popular.  I had my enemies.  Bullies who not only verbally taunted me with names but who physically challenged me after school.  Although I knew how to temper my rage, I also learned to stand on my two feet and fight the bullies.  I could launch both a physical assault or I could hammer them intellectually. Bullies don't like to be intellectually challenged.

Time passed and by the time we were ready for high school some amazing things happened.  My #1 bully, Bruce Thompson, became my friend.  Bruce was a good guy with many personal demons and lots of sadness.  We became friends thru another friend Choo Choo aka David Lasko.  It seems that 
Bruce was intrigued by Dave's intellect, his humor, and his artistry.  Bruce grew to admire how different we both were.

Years past after High School and I learned that Bruce became heartbroken and committed suicide.  To this day, I feel like I could and should have made a difference in Bruce's life.  Somehow I should have been a better friend.  I could have been more honest and open and shared some of my fears and doubts.  We all have them but we are never alone.

It bothers me to think that I let sticks and stones get in the way of real friendship.  He needed help and he never got it from any of us,  his friends.  After his death, I never feel sorry for myself.  Instead, I do feel a responsibility, to be honest, open, and a caring as I can with all of you.  Yes, I am idealistic, but we all need caring friends sooner or later.

Please don't worry, you are not going to catch my melancholy.  It's not contagious.  Every once in a while make yourself reach out to someone and just really ask them how they feel and how they are doing.  We were put on this earth for a reason and I know that that reason goes beyond a 401K or a round of golf.  Think about all the people that are no longer in your life and ask why.  Get to know your "friends" beyond the superficial.

At times,  I have allowed the stick and stones to break my bones.  I've not quite gotten to the point where  "names will never hurt me".  Just maybe today, I should begin working on that part of my ego.  

My name is Eliazer (Al) Hernandez son of Pablo and Josefina Hernandez and the little brother of Lydia and Zaidy.  I am the gandson of Evangelista Hernandez Vargas and Pablo Hernandez Soto and of Leonor Lisboa Cardona and Manuel Rios Roman.  This is all I have to say today, I have some coffee finally brewing and I know I need a few more cups.  If you ever need a friend full time or part time, I am available.  By the way, late next week I will be in my home town archiving memories with my camera and hanging out at ABC House.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Come Out and Play

Fort Worth Memories

Cowboy Balloon Mime
It's been a while since I've picked up my camera.  There's been a lot on my mind.  This weekend I took the liberty to just shoot.  The Stockyards in Fort Worth always makes for some good visual entertainment.

There's a child in everyone of us that needs to come out and play.  As adults we sometimes forget.  Please don't be offended that I ask you to come out and play with me.  It's just that it's my nature to have fun with what I see and what I feel.

Adults need to play not only compete.  There are times that we need to not only smell the coffee but we need to eat the cotton candy.  When was the last time you gave yourself permission to do both?
Clown With Client
It's seems like its been an eternity since I was a child.  I remember playing from sunrise to sunset with my next door neighbor Susie.  As soon as I put on my dungarees and my white tee shirt, I would be knocking on her door to see if she would come out and play.  The days were full of bike riding, button candy, and red licorice.  We played hard and laughed until our parents call beckoned us to go home.  The next morning we did it all over again.

We didn't get tired of the games we played or of the friendship we enjoyed.  It was back then that I dreamt my big dreams of leaving my childhood behind.  I never knew how much I would miss until as an adult I've observed children play.  Deep down inside, I think it's the reason we want grandchildren.  I think its because we miss the popcorn, halloween, fairs, and candy apples.  Would it hurt so much to just enjoy all of that all over again?

Little Cowboy Dude Asking Dad to Play
So today, I exhort you to think again about that childhood.  It's not to late to become a child again.  Wont you please come out and play again with me.  Let's run down to the candy store and stuff our pockets with taffy, button candy, and licorice.  If there's a snow cone stand, let's do that too.  Life is far from over to let go of the child you want to be.    Don't let things hold you back.  Life is short but it can be so sweet.  Let that child play again.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Always on My Mind

Chuck Noland Stood Here
So Did I

This has been a great week.  I feel energized by the endless possibilities that await.  All of you know that since I started this journey, I accepted the responsibilities of just letting go.  After being sidelined by self-doubt and anger over my plight, I am excited about what awaits me.

My business calendar and my personal calendar are beginning to fill up.  In the next several weeks and months, I will be in San Jose, CA, the Bershires of CT, Honk Kong and Shanghai, Florida ( to spend time with my parents), and El Salvador.  For the first time, I will unashamedly combine both business with pleasure.  This is the type of journey and life that I dreamed of as a child but I forgot about as an adult.

Last night, I watched Castaway again in the media room.  I thought about Chuck Noland's battles with time as a FedEx employee and then as the lone survivor stranded on an island, isolated from everyone.    There he realized that he could not control anything not even his own death.  The movie packed with meaning and disappointments, ends where it originally started, at the cross roads somewhere in the Texas Panhandle (Canadian, Tx.)   He delivers the package that fostered the idea of his escape.  He writes a simple note and attaches it to the package.  It reads:  "this package saved my life."

Al & Chuck Were Here
Chuck delivers his package on his quest to find what he wants to do with the time he has left to live.  We see him again at the crossroads looking at his map.  I've been to that exact location where Chuck Noland stood.  I had to.  I desperately wanted to find the person I had lost and was frightened of becoming.  I was looking for direction and at that crossroad, I got a further glimpse of me.  A stranger drove up in a pickup truck (Lari Smith) and met Chuck.  Chuck found out why he was there.  The movie ends with a smile in Chucks eyes, the music plays that heart wrenching tune of a distant trumpet.

It was important for me to lose my job.  It was important for me to find the crossroads and to stand there.  My life has plenty of meaning.  There will be time to work and I will continue to have my comfortable existence.  I may not know exactly where I am going, but I have a pretty good idea.  I am not afraid any more.  Life is not clear, we get to crossroads and make decisions.  Don't be afraid of the crossroads.  Find them.  The answers will come.

Hey, I've got some Willie Nelson on my mind....."On The Road Again...."

Friday, October 1, 2010


I Feel Connected

One of my friends described me once as a "connector".  I prefer to consider myself as a friend hyperlink.  You click on me and you are automatically connected with everyone in my universe.  The little map above represents the states of everyone with whom I've connected since I started writing the Daily Journey.  If this was a political campaign, I would feel that I had won but, its not quite a landslide. 

Help a Starving Artist Go Global:
Spread The News
Buy a Print!!!

Here's another interesting slide, this blog is global but not yet "viral".  Now if each of you would just purchase one of my images, I could survive sans corporate life for another year!!!  Come on help a starving artist.   Our operators are standing by.