Tag Archives: Travel

Confessional Closed Before, During, and After Christmas

Due to unfortunate circumstances (i.e. work, the loss of the letter A on my keyboard, Christmas shopping gone awry), the blog will be closed from now until sometime in January. I wish y’all a great holiday season! Here are the last Paris photographs from last year. I figured I’d better post them now before I bring back the new batch.

bparis1sem_026From les quais de la Seine. I still have not figured out what exactly the world is screaming. Nov? Mov? French people should definitely stick to French.

bparis1sem_027Picnic on the Quai

bparis1sem_025Maman, a giant sculpture by Louise Bourgeois, at the Tuileries

bparis1sem_023Bronze by Aristide Maillol

bparis1sem_024Another Aristide Maillol bronze

bparis1sem_028The same statue put to a use the artist had probably not foreseen

paris1sem_031the guilded Jeanne d’Arc, rue de Rivoli

Have a splendid Thanksgiving, St. Niklaas, Hanuka, Festivus, Christmas, and an especially happy New Year! Thanks for all your comments over the last year. They helped me grow as a photographer. See you next year for new adventures!

Bathing with Naked Men. Woohoo!

Numata, Japan. planetross certainly knows how to show a girl a good time… One morning, he put me in the van and announced we would go bathe at a very special outdoor hot springs: Takaragawa. Public bathing in Japan appears almost like a lifestyle and a great social equalizer. The anonymity of nudity allows the street sweeper to rub elbows with the business big wig. Ross, I think, is addicted.

onsen-ticket006My ticket!

Most of the Japanese Onsens (hot springs) are gender segregated but this particular one is co-ed. The rotunburo (outdoor onsen) has four different basins located on each side of the river. The basin’s size is expressed in number of tatami mats; the Kodakara-no-yu is the largest outdoor bathing area and measures 200 mats (I even think it is in the Guinness Book of Records.) Japanese translations never fail to crack me up and the English version of the Onsen brochure describes the Kodakara in the following suspicious manner: “It is possible to take a bath at ease even in the female because it is wide.” Ross did not attempt to do so. In retrospect, I feel slightly slighted. 😉

takaragawa-onsen-06-icoNot my photograph! Cameras are forbidden.

The facility, tucked away in the mountain, was breathtakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, on the path to the ticket counter, a few small cages with miserable looking bears. I averted my gaze. The adjacent hotel advertises Bear Soup. Sometimes, it’s better not to ask questions.

In a typical onsen, you disrobe, go sit on a little stool, and thoroughly wash yourself before entering the basin, but at Takaragawa, they apparently trust that you’ve showered before leaving home. Men and woman have separate changing rooms. Guys receive a modesty towel which is actually a very modest towel and is supposed to hide their bits and pieces as they move around between basins. Woman, on the other hand, are supposed to wrap themselves in a much much bigger towel and keep it on at all times. Towels are generally frowned upon in the water but apparently the rule at Takaragawa is for the women to stay modest (unless they bathe in the special ladies area).

takaragawa-onsen-07-ico1Once again, sorry, not my picture.

I emerged from the changing room and spotted Ross (modesty towel over his head as is the usage) in the water already in great conversation with another gaijin (foreigner.) I put a foot in the water and gasped at how incredibly hot the water was (the brochure states between 109 and 158 degrees!) While feeling on the verge of being poached, I practiced a nonchalant look as I made my way towards Ross. Death before ridicule, that’s my motto! His buddy gaijin, an American professor, had the slanted eyes of people that have resided in Japan for a long time and he was CREEPY. I was glad when Ross suggested we tried another basin on two levels: one, I wanted to get away from the professor, and two, I was about to faint.

We moved to another bath area, and ten minutes later, the creepy professor followed us, and entered the basin with a slip and an unfortunate head dive. A stunning faux-pas although I’m quite sure he did not mean it considering the way he was choking and spitting water. We moved to the basin across the river. Soaking in the slightly sulfurous hot water, perching yourself on a stone before passing out, the sound of the river in the background, most men walking around all naked, all of these factors contributed to make the experience unique and almost surreal. The best part though is the aftermath: the complete relaxation that ensues. Wow!

bonse_005The Buddha at the exit of the Takaragawa Onsen

On the way back, I made Ross stop every five minutes to take in the scenery.

onse_007Rice Field with nice tombs

Tombs in Japan do not always belong to cemeteries. You’ll find them on the side of the road, in the middle of a rice field…

bonse_009Tombs in someone’s yard

onse_018A statue in the middle of exactly nowhere

bonse_019A monkey and her baby on the side of the road

Ross does NOT like monkeys.

onse_021You may live in a small mountain village but that ain’t no reason not to be stylin’

onse_020Avant-guarde vegetable transportation

onse_025A bric-a-brac shop on the side of the road

bonse_030O Surprise! A Japanese Manneken Pis! Of all the things to export from Belgium… Really!

