Need a Signal Boost…

I have a problem knee. It started years ago after a car accident, and ended (or so I thought) about 3 years ago after the gradual wearing away of the cartilage in my right knee started to become painful. I had it treated, I went to Physical Therapy… and it was fixed. Or so I thought.

A little more than 3 years later and I start having knee pain again. Another round of treatments, more physical therapy, and it was starting to get better again. And then…

One evening earlier this month, during an otherwise uneventful hike through Griffith Park, I took a step up an incline and felt a sharp pain and a large crunch. But because I was at the top of a mountain, I walked it off and got back to my car. And after the initial crunching, honestly, it seemed okay. The next day it was sore. I chalked it up to the normal soreness from overexertion, put some ice on it and went on with my day. The day after that I woke up to my knee the size of a grapefruit and the inability to bend it at all. It was stiff, sore and HURT. Again, walked as much as I could, got it loosened up, iced it and gave myself the next 3 days off working out and generally sat on my ass as much as possible.

Flash forward to 3 weeks later and though it’s gotten generally better and it’s manageable, I am noticing that it’s always stiff, it’s always sore and remains a bit swollen. I can’t bend it. My range of motion is limited and I’m in constant pain. So back to the doctor again. Another MRI, and this time, it’s not just the same old thing. The crunch I felt during that hike was apparently a pretty big tear in the already weakened cartilage. On the MRI I could see the spot where it was missing plainly. No need for doctor translation on this one – look there’s a chunk of my knee missing – easy to see.

And this time, I will need surgery to repair the damage.

And herein lies the problem.

I am a freelance photographer. And I don’t get paid sick days. I have been told by my doctor that recovery from this surgery will require me to be on crutches for up to 6 weeks. Which means, I will not be able to work for at least that long. I have health insurance, but I am going to be responsible for paying part of it and even with insurance, I’m looking at a couple thousand dollars.

I hate asking for help.

But there it is.

I need help.

What I am asking for is this – simply a signal boost.

I have an Etsy store filled with prints of my photography work – I need to sell them. A good number of them are already framed from having shown in local galleries over the last few years. I have a few things I’m selling on eBay (and I’m sure once I’ve taken a moment to go through my closet, I will have more).

Here are the links:

Lauren Elisabeth Photography on Etsy (etsy.com/shop/laurenelisabethphoto)

and my seller ID on eBay is TheTankGyrl, my auctions are here:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/thetankgyrl/m.html?_ipg=48&_sop=12&_rdc=1

Friends and readers! I would appreciate it greatly if you could pass these links along to your followers.

Also, for the next few weeks before the surgery, I’m going to need to work as much as possible. If you need headshots, portraits, have a party or event that needs coverage – my work is at http://luxela.net.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this.

My Tattoos Are NOT An Invitation to Grab Me

This morning, while running errands, I decided to stop off at a Starbucks for a lovely much needed caffeine infusion of the iced variety. It is after all Southern California and it is summer. And it’s hot. As I was waiting in line for the opportunity to order my sugary frosty treat, I noticed that a man in line ahead of me was staring at me. Now, I am not a vain person, however, I am aware that I am somewhat cute and pretty physically fit – and sometimes men look. That’s fine. Whatever. I gave the dude a half-smile and went back to scrolling through email inbox on my phone. The line moved. I looked up and took a step forward and there was the dude. Still staring. This time he asked me, “May I see your tattoo?” referring to the somewhat large piece of ink I have on my upper arm. It was dim in the Starbucks, and I was standing with my arm turned away from him, so I said sure and turned it towards him so he could see it more clearly. I am used to this. I have a number of tattoos. Sometimes you can see them. Sometimes you can’t. And today, in a tank top (I said it was hot), there they are – in all their colorful glory for all the world to see. But then….

