Distant Brothers – The Thai Connection
"Words with no apparent meaning,
a Hindi script graffiti,
sprayed upon temple walls
that have long ago decayed."
– St. Paco
There are no coincidences.
Really, it was only a few days ago that, while scrolling through the contacts in my phone, I briefly reflected on brutha' Damon when his name quickly passed under my eyes. I hadn't been in touch with my Afro coiffed partner-in-crime for some time, so a mental post-it™ note was made reminding myself to reach out and learn what he's been up to as of late. Three days later, before I'd even had a chance to make good on my intention, an e-mail arrived to let me know that Damon had shared a photo with me on his Flickr feed.
Spotted within the body of that electronic note, placed just above the link that would guide me to the image, was the title of my previously released poetry zine, Distant God Meditation. "What does...this mean?" I wondered, as my finger clicked the mouse to activate the link. Damon, a fantastic photographer and fellow designer, had already sent a snapshot several months back, showing the zine on his coffee table; his creative way of saying that the contents of my unanticipated envelope had arrived in the mail.
My eyelids widened and my jaws separated after his newest photo-telegram had loaded. Framed within its borders was the remarkable sight of my kung-fu-brutha-from-anotha-mutha, sitting in some time-worn temple -- with his now very travel-worn copy of Distant God Meditation in hand. "Didn't he just get back from Hong Kong not too long ago?" I thought through a widening fog of amazement. "How the heck did he wind up in...Thailand?"
After enlarging the photo, my pupils pored over the image, as I was still partly in disbelief that he had actually gone to Southeast Asia -- and that he'd taken the zine along with him. But, as my eyes panned from the bottom of a suede and nylon mesh hiking shoe, seen at the bottom of the shot, to the very point of a stone spire elevated high above his chocolate-colored Afro, it quickly became clear that this was not the work of Photoshop. Someone had been on a airplane.
In the film Amelie, the father of the title character has one of those vintage-looking garden gnomes that stands on the front lawn of his middle-class home. Early on in the film, that white-bearded figure gets gnome-napped and within days, Amelie's father begins to receive mysterious envelopes in the mail. Each one contains a photograph of the ceramic ornament, taken in the various spots around the world to which it had, somehow, journeyed. Studying the photograph sent by Damon, I began to feel a little like Amelie's father must have felt.
Last year, when the making of Distant God Meditation had been finished, I'd also felt something else, something that I really hadn't felt with the other publications I'd produced. The feeling emanated from a recurring daydream that I had about of this particular zine. To me, it just kinda' seemed like something that a reader could take with them as a not-too-heavy distraction on their crosstown bus ride. Or, even better, while aboard a long flight to some far-flung destination.
I'm not completely sure now if that musing of mine had been mentioned to Damon. Whether it was or not, he still managed to do my imagination one better by taking that work into the discolored ruins of a 12th century Buddhist temple in Thailand.
To see the photograph that inspired this post, click here. To see more photos by Damon (aka Super 巧克力 Chocolateur), click here.