Monday Musings: Clowning around at the Diner

by | Aug 26, 2023 | 0 comments

I have a diner theory that apparently isn’t a new revelation for some of you. However for those who don’t know it or my take on it… the diner is the cosmic leveler of life. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what diner you are at, there’s always the gruff waitress with cigarette in her mouth, or at least that used to be the case, the soda fountain stools at the jerk counter, the various cakes on display as if museum or trophy pieces encased in glass and rotating for some reason. You and your hoard of misfits come in, sit down in plastic leather booths and the world turns.

The diners at the diner are everyone and no one… could be artists squeaking out as many fries and free refills on coffee, a celebrity or politician coming in for a quick danish hoping to be secretly or not so secretly recognized, comics chatting it up after a 2am set, a young student trying to find his or her place in life, (*ahem, I might be speaking from experience on some of this) or the resident homeless person scoring leftover buns and some chicken. Who ever you are, you’re all getting the same burnt coffee, runny eggs sunny side up, none of this poached biz with avocado, dry white toast with grape jelly, forget it sweetie with strawberry jelly, that’s 1994, all served by a waiter/waitress who had hope in their eyes at one point, only to have it washed away by smeared mascara and cigarette smoke. “Here you go honey. Hot sauce? Ketchup?” “Yes, Ma’am.” Americana.

She puts down the check before you’ve eaten your first egg, points at the door where to pay, and walks outside to have her 3am drag of sweet relief while she contemplates the meaning of life, just the same as all the diner inhabitants had done night after night. Doesn’t matter who you are, you’re all the same at the Cosmic Diner of Life. It is the most socialist of venues. Hell, they even let clowns in.

I could go either way on clowns. Take ’em or leave ’em. We watched Bozo growing up on WGN in Chicago. Remember him? That was the closest to clowns I ever really got, that and grandmother’s homemade Halloween costume circa 1991, and I’d say I’ve had a full life thus far having missed out on party clown bus. But that’s not to say I haven’t clowned around though.

The act of creation, in my humble opinion, is the art of clowning. Art of the deal, art of archery, art of cooking, sure, let’s go with the art of clowning. As I’ve mentioned to some, I abhor the idea of content creation since I’m not entirely sure what that means, and generally speaking, I feel like it debases art on the whole. “Look at that content Picasso created… that Frank Lloyd Wright building is such amazing piece of content.” Alas I digress. Creation is experimentation. Try this, try that. Sometimes I have copious notes and ideas of how a photoshoot is going to go, or when I pick up a camera I have x in mind, and then a clown enters my world and it all goes to burnt coffee.

Enter Dave at the Diner.

Dave’s been one of my creative collaborators and friend since I arrived in NYC here some many years ago. In town from San Diego, he popped in and pulled out his nose and all bets were off.

Clowns are everywhere.

Some have noses, others have briefcases, some wear makeup, some have cameras. Some eat sausages and French toast and then contemplate the idea of a crosswalk across from the corner pharmacy. So KARJAKA and the clown did as we do best, we clowned around with some Ilford Delta 100 black and white film, and my Leica m3 rangefinder, and photos happened, and all was creative in the cosmic diner. And then, yes and, and…

*As a side note, just a few weeks after this shoot had been shot the Mini Star Diner has since closed after eons. If you haven’t partaken in your local cosmic haunt, do so before it’s turned into another CVS.

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