We have six hundred rivers in China, four hundred of which have been killed by pollution,” said a Chinese scientist who asked not to be named. “We will have to send at least 300 million people to Africa before we begin to see the end to our problems.




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I’m in the middle of re-editing the video for my China photo book Kickstarter project. That’s a sentence I kind of want to slap myself for uttering.  Yet, as I sift through hundreds of unseen images, I think this is … Continue reading


I was looking for a certain lush photo to post on this anomaly of a day, a Buddhist temple nestled on the banks of the Beijing River, something pretty and a little exotic.  Instead I went digging in the folder I’d called “Unidentified Villages”, and found her.  Something about her gaze.  Something strong, yet peaceful, as if those two fingers mean more than just a gesture.  Imploring, quiet, resolute.  I was even going to crop it further until I noticed the boy’s t-shirt behind her.  True, beautiful children make easy subjects, this could be a poster for any number of peace or humanitarian organizations.  Maybe that’s why I left these alone, this visit to a school in what I seem to recall was Kind Father Village.  But children can speak volumes with intense, small looks and unspoken pleas for the future and she shouldn’t be ignored. 

Happy Leap Day everyone.  It’s a big world out there.


I could write some prose-y, adjective-laden thought piece on “Home”, make it sound like all the lit mags, but I’ll spare you.  I’m home again, the adopted one, not the first.  I struggle with going back every time, with the guilt, the distance, the overwhelming oppression that sinks in my bones when we reach those 666 city limits (oops, I slipped).  I don’t know how to apologize for Kansas not being enough.  I don’t know how to explain that New Orleans, despite the murders and the corruption and the simple fact that it’s not so easy in the Big Easy sometimes, feels like home, or that I’m a better person here, I think.  Upon disembarking, the anxiety melts away and I nearly cry.  I love this city that much and selfishly, for my sanity, this is where I need to be.

Home, The First saw days like this as Cemetery Days.  Days when melodrama was at an all-time manufacturing high.  For lack of real problems, we made our own.  Mine was 5’7″ with black hair and snake-like charm, but we had our moments.  On days like this, we would walk amongst the tombstones and sink down in the comfort of young sadness, relief found in a dark consistency.  (oops, I did it again.)  Such high drama is enticing, makes you feel alive when you feel surrounded by a dying city in which the residents seemed to focus more on the afterlife than the quality of life of the every day.

But today, today finds me “home” in New Orleans and today it is Guangzhou.  Humid and rain-heavy, wet, dirty, and exotic.  Here, I have both Cemetery Days (few and far between) and South China Days, when the air smells like days nearly six years past.  Scent-based memories are instant transportation, inspiration, relief and motivation.  Remember this?  Remember this time?  You did this and you can do it again.

Statue in Topeka Cemetery, 2003.


Sometimes the ache to return is almost unbearable.  But you can’t go back, only forward, possibly returning at a different angle, never re-creating.  Creating, it’s something I need to do more of.  This 9-5, this compound life, these things are slow ruin.

This is the bedroom of the couple who let Avy and I stay in their home in Yao Village, a small community north of Guangzhou (?), China.  I meant to paint it someday, but it may be fine just as it is.


I thought of this photo the other day.  Not sure why.  There’s nothing spectacular about it.  It just…is.  Maybe it’s the colors, the natural life-theatre created by the curtains.  Maybe it’s the memory.

China was only the second trip I took overseas, the first being Europe only a few months previous.  Hong Kong was our first stop, easing us in, China-lite as I came to think of it once we crossed to the mainland.  Up until this point, we were merely a group of students, following, following, following until one day, Michelle and I got itchy, twitchy, asked Pok-Chi if we could find our own way for a few hours.  He was quietly pleased and acquiesced.  Later, it became rare that we would go with the group at all.  But this time, we ended up in what seemed to be a land of 7-Elevens and Western-friendly quiet red lights, fake pubs, and strip clubs with altars and offerings out front.  We met and made friends with a couple of women, one Thai, the other Filipino, and their Australian boyfriends Talked and shared a pint as we practiced our amateur investigative photojournalism, trying to earn their trust enough to ask for a photo.  This shot was taken as we were walking and there was a club with only a small slitted window on its big, black, secretive door.  I put my camera up and took a picture just to see what was in there.  Many mysteries aren’t really mysteries, just people living, people working.

More to follow…