INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Before the Porn

Denise blogs "belated" thanks to myself and a few other guys for acknowledging her interview with Frank Paynter. Frank posts a comment to her post stating that she is "a class act and the inventresse of the 'thank-you blog.'"

Well, I'm not sure about the "inventresse" part, but as for the class, no argument there. It's such a nice feeling to be acknowledged, even when the acknowledgement is for an acknowledgement.

Not only was Denise knock-down impressive in the interview, she generated a long-forgotten memory from my dim, pre-marital past. Denise mentioned that she once lived behind Oakland Tech High School near the old Pussycat Theatre. Damned if I didn't once date a girl who lived smack dab behind Oakland Tech (Clint Eastwood's alma mater, BTW).

She was a gracious, long-limbed beauty, outta my league entirely. It took my most arduous concoctions of charm and bullshit to land a few dates with her. Charm and bullshit were no match for the lanky, laid-back, sexy photographer who showed up one day and ended my fantasy. She was swept off her feet and eventually married the guy.

I then calculated that photography was the way to go. I enrolled in one of the last programs ever taught by the late, great Wynn Bullock of Monterey. He opened my eyes to actually seeing the world beneath the world. That's what his work was really about.

He used to say (paraphrasing), "People think that the photographer photographs objects. Any schoolboy can photograph objects. To make a compelling photograph, one must photograph the reality in which the object lives, and which it reflects."

I became passably good with the camera for a while, but it was no substitute for lanky, laid-back sexiness. I eventually discovered that plain-vanilla me had to develop qualities with the ladies other than charm and bullshit. Actually, it wasn't a matter of developing qualities. It was a question of leaving them behind and just being Tom. My reward for relinquishing the fa├žade was the eventual appearance and connection with Jill, the love of my life since 1972.

As for the Pussycat Theater, I went to movies there before it was a porn house. I think it was called the Temescal. Just a regular neighborhood movie place. There wasn't any such thing as porn houses back then.

God, there are so many "befores" in my life. I lived in the Haight-Ashbury before the hippies moved in and made it famous. I was a soldier in Berlin before there was a Wall. I just missed by a hair getting into Castro's Cuba before the American government imposed its travel ban. But that's a whole other story--which I'm sure I'll get around to blogging about when the mood strikes me.

Anyway, thanks again, Denise, for your class, grace, wit, humor, intellect, and amazing multi-dimensionality.

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