Tuesday, July 30, 2013


You may remember George Goss as the young man (30 years old) from NYC with whom I recently posted a little Q and A [Part 1 and Part 2].

Anyway, George is a photographer with a masters from the School of Visual Arts. I was so moved by this series of monk-farmers and animals that I asked if I could share them with my readers.

Here's the backstory:

"I came to Weston Priory for a week-long retreat after breaking up with my fiancée. We were in a relationship for over two years, and after Pre-Cana counseling (marriage preparation) with my pastor it became clear to me that the wedding in September was not going to happen.

The time spent with the Benedictine monks of Weston, Vermont was the perfect antidote. It granted my mind a rest from the constant questioning of if breaking off the engagement was really the right move. Along with two other young men on the retreat I was able to enter into the rhythm of the community: waking up early (around 4:00) and throughout the day helping with chores such as baling hay, cleaning out the sheep barn, clearing brush, and stacking firewood.

Before traveling up to the Weston Priory from New York City I needed to decide what camera to bring: my cumbersome digital Nikon D700 or my lightweight Nikon FM2 film camera. Both have their merits. Since I was not required to “get the shot,” I opted for the FM2. It gave me the freedom to photograph the moments without worrying about what the results were."

"I was also lucky to come at a time soon after a mother rabbit gave birth. It was dark inside and I was without a flash so I opened up the aperture all the way and set the shutter speed for a long exposure. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be enough light or if I would be able keep the camera steady enough. That’s pretty much been my experience with photography, I never quite know if I have the shot or not."

Monday, July 29, 2013


"They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross."
--Flannery O'Connor

"Why do you have to be so gloomy and morose all the time?" a reader recently asked. "There's so much MORE than that. You should read my friend's blog who is a REAL Christian and HAPPY" etc... 

This, in response to what I'd thought was a lovely piece about the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the affinity I feel for Barry, the homeless lush who staggers up and down Sunset Boulevard in my 'hood in L.A....

Boy did that raise my hackles! Gloomy!

Here are some photos I took last week, for example, after arriving early at the Twin Towers jail in downtown L.A. to talk to the inmates with some other folks about our 'journey" with alcoholism/drug addiction.

It was a beautiful afternoon, as you can see. These were taken on a creepily deserted street that runs along the back of the phalanx of cheesy bail bond joints located across from the jail.

Union Station-adjacent
Patsaouras Transit Plaza to the left. 
Some glittery concertina wire!
Don't you just love combining errands? And parking, too!
Twin Towers is in the background. Note the slit windows
so the inmates are deprived of a view of the sky, people, or trees.
Pill call wasn't SO loud that we literally couldn't be heard, as is sometimes the case. The guys were great. As always I felt like they gave us way more than we gave them. We're not allowed to hold hands with the inmates, lest we try to pass contraband, but at the end they held hands with each other and we held hands with each other and we all prayed the Lord's Prayer.

As if that weren't enough happiness, here are some pix of the drive home afterward, headed east on Cesar Chavez (which turns into Sunset Blvd.)

"Give me a person who has suffered by their own willful stupidity 

but found God in their process 
and I will listen."
--from one of my favorite pieces of fan e-mail ever

    And if the other reader is still with us--welcome!... 

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Barry Hannah's essay "Old Terror, New Hearts" features the residents and caretakers at the leper colony in Carville, Lousiana.

Here's the first paragraph.

It was a massive Federalist plantation, lazy and handsome among two-century oaks and palm trees. You could imagine FDR had just visited to cut a ribbon last week. I had heard throughout my life the curious rumor of a leper "colony" down in south Louisiana. This news reached me when I was a boy in Clinton, Mississippi, and one did not know quite what to do with it. Colony evoked folks lost in an exotic fastness. Leper of course was as bad as it got, poor devils. I had a sense of these creatures execrated and driven onto some isle in a vicious swamp. In that, my young imagination was not far wrong. Louisiana was alarming and peculiar anyway. There were plenty of Catholics, many seemed touched by at least mild cases of voodoo, and adults went public with their gaudiest dreams.

Read the rest here