Wednesday, May 31, 2006

He's Got A Girl That Listens, She's Got A Guy That Sings

It was love at first sight! My daughter Elena was enamored by my best friend John Patteson from the beginning. She loved to hear him sing and play his 12 string, and she'd sit on the sofa for hours listening to his music. John and I were close friends from the late 60's up until a few years ago when he moved about 60 miles north of here. Since then we don't see one another as often. We're still good friends anyway.

From the time Elena was born on June 7th, 1971 until her mom moved to Mississippi with her and her brother Jonathan a bit over a dozen years later it was inevitable that she'd see John a time or two most every week. Just about her first complete sentence was "I'm going to marry John Patteson when I grow up!" and she'd have a big smile as she said it! She said it all the time and she said it to everybody. I guess she must have been in second grade, maybe later, before she stopped saying it. Who knows? Maybe if she hadn't moved away at 14? Would the age difference have mattered? John is getting up there in his late 50's now and he's still single. Elena turns 35 in a week. She's still single.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sailing Into The Sunset

When I was a kid growing up in New Bedford I was totally fascinated by boats and sailing, and especially whaling. I hung out at the docks where the commercial fishing boats unloaded their catch and roamed the halls at the Whaling Museum. I read everything that I could find in the cildrens' room at the library. Finally my mother convinced them that I should be allowed to go to the adult area by myself if I used her library card when I was 11 or 12.

When I was 12 I saved up about $30 and ordered enough wood and plywood from the lumber yard and built myself an 8 foot sailing dingy. It wasn't as nice as the fiberglass one thatmy friend Kurt Donanger had, but it floated and didn't leak any more than you'd expect from a wooden boat. I'd already had two years at Camp Sea Space learning sailing. We were able to keep the craft at a friend's summer house on Long pond in Lakeville.

When my mom and I moved to Florida I was just shy of turning 14 and had to leave the boat behind. Within a year I'd ordered a kit to build a 15 ft. kayak from the Dedham Kayak Company. I wasn't about to leave myself boatless! Living near the northern reaches of Biscayne bay might have been great for fishing for shallow water species but the acres of grass flats were less than ideal for sailing. You just don't see lots of small sailboats up this end of the bay. Larger ones motor down the channels on the way to the ocean.

Dinner Key Marina is south of downtown Miami but offers a protected deep water anchorage suitable for sailboats. The entire time I've lived in Miami I've only been sailing once, and that was when an old friend and his wife sailed down from Massachusettes. They had a ketch of perhaps thirty feet, and were in town but a few days in the early 70's. They anchored at Dinner Key Marina. This was shot there at sunset.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fillet Knives ~ A Very Personal Choice

I was sorting through that bunch of Kodachrome slides I'd shot in Tarpon Springs, FL back in 1973 and came across a bunch of fishing pictures. I have no idea who this captain was but he was cleaning a mess of fish. The common edible fish in the bay is sea trout while out in the Gulf of Mexico it's most likely to be one of several species of snapper. My guess here would be fishing out in the gulf, and that pile of fillets are snappers. Sea trout fillets have a strip of dark meat running down the middle. In either case they'd be really easy to identify if you could see the outside of the skin and the colors and patterns and the size of the scales. Both species are commonly filleted off the bone, then the fillets are skinned.

There's always been a debate as to whether or not a stainless steel knife was better because it's made of harder metal and holds an edge better, or carbon steel which is softer and easier to get a really good edge, but it'll need frequent touch-ups on the sharpening stone. This guy is working with a stainless steel knife. I'd always been partial to carbon steel myself, and have several hickory handled Old Hickory knives with their brass rivets, but in recent years stainless steel has improved. I rarely use the Old Hickories anymore.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hitch Hiking To The Future We Didn't Expect

It's hard to believe that three decades back it wasn't all that unusual to see girls hitching rides. It was the age of Equal Rights, women demanding equal pay for equal work. Ever increasing numbers of young women were enrolling in college, and not just planning on a traditional female job like teaching or nursing or becoming a librarian. We had women in the newsroom covering "hard" news and becoming editors. Women going to law school and medical school. The world was being turned upside down.

Shirley, an editor at the Miami News, and I had gone to St. Petersburg, FL to visit her friend Erica who was working at the St. Petersburg Times. I was shooting a lot of stock photos back then and thought that one of girls hitch-hiking might be saleable. This was shot on the causeway to Longboat Key.

Within a few years there were women doctors and lawyers. My ex is a doctor and my daughter is a lawyer. Some things just weren't practical, though. For a few years I did sell some of these images but the reality of sexual asault soon did away with equality by the roadside.

Friday, May 26, 2006

MUNISCAM ~ Environmental Boondoggle

From U.S. 1 east to Biscayne Bay between about 137th St. and 163rd St. was a mangrove swamp called the Graves Tract. Back during The Great Depression before WW-II a government "make-work" project called the Civilian Conservation Corps, usually abreviated to CCC, had put in a rectangular grid of narrow drainage canals as a mosquito control measure. After the war, when the Boulevard Drive-in Theater was built next to the highway, this did little to keep the mosquitos under control. A noisy truck with a "fogger" used to ride up and down between the rows of parked cars spraying clouds of bug killer into the air. We breathed it and I guess ate it on our popcorn and hotdogs.

By the late 1960's we had enough transplants here who'd spent their lives in big northern cities that living the Florida dream might include living in a high-rise condominium. Developers planned on filling in the swamp and constructing high-rise condominiums. There was a backlash against high-rise development. North Miami residents changed the city charter to restrict new construction to four stories or less, and passed a bond issue to raise money to purchase the Graves Tract. The land was annexed into the city, and the city raised 12 million dollars through a bond issue.

At the southern end, on an area that had already been partially filled in, North Miami and a private developer were going to build a public golf course.Munisport, the developer, proposed finishing filling in the golf course land by operating a land fill on the site. North Miami wouldn't have to haul trash and garbage half way across the county, nor would we have to pay the county a tipping fee to get rid of our refuse. For a few years at least that would be the source of money for paying off the bond issue, then revenue from the golf course would kick in. Environmentalists were up in arms about having a "toxic dump" in the city. They showed up at city council meetings, like this guy wearing a surgical mask for no good reason, and got the Environmental Protection Agency involved. The dump was shut down and monitoring wells were installed. About the only toxin ever found was methane gas from decomposing garbage. Of course natural "swamp gas" from decomposing mangrove leaves would have been there anyway if nothing had ever been done to the property.

