Me photographing lycra’d-up cyclists ended up being me photographing trees. I went for my usual bike plus walk, trying to persuade myself to not feel sick or whatever the fuck the last seven months has been about, got myself over to the southern perimeter road, sat under one of the young trees and watched the cyclists do their anti-clockwise laps. And tried to photograph them. Rapidly closing and departing moving targets.
What did I learn? Locking the ISO to at least 400 helps with shooting at an angle towards the sun and helps prevent everything blowing out. Locking the exposure to at least 1/1000 also, because bike wheels are moving quick and I want a nice, sharp, contrasty image. And I can do that on my FujiFilm X-T4 because the sensor is kinda massive and the lens is bigger than my old camera. Heaps of light, fuckall noise. It’s like follow-spot in theatre, I have to move ahead of the action, not follow. If I shoot burst-mode, I can effectively film each cyclist passing, then go back and find the ‘perfect’ shot. I don’t shoot burst because … I dunno, I hate the aesthetic and the mentality. It’s not photography, just like I don’t like cropping. I like that I mostly don’t ‘get the shot’, and like photographing dance, I have to know the work, anticipate what’s coming up, know how a rider and bike is going to look at a certain distance, a certain angle, with the sun hitting them, all that. None of which I really nailed satisfactorily. Like my previous walk, where I got familiar with the manual focus, a pile of nothing special.
This tree I liked the look of though. Last days of bare limbs before spring jizzes everywhere.
I planned to bike along Saatwinklerdamm like I used to do before cyclocross fun in Flughafen Wald. But, realistically, two days after getting booster vacced, 16km of riding and 2 hours of walking felt a little ambitious. So I biked 15 minutes to Plötzensee, walked the east side of that, through the park to Schwarzer Graben and along to the NFL field and Hall of Fame Wedding, back the way I came alongside the canal, back the other way again between the Kolonie Plötzensee, with its garden houses bigger than the places I grew up in on one side and the cemetary on the other, back along Schwarzer Graben and did some random loops of actual Volkspark Rehburg where I got myself lost / turned around and got to walk both of the “I really want to go that way,” paths, which was pretty clever of me, and got back to Uferhallen just as the sunset was lighting up the chimney. Blue sky and sun too, everyone standing around pointing their faces at it like they’d forgotten what it was.
I used to blast through Volkspark Rehburg on my way to doing cyclocross in what I always called Flughafen Wald — which is actually Jungfernheide Forst, but people confuse that with Volkspark Jungfernheide on the south side of the canal, and there’s a lake called Flughafen See at the eastern end of the Forst, so … Flughafen Wald. There’s an enclosure for wild boars at the western end of Rehburg, before the track goes through the Kleingarten (quite a few of which are bigger than my apartment and sitting on land bigger than the whole building I live in). I didn’t see any there, but the bare trees and drizzle and dim light were enough to feel I was out in the countryside and not a 15 minute walk to Müllerstraße.
I’m staying in Wedding for a few days, at Dasniya’s studio in Uferhallen, where I lived with her for five years. It’s nice being back (except for the upstairs neighbour, which is a whole other convo about why older white cishet German women are so much work), and the closest thing I’ll have to a holiday this pandemic. I planned to bike to get vaccinated, but it’s been raining and it’s easier to wash shoes than hose down and re-lube a bike. Walking then, the one thing I can still do four months into some weird round of chronic fatigue symptoms, which could be anything from a fucked neck to depression to just needing a month of getting fucked.
This is so very Berlin, dim overcast light, grey and washed-out colour that has an austere intensity, not raining but damp and the air is soft with drizzle. It feels like being in the mountains or heath, far from people, walking and walking. My home is my International Orange hardshell, the brightest and most vibrant colour on the airport field, warm and dry and shielded from the wind. This, with tramping boots and a backpack, is something I miss and something that works deeply in calming my hectic inner life. I like the vastness of the land reducing me to this small, solitary thing, walking, walking.
bell hooks has been around since my early- / mid-teens first contact with feminism. I didn't pay much attention to her at first, not seeing how she was relevant. That's the smallness and limits of my upbringing showing there. A while later, in the noise of Paris is Burning touring the world's film festivals while the stars struggled to make rent, hooks had opinions on Venus Extravaganza that were disappointingly and unsurprisingly 2nd Wave. There was a long gap before I read her again, though she was always around. In 2013, a few months after I re-read Feminist Theory: from margin to center she hung out with Janet Mock and read her autobiography; in 2014 she had a dialogue with Laverne Cox at The New School. I felt she was someone from that generation who'd put it together a little better, and if Janet and Laverne and all the other Black trans femmes could be in the same room as her and share their love for her, I could move on from her remarks 20 years previously. We all gotta be allowed to grow a little. (But that doesn't give her a pass to come for Beyoncé.)
bell hooks passed over to Ancestor space earlier today.
The first thing I thought of was her writing on domestic work in Feminist Theory. I've quoted her (and often Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on the same subject at the same time) to probably everyone I know if we ever had a conversation about housework. The quote continues after this, and like a lot of her writing I thought it became dogmatic and made some improbable conjectures. But that's bell hooks. She was this brilliant, Black feminist theorist who understood why housework was so important, who was loved by Janet and Laverne and Raquel Wells and so many Black trans femmes and mascs, and in turn worked to earn their respect and love, and whose opinions over the years, from Paris is Burning to Beyoncé were occasionally of a different era and different feminism and occasionally shite.
I love doing housework, cooking and cleaning, and while I'm on my knees mopping the floor feeling like it's not at all demeaning or degrading or drudgery, I'm thinking, "Yeah, doing aesthetics here, care for self and the world, it's beauty and it's got value," and bell hooks is nodding going, "Yes, child, affirmation of your identity coming through strong."
Kestrel finally allowed me to take a video of them hunting.
Heaps windy and fresh after the storm last night. Me doing my usual wobbly lap along the southern pavé saw a crow having a go at a Kestrel. Kestrel was not having that and making a right racket. They both ended up perched on the bird sanctuary fence as I was walking past. I asked the crow, “Why you being such a cunt?” Kestrel flew off when I was between them and crow, and crow didn’t want to fly through me to get at them so hauled off in the other direction. Probably gonna have to give that one a feed so they don’t tell all their mates to shit on me next time.
On the gravel by the old airport ground this one was on the hunt. Maybe the same one. There’s a few of them there. Actually hung around long enough for me to get my phone out and then came up right over me for a long hover before diving at a mouse or something.
Really not blogging much since the utterly brilliant pandemic response murdered all the fun and way too many good people. Everyone I know has been experiencing highly abstracted perceptions of time. Did we talk last week? Last week was last year.
Tempelhofer Feld has been giving me some low energy pleasure. The resident kestrels even took a perch near me for long enough I could photograph one the other day.
The only thing not giving me energy are the white cishet couples where the woman does the “Oooh it’s a tranny!” to her man. Big sucking the dick of your oppressor energy there, hun. I was wondering if they do this because if I respond to the woman, she can use the “It’s a man!” defence to have her man do the physical violence. All fun, no consequences for these cishet women.
Yallah, a month ago, when it was still autumn-ish, I enjoyed the plant life around the southern perimeter road, just up the rise by the trees. I was going to prettify them a bit, but a month later obviously that’s not happening.
Not even going to pretend I have any chance of blogging anything other than photos of Tempelhofer Feld. Sunday and the first day of “might as well pretend we’re all fucked until Spring ’22” clocks went back and it gets dark before 17:00 now. Saw the Kestrel / Peregrine / Hawk / whatever the little one is out hunting again.