Spent the last week at the Blurb mothership in San Francisco. I drove up so that I could take the machine with me. Glad I did. Still fighting Lyme which means every single day is a guessing game. I think I’m going to ride and then reality hits and I end up staring at the bike, but this past weekend I was up for it. Rode about 60 miles over two days. Slowly. When I say “slowly” I mean never maxing out or hammering to the point I’m going to blow up, which is precisely the way I would ride pre-Lyme. I would hammer, implode, then see how long it took to recover. Then I would do it again. That’s how I built up my routine and my stamina. Now, I can barely remember those days. I have almost no strength in my legs, which frankly is a combination of lack of exercise, nine-months of antibiotics and the actual disease. I’m also on a very strict diet. No sugar, gluten, alcohol or dairy. I’m down to 158 pounds. In some ways this entire debacle has been a good thing. My life is changed forever, and in some strange ways, for the better.
Over the past nine months I’ve been asked about Lyme on a near daily basis. I don’t like talking about it, and I don’t visit Lyme websites. They are too terrifying. I’m lucky. Very lucky. I have insurance, which works with a small part of my Lyme experience, the rest is out of pocket. I wanted to write about the bike, and I will, but I just wanted to add a bullet point list of strangeness associated with being a Lyme patient.

I want to dispel a few things and shine a light on others.

1. It’s global. Truly global. The CDC has convinced Americans it’s an East Coast thing but it’s not.
2. Over half the people who have it, including me, never had a bite or rash.
3. A significant number of people who have it have never been in the woods. They are CITY dwellers who live near wooded areas.
4. One antibiotic for treatment is not enough. You need three. (Gov of NY just made this kosher)
5. The American medical world wants NOTHING to do with Lyme patients regardless of what they say publically.
6. Six doctors have blown me off or flat out refused to even TALK about Lyme.
7. A standard blood test is useless to test for Lyme but used as a legal basecovering by many medical orgs.(Including my current insurance.)
8. There is mixed information in regard to transmission, person to person. I was told to “take precautions.”
9. There are somewhere between 3-10 million new cases per year.
10. Everyone gets diagnosed with MS, Lupus, Parkinsons, chronic fatigue, polyneuropathy, restless leg, etc, etc, etc. This goes ON and ON.
11. There are stories of the US military weaponizing the bacteria post WWII and the bacteria “getting out,” so to speak. Hence the coverup like coverage.
12. It is BY FAR the worst thing I’ve ever had, and I’ve had meningitis, Epstein Bar, Giardia, Mono, kidney stones, etc. Lyme is relentless.
13. Most people seem to spend about 2-10 years being misdiagnosed. NO EXAGGERATION.
14. I had a nurse tell me if the medical facility I was in knew I had Lyme they would “ask me to leave the facility.”
15. I just had my insurance company tell me I had to prove I had it before they would talk to me, but refused to look at my lab results. I was told they circulated a memo that said not to deal with Lyme patients. My doc said “They are blowing you off.”

This is a MINOR glimpse into the madness. You wont’ believe anything I say until you are in the middle of it. I didn’t.

Okay, back to the bike. Added rear rack. Went with the Salsa rack due to the extreme width required. Tubus doesn’t make ANYTHING to fit this thing. I had originally planned to buy a titanium rack, based on the shape of my old racks which are pretty worn, but ended up with the Salsa. Love the water bottle mounts on the front forks. I’ve also got a third, larger bottle down below, which gets nice and grimy from the front tire spray. Use with caution. I might also mount a bottle on the top of the stem at some point. Remember my kidney stones? Ya well the last one they had to GO UP AND GET, and yes, that is as bad as it sounds. What could be worse? Funny you should ask. I’ll tell you. When they get the stone they leave a stent in place. And then they go get that little bad boy….with NO anesthetic. NONE. I had flashbacks for weeks. No joke. So water is my new best friend. Love it. Can’t get enough.
I loaned this bike to a friend for a quick spin and his one word response was “effortless.” It is. I’ve ridden 60 miles many times, but never with such ease. I rode trail, bike path, gravel, singletrack, parking lots, pavement, over curbs and wood, etc., etc. So comfortable. Quicker than you would imagine on the road and smoother than you would imagine over the rough stuff. Titanium is as good as I thought it would be. Also, I spent the entire 60 miles on the large sprocket. This thing is geared for the mountains but still has enough for a nice, long, sustained road ride.
The only thing I’m really ready for is new tires. These are Racing Ralph’s, but I need a touring tire. I’m thinking Continental Travel Contact or the Schwalbe Mondial.
The bulk of my miles will be on pavement or dirt road. I’ve got a mountain bike for New Mexican singletrack, but this thing will do everything else. I flatted on Sunday and was amazed at how soft the tires were. A shard of glass cut about a 1/4 inch slice in the tire and did the same to the tube. I’ve run the Marathon tires in the past and a piece of glass like that would have never come close to puncturing. In fact, I never flatted with the Marathon tires. Ever. And have only flatted with my Gator Skins once in about 3000 miles. I did put a set on my wife’s bike and she flatted about ten feet from the driveway then looked at me like “You idiot, what did you do to my bike……no get over here and change this for me.”