The most pristine area at the northern reaches and along the Intracoastal Waterway became a state park when the state had to step in and bail out the city. The golf course was never built. Eventually a campus of Florida International University was built on some of the state controlled land, and later a campus of Miami-Dade College also. Now, thirty years later this "toxic land fill" is considered clean enough for habitation, and the city has worked out a deal with a private developer. Biscayne Landings has started construction of a group of high rise condominium buildings on the site. Now the concern is back to the one of overloading our infrastructure. Will the roads handle the increased traffic? Where will all the kids go to school? Will the high rise development even have many kids?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Was it Herb? A Wedding Adventure

Photos (c) 2006 Jon Sinish

Memory is so erratic yet selective. Things hide in the murk, tantalizing points of light breaking through. You can look at a photograph and taste a name, feel a name, but the name refuses to let you hear it. Yesterday my friend Jon Sinish Emailed me some photos from about 1973. Jon lives in Stratford, Connecticut and is in the creative end of the adverising business and also has his own web site at We've known one another since the late 60's I guess. He's stayed at my house and I've stayed at his. We've stayed in touch over the years. I have no trouble remembering his name, but in 1973 another guy I'd known about as long was living down here. It's his name that frustrates me, and he's the subject here right now. Herb, I think. I'll call him Herb, and should I find out different I'll change it. Herb I haven't seen in over 25 years

He was also in the advertising business, and he art directed a publication I shot for. He came up with the idea of using a stroboscopic flash to do an ad campaign for Miami Jai-alai. We went to the fronton and covered the back wall with dozens of yards of black cloth, put the Leica on a tripod, lights out, and wore out a player running and hurling the ball out of his cesta. The pictures were great and were used on buses, bus benches, billboards, and we never felt like we'd been paid enough for all the mileage they got out of that job.

When Herb was getting married Jon happened to be in Miami and got invited along. the MacCarthur Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach had a heliport on one side of the road on Watson Island, while across the street was Orchard Gardens where the wedding was to be held. I think either the Gardens or the chopper company, maybe both, were Herb's clients. The plan was that Herb and his bride would arrive at the wedding via helicopter after a flight of maybe only 500 feet, but it would be a dramatic arrival.

I was the official photographer, but Jon had his Nikons and shot a few rolls too. That's why the pictures with me. Those blotchy bleached bellbottoms I was wearing were wine colored.
I think that my hair was at its absolute longest at this point in my life. Slightly more recent photos show it teased into a big 'fro, but barely touching my shoulders. The camera case was something I'd made myself out of aluminum, with fitted padded inserts for two M bodies and lenses from my 19mm Canon to the 135/3.5 Canon I had back then, along with film, filters, lens tissue, and whatnot. I still have the case. [Update: It wasn't "Herb", it was Dick Herbst! It came to me as I was looking at an old print of a jai-alai photo that he art directed way back when.]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy 65th Birthday Bob Dylan

These were shot at the Boston Arts Festival in August of 1964. I was still using Leica thread mount cameras back then with Canon glass because I was young and poor and needed to budget money for record albums and smokin' dope so I could get lots of chicks!
The back stage photo was shot with a Leica III-F black dial with a Leicavit (used 'vits were $25 back then) and a chrome 50mm f/1.8 Canon. The tent behind the stage area was esentially unlit inside and I was probably shooting about 1/8 second wide open using Kodak Royal-X Pan Recording film which was only available in 100 foot spools (yes, metal spools for specialty recording cameras) and had a nominal speed of ASA (ISO)1250 but you could push it to 3200 in Acufine, which I did. Joan Baez was on stage and Bob was waiting to be called to join her. She was the big star and he was still a relatively unknown folk singer that she was trying to help out and promote. He was mostly used to playing coffee houses and acted nervous about appearing in front of maybe a thousand people or more.
The other photo was on stage outdoors and poorly lit by today's standards. There was no backdrop, no footlights, just a couple of spotlights, and the shadows were horrendous. Bob played the guitar, Joan sang, and he joined her for harmony. He also sang a few songs himself. The camera was a grey finish (paint and vulcanite) Leica III-CK made for the German Luftwaffe, with a ball bearing shutter, for which I'd paid $40.00! A black late model Canon 135mm f/3.5 lens put the image on Ilford HP3 film which I souped in Diafine at ASA 800.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Recording The Lord's Music

The Rev. Tom Morse came to Miami to set up a street ministry in the late 1960's. He was an idealist who was going to save the drug addicts and the prostitutes, get runaway teenagers back on track and into school, and make the world a better place for everyone by bringing Jesus to the people. He started a residential facility called Surfside Challenge just south of downtown Miami in a huge old house from the 1920's.

Tom played guitar and sang, and when Steve Ingram started working with him a piano got added to the mix. Tom took his acoustic guitar everyplace he went, but Steve's piano playing was restricted to the home's spacious living room, filled with hymm singing kids. Tom decided that a record album would be a good way to raise money. Records could be sold when he spoke to various church groups and by mail order. I went to the recording studio with them and got this shot of Steve playing the piano. That's how "Singing In The Streets" came about. I don't think that all that many were sold. I was using my Leica M4 with a 35mm lens. I still have a copy of the record but like most people I've met and worked with here in Miami I've totally lost track of both Steve and Tom. Sometime in the mid 1980's I ran into a legal secretary, Debby, who remembered me. She'd been one of the runaways that was staying there about 15 years previous. She now had an associates degree, a husband, and a couple of kids. I haven't seen her since.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Unlimited Power - Unlimited Noise

When you're young you're impressed by power, speed, and LOUD. Miami built the Marine Stadium on the Rickenbacker Causeway near the Seaquarium just for power boat racing, but it was soon used for rock concerts also. The band would set up with their sound system on a barge anchoredin front of the grandstand, there was plenty of parking, and only Flipper might be annoyed by the pulsating music blasting into the night.

Miami was on the circuit for unlimited hydroplane racing, and these monstrous boats would pack the stands with people as they roared around the oval track. They were equipped with Rolls Royce airplane engines designed before the days of jets, giant V12 engines cranking out the horsepower through the craft's propeller and the noise through 12 straight exhaust stacks.

