impermanence, part 2

or, lessons from the last contact sheet

(The last for now, anyway.)

I’d known about it for months.  I’d expected it for years.  The e-mails last month invited me to bid on my favorite pieces of equipment.  Pittsburgh Filmmakers is closing.

Scratch that.  Let’s instead say, Pittsburgh Filmmakers is of the nature to change, and is changing.  I don’t know what it will be when the change is completed, but whatever it is, it can’t and won’t be the Melwood Avenue school, where I’ve taken classes and done my darkroom work for more than twenty years.  The only place I’ve ever really felt capable, and competent, and maybe — maybe — even kind of cool.

The atmosphere at Filmmakers all summer was one of sorrow (or maybe that’s just the atmosphere I carry around with me), but I’ll swallow my lamentations.  There are a lot more important things to lament.  Instead, I’ll take this moment as a lesson to myself in gratitude.

Thank you, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, for the darkrooms.

I had a number of favorite enlarger stations over the years, but thank you especially for this one, which was situated near the entrance and the exhaust fan, giving me maximum oxygen and allowing me to go home without spitting out fix.

 

While we’re on the subject of chemistry:  Hey.  Thanks for looking out for me.

Not an issue, Filmmakers, but much appreciated.

 

Never once touched it.  There are two kinds of hypochondriacs: those who want to know, and those who don’t want to know. I don’t want to know.

 

Thank you for mixing the vats of toxic who knows what so I didn’t have to.

 

Thanks for all the little things I took for granted.

 

 

For the admonitions.  So many admonitions.

Fix eats rubber!

Please clean up after yourself. 

Please remember to shut off the water

Only wash prints for 5 MINUTES.

Do not pour fix down the drain.

Warning: Hot water gets VERY HOT.

Thank you, Filmmakers.  You just wanted me to be the best me I could be!

 

While we’re over here by the sink, thank you to the anonymous photographers whose work kept me company while I processed film and washed prints.

Pretty girl in black underwear, I feel like we’re old friends.

 

To the students whose work graced the hallway.

 

And to the aspiring actors whose head shots graced the other hallway.  I spent a lot of film-drying time looking at you guys.

While I’m on a roll, thank you to David there on the bottom row. David gave me my first and only onscreen kiss and did the job like a professional and a gentleman. But that’s a story for another time.

 

Thank you most of all to the Equipment Office, who had everything I could think of and never could have afforded and who kept it all in good working order and organized.

Thank you to Stefano, whose shirt reads, “Kiss Me Goodbye,” thus offering closure in a most direct and personal way.

 

Thank you to Mike, who knew everything about everything.

 

Thank you, Filmmakers, and goodbye.

valentines*

Sarah and Nathan, 1997

 

*Since this day tends to make people who are not kissing or being kissed feel lonely and despondent, I should disclose:  they broke up.  No shame to them.  Of the couples in my archive whom I photographed in a clinch (N = 8), the majority (n = 5) parted ways.  That’s 62.5%.  Which I think can be extrapolated to the general population.  That’s not cynicism, it’s statistics.