To continue the story of what's been happening to us...I've been working for a print shop since the summer. I made several repairs to their large format printer, I printed out several jobs...basically learned the business. I'd been in the graphic design program at school, and so it was kind of interesting to see the business up close...
First off, the printing company is owned by a soy candle company. The candle company is owned by the local Baptist Mafia...two volunteer firemen and scout leaders...pillars of the town. These two guys grew up here, and one of them inherited the real estate where the candle factory is located and they most likely went into business together, and somehow they were able to attain a fairly substantial wholesale market. They make all natural soy candles, but they make them for all these different people's labels, sometimes fundraisers...and well, there is work work work for graphic designers at this place. I designed several candle labels as well as fundraisers for them...and all of this before school started. So, when school started, and I was registering, it only made sense to knock out an internship credit by working at the print shop I was already working for at for no pay...
Everything was kosher until recently. They just underwent a complete overhaul of their website. They have a new web designer who is excellent, and he is also good at web marketing as well. It was exciting for all of us. Meanwhile, I had just invested in a new Canon 50D...believe me folks, there is yet another long story involved with that, but let me just say that I plan to work in photography either here in NC or back home in Mobile, so the investment remains sound, it just seemed as if I might be cashing in a little bit early. See, the main guy, the owner, told my friend and me that he wanted to hire me to photograph the candles for the website. I joked about the fact that all my hobby photography takes you to India and Africa and Bangladesh, and places in between...and my big jump into professional photography involves a thousand photographs of different candles. It seemed incredibly mundane by comparison, but believe me, it was my first shot at doing a job and getting paid.
I set up a shooting table so there would be no horizon behind the candles themselves. I used a white piece of styrene and some duct tape to fashion what actually turned out to be a fairly nice backdrop. For lighting I used tungsten work lights and adjusted my white balance to compensate. So for about a month my nights and weekends and spare time were all filled with click click clicking my camera with my computer...take one out, put the next one in...then the mouse and click, and start over...it was indeed mundane, but I was still excited. At the end of the day, when the project was finished...almost save a few candles that needed to be poured first...and they were posted on the fancy brand new website along with the factory tour I shot photos for as well...and I ask about getting paid.
I won't go into amounts except to say that I was asking for a standard rate for this type of digital imaging. A buck a photo, and I didn't include the ones that eventually ended up not being used...they had me take each one with the lid on, and also with the lid off...so only half the photos I made were used...and I only expected to get paid for the ones they have posted on their website. A more experienced photographer would have gotten half up front and a contract regarding payment and so on...but see, this was my foot-in-the door job, so I didn't twist his arm about price or anything like that up front, I was just happy to have a paying job. So when the subject came up last week regarding how much I should get paid, this guy all the sudden says...in an email to my supervisor the print-shop-girl...that he thought that the photography was part of my internship. I can't say I didn't see it coming, but I was still surprised when it happened. These guys are Eagle Scouts for fuck's sake...if you can't trust an Eagle Scout who can you trust? I trust my buddy in Traphill to be the criminal he is, which is why it didn't piss me off that bad that he made off with all my useless plastic...no, these guys really put the wrenches to me with this one. I had been planning to spend half the money on my son's Christmas gifts, and the other half on real actual studio lighting...that way whether I stay or go I am still collecting equipment and gearing up to do portraits, weddings, nature, pets, kids, or whatever I need to do in order to squeak out a taxable leaving.
So I had to write a letter. I got it as a template from a pricing and ethics guide for graphic design. The letter was a cease and desist letter, stating that they do not have my copyright consent unless they pay, which they have not. I had it delivered return receipt and all that...and oh boy, what a bunch-o-drama. I was basically calling the guy a liar in writing, but he was basically lying to me when he agreed to pay me for my work. There were threats about taking away my credit, which I told them to shove up their ass for all I care, and I'll never work at any print-shop in town and so on and so on in that very self righteous manner in which they do most of their business. I was banned. My key taken away. No more working for free. I told Marjie I had to shake the tree sometime, cause they would have me work as an intern perpetually, always stringing me along with these promises "When we get some money in this place..."
They blatantly lied to me, and so I sent what I thought was a very professional letter asking them to please cease using my artwork without my permission unless they intend to pay. I gave them until the 24th to respond, and the holidays came, and the holidays went, and they were busy busy busy down there...and needless to say my collection of what I would call mediocre images are still up online without my permission...that's it, my bluff is called...