I had a press card issued by the Dade County Police Department, and in most cases that got me wherever I wanted to go, whether or not I really had an asignment. These shots were taken the day before a major race on the circuit. The boats were trucked city to city and spent a few days being tuned up and making practice laps. Miss Budweiser hadn't made it to the water yet when I shot these phographs of the engine and the mechanics working on it. I was shooting with a Leica M4, 50mm Summicron, on Kodachrome II.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Laymond Hardy - Beekeeper and...

I met Laymond in 1973 through some mutual friends who were trying to track down the fabled Florida skunk ape, a sort of tropical version of the abominable snowman of the Himalyas. Supposedly there had been some sightings recently in the Port Charlotte area and they wanted to find out if it was for real or just an old Indian legend. In the Creek dialect spoken by the Seminole people the creature was called Iwashaki, which means "man who is not a man".

Laymond was along to lend scientific legitimacy to the search. He was a high school science teacher and had written a few articles for National Geographic. The rest of our crew consisted of a photographer (myself), a couple of jet airplane mechanics, and the owner of a gun shop. We did find what seemed like tracks in a few places, but nothing conclusive.

Laymond is the one who introduced me to Bobby Tiger and his family, who in turn introduced me to a bunch of other Miccosukee and Seminole Indians. He also raised a lot of strange and exotic tropical fruits and vegetables in his back yard, and he had at least half a dozen beehives. I was intrigued by the bees, and he invited me over to take some photos the next time he "robbed the hives" for honey.

I was expecting that we'd be wearing gloves and head nets but he assured me that his bees were used to being around people, and that "smoking" them would calm them even more. He stuffed his smoker with dried banana plant leaves, got them smoldering, and started blowing smoke into the first hive. You could hear the bees calm down as the incessant buzzing emanating from the hive got quieter and quieter.I was wearing a long sleeved shirt, but Laymond went about the task shirtless. An occasional bee would briefly land on our bare skin but neither one of us got stung during the hour or so we spent getting the honey out of the combs in the wooden frames that were inside the hives.

We tried to leave as much as possible of the wax honeycombs in the frames intact. We didn't need the wax, and Laymond said that the less that the bees had to rebuild, the faster they'd go back to collecting nectar from flowers and making more honey. I went home with 4 quart jars full of the best honey I've ever tasted, before or since. Like so many other people I've known over the years I lost track of Laymond. He was 54 when these photos were taken back in 1973, so it's likely he's no longer alive now.

The slides were shot with a Leica M4 and M2-R using 35 and 50mm Leitz Summicrons on Kodachrome II film.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

...That's Greek To Me

It's strange how fashions go through cycles about every 40 years. I've mentioned that before. Here we are in Tarpon Springs close to 40 years ago, and Shirley's hair, make-up, shades and top would fit right in on a young woman at Starbucks today! Tarpon Springs is a short drive north of Tampa/St. Petersburg on Florida's gulf coast. Originally settled by Greek immigrants who came because of the plentiful sponges in the nearby waters, the town had a distinctly Greek flavor.

There were shops selling real sponges, others full of souveniers, and loads of restaurants and bakeries. Delicious fresh baked breads, great salads, but best of all were the Greek pastries, sweet and dripping with honey. Shirley Rigby and I had driven up for the day from St. Petersburg where we were visiting our friend Erica Meyer, who worked at the St. Petersburg Times. Shirley wanted to visit Erica, and I wanted to do some fishing and shoot some stock pictures.

Shirley was British and came to the U.S. to work for the Atlanta Constitution with editor Sylvan Meyer. When he took over as executive editor of the Miami News Shirley came along. Erica was Sylvan's daughter. A few years later the Miami News folded. Afternoon papers in general were having a hard time, and while people were bemoaning the fact that Miami had become a "one paper town" the truth was we stayed a two paper town but one of them was a Spanish language daily, leaving the English speaking market to the Miami Herald.

Shirley then got a job working as a copy editor at Time Magazine. When I drove up to visit my family in Massachusettes every summer I'd spend a few days in Westport, Connecticut with my friend Jon Sinish, and usually meet up with Shirley, either in New York or at Jon's apt. Eventually we lost contact.

Friday, May 19, 2006

When Dashikis Were In Style

The Miami Times was "the black paper" in Miami for years when the company that owned The Pittsburg Courier, also a black paper, decided to expand into Miami with a weekly paper in the early 1970's. They sent a guy down here to get things started up and he was the first black to rent an apartment in a new complex near Coconut Grove. No, I can't remember his name, but a woman who worked for a large piblic relations agency also lived in the building, and she gave him my name. He was looking for a photographer in an era when there were few black photographers, and the folks who ran the Courier figured that if the government could convince white owned companies to hire more blacks, or at least a token black, then it was only fair that a black owned newspaper should have a token honkey on staff.

We got together, I showed him my portfolio, and discussed the fact that I'd be handling assignments in black neighborhoods, often the only white face around. It was a time when the Black Power Movement was at its peak a lot of blacks weren't too friendly towards whites. I showed him photos I'd taken in the ghetto with the Rev. Tom Morse. We talked money. I was hired on.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was at his peak of popularity at the time, and the assignment was to go to a large Baptist church in Overtown, the black neighborhood just north of downtown Miami and get some photos of him speaking. He had a huge afro hair style and was wearing a dashiki. He was a powerful speaker and spoke for about an hour, raising a lot of money for his organization. They didn't pass the plate or the collection basket. He had guys walking around with garbage cans when he called for donations. People dug into their pockets and fives, tens, and twenties went into the cans. After he finished speaking he was whisked away by his bodyguards.

The paper was printed in black and white but I always shot some color for possible stock sales. This was shot on High Speed Ektachrome Type B, an ISO 125 slide film balanced for tungsten, with a one stop push. I was using a Leica M3 with an 85mm f/2 Nikkor.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cane Poles And Cold Cokes

Just about nobody takes the Tamiami Trail, U.S .41, anymore from Miami to Florida's west coast. It's so much faster to take I-75 across the state. If you're going to the Miccosukee Indian reservation or visiting Everglades National Park, or just want to do some bass fishing in the canal, that's when you take the Trail. Before it became a national park in 1948, or maybe it was1949, there were some small towns along the road and isolated shacks and hunting camps located on dirt roads off of the Trail. For the most part these were allowed to remain after the park was started but you couldn't build anything new and if you actually owned the land (a lot of the camps were simply squatters) the government bought you out.