In short this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike, and this includes flashing back to my middle school BMX glory. Crossovers over the double jumps, running over another kid who everyone despise and having the crowd cheer me for doing it. Yes, the Salsa is even better. More fun. So I find myself bidding my time. Waiting to get healthy and staring at a lot of maps.

Go ride.

The Leica File Thirteen

Hey folks, a little something different here. I’ve posted this image before, as part of a story about my travels to Peru. I am by no means a landscape photographer, but there is something about this image that I absolutely love. I wanted to explain what this is, and also how this image fits into the realities of covering something like the Amazon with a Leica rangefinder. Please follow the “travels” link above and see how this image fits into the overall context of the photo-essay. Also, listen to the Macaw soundtrack again, if you haven’t before because one of the surprising things about the Amazon is how loud it is.

Peru black and white. 2011

Blurb Custom Books: Standard/Custom

I’m a big Frank Ockenfels fan. Frank’s not just a photographer. He’s more. So much more. First off, he’s fun. Like fun to be around. He laughs a lot and when he laughs he laughs loudly. He’s also an artist. Draws, sketches, paints every single day. I’ve seen him when he is traveling and he is never without his books and his ink. I’ve also been to his studio and found myself slowly turning as I took in the walls like a student at a planetarium. There was so much. Negatives, sketches, illustrations, bits of this and that, and yes, photographs.
Frank has had a great career, and by the looks of it is only getting better and better. He’s worked with famous people, unknowns and corners his own family as I also have a tendency of doing. I get the feeling that it’s all equally important, that the real idea is to create. You can listen to an interview with Frank here. He can explain himself far better than I.
Frank recently did a book with Blurb and I wanted to show a few snaps and share a few thoughts. This is what I call a “Standard Custom” book. This is a standard Blurb size, or existing size. 8×10. But the book has custom features. First off a white linen cover. The book also has black endsheets and a black, foil-stamped cover, both custom options. Finally, the book has a red place holder ribbon that provides a bit of color to a book that is primarily a black and white overall feel.
The ink blotches on the cover and the ink drawings….well, that’s Frank being Frank. The early copies were “customized” even further by Mr. Ockenfels and I was fortunate enough to get one. Now, one of the interesting things about this particular book, besides how awesome the content is, is that the book is a standard Blurb size.
“But Dan, what does it matter the book is a standard size?” Funny you should ask random blog reader. If the book is a standard size then you can utilize both print-on-demand and Ebook as well as offset. So, think about doing offset for your trade edition run, say 750 books, then doing a POD run of 10 to use as your LIMITED EDITION book. You could take those ten, have a slip case made, tip in a print and then customize them even further. You could, of course, just take ten of your trade books and do this, but with POD you could customize EACH and EVERY copy of the ten to provide a truly unique object.
Finally, with a standard trim size book you can also utilize the Ebook option. I know, I know, I’ve written about Ebook before, and how much it’s tweaked my mind in terms of possibility. I think at least three people read my last post about Ebook. Cowards! All I’m saying is if someone in “X” country in the world wants to read your book and we don’t ship there then PERHAPS you might have a digital version for these type folks. All I’m saying.
This book is utilizing our standard paper. Not the high end, just standard, and it looks GREAT. Some of the pages are a bit tweaked as I’ve carried this baby around, and Frank really went for it when it sketched and inked it up. When I look across my bookshelf and see this I feel like I have a UNIQUE object on my hands. And I do. It’s what I love about our newfound freedoms in publishing. Just about anything is possible.
I keep looking at these books and wondering if I can pull one off.(Yes, every photo “situation” is eventually distilled through MY filter.) Still debating. Actually still debating if I really want to even do a book. My goals and desires have changed dramatically in the past few years. And with Lyme just about everything is a battle requiring far more energy than I have to expend. But, we’ll see. Self portrait book?
This post at the very least, if you don’t know him already, will introduce you to a very important guy in our world of modern photography. Now, get out there and make something!

Gig Magazine

Welcome to Gig Magazine. I dig the Hell out of this. One guy, a desire and boom….a magazine. I keep waiting to see more of these efforts so get off your butts and make one. I’ve done two in the past month, but am working on my next “official” version which might be for sale….