No, not me, not this crazy dead head...No-Sir-Re-Bob will I lay down and allow this to happen. I'm gonna follow in my mother's footsteps and sue the bastards. Sue 'em for a relatively nominal amount of money. It only costs $75 bucks, plus $15 to get the Sheriff to deliver the summons. I figure I've willingly lost more than that at the casino, so why not. All I loose by filing a small claim and loosing is $90 at most. I've dropped twice that on a night drinking back in my sailor days when I could afford such things. I've never done this before, but I read all the instructions, filled out all the forms, and so now I just have to come up with the money. Who knows, maybe we'll move on the money I get paid assuming it comes through. We are stuck here in this limbo town...we have decided to move.
I'm gonna call their bluff. I checked, they called, and now I'm calling. What do they have? Well there is no agreement that they should pay me, it was a verbal arrangement and is arguable, especially when it comes to price. In my corner, I have the market rate, plus just like I don't have anything in writing from them, they don't have anything in writing from me either. Those are my cards...they are breaking copyright...
All kidding aside, the goodie scout leaders took more from me than the petty thief. Way more in fact. I hope this works out in my favor. I sure would like to be paid for my first professional job ever. It would also be good to find out what my rights are as a photographer/designer for future reference. If anything, I may not get paid, and I may not even get the college credit, but I will be pre-disastered. There shouldn't be any trouble getting paid for my second professional job, thought that probably won't take place until we make it to Mobile.
Whew...I wanted to catch up with you guys, but I also wanted to sort of talk about what has been happening also. I'm sure there are artists in our community. If anyone has any advice...other than "get it in writing" cause I got that one...please share it with me. Much Love from Marjie and Jack and Me
Don't keep us in suspense to long. I feel like I've just started a novel. Some weird psychothriller from down South. I mean really, this would be an excellent first chapter of a book.
I used to live in Furnace, Ky. for a while. I can totally relate. I hope you guys make it outta there...
Hey everyone...I've missed you guys. I haven't been off the grid or in jail or anything like that, just busy busy busy. Marjie and I have been in school for about a year now. She is progressing right along, but I really need to be in a graduate program, so for the time being I'm just biding my time, taking some humanities that I didn't get with my engineering curriculum, and learning about photography and graphic design.
The place we live is just out of reach of two different schools that would be good for me. One of them is UNC Greensboro...home of the Great Deadhead Scholar Rebecca Adams...so we figure we would be better off moving back down to Mobile so we could have that support structure everybody talks about when you have family around. We know people around here, but we'd be newcomers for another ten years if we wanted to make such a commitment...The best thing about this town is Merlefest...
Wilkesboro is where Nascar was born. Moonshine runners used to race their supped up rigs that had been built to out-run the police on moonshine runs. Now the remnants of that past lives on in this place. There are some good people here, almost good enough to stay here for...but the thing is, the town is wrought with criminals. Last week I was tutoring this guy in physics. He had questions about the law of conservation of energy and how it pertains to the equations he was trying to solve. So to preface, he arrives with his girlfriend and some other friend we didn't know...which meant Marjie and Jack were entertaining our guests whilst I studied with this guy from Traphill Road work out physics equations that I honestly think he got...I'd tutored him in Calculus before and I knew he got it in the end...I just couldn't get his attention this time, and there my wife was with his girlfriend and this other guy who for some reason has a fear of stairs and won't ascend the stairwell up to the studio where we usually do our "adult hanging out" if you know what I mean.
Anyway, this guy needs proper description...first off and foremost he comes from a place called Traphill, a place I encountered when we first moved here...a sinister place, a dark place...a hollar. You don't go there unless you are with someone you know. There's no reason for passing through, so even the store owners are suspicious of you when you are in their place buying something even...it's almost as if they wanna deny you the privilege of a fresh pack of smokes or a pepsi or something.