State Road 29 crossed the trail and went south to Everglades City, which was now inside the park. There was a "general store" at the intersection where we used to stop for a soda back when cars weren't air conditioned. Nothing tastes as good or as cold as a bottle of Coke chilled by standing in a big cooler with about 4 inches of water that had melted from the 25 pound chunks of ice that shared the space. They were COLD! Out front leaning against the store were bundles of 20 foot long cane poles that were the favored tool for fishing for bream (sunfish) and pronounced "brim".

Ochopee, more a name than a town, was on the Trail just east of the Route 29 intersection. It's main claim to fame was The World's Smallest Post Office where people in the area could pick up their mail. No, there were no mailmen slogging through the swamp delivering door to door. I would guess that most of the residents who were grandfathered in to live inside the Park's boundaries are long since dead, and it's been nearly thirty years since the last time I took the Trail across the state. I don't know if this building is even there today. I took this shot in the early 1970's.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Miami River Festival Canoe Race

When they built roads across the Evergades they'd dredge a canal and use the dirt to build up a strip of land for the road. U.S. Route 27 from Miami to Lake Okeechobee starts out at the Miami end as a straightend out stretch of the North Branch of the Miami River. It runs through the town of Miami Springs where they had an annual Miami River Festival. The Miami Springs Baptist Church runs the church on the Tamiami Trail Miccosukee Indian Reservation as a mission.

Lots of Miccosukkees went to the festival every year, selling crafts, their famous patchwork clothing, fry bread and other delicacies, and my friend Bobby Tiger and his sons Robert and Spencer would wrestle alligators. The 'Springs residents also had booths selling various handicrafts, and foods like spare ribs and hot dogs. One of the highlights of the festival was the canoe race. No heavy dugouts here. Modern aluminum and fiberglass craft propelled by eager teenagers raced up the canal.

I don't know if they still hold the festival anymore. Robert got killed in a motorcycle accident back in the 1970's, and a few years ago I went to Bobby's funeral. He'd had a heart attack. Spencer married a nice Jewish girl from Miami Beach and settled in North Miami. Then one day he was gone! I've tried to track him down, but to no avail. I haven't been able to track down his sister Donna either.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Square Pictures, Cool Cars, Hip Chicks

Here's Stephanie with that five pound pickerel she caught the second time she went fishing. The story of her catch is in yesterday's post along with a photo of me and the little runt of a fish that I caught.

In 1963 I turned 21 and achieved legal majority. My parents couldn't tell me what to do any more. I rushed out and bought a Honda motorcycle. In 1964 I married Stephanie and suddenly saw the world through more responsible eyes. I sold the motorcycle and bought this 1959 Borgward station wagon for $150.00 from a gas station a couple of blocks down the street. My best friend and fellow photographer had a two door coupe and loved it! Here's a link to an ad flier for Borgward automobiles:

It was a well made German car, but eventually parts became next to impossible to find. I bought a 1964 VW beetle a couple of years later. Today I was talking on the phone with a friend close to my age who lives near Chicago. She was all excited as she looked at the photo on the blog. It turned out that she had the two door coupe herself back then, and it'd been many years since Joy had even run into somebody who knew what a Borgward was, let alone actually owned one. Small world, as they say.

These fishing pictures were shot on 120 Ektachrome in my Minolta Autocord. Kodak used to make slides from negatives, as well as duplicate slides from roll film, on 35mm wide unperforated film so the 30x30mm square slides would fit in standard 2x2 inch slide mounts and work in regular slide projectors. These are Kodachrome duplicates from Ektachrome originals. That accounts for the square pictures. They're not cropped from a Leica frame. The fishing magazines back then insisted on 120 originals for color and I was planning on becoming a great outdoor writer. I did sell a couple of articles to Sportfishing Magazine but the photos ran in B&W.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Eyes Bigger Than His Stomach

When I met and married Stephanie within the span of ten days back in 1964 she'd never fished nor learned anything about photography. A winter living in Boston had her skilled at using a Leica III-f and making her own prints. Towards the winter's end I was starting to get the bug to do some fishing, and she was eager to give it a try. We went to nearby Fenway Park and in short order she learned to cast. I set up my fly tying vice and made up a bunch of 1/4 ounce black jigs. You couldn't buy solid black ones back then but I'd learned from an old guy in Florida just how effective they were on largemouth bass. I hoped they'd work in Massachusettes too.

The third Saturday in April was the traditional Opening Day in Massachusettes. I was most familiar with the ponds and streams around New Bedford where I grew up. First light found us on a little bridge over a stream flowing into Long Pond in Lakeville. Spring rains had the stream over its banks, flooding some of the nearby woods. Soon we were both catching a mixture of largemouth bass and yellow perch. Stephanie was having a ball. Most of the bass were legal size, with a limit of five, so we kept putting the bigger ones on the stringer and releasing the smallest. After a couple of hours of pretty much non stop action I was starting to wonder how to break the bad news to her - that fishing wasn't always like this. There'd be days when the fish just wouldn't bite!

Then her rod bent down hard, for the first time line started peeling off the spool, the drag screaming. I was worried that whatever it was would head into the woods and cut her off around a tree. The fish came up towards the surface, half jumping out of the water, and just sort of wallowed there in plain sight fora few minutes before thankfully going straight down into the snag free water in the center of the creek. It was the biggest bass I'd ever seen in Massachusettes. I was having trouble keeping myself calm, forget about keeping her calm! It was obvious that this wasn't a fish we could swing up onto the bridge with four pound test line. I walked down the embankment and was able to grab the fish. My feet were soaked but I didn't care. I should print up a picture of her holding that fish. 5 lbs. 14 oz. it weighed on the scale at Maxi's Delicatessen.

Maxi had mounted fish all over his shop, and often took me fishing when I was a kid, so he didn't mind weighing the fish.