From the “about” tab.

“gig MAGAZINE is unique because each issue features only one band at one gig.

The goal of gig MAGAZINE is to bring attention to the band, the venue, as well as the people in the background that work to make the gig happen and connect them with the fans. Our magazine is not filled with ads, each issue is 12 pages, has about 10 photographs and an interview with the band. The issues will also include contact information for the band, venue, and promoters involved to make the gig happen.”
This beast is the brainchild of one Justin Thor Simenson of Nuevo Mexico. I thought it would be a stellar idea to drop him a few questions and pick his brain about life, love and the merger of music and magazine.
1. Who are you? What are you?

My name is Justin Thor Simenson. I am a photographer based in Albuquerque. I photograph long term projects as well as live performances.

2. Why Gig? What is the story behind the music?

After shooting quite a few shows and reviewing my photos I realized that the story of just a single show was well worth telling. gig MAGAZINE is about a single artist at a single show. That brings a certain weight and meaning behind that show and all the effort involved in it. I also do my interviews at the show. That makes them relevant. they are open conversations that I record. I do try to talk about the artists’ creative drive or something relative to the show they played. Their words combined with about 10 to 12 photos make up the magazine.

3. Why Blurb?

I had some experience with MagCloud before gig. I had used them to make a catalog for a friend and some digest sized books for myself. I knew that the magazine size was perfect for gig because it is such a traditional size to hold. MagCloud, now Blurb, also offers an easy to use marketplace for me to sell them in both digitally and in print. Plus the price is amazing.

4. What’s the short term and long term goal?

Short term I plan to cover Albuquerque’s local music scene and New Mexico’s venues. I am still working through tweaks in the layout and different ways to distribute the printed versions locally. Albuquerque has some great talent and I feel gig MAGAZINE can help them with exposure.

Long term I would love to collaborate with other photographers around the country. I know there are other towns and cities that have great musicians and great venues just waiting to be shared with the world. I would also love to collaborate with local venues to create unique issues of the magazine.

5. What would you like to see improved, changed or added?

It would be great to have the option of different paper selections for the cover. gig MAGAZINE is only 12 pages and because of that having a slightly heavier stock on the cover or a matte finish would be awesome.

Also, I look forward to working in Blurb’s Bookwright software. I have been creating my issues in an older version of Apple’s Pages because the new one has some ridiculous limitations for magazine layout. I am not a designer by any means and I want something that is straight forward, I hear Bookwright will be a step in that direction for me. And after further consideration and after downloading Bookwright….Justin added this thought. Actually there is one thing I would like Blurb to add. After I downloaded and installed Bookwright I realized that Blurb magazines doesn’t allow 12 page magazines. MagCloud has a stapled edge option that allows me to do my 12 page magazine and is a bit cheaper than the perfect edge.

I would also like to see a thicker cover or a matte finish cover option added. That would make the magazine stand out a bit more.

6. Influences? Who are the folks turning you on creatively?

My biggest music photography influence has to be Douglas Kent Hall hands down. His photographs from the 60′s and 70′s are amazing. There are quite a few current music photographers I follow, Peter Pabon, Erez Avissar , and Jesse Littlebird Because of the other work I photograph I also pull a lot from the fine art world and Fraction Magazine.

Hey, look at me!!

Miami 1407_6104_15_web
This is a stupid action pose I’ve been doing since 1999. It means “Ce lo fata,” in Italian which stands for “I’ve done it.” It’s an inside joke. And yes I’m holding a f%$%$## mobile phone….BUSTED.

For a guy who has been a photographer for a lot of years it is remarkable how few images I have of myself. I use an avatar photo that is at least 14-years-old. No joke. It’s really the only portrait I have. I’ve got some photos I could never show you, but who doesn’t. I’ve done some horrible things and luckily there are some photos that exist of such things.

In fact, I just ran into two people I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and the first thing they said to me was “Hey, remember such and such night?” I cringed, but part of me was grinning and savoring the details of the illicit events that transpired those moons ago.
Miami 1407_6104_16-Web
Just as I prefer to be, out of focus.

But hey, in keeping with the modern “Look at me!” culture I thought I would post a few images of ME just for the Hell of it and because someone sent them to me. I cropped them into squares for no apparent reason.

This is me. If you feel queasy just aim for the bushes. Photos courtesy of AK FOTO.

Miami 1407_6104_18_web
I love this because it makes me look like I have a huge gut. I’ve always wanted a gut but have never been able to build one no matter what I eat. Damnit. That’s not product on my hair, it’s dirt.