Monday, March 9, 2009


On March 9, 2009, as the sun sank into the Mississippi River, a teeming horde of glassy-eyed, mostly milky-looking people gathered on the rooftop of the historic Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. They had come to look at 15 or so extraordinarily tall, mostly chocolatey-looking, young men.

The young men are famous for finding ways to get a ball to go through a hoop. The horde loves them for this.

The horde brought their own balls; clean brand new balls not meant to be played with. They handed the balls to the young men, and the young men wrote their names on them.


The ball bringers exhibited many... signs... of... mania when their pristine balls were returned to them with the addition of a freshly hand-written name.


Later everyone went to a fancy dinner. The tall, famous young men drew attention away from the full time celebrities who inhabit the roof. More than 677,000 people live in Memphis, Tennessee. 57 of them had obituaries listed in the newspaper on March 9, 2009. The Mississippi River is more than 2,300 miles long. A basketball takes approximately 81 days to float along the entire length of the river.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dereliction of Duty

Hello Dear Readers,

I would like to apologize for the staccato posting of new blog entries. I am a very lazy man. I want very much to tell you about these people:

...and these people:

...and so many others.

I will tell you all their stories in good time. Also tonight the Commercial Appeal has asked me to shoot some images for an update on the Lester Street Murders. I will be going into the house where the killings took place to photograph the elderly couple that has moved in since the incident. I can't be sure that the images will be great, but they will surely be of interest.

However, yesterday I did something I rarely do. I photographed just because I wanted to. AND I didn't even take any pictures of people at all! I just had to put it out there first because I feel pretty alright about the entire experience. So enjoy the next post and I'll try to do better about keeping you up to date on what passes in front of my camera each day. (no promises)

Thanks so much,
Sofa King

Martian Medical

Did you go outside yesterday?
My favorite time to photograph are the days when you look up to see sunshine AND stormy skies without turning your head.

Akira Kurosawa's film Dreams opens with this kind of weather. In feudal Japan a mysterious clan of young warriors called the Foxes lives in the forest. A young boy's mother tells him, "It is raining and the sun is shining. Foxes hold their wedding processions in such weather. They do not like to be seen by people."

He disobeys her wishes and goes to spy on the clan's ceremony with dire consequences.

I ventured out a bit yesterday. I didn't find the Foxes, but I did scramble around on quite a few rooftops. On Madison Avenue there are totally abandoned medical buildings and huge construction sites where new ones are being built. Also there are a lot of panic buttons.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game Over

There comes a point during every acid trip when you realize, "I can not even comprehend how high I am right now. I am so high that there is no way possible in the universe that I could become any more high. No human mind could withstand any more," and then like 45 minutes later you can't even speak or look in a mirror and what you previously thought was the absolute physical apex of survivable intoxication seems more like how you might feel after drinking two beers on cold medicine. That is precisely the experience one has while walking through the "Memphis Jewelry and Gift Show." It is mostly comprised of scores of vendors represented by a rainbow of culturally diverse men selling "namebrand" handbags and "authentic designer fragrances" in a room big enough to park the space shuttle.

There was also a mountain of loose jewelry and "pretzel dippers" for sale. "Pretzel Dippers," I was informed by the manager, "are very big this year." I was not, however, permitted to photograph the pretzel dippers.

There is an endless abyss of loud, poofy-haired, bespectacled beetle-women dressed in jogging suits and adorned with animal print accessories spending the day drinking white zinfandel out of plastic cups, glancing suspiciously at each other, and somehow managing to grunt and waddle their way through the bedlam with an ever-growing cache of bags full of bags attached to their bodies. None of them were receptive to my photographic advances so I was forced to fall back on my training as a wildlife photographer.

In the course of my journey I met this fine lady.

Her name is Becky. Becky is having her teeth "Zoom Whitened." She has decided to take a well-deserved vacation from the stressful jungle of "bona fide" Louis Vuitton handbags and paintings of lighthouses on snowy shores for a little oral rejuvenation.

