I love large format color photography. If I could start over (or I would say reinvent
but I'm not certain that I'm solidly enough of anything to switch to something
else) I would get seriously into photography. Of course, no one is stopping me,
but don't think I have the social personality for it even though photographers
will often say that the beauty of being the photographer is that it gives you
license or a reason to be places you otherwise wouldn't.
Large format cameras on tripods are kind of something else.
This isn't quick and dirty street photography, which isn't my forte either.
Fortes are hard to find.
While at a Williamsburg surf shop, not shopping, I was drawn
to a hardback copy of Joel Sternfeld's
American Prospects. The cover photo fooled me into thinking it would all be
beachy Americana. The first image I opened to, though, was pure Oregon, no
question. That color palette, goldenrod, gray, the wet bark dust. Is that a cul de sac? And sure enough,
it was called Lake Oswego, Oregon (1979).
Then quite a bit further on there was Gresham, Oregon (June
1979), my formative years summed up in a single image, trees in the background,
not on the streets, new grassless yards, dead ends, dirt piles, just replace
the Chrysler with a Mercury Monarch in the same color. Though Mt. Hood always
manages to seem hidden on my rare visits to Portland, this photo, which is more vivid and detailed
in print than on screen, confirmed what I knew, that the white peak did loom always
on the horizon even in a cloudless haze.
I'm 99% certain we moved in the summer of '77 because I
remember neighborhood kids in our driveway asking how old I was and I said
four, but five was just weeks away, or at least it felt like it. Time is shaky
to reconstruct when you're not even a grade-schooler, though. Just a few days ago one myth, if you can call
such frivolousness mythical, was recently shattered by an Entertainment Weekly
slide show, "15 Worst TV Spin-Offs Ever." (In true millennial listicles
for those without first-hand experience–hey, toddlerhood counts–fashion, the
use of worst and ever are kind of overblown.
Phyllis wasn't quite Brady Brides level schlock.)
I have a distinct memory of living in the SE Portland rental
near Mall 205, the house before Gresham, and seeing a commercial for a new TV
show called Phyllis that I was dying to see (I may never know why). I was sent
to bed by 8pm, though, no ifs and or buts, so I pitched a fit, crying over
Chloris Leachman. Because we only lived in this house when I was in preschool,
hence four, it had to be 1976. But Phyllis premiered in 1975. Gah! I guess it
wasn't a new show when I took an interest in it, after all. What other false
memories am I harboring?
The show does have a really awesome theme song.
Photos via MoMA