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For God’s sake, go have some fucking fun today.

I love fun. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person or a shallow person, but I fucking love fun.

Warning: this is one of those entries we do about our lives that has very little to do with photography.
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View from our fire escape in the village

I had fun in New York. I could not possibly recollect all the bars that I went to, or give you any kind of useful guide to drinking in the village, as an outsider. I didn’t even feel like an outsider, I felt at home. I can tell you that a beautiful bartender gave me a drink so strong I was too sick for dinner and had to take a nap. Maybe walking was a problem too, I don’t recall… but I got up and went right back to bar hopping like a champ. It’s the way of KodakKerouacs, we don’t let alcohol bring us down. I drank champagne out of a mason jar. I had the best Mojito of my life. My liver hates me, but it was worth it. Below is a collage that tells the story of my friend finding a furry arm on the ground, and killing all of Manhattan with it, so he could find peace an quiet. We actually don’t know this other guy, but all of us were sloshed and happy, and unified in our delirium of happy drunkenness.

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Oh, an I met a guy on the A-train who I went out to breakfast and later for drinks with. He is fabulously interesting, but got a little freaked out when he figured out our age difference. oops. We talked about how much we love the A-train, the city, and our love for dying mediums. His books are replaced with kindles and my film is replaced with SD cards. He comes to Harlem to go to small bookstores and convenience stores to collect a genre of book he specializes in, pimp fiction, and he says the experience of doing such is so entirely “other” that ordering novels online can never compare. We knew our missions were similar at the core: preservation of a way of life. I played the date out right, I ended it by showing him the view from our rooftop. C’mon, you know that’s romantic! But c’est la vie, it wasn’t meant to be. Don’t hate a girl for trying. It is wonderful to connect to another traveler on the road of life.
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The best thing I did during the trip was going to see “Discovering Columbus” by Tatzu Nishi.

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View from the circle

I guess the idea behind it is that Columbus discovered America, and now we can discover Columbus! You know, that statue that stands 75ft high in the middle of Columbus square. So, you get to experience the statue in a new way, as if you’re in his beautiful NYC penthouse living room (instillation art always sounds silly). It was truly amazing. Not so much for it’s substance, but for the people in the environment, and the stunning view of New York.

UntitledColumbus in the exhibit, 75ft in the air

Visitors to the public work were comfortable and lounging on the furniture, flipping through magazines, and treated the event like a party you go to at a friend of a friend’s house. I have come to feel as if the instillation is more for Columbus than his visitors. He gets to be a true New Yorker for a couple months. You can tell he likes it.

UntitledView from fauxpartment

Of course mistakes were made and drinks were had, but I can’t put my whole life into this blog, as much as I’d like to do so. Every trip invigorates me and inspires me in a different way. This trip inspired me to be more ambitious, work harder, party harder, and flirt with as many boys as possible. These are all noble in their own way.

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Thousands of Words

Okay guys,

I know last week I promised you another video installment of “Camera’s We Used On The Road”. I have it. I promise. Ask Val. We’ve recorded 4 videos! But this post isn’t about our cameras or a video.

It’s about the fact that WE are featured on KODAK’s website!!

Yes, thats right. Kodak asked us to write a blog about our journey and how it was, and why we took photographs with film. We happily obliged because we love film, traveling, and Kodak. So Valerie and I have been editing and choosing photos all week, and this morning I got a wonderful email from Colleen (who has been our Kodak liaison) to tell me that our blog went LIVE.
It’s a weird choice of words that makes me think that our blog suddenly grew legs and decided to take a walk.

But anyway, it went online this morning, and Valerie and I couldn’t be happier. We are thankful that Kodak asked us to do this, and hopefully we can reach even more people and then one day, take over the world.

Here’s the link to our blog on Kodak’s page. Please check it out. It’s been proven to alleviate symptoms of “The Mondays” and can lead to a longer, happier life. We can’t speak to it’s ability to grow eyelashes or cure baldness, but it is our miracle drug of choice.

Along with all this excitement we are also hard at work in creating a beautiful new website for KodakKerouacs.com. We have shiny new gallery pages and a layout that is easier to navigate and to look at. Just as soon as we can squash all the bugs with it, we’ll give it life as well. so LOOK OUT. It’s coming to an RSS feed near YOU.

