My Son, Orion Newton, graduated Texas State University today, 12/14/07…

…and I’m so proud. As he mentioned today, it’s the first time he’s graduated, since he “skipped” high school. What turn-around….10 years ago I was sure he was headed staight to an ignominious end. I’m so glad I was wrong. And now he’s worked his way through years of part time school/work to a place where the world’s his oyster. Congratulations, Orion….. Introducing: The Graduate…. (Oh, and btw, this is the same person who is the subject of image #75 of this collection, “The Little Warrior”, shot in 1980….check it out. Navigate with the random button.)

Sheri T., –Friend– Sept 2007 South Austin, TX

These days, with work and other demands taking up most of one’s time, I find I have room for just 4 or 5 full time–invest the hours, week in and month out–friends…These are the fellow travelers, the ones who step seamlessly into your internal dialogue and set the crooked parts straight….the ones you trust and love being around and talking to…. And this is the friend I actually spend the most time with, in person. (No, she’s not a girlfriend…she’s even better–a bestfriend) She was, for example, my assistant during the heat and sweat of the ACL Fests, a tough gig…she defines “trooper”, and “tough” and “no bullshit”… Don’t mess with Sheri T. The shot is here because I was looking for an example of my work that shows the influence of Henri Cartier-Bresson, (whose Leica I don’t deserve to even think about holding). His portraits are a constant source of inspiration, (kinda like Sheri)….

Harvey Young, aka Tex Thomas, at home near Andice, TX. 1990

Austin, TX is a unique, interesting place, and it draws unique characters. Here’s one….Harvey Young. Harvey is an astounding singer, songwriter and dramatic personae unlike anyone you’ve ever seen perform. He’s one of, if not THE favorite musician of many who know who he is. Harvey is currently working as a carpenter and gigging just once a month at a local restaurant….Why the disconnect? Well, to put it succinctly, Harvey’s style isn’t commercial, and Harvey, onstage, is -ahem- uncontrollable and unpredictable. And Harvey doesn’t sell out and Harvey doesn’t do what he doesn’t want to do. For over 10 years (the 80’s), Tex Thomas and the Danglin’ Wranglers (consisting of some of Austin’s finest musicians) played a regular Sunday night gig (Church!) at Hut’s Hamburgers that was attended by everyone who knew brilliant, intelligent music when they heard it–a rather large and raucous dancin’ fools congregation. Harvey is outrageous, and he’d rather be outrageous than commercially successful, or even viable…give a listen and judge for yourself, if you can find his music (“Screamin’ in the Night” -still a few left on CD Baby) … He’s one of the things that’s right, and uncorruptable (by outsiders) about Austin. I just like the shot. The little girl in the shot is now all grown up with her very own little boy….and Harvey’s still Tex Thomas, the Rawhide Messiah.

Temple of the Foliated Cross, Palenque, Mexico. June 1987

I only have a few images up in my house; I like to keep my walls uncluttered with yesterday’s images and ready for tomorrow’s, I suppose… ….but this one is up in my bedroom to remind me of how I felt the first time I glimpsed the little temple at the end of the path in the humid jungle air of Palenque. It feels like you can see past eons and epochs as your eyes peel back the layers, every step of the way. Built during the time of the great Pacal, this structure has seen over twelve centuries trek by, one of the oldest extant buildings in the Western Hemisphere. You can feel the ancient Mayans lurking in the shadows behind walls and trees, (only to find that it’s just the locals….35-40 generations later….)….

Femi Kuti, Austin City Limits, July 2007

One of the great joys of living in the early 21st century is the offhand ease of seeing the best that a continent like, say, Africa might be hearing and dancing to right now…. Here, Femi Kuti, son of Feli Kuti–bringer of World Beat sounds to the Western World a generation ago–sings and brings his tribal songs, rhythms and magic straight from Nigeria to anyone close enough to view a teevee set.