I know this guy from our early days of living here in this new town where we had bounced kind of like plinko chips on a North Carolina shaped plinko board...we were students at the local community college; Marjie to finish up her degree, and me, well you know, I just needed to get a few credits that will help me get into a graduate program that is more humanities related than my original degree, Marine Engineering...so I picked up smoking again which put me in close proximity to other smokers on break...eventually my face becoming familiar, people would talk to me and there you go...its better than joining a fraternity, or at leas quicker and cheaper and no less detrimental to your body...but the thing I was looking for, the thing that always made it difficult to move...a connection...once you have your connections locked in, and you've got your old routine, well then you can stay stocked up on what remains Alabama's number one cash crop...and it was in the smoking section that I met him, this guy I don't wanna say his name, but he was my first connection in town...the only catch is, he has no phone, he has no car, and he needs a ride daily out to his home in Traphill...a good thirty or forty minutes away. Plus he was taxing the shit out of us to boot...but we were new in town, and beggars can't be choosers...and so my adventure in Traphill North Carolina was born out of a need, and this guy just overwhelmed me with daily calling and eventual dropping by unannounced to hang out for several hours till his ride to Traphill came around...and in which case I would just take him right home...making my trips to Traphill a veritable daily ritual. Not only was it a fortune in gas, but it ate up my time as well. The guy wanted to be friends, I could tell...always wanted to smoke and stuff and never - okay see ya later - and he gets out and goes inside...no, I had to spend time out of necessity...
Don't worry, it didn't last long. It was real sketchy to say the least. For one, I could never ride with him where he was going to get the thing I needed hooked up with...so I had to be dropped off, send him with my cash, and wait...sometimes at the local connivence store where I would sit reading Kerouac while being eyeballed by reluctant cigarette salesmen, or he would drop me off down by the river, kind of under a bridge, but where an old saw mill used to be...this was my favorite place cause it was remote. I could stay under the bridge and read....and passers-by were none the wiser, no stares, no rumors, no nuttin' just the sound of the river and the occasional car or truck...I was deep in the country...so deep in fact, that it felt all too familiar, like home...then I would get my car back, my hookup, and drop off the guy...try to get outa there with just a cigarette and sorry I can't come in for a minute, and I'm gone...
Given the nature of his upbringing, doing hard drugs with his mom and all way out there where there is no radar to be under, you can imagine his appearance. Dirty clothes, mostly always dirty, jeans and tee shirts. He either wears a vulgar joke or a pot reference shirt, and that coupled with his outward appearance always made me paranoid to be around him. Black hair...Lithuanian dissent...he kept a goatee but always needed a shave otherwise. I've been guilty of this a time or two in my life, but this guy somehow just always seemed to look like he had been spit out of a blender somehow...pierced here and there and a couple a country-boy tats and there you have it, the only person we knew in town when we first moved here.
Needless to say I moved on to bigger and better things. I know people in town and so on and so forth...and so I've managed to ween myself away from this guy...that is until he needed help with his physics. Well come to find out, the guy with him, his buddy, was definitely mentally ill to say the least. He looked like one of those whipped puppies in trench-coats...the ones that eventually loose track of reality...this is the guy who wouldn't, or couldn't ascend our steps into the studio...and the dude's girlfriend, who is actually an anomaly and was easy to talk to despite the company she kept.
So the next day my wallet is missing. Man I looked everywhere for it...everywhere...and so did Marjie. It didn't have any money in it, just cards, but still it was missing, and I couldn't figure out why my pocket knife and cigarette lighter and phone were all present without my wallet. My only hope in this world is to be a creature of habit...otherwise I am blind to the location of the things I need most, and most readily usually...It had to be in my bag, or in the car under the seat....or maybe the camera bag...but no. Eventually we declared it had been stolen. I don't know for sure if it was "the guy" but it was the day after he had been over here, and he sat right here at the table where I keep my things, and my eye wasn't always on him...oh, and did I mention that he had been arrested for shoplifting and some other stupid thing...so now I've had my wallet stolen for the second time in my life.
The first time was in Charlotte, when Marjie and I came up to scout the area for a place to move way back when we left Mobile. Nothing was lost thankfully...there was nothing on any of the cards, and I always carry my cash separate from my wallet.
So it's time to move folks...the second week of February. All I need to do is call in a few loans, pack up the darkroom and whatnot...and get going on finding a graduate program I can take at the University of South Alabama. We have until then to make our way here. And in this place, everyone wants a piece of ya...it's a hard town.
More on that later you guys, Marjie is beckoning me away from the computer...
As always...Much Love
now levi has a little sis to grow up with. Blessings to you all!
Zoe, and congratulations to your proud parents!!!! What wonderful news, thanks Noonie!
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.
and welcome to Zoe Nova!
Congratulazioni per la nascita del suo bambino!!!
Congratulations to the Noonie family!!
starting to knit them tie dye dancing booties.
love and peace.
to all three of you. I love the name too.
hope ya got to play some dead for the little tyke.
After 3 hours of labor my wife delivered Zoe Nova weighing 6.8lbs sept27th at 10:24pm