-M/V

 

 


Back where I started

Sometimes you can travel thousands of miles just to get back to where you started. It doesn’t matter how many life-changing moments you have, when you return to your home and your lifestyle, it’s easy to put all those experiences away just as you unpack your suitcase. Once you’re unpacked you find yourself picturing what new furniture you’ll arrange on your patio, or obsessing over the order of your closet.

Looking Back

This is from my very first roll! It’s Fuji Acros 100, and this is the only image that exposed properly and doesn’t have light leaks that warrant pampers for Holgas. I’m looking back at the road we’d just traveled, still in North Carolina. This image is particularly meaningful to me right now because of a very important lesson we learned on the road. You see, we started bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, eager and beaverish.

Mary, at the start

We were of the mindset that we would capture everything we encountered, and if we could not capture it the first time around, we’d go ahead and turn the car around because “that might just be the Pulitzer prize-winning image and I’m pretty sure I just double-exposed it with an image of a piece of gum on the ground, and I really wanted to shoot it with my other camera anyway.” This lasted a few days before we made an agreement that, more than capturing every instance that may lend itself to a great picture, this was a trip about looking forward. We would refuse to look back. We had to keep moving and keep looking ahead to find what’s just up ahead. You might call this a “pillar of salt” syndrome. You might also call it a Pocahontas “just around the river-bend” complex. At any rate, we would either get the picture, or we would not. It was terrifying and thrilling, and I’m appalled to see how backwards-facing I was to take the image of the road already traveled.

But here I am, forced to look back.

I guess I would have turned into a pillar of salt from looking at all my negatives and scanning them in one-by-one, but I’m going on a brand new journey this time. It has the same cast of characters and the same sets, but it’s an all new adventure. Many moments have been lost forever (like the image of a waterfall below that was ruined by having film wound too loosely) but I’m finding that my camera has often found what my eye did not. This requires a new lesson, post-roadtrip. Don’t look back, but take what you have seen and done and learned, and experience it all again with fresh eyes. I’m trying to integrate the places where I have been, into the life that I’m now living. So, I’m back where I started: preparing to take a road trip.

Waterfall, ruined film

-V

PS. My dog just farted audibly. I don’t think the universe takes my life seriously.


Sweet Home Chicago

Whoa, ten days? Ten whole days with no blogging? As Shannon pointed out, that is months, maybe even years in the blogging world!

For the last ten days, we’ve been in a small town on Lake Michigan. We were right on the beach (awesome!) but had no cell phone service or internet.
Talk about paradise. On the water, feeling totally disconnected. I need that every so often, just to forget about the rest of the world and what I’m supposed to be doing and have some peace and quiet.

But not the best for keeping up with a blog.

I miss it already.

Lets see, where did we leave off? Oh right, San Francisco. We had a blast there, but had get on the road again. Unlike the rest of the journey, we actually had a date to be in Chicago because we had Conan O’Brien tickets!!! He was touring and spent a week in the Windy City, lucky for us!  I was able to score tickets from my wonderful sister, who unfortunately wasn’t able to make it to the show. It was on Thursday the 14th; we left Saturday from California and booked it to the midwest.

And I mean, booked it. It was a long and tiring drive, and we were very glad to make it to our destination, although we did make some stops on the way, which I’ll have to save for another post. (Too much to put into this one. You’d be reading for hours, if you were kind enough to stick with it)

We arrived on the lake and just passed out. We really spent 3 days driving for 12 hours a day, which is exhausting. After spending a day recovering, we set out super early on Thursday to stand in line for Conan seats and explore the city.
Chicago is wonderful. It is quite honestly, the greatest city in the world. I’d move there tomorrow. I know I’ve said that about almost every city so far, but I really mean it this time. I’ve been so many times, and every time I arrive I fall more and more in love with this place. It really feels like home.  I love the mix of cultures, the people, the fans (Go Cubbies!) the energy, the landscape, everything. It also helps that my family is from there, so I feel an amazing sense of connectivity and belonging there.  Thats the next place I’m going to move, I mean it!

Conan was AMAZING! If he were 20 years younger and not married, we’d totally be dating. The show was fun, he was super nice and we were four rows from the front!!

Conan at the Chicago Theater. Its such a beautiful place, if you’ve never been I highly recommend it.