bonse_031Old ad

bonse_026Another old ad with a deja vu feel to it

onse_027A Pachinko machine

Japanese people play Pachinko in parlors. While the game is not considered gambling for historical reasons, the parlor employees are forbidden from telling players where they can exchange their prizes for cash. They’ll have to figure out this one on their own.

tuepm_001Parlor sign in Numata

The devices used to purely mechanical (like the one featured above), but most machines are now digital. The odds of winning on each individual machines are decided by parlor employees and can be changed. These manipulations are tolerated by local police as long as done outside of business hours. As far as Pachinko etiquette, you should do okay as long as you don’t touch someone else’s balls and do not grab a machine where a player has left a pack of cigarette or other personal possession (sign they are holding the machine.)

onsen_001Ross in the mountain daisies

And so we headed back to town, all sulfury smelling, water wrinkled like Sharpeis, and very very mellow. We had a photographic appointment with Kelly Pettit and his family. I’m sold to Onsens. The outside ones anyway. I don’t think I’d like the Sentos (inside public baths) quite as well.

If I may add, not to be difficult, but I’d rather soak with a towel over my head too.

Primary Colors – Halloween IV

I don’t know what it is about green-skinned people but they always inspire me to shoot color. I generally stick to black and white, but if you are a delicious shade of Key West Green, I’ll love you just the way you are. Devil Red? I’ll adore you too!

The Halloween Street Party at Oak Lawn in Dallas gives me all the colors, hues, and subtle nuances thereof to last me 364 days of shades of grays.

Beelzebub wore Prada’s next year’s collection.

A satyr who badly needs a haircut.

Bud Lights? Tim Burton and I are hereby disowning these guys. Really.

A precious Golden Boy.

Another Prince of Darkness. Sassy! I just received exactly the same horns!!!

My favorite Ralph Lauren green!

Just wicked!

More crazy funkiness coming your way soon…

Street Ambiguities – Halloween III

Halloween in the Gay neighborhood of Oak Lawn happens WAY before Halloween. You walk the streets and wonder if folks are regular or enhanced for the evening. What if you committed a horrible faux-pas? What if you asked them to pose and they were not disguised AT ALL? You’d hope they were tiny.

Regular? Enhanced? And the cops? Real cops? “Hey Hey butch lady, mind if I take your picture?… Oh nice handcuffs you are slapping on my wrists! Not a costume eh?”

Enhanced or Britney Spears in Dallas for the night? I think if it were Britney, there would not be underwear involved.

A lost Swedish tourist perhaps? “Ursäkta mig! var är Stockholm dig den galna Texanduden?”

A lovely distinguished lady drinking tea beer on the sidewalk?

Hot Mama or hot Papamama?

I think hot mama until I notice the agape mouth of the passer-by on the right. Then I know. That being said, she was smoking hot.

Viking Hairy Diva – Halloween II

Last year, at the Oak Lawn Halloween Street Party, he was a Dallas vagina. I spare you the details. Pretty it was not. This year, he went for something a tad softer, and more widely socially acceptable.

Wagner revisited…

That’s a Valkyrie who knows how to match eye shadow and roller colors. Very impressive!

I had never seen hamburger parts hanging from hair before. I’m quite sure that somehow it ties in the Nibelungen theme. I must have stayed home from school that day.

Oops I did it again! Dallas Halloween I/MMCXXIV

T’was the sixth night before Halloween and in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas, people congregated to celebrate Halloween six nights before Halloween. A gigantic street party. A Dallas Halloween Parade… kinda gay once again. When most people dress up, in Oak Lawn, people have a natural tendency to dress very little.

Colorful,

funny,

scary,

and very scary images. (This is a fake appliance.)

The next few posts will be devoted to bringing you the images of the Oak Lawn Halloween Parade or Street Party. Honestly, I did not stick around for the parade. I had so much fun photographing people on the sidewalks that by the time the parade started, I was POOPED. For all of you who are tired of my gay series, I’m so sorry. It’s way not over.

Dallas Gay Pride Parade – Sailors – (24/gazillion)

Each Wednesday, Club Rush in Dallas hosts a Best Chest Body Conetest (sic… or word play, who knows!) Something tells me I would not stand a chance of winning. When their float appeared, it seemed evident that the Wednesday weekly contest had not played out in vain…

“Saying nothing… sometimes says the most.” Emily Dickinson (not referring to a sailor)

I’ve always wanted to see a mermaid. I had imagined them less muscular.

Club Rush won the Trophy for Best Costume this year.

So this year, the Best Costume award went to Club Rush. I would not have much of a problem with that if it weren’t for the fact that, except for the mermaid, none of the guys were actually wearing costumes. They were all prancing around in their skivvies. I’m probably missing the whole point.