But wait, there's more. She is actually having this procedure done at a sunglasses booth. It turns out that anybody can just rent these machines to use as promotional tools. You ever seen those Anglerfish that live in the deep ocean and use their light up fleshy thing to lure in prey? To quote Wikipedia - "the fleshy growth from the fish's head (the esca) can be wiggled so as to resemble a prey animal, and thus to act as bait to lure other predators close enough for the anglerfish to devour them whole." Well, the same principle is being applied here by the fine folks at Gulf Breeze Sunglasses. When you rent the machines, they come with two white lab coats so that you can look like a qualified medical professional when you hook patrons' faces up to the laser. I wish I was being sarcastic. They fooled me. I asked the lady administering the treatment about the process and she didn't even know what it was called. Operating the thing is basically like reheating spaghetti in the microwave. See these two "techs" who are "operating" the machine...

...well, they're not doing anything. They're just two friendly, well-intentioned sunglasses salespeople posing for a picture. Becky of course couldn't object to being photographed because she wasn't allowed to open her eyes, and the plastic bit in her mouth keeping her lips spread made it difficult to speak.

If you will now, take a minute and try to imagine a process that will simultaneously make your bones noticeably whiter in a matter of minutes, AND not give you cancer of the head. I felt the pores around my hair loosening just being near the damn thing, let alone giving one a blow job for 15 minutes.

But it's all done in the good name of commerce and who am I to stand in the way? My job is simply to document the world in front of me. So I continue on. Here is another Gulf Breeze Sunglasses employee inviting two patrons to try the machine:

More updates as this story develops.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Part II: Out of Town

Our first stop was of course the Yarbro Homestead. I love it there.

Here is what Christmas looked like last year:

You'll notice the frantic youth devouring wrapping paper to get to the meat inside. Early on Guitar Hero emerges, and the hardware for it is worn like a trophy pelt for the rest of the morning. At some point there seems to be a largish statue standing in the foreground, but it disappears. When the entire family leaves the room toward the end it is to watch a 5 year old drive a plastic John Deere front end loader into the patio furniture. Then we spin around the room creating a Christmas Cyclone that whisks all the gimme-gimme detritus away to santa's magic burn pile.

This year I couldn't help noticing everyone's hands. Here is what they do:

The older hands tend to wait patiently for their turn to open a present
while the younger hands must be forcibly restrained from skinning their presents alive...
...which they manage to do anyway

The male hands all manage to produce tiny blades from somewhere. They spend the morning freeing cards and gifts from bondage by delicately snapping ribbons and slicing envelopes with surgical precision.

The lady hands are mostly occupied with trying to immortalize the moment

After opening gifts, the hands like to show them to each other

The hands handle cash with greater discretion

At last the hands are free to relax, and they all sit down to a lovely afternoon of screen media. Little hands have new games...
...and big hands have "the game"

All the hands though have one thing in common. Girl and boy, young and old, all the hands love to feed faces.

Merry Christmas.

Holiday Retrospective

A brief history of Christmas 2008:

Chapter I: Memphis

There's a lot of ground to cover here,and it's coming to you in three segments, so I'll dispense with in-depth explanation. For more info on any and all of the events related to the images you'll find below as well as a good bit of conversation related to pooing, please visit the fantastic blog of my charming southern bride here.

There was a housewarming/christmas/potluck party at our new apartment in Cooper Young. It was good. It is a very small apartment, and it got so full of revelers that rooms were literally bursting. Here are some highights:

This is what our tree looked like. It made our humble abode quite warm and welcoming and ushered in a new era of unadulterated domesticity.
Our First Christmas Tree

Here is that very same tree surrounded by homoeroticism
Holly Jolly

Here isthe foreplay leading up to that yuletide romp

A good homemaker ensures his or her guests are never parched, and we make sure to keep those palettes nice and moist
Gin and Juice?
Here's my wife after enjoying a bit of refreshment herself
Good Lookin' Lady

At some point in the evening, the men retired to the mezzanine for a smoke
Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.
Merriment turns Mania

Here, caught on camera, is one of our guests being blown out of the party by the awesome pressure after too many bodies were packed into the building.
Toby lives in a Michael Jackson video
For those of you who don't know, that is the award winning satirist and social critic Reverend T.D. Sells. Here is a photo of him dancing before he was blasted out of the house:
How can you not love that guy?

And of course, no Christmas party would be complete without an ambassador from the Vatican. Representing that tire old sot, the Pope himself, we bring you...NUNZILLA!

You can look at other photos from that same soiree here.
Stay tuned for the next chapter in the Suspenseful Saga of Southern Saturnalia. (Special thanks to