Jim Varagona

Category: jesusland

>Under Their Thumb

>It’s been an odd week for me.

Yesterday, I began my day by traveling an hour from home into parts unknown in Jesusland. My mission was to take baby pictures. I know, it’s very exciting.

The first stop involved two siblings. One of course, being a newborn. The other, a talkative three year old. We hit it off pretty well. I let the kids talk their gibberish, that I hardly ever can comprehend and then respond with:

“Oh yeah?”

or “Really?”

or “That’s pretty cool.”

As long as you acknowledge them, they appreciate it. For the most part. One, early on in my baby photography career, even began hugging my leg and calling me “Daddy”, which mom went along with, but I digress.

It was a different story though with this young boy. We started off with small talk. He asked about my light stands and backdrop. He pointed out a monstrous mosquito on the wall, which I helped him annihilate. Then, out of nowhere, the demon came forth.

“Fuck you boh.” (Boh being my attempt to convey the accent he purposely put on “boy” like he was imitating something he had heard before.)

“Oh yeah?”, I replied, trying to play it off.

He then got in my face, or as close as a boy of his stature could, and poked at me repeatedly saying “Boh” over and over. It sounded a bit like Yosemite Sam.

“I’ll break your ass boh.”

“Really? I think it already is.”

“Fuck you boh.”

It was a battle I couldn’t win. Mom was tending to the little one and wouldn’t do more than give verbal reprimands. I was beginning to think that she had experienced this before anyway, but from a different source. He even retorted to her calls to cease the behavior.

“Fuck you bitch.” He even repeated several more times with feeling that she was a female dog.

Reinforcements were called in, in the form of Grandma. His cursing stopped, but his attitude only increased. He proceeded to taunt me as I photographed his baby brother and when he was told to leave the room, he went to his room and trashed it a la Mark Wahlberg at a hotel during his days with The Funky Bunch.

Shame, shame.

Today, when I arrived home after another day on the road, I received a call, which I ignored. I then realized it was from a client from earlier in the day. She was a younger mother who lived with her parents. As we took the photos of the baby, I asked her to lean into a few for “Mommy and Me” photos, which is standard procedure. Even if they are hesitant, we usually pull it off, and everyone stays happy. Well, she was reluctant, but I convinced her to take a few.

Anyway, when I called this number back, I got her man, who wasn’t present at the shoot. I’m assuming he was calling numbers on her phone to keep tabs, since he said he called because I was a missed call on her phone. He asked me why I made his girl get in the pictures. I told him it was standard, but he told me that he specifically asked her not to get in the photos since they were to get family pictures later. I told him he was under no obligation to pay for those pictures, but we take a wide variety to give folks a choice.

“But I told her not to and she said you made her.”

Another losing battle.

Was he saying I did it for kicks? While her parents and elders were there? Is the whole world going insane?

Why can’t everyone have a good time with me, like the guy that got out of the pen two weeks prior to seeing a shoot with his infant son?

I once heard a piece on NPR about how chimney sweeps in Russia are government issued. You can’t use independent sweeps. The people there then fear that the men are spies for the government to see how they are at home and if they are using the system in any illegal way. I wish I could think of myself that way. People don’t fear me though. They let it all hang out, but that’s a different story.



>A Religious Message From the Local Dairy Council


I spotted this dairy tanker while in traffic in O’Fallon, Illinois. I wasn’t able to get a photo of the side which had the message even larger and spread out.

>Beaten with the Pulp

>When I arrived home today from Jesusland, where I photographed the children, there was a group of little Latino boys playing in front of an apartment building across from the flat where we stay. There were newspapers and their wrappers strewn everywhere.

One of the boys was dipping a full rolled paper along the curb in the filthy water. The others were grabbing their rolls and beating each other with them. No one seemed to be getting hurt though, but I’m sure they were as dirty as the water in the street considering the newspapers were laying on the muddy lawns and in the street.

I have to admit I was a little annoyed because I knew that some of those papers were from our building, built up from lazy folks not picking them up, myself included. Then I realized that our property was clean of them, and it looked good. I got to the door to unlock it and noticed another paper laying in the grass by the curb on our side of the street. I called out to them, “Hey guys!”

