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"The wobble only adds to my swagger."

Jason Snell.jpg

It was in this hot, dirty and angry city I was jolted by the fallacy of expectations. A humbling lesson for an artist compelled by moments: what you calculate to create is never what you actually do. Jason reminded me to be honest.

The tattooed, snarky ex-frat boy endeared himself to me immediately on Facebook. More than that, I got/have a little crush on him. With his middle finger extended and his completely un-PC approach to living with MS (using the word ‘cripple’ with abandon), I had to meet this guy. He wasn’t gentle, or sweet, and I loved the ‘fuck off’ attitude he gave the diagnosis. That was the kinda photo I plotted. Edgy, right? So balanced for the book. However, what I got upon arrival was not what I expected, neither the man or the city of Memphis. I had an uncomfortable ideological clash with some wedding guests at the Metal Museum (behind Jason here) immediately; the buses were dirty and filled with day-drinkers giving me the side-eye, spiders crawled to greet me in the motel room, I was solicited by men in vans. The ticket taker at Graceland was shocked that a “lady” would come to Memphis alone. Memphis is tough, segregated and volatile.  Not the zoo. The zoo is fun.

And who climbed out of the SUV at the Museum was not the young, hot, able-bodied gunslinger I’d pictured online. He was young and hot, for sure, and a mind much faster than mine.  However, he was also symptomatic, his speech difficult. His cane was necessary. His body, that day, inhibited.

I turned a corner in my journey here. It wasn't the Memphis I'd planned for, the half -artsy, half- giddily kitsch. it wasn't the portrait I'd designed in my head. I did get one of him lighting a cigarette downtown, and he looks James Dean fine.  I debated which to share.  But in photography and storytelling, as in life,  there's what's sexy and what's truthful. The picture I took, the person I got, was something darker, deeper, and much more real then the cigarette shot. His mom loves this one. Me too.