I’m doing my part to combat global warming, climate change and reducing my carbon footprint.
On July 14, 1989 I became a father. (My first, real, Father’s Day.) I didn’t know it at the time, but I had set sail on the happiest journey of my life.
My mom raised me. My parents were married, but it was a bad marriage, so I didn’t have a Dad. When I became one, I was never nervous, worried, insecure or any other negative emotion. I was absolutely confident in my ability to be a Dad. I wasn’t cocky. I simply knew to give my son (and daughter, born January 13, 1995) what I didn’t have. A real Dad. It was that simple for me.
How do I define “a real Dad”? Someone who takes care of their children. Period. Whatever needs to get done, you do it. There are no gender specific job duties. Diapers? Change them. Time to eat? Feed them. Doctor’s appointment? Take them. And on and on and on. (For the record, there is one thing I cannot do – cleanup vomit. It’s my personal kryptonite.)
There are gender differences in how we raise our children. The theory goes, Mothers tend to be more nurturing. Fathers tend to tell their children to “Go for it!” Some will discount that theory, but there ARE going to be gender differences. How can there NOT be? There are also our individual talents. My wife and I employ those different, non-gender, talents in raising our children. When she says, “Go ask your Dad,” or I say the reverse, it isn’t to shirk any responsibility, it’s because the other parent is simply better in those specific situations.
Getting back to those “job duties”, I took my children to daycare. It was onsite at my job at a hospital. It also made “visits to the doctor” very easy. I’d do it during work hours. Would I really hand that job over to my wife because it’s a “mother’s job”? I’m pragmatic, not an idiot.
I’ve always done the food shopping. Being raised by just my Mom, I had to go with her. Then when I got my driver’s license, I drove to the supermarket. That routine has stayed with me. When my children were old enough, they tagged along.
For them, growing up meant that if they asked me to do something and I said “yes”, they knew that I meant it. Questions would concern going to the movies, sleepovers, school sports, vacation, whatever. I wanted them to always trust what I would say. As a Dad I knew not to promise what I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) deliver. There are drawbacks to that approach. For years my son kept asking me to take him to San Francisco. I didn’t want to say “no” and wouldn’t say “yes” to appease him. (We did go.) He also wanted to go to London because my wife and I been there. (We went.) He also asked me to take him to Japan. I told him he’s on his own with that one.
In 1990 I started the tradition of reading, and videotaping, “Twas the Night before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. Several years ago when my son was around 23 years old and on a date, he said, “Don’t worry Dad, I’ll be home in time.” Yes, we’re still doing it.
I’ve mentioned my son, but everything above also applies to my daughter. In 1999, because my wife had a job change and couldn’t go on vacation, I went on a Father/Son trip. He was 10 at the time. My daughter was 4. She remembered that and demanded, when she was older, that she’d have a Father/Daughter one. (We did.) Now that my son is (almost) 27 and doesn’t want to go on our family vacations anymore (I agree with his reasoning), I told my daughter, “Well I guess it’s just Mom and me now.” Her answer? “Heck no. You’re not cheating me. I’ve got several more years of going with you.”
As a photographer, I’ve taken millions of photos. I’ve also videotaped a lot. (I recommend that for any parent. My “adult” kids love looking at the photos and videos.)
Naturally not every day was fun. Illnesses, arguments, fights and tantrums are all part of the equation of being a Dad, but there are 3 quotes that answer all questions –
1) “I want to be a Dad just like my Dad,” my son said, when he was around 12.
2) “I love you,” texted my daughter yesterday for no particular reason.
3) And, at my son’s college graduation family dinner I said to him (and this applies to my daughter), “I am very proud of you. You keep me on my toes. I’m always questioning the validity of my advice. And you’ve made my life perfect.”
The 3 gentlemen pictured have been with the orchestra for many years. The gentleman on the left was also with the Duke Ellington orchestra at one time. I asked the gentleman on the right about the Basie Orchestra’s appearance in the Mel Brook’s film “Blazing Saddles” and it wasn’t Basie’s real band.
For those unfamiliar with Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story”, it is the story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun. “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle,” exclaims Ralphie! The movie follows his adventures of trying to convince his parents, his teacher and the department store Santa Claus that this would be the perfect Christmas gift. (It also tells the story of his dad wining a “major prize” – the now infamous “leg lamp”.) When Christmas arrives, Ralphie scrambles to open his gifts but is disappointed when he doesn’t find the Red Ryder. As he sits on the couch trying not to show his sadness his father says, “What’s that by the desk?” The Red Ryder was hidden in the corner, out of view. When Ralphie see the box, he knows that his Christmas wish has come true.
(For those unaware, “A Christmas Story” was based on a collection of individual stories written by Jean Shepherd in the 1960’s. )
I also had my own “A Christmas Story” gift. It was 1963 and the toy was “Big Loo”. It was a robot that stood 3 feet tall. Just of few of it’s features were that it could talk, squirt water from its navel, was equipped with a compass, whistle, bell, a Morse code clicker with chart, and could bend over and pick up objects. For me, it was the greatest gift ever made. And when Christmas arrived, my big desire was also “hidden in the corner, out of view”. And when my Mom pointed out the box, I knew that my Christmas wish had come true.
Of all the toys I received when I was a child, that is the one I still have. Some gifts are too special to ever get rid of.
My Big Loo & me.
Somewhere in Wyoming on a trip out west,
these folks were outside my window.
In the mood…
On the shore of Cape Cod Bay in Provincetown, a shellfish opens.
…near Marble Canyon and Page, Arizona.
Day dreaming about a trip to Vegas several years ago . . . Traveling . . . Forgot I used to do that.
Teenagers. Can’t live with’em. Can’t live without’em.
On this Father’s Day, I want to express a sincere “Thank You!” not to my wife and children, but to these little guys on top of my head who have never abandoned me.
In my 20’s I sported a full head of hair. But these guys, these WONDERFUL little guys, stood by me. They never woke me up in the middle of the night crying. Never misbehaved or forgot to do their homework or got into fights at school. When my wife or son or daughter would ignore me, get mad at me, yell at me, these little guys didn’t. These little strands of heaven have never left my side. You guys are the best!
Protecting my kids from the coronavirus.
Photograph taken many years ago
of my mother with my son.
He’s not so little anymore.
The position that I might be in while waiting for a client, model, friend, relative, coffee, subway, plane, computer-to-turn-on….Well, you know what I mean. I spend half my life waiting…….
Waiting for the snow to stop and shoveling to commence.
Spent some time photographing this young man a few years ago on the streets of New York City.
Christmas from years ago.
Self-Portrait of the photographer on vacation.
You never know when you will come across fashion models.
This is what my wife and I am thankful for.
After a rainstorm, wet leaves.
Photograph originally make with 35mm color slide film.
Scanned, processed and developed in B&W.
A leaf flew away revealing a frozen replica of itself on my car windshield.
…to all who have served our country.