The next weekend saw us fishing once more. Stephanie was now an experienced fisherwoman. We were fishing in some little pond in Dartmouth. I soon caught this chain pickerel, only about twice as long as the lure. She thought it was cute and insisted on taking this picture. We resumed fishing until I heard the familiar sound of a screaming drag. The water here was shallow, only about three feet deep, and we soon caught sight of what was causing the comotion. Again I stepped into frigid waters. I carefully grabbed the pickerel because unlike bass they have sharp teeth. Soon we'd taken a photo and were headed back to get some dry shoes and weigh her fish. The scale at Maxi's said five pounds.

Field & Stream Magazine used to give out these bronze pin on buttons for fish that were over a certain size. I'd always wanted one and to this day never got one. Stephanie got two the first two times she'd gone fishing.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Diners Dotted The Countryside

Diners dotted the countryside. I guess they originally started springing up in the thirties as the federal government, with a bit of help from the Work Progress Administration (WPA), started building a real national highway system out of a hodge-podge of narrow winding country roads that connected village to town to city. Many were located outside of cities, even in the middle of nowhere it seemed, with giant unpaved parking areas where a dozen or more "big rigs" could park while the truckers ate or slept. Row upon row of Macks and Long Horned Petes would be around the diner.

The style caught on as the epitome of modern casual dining, and you'd find them in downtown areas also. While the overall style was easy to spot they existed long before the era of national chains like Denny's or IHOP, even before McDonalds or Burger King even considered having an indoor dining area.

Individually owned, they had names like the Green Diner and the Orchard Diner (two names I remember from my childhood), and I guess Al and Mac were partners in this one. It was often the only place in town open 24 hours a day because the trucking industry operates that way. Cigarette smoke mixed with the aroma of fresh coffee and grilling bacon. Some were known for their cakes, some for their Danish, some for corned beef and cabbage, but whether you wanted a great burger with fresh sliced tomato at ten in the morning or eggs anytime at all with a steaming cup of coffee this was the place. Business men in suits sat at the counter together with truckers with strange regional accents and construction workers in jeans and work boots, discussing the mayors race or last night's game. The waitress knew your children's names and the short order cook knew exactly how you wanted your eggs. If you'd never been there before they'd ask, and make sure it was exactly right.

Now we go to places like Dennys or IHOP, Burger King or Wendys, where we know exactly what to expect, no surprises. No smoking either. Just food that reflects the bland sameness that our diet has become. You know you won't get poisoned, but you'll never hear "Hey, the Suchansuch Diner has a new cook. Try his roast turkey! And his blueberry pie? Outa this world!" Nope. Never again. Them days are over...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

I'm Your Captain...

A kid's imagination can go wild in a museum. I grew up in the old whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusettes, a city steeped in the history of the sea. Back then there was no admission fee and nobody seemed much concerned when a ten or twelve year old boy wanted to wander around looking at the exhibits, his mind off in that special place where it really is one hundred years earlier, whaling ships still came and went from the harbor after voyages of two or three years, and of course in those fantasies he was the captain.

The museum is a brick building located on Johnnycake Hill just east of the old downtown business district. An old white church building, the Seaman's Bethel was nearby. The street itself was granite cobblestone.

The thing that greeted you, no, confronted and overrwhelmed you, when you stepped into the Whaling Museum was the Lagoda. This was actually a scale model of a full sized whaling ship, one-half scale. When you're barely four feet tall that's still a pretty impressive size for a model ship. You could go up onto the deck and walk around, and go down below to see half sized bunks where the men slept. The one thing you weren't allowed to do was climb up into the rigging or climb into the whaleboats that hung on davits along the ship's sides.

One summer in the late 60's Stephanie and I were there visiting my dad, and I spent a few hours photographing inside the museum trying to recapture those dreams of my youth. It had been over half a century since the last square rigger had sailed back into the port. The docks were now full of fishing boats that went no further that the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia, short trips of perhaps a week. Maybe eight or nine years ago I did become a captain, a so called six pack license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, allowing me to carry not more than six passengers for hire not over one hundred miles from shore.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yes, We Have No Bananas, We Have No Bananas Today

I was a toddler when those lyrics caught my attention. I guess I heard it on the radio, a catchy little nonsense song. Nobody had televisions yet. I was fascinated by the play on words, positive and negative, and couldn't believe that anyone would actually talk that way.

I suppose that Monkey visited the fruit market with my mother and myself, although I really can't remember. I do remember that it was the time before supermarkets, when we'd shop at the butcher shop, the bakery, the fish market, and on the ground floor of the building where my grandfather had his office was a fruit and vegetable store, with baskets of fresh produce out front. He'd always get some peas still in the pod, and after we ate the peas we'd peel the skin off the pod and eat the sweet flesh of the pod, "the best part" he'd say, "save it until last". He was also the guy who taught me how to take a freshly laid still warm egg at the farm, poke a little hole in each end of the shell with a pocket knife, and suck the egg out. No, we didn't wash the shell first and no, nobody ever heard of salmonella or worried about getting sick.

So here we are 60 years later and Monkey is visiting a Publix Supermarket as big as the entire block where that produce store was located. We didn't buy any bananas because we still had some at home. The big markets carry ordinary bananas, and they have big plantains for cooking. What they don't carry are all the other varieties. No red bananas. No sweet little thin skinned apple bananas that do smell and taste like apples. It's hard to find cellery with a full head of leaves or beets with the greens still on these days. Recently they've started carrying the little snow peas in the pod but not the big regular peas.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hall of Infamy

Looking back now it's hard to believe that world was so divided into warring camps by the competing ideologies of Communism versus Capitalism not all that many years ago. Europe was divided, hell Germany was divided and Berlin had a wall seperating the two sides from one another. Our troops had only recently given up on Korea and were still going at it hot and heavy in Viet Nam.

The Russian bloc in Europe was frightening enough but the Red Chinese in Asia were expanding their influence in country after country. Nobody could have ever imagined that a bit more than a quarter of a century later Europe would once more consist of a bunch of essentially democratic independant countries practicing capitalism, the Russians would be our friends, and China would become our biggest trading partner.

Now we buy clothes and shoes made in China, the Kodak film you buy at the drugstore is made in China, the list is endless. Back then, however, being a communist was not a popular position here in the United States. In addition to the Republicans and the Democrats we've often had a minor party or two, and one of those was the American Communist Party. Gus Hall was the head of the American Communist Party.

