It's only in the past ten or fifteen years that I've gotten back out to Suffolk Downs through the happy event of a friend claiming a Thoroughbred and asking if I'd take a few photographs of her horse, Sassy. It was as if I'd gotten a key to heaven. Since she was intent on taking care of Sassy as much as she could before heading to work, training dogs, I began hanging around, taking photographs and eventually doing interviews on video. I have quite an amazing collection of people talking about their experiences in this most difficult way of living. (Three of them have died.) I video taped Clemente, who tells everyone that I am his personal photographer and have made an X-rated video of him. I still take photographs of him, whenever I can, and must, absolutely must, buckle down to putting together the video with all that work. I'm not that good at editing complex pieces and it would cost 7 or 8 thousand to have it done by the editor I've been working with. I've never been able to afford it and should just continue on with the trailer she made when I hoped to get a grant for the project.Clemente is a rascal from Puerto Rico who rattles on in a high-pitched voice. I often don't understand him, but K. always gets what he's saying. He was a jockey for many years, riding at tracks all over the country, then an exercise rider when I first met him, and now a hot walker and a groom. He was badly hurt in a fall and didn't stay in the hospital long enough, so he's often in pain, sometimes complaining, endlessly joking. Often I've spent an afternoon at the races, following him from one place to another, as he wanders here and there, taking to this person, to that one, introducing me and laughing, laughing, laughing. For some inexplicable reason, I find his face just fascinating. He's one of the people I'd never tire looking at. And never tire photographing.
I met him through my friend Joe who used him as an exercise rider. Joe told me about one day when Clemente was riding by on a white horse, a very white horse, and he yelled to Joe, "Look at me, a black man on a white horse," and Joe said, "Yeah, just like a fly in a glass of milk." Clemente says he was once white, but he's drunk so much coffee that he's turned dark brown. And he says he has a twin brother, the one locked in the basement, or the one who was in a bad mood yesterday. His family has gold mines, he says, and air planes and he's going to take us on one, to Puerto Rico. And he says Puetro Ricans no lie, no cheat, no do drugs. He's always laughing.
We had a great time.
I am well behind in blogging and hope to catch up with some photos of the wonderful dinner with Claire Benyon...that was a remarkable treat, meeting a wonderful New Zealander. I learned that good bloggers read faithfully and even read all the comments on the blogs they follow and realized that when I'm capable of keeping up with the blog reading, I never read the comments because, to me, that's like reading other people's mail... obviously I've carried over my scruples into the wrong place. And I learned that I should answer every comment on my own blog... oh, dear, apologies all around...and thanks for reading this!!