Friends and Aquaintances

-- A skater tears up an empty pool out on the edge of Visalia. Tom Knox and some of the other Visalia skaters emptied out the junk that had been tossed in the pool. There were refrigerators and all sorts of other things in there. Visalia. 1988

I had a feeling, along with many of my friends, that high school was a waste of time. Except for the service industries there were no jobs for people with high school diplomas. We felt like high school was a de facto prison. Our parents went to jobs they hated – if they were lucky enough to even have jobs. We wanted to be free, while we were young, before we also had lives we hated. It’s not that we didn’t value an education, it was rather that we didn’t feel we were getting an unbiased education. We believed high school was simply job training for one dead-end life narrative after another.

In our suburban angst we drank Colt 45s and listened to punk rock when it still wasn’t cool. There was no such thing as pop punk. We would have laughed in their faces. We saw through all the falsities in the simulacra they called Porterville. I was always taking photos to expose the fakeness of it all, the unreality, the hyper-reality … looking for a sliver of something real. We had our own beatific appreciation of the street, life, love, women – and a deep understanding of what we weren’t being told about in school. We were poets, artists, photographers, and dropouts – touching the sky with our free minds and never compromising our curiosity towards the unexplainable journey of our youth.

Being so called Gen X half of us had divorced parents who might have had dreams but had since lost them in the maze of our suburban culture.

Around the time I began this series of images, I also worked for the local newspaper as a part-timer and quickly saw how little my reality was represented in the local media. But, I’d already started to document my life and my friends with my camera. I’d never heard of the photographers Larry Clark or Nan Goldin at the time I began making these images. I found out about them after I finished high school.

I took my camera and a couple of rolls of film to a party. I hung out, drank a beer or two and shot some pictures. I always did my own film developing at home or at school in the directed studies photography course I’d set up with my art teacher. I didn’t have the money to have the developing done. Most of the time I didn’t make prints. I can’t say exactly why I felt the need to make these personal photos, which obviously weren’t going to be published or exhibited, but I assume it’s for the same reason many writers write, because some voice in their subconscious tells them they must.