They looked at me like they were in trouble.

“You missed one over here.”

One scurried over, grabbed it, and ran back into the fray.

One less gray hair for me.

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>Best License Plate I’ve Seen

>I hear a lot of folks say personalized plates are dumb because they make no sense, but isn’t the fun in wondering? The obvious plates are fun too, like the mom of a high school classmate with a “666” plate. This was especially amusing considering it was a Catholic high school we attended. It also made me think of the fact that it is the only “666” plate in the state, so she must have felt special when it was available.

My plates say “DIABTO”, which is of course in reference to my Diabetoboy moniker. It’s fun to have folks guess at its meaning or ask me about them.

Before we hit the road to Jesusland last year, the Filipinos of the IRS and I spotted these plates in a grocery store parking lot.

I later saw the same vehicle in transit while bar hopping with friends one night. We tried to snap a photo to no avail, but I did remember this photo which I snapped on my phone upon the first sighting. Does it help that it belongs to an older handicapped woman? I think so.

>Diabeto the Hermit

>I’ve been laying low as of late. After the power came back on, the DSL at our flat was turned off because we’re too poor. We are now attempting to reconnect through Earthlink and leave AT&T hanging. In the meantime, I am mooching off my parents’ connection.

I have been working for the past few weeks for one of those publications that helps you sell your vehicles. My job is as a “field photographer”, which means I drive around and take pictures of cars. Why this job still exists in the age of the internet and digital cameras, I have no idea, but it pays for now. And I told this to a customer not long ago, that he could simply take the photo on the digital camera he told me he had and upload it to internet that he also confirmed he had, to which he responded, “But this is so damned convenient!”

I called a customer in a location 35 miles from me, most likely the land of the Lord, to confirm his address, which wasn’t showing up on MapQuest (a godsend for this job). To clarify, I was already in his vicinity and calling, figuring that the street name would bring me close enough. The address listed was 1939, but on this particular street the addresses only went up to 959. Trust me I drove around to check. So I call this guy and say I am by 959 so-and-so street and ask where his location is. He tells me again “It’s 1939. Wait I’ll go outside to check again for ya. (PAUSE) Yep it’s real big out here under the sign with the name of the place, the phone number, and the address…1939. You can’t miss it.”

I ask for landmarks because this just didn’t make any sense. He tells me to go back to the main road in town and find a BP and an auto repair joint. I should turn in between the two and it’s a block away past some railroad tracks.

I follow his directions. Sure enough there was a BP and an auto repair shop at the beginning of the street I was on, but quite a few blocks back. I drove past the tracks and see the truck I was to shoot. This was the first building on this street with an address of 100. Right away I see his mistake. There was a big sign with the name of the place and its address, and underneath it was written “Since 1939”.

I deal with the public for the entertainment value.

My daughter, Sadie, was really sick about a week ago. Whenever she moved, she would yelp. It was sad to watch. She was moping around. Days went by before she ate or drank on her own will. I resorted to giving her water through a syringe…a needleless one. We spent two separate nights at the animal hospital with the vets troubleshooting her. Guesswork costs a lot, especially for us po’ folks. She has been on two separate drugs and had x-rays done that showed nothing.

We are pretty sure she has
Aseptic (Sterile) Meningitis, which two of her brothers also have been diagnosed with. Apparently it will flare up from time to time, but can be kept under control with Prednisone. She takes after me with all the diseases and medication.
In February, I blogged about mice in our flat. We caught 9 in a 2 day span, to which our landlady told me that “the key to urban living is to keep a clean place”. I bagged 4 of the nine and labeled them for her at the time. She kept them in our basement by her work bench. I decided to lay them to rest today in a dumpster, since they have molded over a few times within their Zip-Loc bags, and she wasn’t too concerned about moving them. I took some video which I hope to post soon, when our internet situation improves. In the meantime, check out this other cool mice video.

UPDATE (11/1/06): The disposal of the moldy mice…


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