He took a step forward to look at the ink in question and grabbed my arm. Just below the elbow and twisted it towards him. Like I was made of rubber. Not only did it hurt a little to have my arm shockingly turned sideways in an unnatural position, but my offer of letting him look at my tattoo more closely DID NOT give him permission to grab me. Or to touch me at all. As one of my friends said when I told them the story “Look with your eyes, not with your hands! Didn’t we learn that in kindergarten?” My point exactly. I asked him to let go of my arm. I did not make a snarky comment about his having had grabbed me in a rather agressive manner without my consent – which would have been easy to do (and honestly, is usually my first instinct). I, also, did not punch him in the nose (which is usually my second instinct). I did, however, pull my arm back a little to let him know it was NOT OKAY TO TOUCH ME and said “Sorry, but do you mind letting go of me?” His response was to let go of my arm while muttering under his breath, “You don’t have to be bitchy about it.”

I’m sorry – BUT WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK????

Dude, you just grabbed a girl without her permission and twisted her arm sideways. You do not know this woman, you have never seen her before, you do not know anything about her. What the fuck makes you think that by asking to see her artwork you now have her permission to grab her? Or for that matter to touch her at all? Not only is it a violation of my personal space and my right not to be touched by random dudes in coffee shops, but let’s put this in another situation – say you see a girl wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it that is printed clearly over her breasts. You say to her “What does that say?” She turns to you so can read the shirt. Does this brief interaction now give you the right to grab her boobs? Yeah, didn’t think so. In fact, you’d get arrested if you did that. So what makes you think that my body art is any different? It is my body. It is my space. You are not invited into it because you may be an admirer of how I present it to the world.

I would just like to put this out there – a tattoo is a piece of artwork. You wouldn’t grab a painting in a museum to get a better look, would you? No. You would not. So what makes you think that just because I carry my artwork around with me all the time, I want your unwashed hands touching it? It’s not scratch and sniff. You’re not going to get anything extra out of it if you get to touch it. It is, as most art, meant to be looked at, not touched. So keep your grubby hands off me.

The next time you see a girl or anyone with a tattoo you admire, and you ask them to see it more clearly, please respect their boundaries. Yes, tattoos can be beautiful artwork, but they are also part of PEOPLE. Do not assume that the art takes away from the fact that it is on someone’s body. Be respectful. Look, don’t touch. Ask questions if you’re interested in it. I, like most people who have tattoos, are happy to answer any questions you have about them. If you want to know if it feels any different, then ask me that. But, if you are, like I suspect this guy was, just interested in touching me – at least have the common decency to ask me out to dinner first.

And then don’t call me a bitch if I say no because you’re a creepy douchebag.

Pancakes & Booze Los Angeles

So last night, I went downtown to check out the Pancakes and Booze Art Show and Party at Lot 613 Warehouse. Tom Kirlin has been doing these shows every few months here in Los Angeles, where the parties were born as a concept and those attending this weekend’s festivities were promised art, pancakes, booze, music and a zombie fashion show. The show is running for 2 nights, and at a $5 cover charge, it’s a pretty good deal for a Friday night in LA.

Though, having attended a few of these shows and shown work in a few of the original shows back in Kirlin’s old small warehouse space on East Jefferson years ago, I think it’s come to the attention of the public that these shows aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Though a good time and a FANTASTIC idea, a few years on and I feel like they should have worked out the kinks by now. And there are a quite a few kinks…

Though it is an amazing thing to see a variety of art work from a number of new and upcoming artists on the walls, there needs to be someone to actually curate the shows in order to make them more cohesive and more engaging. The fact that it seems that Kirlin just throws the art up wherever it will fit with no real design to the shows makes the amount of artwork shown a bit of a mess. It’s too much. The eye is bombarded by the sheer amount of different work all butted up against each other mixing artists and styles. It’s confusing to view artwork this way and makes the experience a bit of visual overload. Editing down the amount of artists showing and limiting the number of pieces each can show would go a long way to making this show a more visually entertaining experience for everyone.