I forget what publication I shot this for. It was a typical asignment to get some casual shots during an interview. In this case the editor and I met up with Gus at some ritzy gourmet bistro, hardly the sort of place you'd expect to find in a communist country, but here in Miami there were a lot of them, and it was going on the expense account anyway. Gus was passionate about his beliefs while being pragmatic enough not to turn down some good food and drink in posh surroundings. The editor and I wore suits and ties but Gus seemed to look more the part of "the worker" wearing the open neck short sleeve shirt. As was my usual practice I shot B&W because that's what the asignment required and shot some color for possible stock sales later.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Brown Sugar - Yummmmmm!

I have only the haziest recollections of this shoot. I haven't a clue as to her name at this point. I think that she'd broken new ground being hired as a summer intern at the North Dade Journal. It was a time when whites and blacks in the south rarely mixed. The only blacks you were likely to see around here were gardeners and maids. The gardeners worked for white owned landscape companies who dropped them off and picked them up and the maids wore white uniforms and took the bus. But the times they were a changin', as Dylan put it. Slowly, but none the less changing.

Anyway, Jim hired her on, and we needed a mug shot of her to use in the paper. I shot some B&W with an 85/2 Nikkor on a Leica in open shade in my back yard. My house was just a few blocks from the office. I had a partial roll of color in another camera body and decided to use it up. I noticed how she was holding her hand against her tummy and shot off a few frames of that also. I always liked this shot.

I should try to locate the B&W's from the session. Maybe her name is on the contact sheets or the negative sleeves. I've about given up hope of finding the book in which I'd carefully cataloged all the color slides.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Majik Bus

That little Penn Yann Cartopper boat stayed on the bus whenever we weren't out fishing. I'm not even sure if air conditioning was available for VW Microbuses when it was new in 1961 but when I picked it up used in '67 for $600 AC wasn't in the budget. We were saving for a house. But the boat was only about 100 pounds and neatly shaded about 90% of the roof. It probably used less gas to tote the boat than to run an AC anyway, and it was like having my own tree to shade the bus where ever I went.

The paint was badly faded when I bought it and it was another era. My bus wasn't the only one around painted bright gaudy colors with a bunch of flowers on the front. Stephanie made curtains for the windows, we put shag carpet on the floor, and I built a platform for a twin bed size matress. We made weekend trips to the Florida Keys and vacationed in New England with that rig. This was shot someplace in the middle of Florida where we spent a few days fishing for largemouth bass.

It also attended the Palm Beach International Rock Festival and a few others in South Florida, plus dozens of rock concerts at East Greynolds Park. I picked up the City of Norh Miami as a photography client about then so it was frequently seen at events at various city parks or in the lot next to city hall. One day a few months after this photo was taken I got a call from the city motor pool to stop by. They put a pair of big City of North Miami decals on the front doors just like all the police cars and city vehicles had so I could use the restricted parking areas at various events. Hell, I could drive it anywhere I pleased in the parks!

By 1972 my hippie days were coming to an end and the bus was over ten years old. It was spending way too much time at Karl's Garage and starting to look a bit out of place with my new wardrobe of Brooks Brothers suits. I sold it for almost as much as I'd paid for it and bought a brand new 1972 VW bus with AC, moved the boat to its new perch, installed a car seat for our infant daughter Elena, and the adventures continued.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Forty Year Cycle

It's strange how fashions go through cycles. There were the flappers in the 1920's with their short skirts. The hippy era in the 1960's saw a return of showing a lot of leg. We're going through another revival now. It seems to skip a generation, and resurfaces once more.

I'm just relying on memory here but I think her name was Nancy. The world was full of optimism back then. If you weren't fighting in Viet Nam the world was a safe place to be. Or maybe it was that all the troublemakers opted to join the army rather than do jail time and few were on the streets. Anyway, it was safe to be on the streets, and people hitch hiked every place. I was driving home from a shoot on Miami Beach one evening when I spotted this cute girl hitching across the causeway. She got in my VW Microbus and as I drove her home we exchanged phone numbers.

Two interesting things had recently happened. One, I got hold of a couple of rolls of Ektachrome Infrared film, the original E2 Process version, which gave some really strange color effects with foliage. Two, I had gotten a bargain on a Canon 19mm lens for my Leica. Canon had just introduced a retrofocus 19 for the Canonflex so you could view through the lens and still had a brand new 19mm that used a seperate viewfinder, with the mirror locked up. I walked in to Walter Gray Photorama on Hollywood Blvd. one day and Murray Spitzer said "Wait'll you see what I have!" He offered to throw in a Canon Lens Mount Converter B so the lens would fit the Leica, and the lens came in a nifty compartment case complete with viewfinder. "One hundred dollars, complete" Murray said. "Sold", I replied.

I loved that lens. Finally it was stolen about 1990. But at that time, 1968, it was a cherished new posession, I had the I.R. Ektachrome, I bought an orange filter as suggested by Kodak, and Nancy and I went up to Greynold's Park. The stone steps are near the little bridge. I shot some color and I shot some B&W, both there and elsewhere in the park. Come Monday I brought the Ektachrome to the lab. Kodak suggested bracketing exposures, so I only had maybe a dozen shots on the roll that were correctly exposed. This one just stood out, the color, her pose, the exposure, everything was perfect. For years I had a 16x20 print framed in my living room. Eventually, like most color prints, it faded. Eventually, like most people you meet in Miami, I lost track of Nancy. All that's left is the color slide and some memories of another era, another time. Nobody hitch hikes anymore, but those short little skirts are back in fashion once again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Face Only A Mother Could Love

Bobby Tiger was in his fifties but still put on a daily "alligator wrestling" show in the alligator pit at the Miccosukee Reservation on the Tamiami Trail west of Miami. I suppose the wild gators can be dangerous, especially the big ones, but this little four footer was just sunning himself on the bank of the Trail canal.

The ones in the village are well fed, mostly on garfish that the Indians gigged (speared) from the bridges. The gar swim lazily just below the surface and aren't all that difficult to get. The well fed gators are also pretty lazy, and seem to tolerate being "wrestled" a couple times a day because they know a tasty garfish is awaiting them. Bobby would get in the pit, an enclosure about 20 ft. square with 4 ft. high walls and a sand bottom. He carried a a 12 foot length of wooden closet pole, and would have to poke and prod an alligator for a few minutes to get him mad enough to rear up on his front legs and start snapping at the pole.

