grist for the mill

On the way home from the store tonight I was listening to the radio and happened on an interview with photographer David Plowden. I was immediately taken with both his and interviewer Kurt Anderson's easy, candid manner. So often these interviews seem staged and stilted; this felt like a real conversation.

I especially loved this part:
KA: Photographer David Plowden called himself a wharf rat for all the time he spent on the banks of the East River. That's where we met up recently, at a park that was his boyhood hangout in the 1930's and '40's. He explained that during the summers, though, his family took him to Vermont and that's where he fell in love with trains and steam locomotives.

DP: Well the first picture I ever made was when I was eleven, and that was a picture of the train in the station in Putney. Well the first time I went to photograph it I got buck fever, and I handed the camera to my mother and said, "Here, you take it," and I started to shake. Well the next time I went down I was steadier, so I managed to get a picture. I still have it. So I really started to photograph in 1958, '59...

KA: Really! So you were in your twenties.

DP: That's right.

KA: Before we get there, though, you kept indulging your love of trains, you rode all over the place.

DP: I rode all over the place, to the despair of my uncles and aunts and my mother's friends who said, "What's he going to amount to? He rides trains!" And she said, "I don't know what he's doing, but he does. Leave him alone. He's gathering grist for the mill." She was my champion. And I did ride trains, I rode them all over the place.

KA: And was there any destination in mind, or were you just riding?

DP: No. I was just riding. Absolutely. You said it. The destination didn't matter.
It's even better heard with the wonderful intonations of Plowden's voice -- you can listen here. And see more of his work here.

and they do this all day long

R: I think this is a flower

W: oh yes, it is. It's a paradise flower. It was trying to be a flower, but it couldn't grow that well

R: yes it is

W: but these are beautiful. picture time! picture time! picture time! (song) we're having pictures way up high. Sister would you like to?

R: I don't want one.

W: I'll put my arm right behind you.

R: I'm the princess, I'm the girl

W: what's your name?

R: my name is Sistena

W: can I just call you Sist... or Na? my name's Co

R: nice to meet you

W: nice to meet you Sis

R: I not Sis!

W: what's your name then

R: my name Nasaprincess

W: hi Princess! my name's Co

R: hey Co

W: (singing)

I was lost in the forest and didn't know where I was I was lost in the desert I was so thirsty I didn't know where I was supposed to be so I went to the river peddling down the stream jumping backwards woo one legged jump didn't even hurt (scat)

I'm walking up the stairs and I kind of fall down and I tripped
Hey princess, hey watch this I was walking up the stairs I slipped down I hit my broken leg I didn't know where I was do do do do do

I kind of was on the one pinky toe I fall down I hit my head still didn't barely even hurt

okay, now dance with me do do do do do do

c'mon, step up here, get on the stage! do you want the clean stage? You take the clean stage I'll take the dirty stage do do do do do jamba jamba jamba thank you, bow. Thank you people of the earth.

W: hey are you going to sell that cat?

R: no, he's my cat

W: are you going to sell him? go run around little fellow

R: her's in my pocket come here puppy he won't scared you I think her's in the room the girl's in her room please give her the cat

W: okay, here you go. did you just give her the cat's cat food?

R: I got some more cat food. oh no my cat food's gone

W: I ate it.

R: go out of my house!

W: this isn't my house, it's a hotel

R: look at my cat food!

W: oh, you need a refill? Be right there! okay, let's go

R: no, not in there, in here

W: oh (filling noise) it's done! it's all filled up!

R: thank you

W: you're welcome (kiss noise) bye-bye why don't you go up on the stage and dance with that guy? he's your dad

R: dad, they ate all the cat food

W: come sit up here with me I know it's a little hard

R: cause you ate all the cat food

W: I don't even eat cat food

R: you just did

W: no, I didn't sweetie I don't eat cat food. We eat human food! Roast beef every night, and ice cream for dessert, and water for breakfast! you have me mixed up with someone else! (dad dancing) hm hm hm hm hm up a do up a do up a do but Co I'm sorry sister but I did not have the time move out of the way what? go buy me some lemonade to drink brother I did but you just threw it away in the garbage. Hey May, I know how to solve the mystery hey May come up here, this isn't really Co, this is future Co! He came back to find you!

R: well... I didn't get in the future.

W: ju ju ju... see, I'm your mama this is your papa

R: unintelligible yelling

W: what? mm mm mm did you know this is your real mama

R: it's not my real mama!

W: no, you're not from the future, she is and she was your mama's friend

R: I don't know, I'm going to my sister's future! come on

W: ju ju ju high up high in the sky hm hm hm

R: mom and dad! my sister in the water I don't like her

W: you don't like your sister? why not?

R: yeah, I don't like her

W: well then, go. wait! if you do, then we won't have a spare time machine to come back and see you eight years ago! The air's blowing, some one grab on to my hair! graaaaab iiitttttt ahhhhhhh

R: unintelligible yelling

W: I'm back in the future oh there's my friend! May! (hug) May is it really you from the past? from the future? From your future you came to our future?