Wednesday, March 28, 2007


The primary reason for going to Vegas was really to see if I could walk down a street and not be mistaken for a prostitute.

bottomless © Laura Kicey

I could have chosen to be really offended by the sensibilities of the city. I even expected to be a little bit. Instead after a couple of internal "Wow, really?" most things meant to be ostentatious went quiet and I could really start to see the city and appreciate it.

hail © Laura Kicey

Dustin and I devoted a whole lot of time to examining and discussing what regular people were looking at when they stopped dead in their tracks and pulled out their cameras to take a picture.

coaxing © Laura Kicey

This is the first time that I have traveled that I was compelled to actually remember what it was like to be silly on vacation and just take goofy photos of each other in front of the sites.

chivalry is not dead, it is merely undergoing routine maintenance
chivalry is not dead, it is merely undergoing routine maintenance © Laura Kicey

If I didn't do it at least a little, I would have felt like a complete bitter and angry jerk.

green with envy
green with envy © Laura Kicey

They worked so incredibly hard to create this enormous recreation of midtown Manhattan and loop a roller coaster around it, I really should do something with that, it is just to preposterous not to.

The city erupting with ludicrous creativity on steroids. Dazzle and seduce. Whether that means get you to part with your cash or get you to drop your pants... or in my case just let my eyes be wowed, it was successful. Probably in ways it couldn't have foreseen.

wading pool
wading pool © Laura Kicey

Vegas makes you into a tourist. Or maybe guest would be a better word. There is absolutely nothing homey about it anywhere. Every inch is primped and preened and polished, so that you might enjoy it, the gaudiest peacock. Even the run down parts strive for it, classic Vegas downtown, even with the bulbs blown and letters missing in its signs, it is still vying for your affections, like a wrinkly, one-legged prostitute with no teeth. There is probably someone who appreciates it. And that would be us.

flower bed
flower bed © Laura Kicey

The trip there was wrought with kinks. US Airways misplaced our pilot. Screaming matches with customer service reps and dramatic jogs between a bevy of terminals helped us work off our overpriced mystery meals. Luggage disappeared into the temporary abyss and clean underwear was pined for. Hand lotion found new use as hair styling gunk and still we managed to meet the day with some grace... and stinky armpits.

We stuck to The Strip on our first day. Inside and out, we suffered from our eyes lying to us about distance. Everything seemed so close because everything was so easy to see from wherever you happened to be, a million fabulous, perfectly placed vantage points to view all of the marvelous sites. Oh its right across the street, we'll be there in no time. This is not the case. It will take you 20 minutes just to get out of your hotel from the door to your room. Then trying to find something in another hotel... signage was a bit difficult to follow and of course led you intentionally through the casinos when you really didn't have to be there. Conniving! I appreciated the careful planning, y'know, in my head. But our feet paid the price, even with all the escalators and moving walkways.

amazon © Laura Kicey

Day two we decided to check out the downtown area, opposite end of the strip where the older hotels were. Escaping the Times Square-like bombardment was refreshing as were the thick layers of kitsch. We got off the monorail at the Sahara and drank in the thick stale smokiness and sheik un-chic decor. We got sucked into Bonanza the world's largest gift shop for over an hour, testing the many Vegas-themed gifts there were to fondle.

occupancy © Laura Kicey

We made our way northward on Las Vegas Boulevard to check out the quickie wedding chapels. I always pictured there being a few here and there, but really the core of the city is covered. Most of the nicer hotels have a wedding chapel. The chapels downtown were mindblowing, offering the drive-thru and themed weddings of every flavor. So long as they were 60s classic movie stars and/or Elvis.

heartfelt © Laura Kicey

No establishment was complete without some kind of gambling available to patrons. Video poker at the laundromat. Though the tide of business cards for prostitutes didn't seem to reach this far north, strips joints were aplenty. And of course the complete lack of evidence of news from the outside world reached far and wide. Replacing daily papers in the omnipresent metal curbside vending cases were rags with pages of prostitutes promising to be in your room in 20 minutes. Endless pages of raw halftone hotties. No matter how disgusting, I couldn't help but be a little bit impressed by their commitment to service.