Bobby would then start waving one hand around in circles a few feet above the gator's head. While the gator was looking up Bobby would reach underneath and grab the soft flesh under the throat, pushing upwards. From there it was a simple matter to grab the jaws and hold them shut. The muscles for closing the jaws are strong enough to take your arm off. There's little strength for opening them back up. With the jaws shut he'd stick a leg under one of the gator's legs, twisting the gator's head, and flip him onto his back. Then he'd make a big show of rubbing the gator's belly "to put him to sleep". The reality was that being on his back the blood rushed to his brain and he was already nearly asleep. I got in the pit a few times, taking pictures of Bobby and his sons Robert and Spencer wrestling gators, even doing it once myself with a gator of about 5 or 6 feet.

Robert taught me how to "grunt up a gator" during mating season, making the gutteral grunting sound that they use to attract females. They start coming out of the saw grass swimming towards the airboat. Then you have the problem of getting a rope around them, tying them up, and getting them into the boat when they really have other things on their mind...LOL

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Especially two hundred pounds of woman with big teeth.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Last Diaper Pin - Opportunity Lost

Elena was born at a major turning point in history. Disposeable diapers had been introduced shortly before her birth. Word was that cloth diapers were "healthier", less likely to cause diaper rash. If you didn't want to fuss with washing the cloth diapers yourself there were diaper services that would pick up your dirty diapers and deliver fresh ones a couple times a week, an entire industry built on dirty diapers.

Disposeables were covered with a thin layer of plastic so you didn't need to used plastic pants over them to keep baby from wetting through to her clothes. It was easy sticking a diaper pin through a cloth diaper but the pin never seemed to want to poke through the plastic. I stuck my finger much more often when trying to change a disposeable. One day I noticed a roll of masking tape on my desk and got an idea! Yup, masking tape would work with a disposeable diaper.

A roll of tape became a fixture on the changing table and in the diaper bag we carried with us everyplace. I brought a roll to the daycare center and pretty soon all the babies had taped disposeables, their mothers embracing the New World Order with glee.

Life was very different 30+ years ago. Men weren't supposed to be able to change diapers. It would be another 20 years at least before public mens' rooms had changing tables. When I slung the diaper bag over my shoulder and picked up the baby carrier for a trip to the mall I'd just kneel down where ever. When you gotta change a crying baby you gotta do it! Right now! Disbelieving women would suddenly appear out of nowhere. "Here let me do that for you." I NEVER managed to change a diaper at the mall. I wasn't allowed to....LOL. A lot of women saw the roll of tape and thought it was a great idea. By the time Jonathan was born five years later disposeable diapers had little tapes already in place. Pins were history. Now if only I'd had the good sense to patent the idea. Let's see, a penny a Pamper, times...?

Friday, May 05, 2006


My wife Stephanie loved to travel. She's spent her senior year going to high school high school in Geneva, Switzerland, staying with an aunt and uncle who lived there. She took an immersion course in the Fench language because that's the language she needed for school. Of course she got all A's.

She showed up unannounced one day at my apartment in Boston. She'd hitchhiked from Ann Arbor, Michigan where she'd started college. She was looking for my former room mate Paul Band, a German guy she'd met on the boat coming back to the U.S. Yup, some people still travelled by ship in the 1960's. But Paul had moved on, and the best I could tell her was that he might be in New York. It was a cold November night in 1964 so I invited her in for hot chocolate. One thing lead to another and about a week later we got married. Her dad had freaked and showed up in Boston to talk her out of it, to no avail.

It was a strange wedding. The justice of the peace, as I remember, had studied to be a Baptist minister but never been ordained. My best man was a guy from my home town of New Bedford that I'd met mostly because he'd worked at Zeff Supply Company before I got the job. The photographer I knew in a most casual way, just from running into him here and there, and while he shot a roll of B&W his function, along with that of the best man, was mostly that we needed two witnesses. Stephanie and I were the only two white people at the ceremony, by happenstance, not design. Later that night about a dozen more of my friends came by and we partied. Stephanie had only been in town a few days so my friends were her friends.

After we settled in Miami we'd make the obligatory trek north every summer. Her relatives were in the Washington, D.C. area and mine in Massachusettes. In between would be jaunts further up the state of Florida, across to Naples or down the Keys. We did a lot of fishing and photography. Then her dad's employer transferred him to their facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Come the summer of '73 and Stephanie had Big Plans for our Great Tour of The American West! New sights to see and places to go. Elena had just turned two and had a great time. She doesn't remember a damned thing about the trip.

One thing that puzzled me is how a primitive mammal like the armadillo has managed to survive at all, They wander about at night and seem to like doing their travelling on modern paved highways. They freeze in the car's headlights making little effort to get out of the way. Come morning it's difficult not to run across the occasional squished armadillo on the highway. By later in the day the color is gone and there's really not much left of them as the steady stream of cars and trucks continues to pulverize their remains. This one was still fairly intact, making for an interesting design in the morning light. Like most old Ektachrome this one has started taking on a bit of a purple cast.

The happenstance 1964 match? Not the best perhaps. It produced two great kids and lasted about 15 years. She was soon back in school, first for accounting, then computers, finally medicine, and when she graduated medical school I was at the graduation with the children just as proud as if we'd still been married. Today she's in South Carolina happily remarried to hopefully a much better match.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Orphaned Figureheads

As a boy growing up in the former whaling port of New Beford, Massachusettes I was fascinated by the sense of history in the rotting docks in the harbor, abandoned for over half a century. The city itself was full of reminders of the glory days, though. There were bronze statues of whalers and beautiful oil paintings of ships under full sail in all the public buildings and many private homes as well.

The Whaling Museum on Johnnycake Hill had a 1/2 size replica of the whaling ship Lagoda, complete in detail to the last sail and line. It also has many things brought back from far off lands. Small boats, from a walrus hide Eskimo Kayak from the arctic to an outrigger dug-out canoe from the South Pacific. Strange knives and harpoon heads carved from ivory and made from iron. Clothing from around the world.

