A while back, thanks to Facebook, I reconnected with an old friend I knew as a teenager. I remember him as something of a rabble rouser and I’m happy to report he seems to still have that in him.
There was a whole group of us, misfits mostly of one type or another, and we used to meet in the stuffy attic of an old house we called The Shepherd’s Inn in downtown Canton. Steve, I remember, seemed so much older. He had a car, and long, wild hair. He might have graduated already. It was probably all of three years difference.
I left Canton when I was 17 and so lost track of a lot of people from that era, but have kept in touch with a few, and via the internet, have recently re-met a few others.
Steve’s a Buddhist now, an interesting point of commonality, and works counseling inmates. He co-runs an underground pirate music station, Radio Free Canton, under the name Frank Incensed. It’s a good station–I used to listen to it in India, and it’s probably picked up a few listeners in Shillong.
In some random post he mentioned he had started collecting matchbooks. Coincidentally, I had just begun photographing the matchbooks of India. Every area has different matchbooks and each one a meditation of sorts. I found everything from Krishna to pencils on the cover. Some I picked up off the ground. Others I bought for a single rupee from people on the street. I began to love the anticipation of going to a new city and wondering what kind of matchbooks they would have.
I collected them from all over, but unfortunately, a big batch of my favorite ones were confiscated during a custom’s check. I forgot to take the matches out of some and they took them all.
But, as I get ready to mail these off to Steve, I thought I’d post some from my matchbook Zen gallery.