The Moon. It’s so bright!

Valerie, me, and our dear friend Amelia

Then we celebrated by having deep dish pizza afterwards. What a wonderful fucking day. Valerie was even able to find gluten free pizza!

I fucking love this city.

-M

 

When you start making castles out of your film, you know its time to develop


Angry Cows Do Not Make for Happy Milk

So…this is the post I started out writing yesterday.

Ahhhh a little R&R.

We’ve been go go go for a week and a half, which isn’t that long compared to some well-seasoned travelers. But for two girls who are relatively new at this, it was nice this morning to wake up according to my biological clock, rather than the small but very loud and authoritative alarm clock I have.

We’re in Oklahoma, staying with Valerie’s aunt and uncle. They have been so gracious in putting up two smelly, tired, and worn out girls. We arrived ready to rest, and they had many plans and activities that they thought we might want to see and do.

As the smile faded from my face, all I could think was “I just want to use your shower and pass out.”
Which I did.
I’ve spent the day fighting with my negative scanner, praying it will work. (I think its upset with me for taking it on this road trip against its will) Apparently scanners do not like to ride in cars. But I also organized my suitcase and started uploading the photographs I have scanned onto our flickr account. 

I have not been in my car since last night, and I love it. Although I’m excited and ready to get back on the road (we leave tomorrow morning), it is nice to have a day where I don’t have to worry about finding a gas station, figuring out the best playlist to listen to, or debating on where we should eat.

I am super excited for our next stretch because….we will venture onto Route 66! The land of broken down gas stations, abandoned motels, kitschy souvenir shops, and hundreds of townspeople waiting to tell you their story of how they came to be involved with the mother road. I can’t wait.

Oh and I made a new best friend. She’s a horse.

Sorry Val.

Totally good right? We were ready to post…and then the giggles happen. Oh the giggles. They were no ordinary giggles. They were toxic and contagious. Valerie started it. Then it spread to me. Then it spread to facebook. Be thankful that 98% of you are not our friends on facebook. Your feed would have been bombarded by us. It had to do with looking at photos of cats with dumb captions. Nothing good can ever come from that.

Okay, now I’m officially losing you due to the length of this post. Long story short, we are now traveling on Route 66 (yay!) and are headed to New Mexico tomorrow. We’ve already stopped a million times to photograph abandoned buildings, towns folk, and managed to piss off a heard of cows.

-M

 

Today we began our adventure on 66. We made it to a few fun stops: El Reno Fort; Kobel’s place; and Lucille’s. We shot the filling station and ate at the restaurant. We’re slowly making progress through wind and rain, but we’re forced to come to grips with the fact that we can’t see/do/shoot everything. Six weeks is not a very long time when you are trying to cover an entire country.

Driving on 66 brings you face to face with your dreams of freedom and the open road. But it’s sad, far more sad than I anticipated. All the while we’re driving I try to picture what it once looked like, how the stops must have appeared to those who saw them in their heyday, how the neon lights must have glowed from either side of the street, and the chrome must have gleamed. Now it is all rusty, broken, forgotten, and lost behind trees. Much of it is demolished. A sign by the road reads “Pool and Restaurant” but can only direct you to what is currently a field of maize. I see lost jobs. I see towns half empty and drowning in an economy no longer supported by tourism. The big roads take you to big stores and everything else is gone, or only functioning as a shell of what it once was. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful and exciting. There are so many people who are dedicated to reviving the road, and some stops are surging with the hope of a much brighter future. But, as we navigate broken stretches of roads, I can’t help nostalgia for it’s younger days (even if I never saw them).

We came to 66 from my aunt’s home in a small town. I didn’t know her before, so I spent the day and a half we were there trying to get to know her and, naturally, regroup for the next four weeks. She loves to travel. She has photo albums filled with photographs of this and that national park they visited on horseback. She is the first relative I’ve known who really likes to travel and see the things I like to see. My parents are homebodies, though my mother likes to travel to see her family. She doesn’t travel to places because she thinks it might be interesting to see such a place. I enjoyed seeing that in my aunt, and hearing my uncle call her (and all my aunts together) inflexible. They get their way. I like that. I LOVE to get my way. They told stories of my dad when he was younger. It was truly amazing to finally have that contact, I know almost no one in my dad’s family. There’s no dark tale behind it, just your average case of distance and life getting in the way. If it is not enough that we’ve collected amazing pictures and adventures in this trip, I think expanding my family is worth the trip for me.