Saturday was our designated work day. Since we had had a number of only semi-impressive meals over the past two days, I decided to treat us to brunch at the Bellagio. After the indulgence, we went back to the room under the burden of Yum, and took a nap until we were summoned to action as wedding photographers.

arpeggio © Laura Kicey

We went to Mandalay Bay to play wedding prep paparazzi in the honeymoon suite with the bride and her bridesmaids. The ceremony itself was in the Mandalay's Wedding Chapel, and no one was allowed to take photographs except for the staff photographer.... who stood in exactly one position the entire time... I'm sure her photos are about as inspiring as Wonder Bread.

dressing © Laura Kicey

We, at least, got to shoot the fun stuff. And ultimately, it is all good practice. We've already been asked to do another wedding at an amazing location and I find I am kinda looking forward to it actually.

cut the cake
cut the cake © Laura Kicey

To cap off our adventure on the last day, we decided to take the plunge and rent a car to see where the sand would blow us out in the desert. By the time we had waited in line and gotten through all the paperwork, our little white Nissan Vista was taking us out 15N heading toward Valley of Fire State Park, an hour away. Straight off the bat we narrowly missed death, driving behind an SUV that had a blowout going about 70mph... figure-eighted all over the (fortunately thinly populated) road and wound up facing head on into traffic, nose to nose with the car in front of us.

Realizing we were completely ill-equipped for deserting, especially as a couple of chalk-colored kids without a bottle of water, we stopped at a rest stop/casino (as if there is another kind in this state) on the Moapa Indian Reservation. After grabbing a gallon of water and a bag of trail mix, we chatted up the Native American gentleman selling Really Good Beef Jerky out of a trailer outside the casino.

sweet and spicy
sweet and spicy © Laura Kicey

He told us the names of all the mountains and let us sample some of the sweet 'n' spicy jerky before we made the purchase that left our lips tingling the rest of the day. Then we took his photograph and were off in search of burning rock formations.

rainbow vista
rainbow vista © Laura Kicey

Before entering the park and after almost driving off the road a number of times while gawking, we stopped to investigate a smaller mountain with a cave in the side of it. While trying to avoid snagging on all the low growing thorny things and avoid landing my feet on snakes and scorpions, (I could not conjure the vision of Dustin sucking venom from my wounds as hard as I tried) we took oodles of likely very boring photos. I felt rather alien out of my normally more urban element.

glyph © Laura Kicey

It took all of our combined efforts to not try to take photographs of the vast everything. Instead trying to really see, make and compose within the landscape. It was a great exercise... that I am not sure I succeeded at. We did play with a branch I found for a bit, just before we both started to feel like we were going to pass out from the heat. I think the shots where I incorporated the figure felt stronger.

dust storm
dust storm © Laura Kicey

Guess I'll just have to go back and practice some more.

We ended our last night with an unintentionally horrible bang. Dinner did not sit well with Mr. D... and I drug him down to Fremont Street, for its nightly namesake Experience. We ran around the few blocks excitedly taking pictures of the typographical neon gems while Dustin's meat jubilee boiled in his guts.

seduction © Laura Kicey

The midnight car ride back to the hotel and all the hours between then and the midpoint of our 6 am flight were rough to say the least. But somehow we made it home, with our luggage for once and our spirits mostly intact, if battered by food poisoning fallout.

I had expected a larger more vile version of Atlantic City, with bigger angrier attitudes to match. I was pleasantly surprised over and over.

My gravest disappointment I think was not seeing one showgirl. The closest I came was finding a photograph by Dustin of my naked belly on sale at Urban Outfitters. It seems JPG magazine crept quietly out of the bookstores and was selling my body in Vegas. How very appropriately creepy and titillating.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


showgirls © Laura Kicey

Leaving for Vegas in a few short hours. While dollar signs are not popping up in my eyes just yet, I am having neon daydreams. With tassles on their titties...

Saturday, March 10, 2007


rementer grave
rementer grave © Laura Kicey

Towards the end of November, I revisited Rementer House. This morning with high hopes, The D and myself set off to go shooting there. And found it completely razed. The kennel. The barn and stables. The garage. The basement filled in with soil. Little bits of the lives of John and Floss were strewn about mixed in with the dirt. Only the birdhouse remained. My heart felt heavy.

Too often we forget that the things we are most drawn to are often the most frail or in teh most peril of being destroyed at any given moment. I didn't think they would take a little of us with them when they go. But they do.

nausea dizziness fatigue
nausea dizziness fatigue © Laura Kicey

To attempt and put some cheer back in us we went to Pottstown to the ever-lovely Funky Lil Kitchen for dinner and to drop off some new work for them to hang.

