Friday, June 30, 2006

Is It Possible for an Agnostic to have a Religious Experience?

The best stop on Kevin's Walking Tour of Chicago--and probably the most moving moment of the weekend--happened when we went to the Chicago Cultural Center. A rather plain exterior didn't betray the lovely interior, and as we ascended a gorgeous marble staircase with gold trim, suddenly classical music filled the air. Not recorded music, but live orchestral melody, seemingly out of nowhere. It was like a personal soundtrack to accentuate the beauty of the building. In an instant, I was deeply moved by pure sound and light, no words. I wanted to cry. I turned to Kevin, my eyes wide. "I feel like we just walked into the sequel to Angels in America!" I said. He laughed and we continued up the stairs.

As we reached a landing halfway to the next floor, we looked up into an archway that framed a huge room, domed by an ornate stained-glass ceiling. Beneath it, the Chicago Youth Symphony practiced bits of The Four Seasons by Vivaldi. As it was a rehearsal rather than a formal performance, parents darted about, snapping photos of their kids. The music came in waves, unexpected, never knowing how long each would last.

The informality of the scene allowed me to move about the room and snap my own photos. I only took a few, as I kept wanting to just look and listen. It was one of those moment in my life I will never forget. Thanks again, Kevin.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

My Guide

On of the highlights of my trip to Chicago in May was an informal walking tour of downtown given by my good friend Kevin. He grew up in Chicago, and told me he was gonna show me "all the places I used to skip school and go to." It sort of reminded me of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with Kevin as funloving Ferris and I as the uptight Cameron.

It was Sunday on Memorial Day weekend, so many of the places we wanted to go were closed, but on the upside, the streets were fairly deserted.

Thanks, Kev, for showing me your city through your eyes.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

For the first time, the Seattle Pride Festival is being held this year at the old site of the 1962 Worlds Fair, home of the iconic Space Needle. I support this move, believing the pride celebration needs to grow outside its ghetto, like a root-bound plant, and flourish the community-at-large.

Normally special events get to fly a flag at the top of the Space Needle. Unfortunately (and to the surprise of many in the community) the Needle is privately owned, and the owners decided not to grant permission for a rainbow flag to be flown this weekend, claiming they didn't want to pander to EVERY group that asked to fly their freak (or otherwise) flag above the symbol of Seattle. Sure, they must get a lot of requests, but it's a bit strange they chose to make this decision when the queers asked. (After all, they didnt have a problem flying the Seahawks marketing cloth during Superbowl XV.)

Therefore I resolve that should someday I become Bill-Gates-filthy-rich, I'll buy the damned Space Needle and fly whatever flag I wished whenever I want. Private ownership indeed.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Another way to get from up-above to down-below at the Palmer House Hilton. And believe me, there were plenty of guests, and plenty of reception goin' on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just Above My Head

The main lobby ceiling of the Palmer House Hilton, the most baroque cruising area I've ever had the pleasure to peruse men. Escalators on either side of the room (left descending, right ascending) provided an interesting presentation of each new gladiator entering and exiting the arena. Love that hotel, perfect place for IML.

Millennium Park Sculptural Study Number Two

A shot from underneath "The Bean."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Bean

A far shot of "The Bean" in Chicago's Millennium Park, Chicago.

Thigh Master

(For the record, this is what my buddy Ron Baylor was gawking at in the earlier posted photo from IML/Thursday.)

Millennium Park Sculptural Study Number One

Another of the many shots of "The Bean" that I shot during the Chicago trip. I'll post a far shot later so one can get an idea what the whole thing looks like.

Looking Inside Myself

My trip to Chicago last month turned out to be as much an inward journey as a jaunt to another time zone for some overdue R&R.

I was returning for a third time to IML (why is it so many things in my life happen in threes?), an event that had altered somewhat my lifestyle and romantic well-being when I first attended it in 2003 (I could write a whole blog entry on the concept of vacationship, and maybe I will someday soon); I was still processing the death of my father and I was about to turn forty--a combination that can't help but focus one on issues of mortality, the future, and How Much Time Is Left--and what to do with it.

I also got the sense that this would be my last trip to IML.

Much of the trip was as enjoyable as it could be because of the fun company I kept--namely my roomies--Scott & Mike, good friends from Seattle, and my Gemini buddy Kevin, visiting from Florida. Scott & Mike are not only photo enthusiasts themselves, but also enthusiastic models in their own right, and we had fun shooting pics all weekend, especially at "The Bean," a giant chrome sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park. They posed for the above photo. I also got to do some abstract studies of the thing (which I will post later), and almost got to do a nude shoot of J.R., an ebullient and sexy model who, unfortunately, I couldn't afford. (He's coming to Seattle later in the summer to do a couple of shoots.) Floridian Kevin grew up in Chicago, so he offered to take me on a walking/picture-taking tour of downtown on Sunday. Kevin's an adventurous and articulate guy, the perfect guide, and our amble around the city was one interesting geographic conversation. It was on this tour that I had a near-religious experience (if indeed agnostics can have such things).

I'll tell y'all about that in a separate post--with photos of course.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Making Up For Lost Time

Yes, I know--I was supposed to post photos from International Mister Leatherman 2006 in Chicago for Memorial Weekend. I had hoped to post daily entries.

Unfortunately our net connection in the room was spotty at best--I spent an hour preparing a post only to have it disappear in a glitch. But frankly I felt in many ways like I wanted to be on vacation from everything. I didn't even take as many photos as I expected.

Then I came back to a shitstorm at work (a coworker quit while I was gone). Busy busy busy.

But I'll try to distill the experience down to some photos and anedotes, as promised. If hindsight is 20/20, I hope the time has given me some clarity about the vacation.

Most of the fun I had was spent hanging out with Ron Baylor, standing in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton, where the men came and went at all times of day, often dressed to the leather-nines. Ron spotted a particularly tasty man from San Francisco, and I was lucky enough to have my camera handy....

(In all fairness, Ron was looking at his lace-up tall boots, which were thigh-high.)

Father's Day

Ronald Loy Caldwell, December 7, 1918 to November 1, 2005
I miss you, Dad.