One of the most interesting art forms of the era was the ship's figurehead, usually a female form carved from wood, lovingly painted in realistic colors, and often adorned with real goldleaf. These were mounted on the ship's bow directly beneath the bowsprit facing into the waves. There are a number of these on display in the museum, dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and lovingly preserved long ater their ships were wrecked, abandoned, or just rotted out from age. This Kodachrome II slide pictures a couple of them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Up In Flames

My old photographs can be a source of recalling my memories or they can be an excercise in frustrations. The black and white negatives were neatly numbered to match the contact sheets. Notes were written on the negative sleeves and/or the back of the contact sheets. What details I can't recall from one image are often filled in with details from another. The negatives are in connected strips of 5 or 6 frames. The 5 or 6 strips from a roll are all printed together on an 8x10 sheet of paper. Neat. Together.

Color slides were stored in boxes. Even though everything was numbered and logged into notebooks today I can't locate the books. Jumbled masses of boxes hold slides. The ones I really liked best are stored 20 to a page in (once) clear vinyl sheets. The numbers are visible, sometimes a lab stamped date, that's all. They're even seperated from the rest of the roll in the biox.

Deduction tells me that this picture was shot during the year that Stephanie and I lived in New Bedford. Deduction tells me that it must have been shot with my 35mm f/1.8 Canon lens on my Leica III-f body, which was "black dial" and equipped with a Leicavit trigger rapid winder. That was the camera I used then. The going price of a used Leicavit in 1965 was about $25.

But Todd was the one who looked over the vinyl pages that I hadn't looked at in 30 years. He's the one who said "This one looks interesting!" He's the one who said "I can't wait to hear the story that goes with this picture!" My mind came up blank. Maybe if I had the rest of the shoot, the other photographs I took that afternoon? Perhaps if I could locate the notebook? Would my ex-wife Stephanie remember if I emailed the photo to her? Then slowly, bubbling up out of the murk in my mind, details started to come together.

We'd spent our first year together living in Boston, then spent a year in my hometown of New Bedford before moving to Miami at the behest of my mother. This was New Bedford. I/we had met a woman, at an art show I think. Her name was Barbara, she had a couple of young sons and a husband. Harold? That's the name that seems like it wants to surface and become definitive, but I'm not positive. We became friends, and I took this photo in their backyard. It was another world 40 years ago. The men barbequed outside while the women stayed in the kitchen cooking beans and sweet corn, and making salad, and maybe even baking a cake.

Now for the strange twist. For reasons long forgotten, even back then, my family had a spat of some sort, and one faction stopped talking with another. This was before I was born, long before. Over time as Barbara and I talked about this one and that one, distant relations we'd met at one time or another, and it became apparent that she and I were second cousins. We were a couple years apart (she's older) but had grown up within the same Jewish community for all those years and never knew we were related. My mother confirmed the relation. Then Stephanie and I moved to Miami, rarely ventured back to New Bedford, and it's been at least 35 years since I've been in touch with my cousins. Easy come, easy go.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I spent my first 13 years growing up in and around New Bedford, Massachusettes. We lived in the adjacent Town of Dartmouth, just to the west, "out in the country". When you're talking about places first settled in the 1600's, not all that long after the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth about 40 miles to the north, you're talking about a lot of history. Due east of New Bedford, just across the harbor, is the Town of Fairhaven where this photo was taken.

The land all around had been cleared, first to harvest the timber, then to farm the now cleared land. Small farms dotted the landscape, self sufficient places with a cow or two for milk, a horse to pull the plow, chickens fore eggs and meat, and the farmers raised corn and wheat, squash and pumpkins, a variety of other vegetables, and brought the surplus to town. Roadside stands sold fresh vegetables when I was a child and once a week we'd drive out to buy chickens and eggs, brown tasty ones with bright orange yolks. We'd then take the chickens to be ritually slaughtered and bled so they'd be kosher. When we drove to the beach we'd pickup some fresh vegetables, watermellon, and sweet corn. Believe me, supermarkets don't carry FRESH vegetables. There is a difference!

Flat bed trucks were often driving to town, piled high with chicken crates. The chickens squacked and flapped and carried on in the unexpected 40 MPH breeze as they took their first and last ride. Feathers flew everyplace. If you were behind a truck load of white leghorns the illusion was one of driving through a blizzard. With Rhode Island reds, or the black and white mottled Plymouth Rock chickens, it was just blindness trying to drive behind the truck. You let them get well ahead of you.

Most of thse small farms had been abandoned by the end of the nineteenth century. Trees reclaimed pasture and plowed land alike. Not the huge trees of the original forest but big enough that you knew you were in the woods. As a boy my friends and I loved to go exploring. We'd run across the remains of field stone walls, foundations, fireplaces and chimnies. We were always on the lookout for bits of Indian pottery but the real prize was a flint arrowhead.

And then there were the gravestones out in the middle of the woods. Some were clustered together, with a variety of names, like perhaps many years before there was a church on the site. Other groupings were obviously family, closely related people buried on their farm. Sometimes a favorite dog or horse would be buried complete with its own gravestone. I was walking around a small pond in the 1960's, probably fishing for chain pickerel and yellow perch, when I ran across this stone, a grave marker for a beloved horse that had passed away. The badly faded and discolored Ektachrome was salvaged and restored by Todd Frederick.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Purple Pain

All my old Ektachromes have badly faded and suffered horrendous color shifts. They seem to go purple. What I shot on Kodachrome still looks pretty decent. This was one of the faded Ektachromes, which I'm showing both as it looks today and something pretty close to what it should have looked like with the original colors. My friend Todd Frederick enjoys working with photoshop on the computer. Color film is made of three layers, each a different color. As long as you can seperate the three images you can "put the color" back into the layers. He seems to do a pretty good job! Thanks, Todd.

I kept meticulous log books of my color slides. Every slide was numbered, and there were notations as to who, what, where and when, the camera, the lens, the film I used. Someplace, packed away in a box, those books are in hiding! My best guess is that this was shot at either the Palm Beach International Rock Festival or the rock festival at Gulfstream Racetrack in Hallandale, sometime in the late 1960's.I have no idea who that is playing the flute. It was probably shot with a Leicaflex and a 180mm f/2.8 Elmarit.

Well, maybe I'll find out who that is and edit the copy when I do.

Usually you think of rock music you think electric guitar, drums, electric base, keyboard, maybe a bit of harmonica from rock's blues heritage. Flute is unusual. I wonder if his learning the flute was a creative decision or a holdover from being a child forced to take flute lessons, then practice everyday after school while all the other kid were outside playing ball.