Also, giving each of the shows a general theme would go a long way towards that goal as well. At the show this weekend there is everything from graffiti art to painting to photography and mixed media pieces but none of them had any theme or connection to each other. Again, it made viewing the artwork a bit epileptic and makes the viewer feel like they have ADD. You truly don’t know where to look. Giving each show a theme – even if it’s a general theme – I think would work better towards the greater goal of the Pancakes and Booze shows – which is to get new artists shown. But the truth is that some of the pieces shown last night were just plain bad and some were downright offensive, and though it’s a 21 plus crowd, there is no need to show pieces that are more suited to the Playboy Mansion than an art gallery. (Before you all start flaming me, I would like to state for the record, that as an artist, I agree that art is subjective and meant to raise questions and sometimes eyebrows, but the graphic nature of some works combined with the fact that they were just bad paintings are just unnecessary in my humble opinion.)

As usual, the pancakes were quite delicious, though the wait for them was 45 minutes. For ONE pancake. Let’s get on it, if you’re going to do such a big party and offer up free pancakes, maybe it’s time to add a second pancake station. I spent more time in line for my one tasty breakfast treat than I did inside the show.

Now that I’ve ranted on about the art and the pancakes, all I’ll say about the booze is that it’s not free. Once upon a time at Kirlin’s old location, the booze was free, but since the party has moved to its new location, it’s a cash bar, kids, just as an FYI. But the drinks aren’t entirely overpriced and they do offer you an ATM on the premises in case you forget to stop by the bank on your way out or if you’re like me, you just never carry cash.

Which brings me to my biggest disappointment of the evening. The flyer and advertising promised a Zombie Fashion Show. I was really looking forward to that, honestly. I mean, ZOMBIES AND A FASHION SHOW – the possibilities are awesome and my head walked into the show with visions of a runway filled with models in the latest styles from a local designer hobbling and wobbling bloodied and with brains on their mouths. What we got was a few girls in tacky unimaginative bathing suits with badly done zombie makeup walking into the room to the hoots and hollers of the men present. Only ONE of the models took the zombie theme to heart and did the zombie hobble – which I have to say must have been wickedly difficult to do in heels. The rest just did the boring “model strut” and walked in and out with no nod to the fact that they were supposed to be the undead. My friends and I all thought this part of the show could have been done a lot more creatively and successfully than it was. Even one of my friends made the comment, “I feel sorry for these girls.”

Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I had a good time last night, but most of that was down to our own interactions within the background of the event. Overall, the Pancakes and Booze Shows are good and I think they’re worth the $5 cover and can be really fun. I just think that they could be SO much better and they have the potential to be GREAT. But they’re not there yet.

Washington DC

Another group from my current series of shots for my latest project.

©LaurenElisabeth Photography

http://laurenelisabethphotography.net

Mommy, Can I Have A Luck Dragon?

Last week, as I was trolling around on the internet as I usually do in preparation for my weekend and in order to try to find some fun and inexpensive ways to waste time and get off of my own couch, I saw a post on Twitter about a “Double Feature Drink-Along” at a theatre downtown of two of my favorite super awesome 80’s fantasy kids movies of all time: Labyrinth and The Neverending Story. I instantly sent the link to a couple of my friends with the subject line of “WE HAVE TO GO TO THIS.”

It was decided, though, a few other friends who had been invited couldn’t make it, that my good friend G and myself would hook up early, grab some grub and then head down to the Downtown Independent Theatre on Main Street in Downtown LA for the main event. Organized by the theatre and Cinema Speakeasy, this was sure to be a good time. But because I wasn’t sure how many people would indeed be attending, I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time. (I wish I had but we’ll get to that.)

G and I arrived slightly after 7 pm and found that the parking was easy – there is a $5 lot just next door to the theatre and the theatre itself is a gorgeous strikingly modern building that sort of stands out next to a Latin dive bar in a section of town that’s not quite there yet in the massive gentrification of downtown Los Angeles. Outside the theatre was one security guard checking pre-purchased tickets, but as non-ticket holders, we were told to wait outside. So we did. For about a half hour. This was the downside to the evening.

