The Clam’s of a kind staff photographer, Steve Brosnihan, is back again. After a few mix-ups that could be attributed to editor/staffer miscommunication, we decided to give Steve a very easy task. One no one could mess up. We asked him to take some pictures of Fiesta. “Great!” we thought, “He will come back with some excellent photos of confetti, children dressed in white, and carnival rides!”
This is what we got.
The Sixth Hour: Viva Siesta
While at one of the many parties and late-night open mics we frequent, my machete wielding employers asked me to produce a photo piece about something they call ‘Siesta.’ Over a very loud Fela Kuti cover they described Siesta as a colorful, local event full of pageantry and revelry that goes on for days. I kept trying to connect the revelry to the essence of an afternoon nap taken by Spaniards to evade the hottest hours of the mid-day sun and whereby they can prepare for a late day at work and long, elaborate evening meal. I was intrigued and excited to think that our fair city would host such an abstract, conceptual performance piece annually. As the music crescendoed with blaring brass and drums, KT described a few puzzling images including something about cross dressers on a greased telephone pole. I never turn down a challenge, especially when enticed to partake in surrealism, so I agreed to take on the assignment.
An 11th year blow-in, I consider Gloucester my home now, but this Siesta thing has eluded me. The staffers insisted that I document the event during my annual family camping trip to New Hampshire. We take it right after the kids get out of school at the end of every June. When I mentioned to the Clamsters that I would have to cover Siesta from up there, they shrugged and said “OK.” Conceptual indeed!
To get in the mood, I dusted off my old CD of Marcus Miller and Miles Davis playing “Music from Siesta” the soundtrack from the somewhat obscure 1987 art film by Mary Lambert and put it on repeat for the 4 hour drive. If traveling alone, I would have played my vinyl copy, but the 3-axis active turntable isolation gimbal takes up too much space in the family minivan. I had to settle for the grainy harshness of digital. Anything for the kids. For imagery, I loaded some fresh film into my newly acquired Rolleiflex SL 35M sporting a Zeiss licensed 50mm f 1.8 planar: Six blades of Petzval-like bokeh when wide open. The fungus in the lens is minor, worse in the pentaprism, but it’s still a great shooter. Every time I lift the camera to my face, I can smell the basement that the camera must have been stored in for the past 30 years. Odors always activate my memories. This species of mold must have also inhabited the day bed I often napped on as a kid over at my grandmother’s house—a perfect ambiance for the task at hand. In honor of the sixth hour after dawn, all the shots happened under the glare of a bright midday orb.
I briefly toyed with the idea of scheduling our annual camping trip later in the summer next year but finally decided that the mystery of Siesta should forever continue as a haunting dream-state in the annals of my family lore. Viva Siesta!
Stunning timing each year on your vacation out of town. I wish I’d thought of that.
(…so you’ve never seen a real Swamp Yankee, then?)
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