We then skulked around the shadows of the town to see whose drawers we could get into without them noticing.

swing © Laura Kicey

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Making time to do the things left undone... penned into the mental calendar for this last weekend. Mission mostly accomplished. As part of the Mr. The Dust Cakeday Celebrations, we headed back into the depths of Central PA, where I hadn't been for some time.

sticky fingers
sticky fingers © Laura Kicey

Saturday morning sun shone kindly on the fire engine red walls of Saturday's Market in Middletown. We made the rounds to see what was 'new' and visit favorites, still there, eternally for sale. The difference this time round was bold new moves we both made with the vendors. Bob One, famed for signs proudly selling items for steals such as: ALL COLLECTORS PLATES NOW $5 EACH, 3 for $20.00. So Bob One came through the aisles of his stand. Looking dazed. Wearing a colander on his head.

ornate frames
ornate frames © Laura Kicey

He sat down and started talking to random people walking by. I stood by and listened, I engaged him a little. He told me to refer to him as the Wizard of Odd. Mr. D joined me and I suggested he shoot him now. Bob One agreed to it but demanded half of the sale of any photos sold on eBay. Dustin agreed. He moved onto playing a tiny violin and talking about how all comedians are either Jewish, Black or can dance. And how Sammy Davis Jr. was all three of these things. His anecdote chronicled Sammy getting his eye poked out on a car horn and how he got free Caddy's for the rest of his life then died before he could really get too many. And how Bob One, himself pined to be a comedian but was lacking in Jewishness, Blackness and rhythm.

bounds © Laura Kicey

Our second favorite corner of the market is inhabited by Bob Two and his sundry chromey kitchen devices and random other crap. Generally when Bob spies someone taking interest in his goods, he calls out 'Hey Lady!' and then fills you in with some tidbit of helpful info, such as price or era or usage. He spotted us and our cameras on the approach and announces that he has a camera over by him! I went over and we started to chat. About him photographing thing while he was in the service. While he was traveling around Central America. Panama. I don't need to apply butter, he is on a roll. He reveals what the natives in Central America taught him. Cashews, he says. Cashews are deadly if you eat them before they are roasted. The natives down there... they toss them. There are these lovely orange fruits, the pit is the cashew. The natives eat the fruit and pitch the pit.

This lead onto a tangent about hating Hershey's chocolate and trading giant freshwater shrimp for mangoes. D wanders over to listen in and suddenly Bob Two whips a little metal disc bolted to another out of a nearby box and tosses out the challenge.

What do you think this is?

I study these little metal discs with the tiny bolt and while I've seen it before I have no clue.

See your mom probably had a bowl like this.

(he picks a nearby flat bottom bowl up)

If she got a hole in the bottom of her bowl she would unscrew this nut put the one disc inside the bowl and the other on the bottom and screw the nut to keep them together and plug the hole.

Its called an amender.

Baffling. And my mother thinks he made this up.

Somehow we got on the topic of camping. Little ground was not covered. Naturally we talked about building fires. Soft coal. Always keep it on hand, so you can start a fire no problem. And never ever start a fire on stone. Because if you throw water on it to put it out the stone will explode. Unless you throw dirt on it to put it out, then you are ok.

With much patience and nodding at these discoveries, I decided I felt gutsy enough to ask him to take his photo. He was all too happy to oblige, as long as we brought him prints next time we came. We have to do that sometime...

bob © Laura Kicey

To prepare for work on an article I am writing for LAB (which is almost done Joseph, really)... we returned almost a full year later to Violet Hobaugh's house.

mown © Laura Kicey

This time we didn't venture onto her property... which made reshooting certain things impossible... but plodding around in the frigid rain I made some new discoveries, though the things that haunt her were made no more clear. Still a fascinating, terrifying mystery that lingers long after you walk away.

windfall © Laura Kicey

The remainder of the weekend took us northerly to the Family D. Where we celebrated cake and birthing and moved some things to D's sister's new house in Sunbury and then toyed with photofanices around the house, pretending our bodies were furniture in the empty rooms.

movers © Laura Kicey

Finally Mr. D was fortunate enough to have a sale of one of his pieces in the Joints show just in time as the show came down on Sunday. Thanks again to Mugshots for having us! Now we need to figure out what to do with all these pieces that haven't sold... I think I hear Etsy knocking. If you are a Philly local, be on the lookout for Lifestyle magazine in your mailbox. My interview with Girl Wonder Shannon Collins
is in the issue that came out yesterday! Find it online here Thanks again Shannon!

Lifestyle magazine interview/article

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