When the event managers finally did come outside, they simply told everyone to go in and buy tickets, which begs the question – why were we made to stand outside? During the films, G and I both noticed that there were more than enough empty seats inside the theatre, which made our waiting unnecessary and kind of irritating. Not to mention that a number of the people who had been made to wait had actually bought tickets ahead of time, but they were on the Will-Call pick up list so didn’t have tickets in hand. It seemed to me that the security guard should have been given more clear instructions in the situation and all that waiting could have been avoided.

But whatever, we got in and got our first round of drinks. The drink prices weren’t great ($6 for beer or wine) but weren’t horrible and with the purchase of a ticket, the promoters generously gave everyone a Tecate to get their evening going. The beer choices were pretty good actually – limited yes, but at least it wasn’t all Tecate.

G and I found seats in the upper end of the theatre and settled in. Not long after, our hosts came through to outline the rules of our game and all bets were off. It wasn’t just a drink-along; it was also a sing-along, shout-along, heckle-along, as well as occasional dance party and comedy night. Best line of the night, I think came from the man sitting just behind us. As the opening credits came up on The Neverending Story, someone shouted, “Whatever happened to that kid?” at the name of Noah Hathaway who played the fearless, feathered-haired pretty pretty warrior child and said guy let go without missing a beat “I’m sitting right here.” (By the way, since I was actually curious, I looked it up. It turns out the former child actor owns a tattoo shop with his wife and races motorcycles here in Southern California. I wonder if anyone has ever asked him for a Luck Dragon Tattoo?) Honestly, the minute the lights went down and the first film started and EVERYONE in the theatre started singing along to the brilliantly 80’s theme to the Neverending Story, I knew I was in for a fun evening.

After the first film, there was a short intermission for bathroom breaks and to gather more beers for the next film, so G and I went up to the rooftop bar at the theatre, which offered a beautiful view of the LA skyline and a place for smokers to top off. Being in those situations always almost makes me wish I still smoked, but truly I wasn’t drunk enough to wander over to bum one off of anyone.

Again, the comments from the audience started as soon as the opening credits rolled on the second film, Labyrinth, that classic Jim Henson creation featuring the legendary David Bowie as the Goblin King with the most magnificent mullet ever created by a hair stylist and a series of disturbing crotch shots (which was featured as part of our game as we watched the film), not to mention the introduction of Jennifer Connolly’s baby blues to the world (as well as her then caterpillar like eyebrows) as she screeched “It’s Not Fair” throughout her fantasy world.

It was a good night. I laughed my butt off and for the low price of $12 plus drinks, I got a little tipsy, had a good time and got to see a luck dragon in all it’s 80’s bad computer graphics imagery on a large screen again. The idea is a simple one and yeah, it would be cheaper to do this at home with a group of friends and DVD rentals, but still, you can’t replace the random commentary of a lot of people feeding off each other throughout the night. It was the best part; and in hindsight, totally worth a little waiting.

Next time, I’ll be sure to buy tickets ahead of time and probably will try to get an even bigger group of friends to go with us. Maybe I’ll even go one step further and show up in costume (as was encouraged on the event listing, but sadly only a few brave souls took that to heart). Okay, yeah, probably not that last bit, but I’ll be sitting in the back with friends singing along as loudly as I can.

You can sign up for the Downtown Independent mailing list here: http://www.downtownindependent.com/

Also, sign up for Cinema Speakeasy’s mailing list as well… they do events in both LA and San Francisco and they’re always worth checking out. http://www.cinemaspeakeasy.com

Baltimore

Recently, I had the realization that in most of my traveling, no matter where I go, a lot of my favorite pictures are taken on my phone.

So I’ve decided to put together a project of the favorite shots from each city I’ve been to.

Not too many to start, but here’s the first bunch.

From Baltimore, Maryland.