-V


Monday mornings are perfect for a hangover

New Orleans is beautiful. Mardi Gras beads hang from picturesque trees like spanish moss. Everything is old and dirty and perfect. I think I can safely speak for both of us when I say that we had the time of our life here.

Getting to New Orleans was a bit of an adventure. Lots of driving down grassy (often dull) stretches of road in Alabama. We found a couple really awesome abandoned buildings (pictures to come, don’t worry), and I found out that I was running in the local election for a judge’s position. We were tired and maybe even a little cranky until Mobile, AL which was a pretty neat town and had some of the charm we would find through Louisiana. We cruised down 90, by the ocean, facing a beautiful sunset. We pulled over and ate dinner under a full rainbow over a pier. Yes, we’re just THAT good. By the time we rolled in to town, it was 9:30 and we were wind-blown, exhausted, and looking forward to bed. But that is not what you do in New Orleans on a Saturday night. no. oh no.

We went to Bourbon street.

We got wine and daiquiris TO GO. and drank them while WALKING DOWN THE STREET.             IN PUBLIC.  It’s LEGAL.

That was the biggest cluster of people and jazz and drinking and strippers and men dangling beads over balconies and drag queens and brides to be and business men and homeless men and drunk men and women dressing in full glitter costumes and masks and voodoo and hipsters and hippies and tourists and poets and every last one of them were partying. The jazz electrified the air. the alcohol poured freely into the street. everyone was dancing and singing. I was shamelessly blinding all of them with my flash and collecting several rolls full of wild ecstasy.

The day after is a blur of shooting and exploring. The highlight being a bar Mary barged into for a cold beer. Our feet hurt, we were tired from walking everywhere, we needed a rest and we were hungry. Unfortunately they didn’t have any food I could eat at the bar, so Mary had a beer, I had a water, my feet had a break, and we planned to jet out as soon as we finished; but these unexpected times are the times when shit happens you won’t forget. Mary left for the bathroom and Mary, our bartender, came out from the kitchen and she and I started chatting and venting about bar patrons who give you an ungodly amount of unwarranted, personal information and we were neck deep in a conversation about suicides and parties when Mary returned and the conversation only got brighter and more tangled as Paul, the other bartender (BT Mary’s brother from another mother, and he declared her his sister from another mister) came out and joined in with us. We found ourselves accepting 100 proof minty shots, the four of us shooting and coughing and crying, and we bonded with New Orleans right then and there. I gave BT Mary our bumper sticker and she let Mary put it on the bar mirror and we took pictures, and I tell you that we all must have been friends in a former life. They felt like family. It was wonderful.

Last night we partied pretty solidly. A lot of wine. One shot that tasted like swill. Lively conversation with our hostess, Coleen and her friend Justin. Bar hopping. A blur of loud opinions and debates and stories. A blur. This morning found us crawling out of the French Quarter, “like iguanas,” doing the walk of shame that can only come, I believe, from New Orleans. Here, it’s accepted, expected and widely done. Here, you live your life and that is your life and you will not be judged or scorned or bothered. I fucking love this jazzy, spicy, dirty city.

-V

 

Holy Hallelujah. I love New Orleans.

I had no idea what to expect. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting anything. I mean, I thought it was cool we were going to drive through, and even better when I found out that we had a place to stay for free. But I’ve been so focused on getting to Arizona (and definitely getting out of Alabama) that I didn’t really give New Orleans much thought.

My bad.

We drove through Alabama all day and as Valerie said above, we found some cool abandoned sites like this one

Abandoned post office off of Route 5 in Alabama. Taken using 35mm Kodak Gold 400 speed film. M.Miller

But by the end of Alabama we were cranky. Mobile was much prettier than I  thought it would be, and we stopped for coffee. While we stopped and consulted the map, we realized that we both suck at U.S geography. Both of us thought that Louisiana was the next state.
“Okay, after we leave here we’ll drive for an hour and then totally be in New Orleans.”
EXCEPT THAT THERE IS A STATE BETWEEN LOUISIANA AND ALABAMA. And it’s called Mississippi.

