A muscle is like a car. If you want it to run well early in the morning, you have to warm it up.”

— Florence Griffith Joyner 

-One element of my last End of Semester Project-

Sound advice. I don’t know how many of you have experienced muscular tears, but those of you who have can sympathize with me. I’m not sure which location is the worst, but a high hamstring tear has GOT to be close to the top. I’ve got to drop some poundage to take pressure off my knee. I blew that out some years back in the military, but in addition, lumbar and cervical issues have plagued me much more over the last few years. All this has kept me less mobile than what I’m accustomed to and it shows. All around the gut! Well, I realize this is sort of a catch-22, because the heavier I get, the more pressure on the knee, the less mobile I become….the heavier I get again. Determined to break that cycle, I’ve been doing a few things to burn some calories. The stupid part was when I tried running without warming up. Within seconds, I felt muscle fibers give way and rebound down my leg. And the worst part of it is that its a high tear, like right below the cheeks.

So now sitting down is problematic, especially when you’re wrapped up with an ice or heating pack. It is soooo not nice. Ever try going to the toilet on one butt-cheek. Try it. Stick a couple of tacks along the rim on one side. Then you shall share my pain. But I know, why would you want to…right? Over the last two days, I’ve totally forgotten about being a grand dad. Some business follow-ups never came to memory. This high-thigh hammy pull has all the attention of a colic-y baby that’s been sitting in the same diaper all day. This is day three for me and  the first two days were lessons of constant reminders of what I CAN’T do for the time being. Its easy to get comfortable and forget the lack of mobility. Suddenly you become distinctively aware of your lapse in judgement akin to the way an infamous Catholic school nun might bring your attention back to reality from a fantastic daydream. At present, I have been fully trained on these sensitivities and I do not make those mistakes even when I sleep. So now its all about recovery. I am quite certain this is only a grade-2 tear. Its more than a simple strain resulting in sore muscles that I can rub out in a few days, but its also not quite a complete tear across the muscle or detachment from the bone. I give my self 2 weeks. So until then, this kid is grounded. I appreciate the help from those who have gone out of their way to assist me, as well as the well-wishers who wish me a speedy recovery.

On another note, I just found out that my old college professor is teaching his last class period today. I learned well and much from Michael Johnson whom I took instruction from as a photo student. I took 4 semesters of undergraduate photography under his tutelage while at the same time pursuing graduate studies in two fields. This is how important photography was to me. In two years time, I acquired two graduate degrees. I received a MBA first, and then a MS in Telecom next. Every semester I was in school, I took a Michael Johnson photography class. I can tell you very accurately that about 75% of all my scholastic time was spent in his darkroom, much to the dismay of some of my graduate study peers. I was still able to produce GPAs of 3.5 and 3.8 in both studies, but at one point I even risked not attaining the second masters in order to get one final lesson from Michael. As it were, I simply finished the degree a semester late, but that’s how important it was for me to get better in the medium of film.

I was not attempting to get an art degree. So there wasn’t the same pressures on me compared to those who were. I could fail one of his classes and not be affected. However, I did impose those same pressures on myself to succeed in his courses and sometimes even moreso. I didn’t always get along with all my peers in Michael’s classes. The opposite was true in my grad studies. I’m not even sure where I stood with Michael at times, but he still gave me permission to come back every semester to take the next higher level of photography. It was Michael who first suggested I try my hand at the art nude. He noted that I liked to challenge myself and suggested there was no more difficult genre of photo than shooting the nude, or at least something along those lines. I mulled over the idea for a second and decided against it, fearing the inability to attain models. On a whim I, by chance, asked a girl to pose for me and she happily agreed. The rest is history.

Michael’s course work consisted of lecture and then an assigned project of 4 mounted prints, maybe 6 per semester which were critiqued by the entire class and then he gave his view. He have us pretty much one roll of film to get 4 shots out of 36. Critiques were ofttimes harsh, especially among cliquish groups that never had anything good to say about anyone else’s work but their own. At times I took issue and wished Michael would step in. More than once, a girl’s efforts were condemned by some in the group and tears were shed. I didn’t care when my own work was blasted and I could also take it when a friend did the blasting. To me, it was constructive and there’s nothing any of them could say to me that would have been worse than my military days. At times, it took all I had to not call upon my days of old and verbally berate the clique groups who were mean to their peers. Then again, I had to remember that 90% of the class were the same age as my kids. These projects then culminated into a final project of I believe 16-18 images which were not peer-critiqued. These were Michael’s alone. I still have the notes on my first final project where I got blasted to bits by Micheal at the end of the first semester, yet I came back for more. I never got another scathing review like that. I learned.

-This is one of the shots I got blasted for during 
my first final project review. It was by model 
request, but I didn’t use it. It was only on the contact sheet. Michael hated it and 
sat me down with my contact sheets afterwards.-
-First Polaroid Transfer-
-First Nude Series-

One of my influences from Micheal was a love for film. The ONLY reason I switched over to digital was due to a lack of  darkroom access here in Vegas. Many of us also took on some of his personal tastes and disdains such as a lack of love for some of the Kodak processes and film. Much like a son may chose some of the same affiliations as a father, I loathe Kodak’s C-41 processed Black and White film, preferring pro-grade true B and W instead. My usage of borders also stems from his stipulations. His “cup of light” explanations on exposure made learning photography very simple compared to many whom I know who cannot understand the relationship of shutter and aperture. Photo under Michael was laid back but you had better have your ducks in a row. The flannel shirt and jeans might have a tendency to fool the wary into believing art classes are about personal tastes and that you would couldn’t help but get an “A” in a class so subjective. In four semesters from 2005 to 2007, I watched many take Michael for their first semester in Art, never to return, opting for painting or drawing instead. I don’t recall how many years exactly he’s been a professor at Murray State University but I’m sure its been more than 30 years. So on your last day, Michael… I salute you.