Apparently I’m not smarter than a 5th grader. I apologize Mississippi. I didn’t mean to overlook you.

So we arrive in New Orleans around 9:30pm and immediately headed out to Bourbon street with Coleen (who graciously put up with us, our luggage, and our antics for 2 days). It was AWESOME. I know that if you’re a native here you’re probably thinking “Oh God, another tourist on Bourbon street. How original”
Yeah, well you can suck it. I LOVED it. The people, the atmosphere, and energy, the COCKTAILS TO GO. As Valerie stated above, we were both stoked. We took many photos, had many drinks, and stumbled back to the apartment.

Sunday was just as wonderful, exciting and unexpected. We walked around as much as we could and discovered that New Orleans is just as cool during the day when you’re sober, as it is when you’re shit faced at night. I wont re-tell the bar story above, but needless to say we were thrilled. Now our sticker resides at Mike’s Place off of Canal St. Go check it out.
Sunday night was just going to be relaxing with wine at a courtyard. Except that one glass turned into a bottle and then another bottle, and then Colleen’s friend Justin came and more drinks were had. Then we headed over to another bar where more drinks were had (can you see a pattern here?). This bar was great because as you’re drinking your beer (or shots of unknown liquor like Val did) you could watch the B slasher movie on the screen behind you.

New Orleans has the coolest bars.

If you’re still reading this, thank you. We didn’t mean to write  a novel, and even more happened than we wrote. Swamp rats, transvestites, showers with wrenches, 24 hour bars, serenading bicyclists, strangers beds, cats with extremely small legs are just parts of the many experiences we had that made up our stop in New Orleans. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it.

I felt like Jack Kerouac this weekend
-M


Kreativ Blogger Award

Oh wow. I mean, I’ve seen that other bloggers have received awards, but I always looked on with awe and secret envy. And know I know…you like us. You really like us!

Prettier than an Oscar. Take that Meryl Streep.

Okay, Sally Fields moment over. (Sorry, but how many times am I going to be able to do that in my life?)

We were nominated for the Kreative Blogger award by Truthlet and Thoughtbits so I have to shout out a big thank you to her! She has a wonderful blog with articles on the spirit, body and mind.

Now, according to the rules of the award, you have to

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award to 7 nominees

Hmm…7 things about ourselves. Since this blog is written by two people, we’ll alternate between tidbits about me and Valerie.

1. We met in college, both of us being photography majors.

2. Late one night, either from boredom or from lack of sleep, we decided to have a barefoot race around our art building on campus. These races have become part of our routine, and even though we have since graduated, anytime we go back to the campus, we have to race. Valerie always seems to win. I maintain its because she’s shorter than me and therefore can turn around a corner easier. Valerie maintains that it is due to her superior racing skills and incredible ability to turn corners without leaning.

3. Mary’s favorite musician is Jackson Browne. If she was on a desert island and could only pick one musician to listen to, it would be Jackson Browne.

4. Valerie does not listen to a large array of music. She likes music in all shapes and sizes, but she needs to listen to an album about 12,687 times so that is is a part of her soul. Her soul requires repetition; it rarely accepts music simply and easily. She listens to Joni Mitchell like she’s trapped on a desert island and forgot to bring any other albums.

5. Valerie subscribes to 7 magazines. The only one she can’t live without is Elle Decor; she loves interior design. The real reason she likes Zooey Deschanel is an article done on her in Domino (I MISS THIS MAGAZINE)

6. Mary despises Zooey Deschanel, and all hipsters in any form for that matter. These girls try too hard to be quirky and “different” and it only comes off as being douchey. “Oh I like to play the ukelele and wear glasses (even though I don’t need them) and talk like a little girl because I’m so different. If you don’t like it, I like it only because it’ll make me stand out and be so unconventional”  ARRGGGGG!!!!

7. Last but not least, Mary and Valerie would really like to meet Lady Gaga while we’re on the road in Nebraska.

There are so many we follow who meet the qualification of being super creative, but we’re only allowed to choose seven. Here goes

Childhood Relived

365 til 30

Free the Bird

Abigail Christens

RoadTripUsaRoute66

Claire Atkinson

Dirt N Kids

 

Thanks again for the nomination! We feel all warm and fuzzy inside

-Mary and Valerie


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