My name is Horatio Baltz, I am a Brooklyn based graphic artist and photographer. I grew up mostly in Pennsylvania and was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi at a hospital called Singing River.
The Pascagoula were a tribe of Native Americans that inhabited the coast of Mississippi. Not much is known about them, and they lived mostly in seclusion and peace despite the European colonization of The New World. Legend has it that, facing enslavement and massacre by the nearby Biloxi Tribe, The Pascagoula led themselves into the river while, in unison, wailing a weary and melancholy tune before ultimately drowning. Some say that on clear autumn and summer nights, the mournful song of the Pascagoula can be heard above the bullfrogs and whippoorwills.
Even to this day, there are unexplainable murmurs that eminate from the Pascagoula River. More modern theories attribute the sounds to sunken Nazi submarines, a hidden stockpile of nuclear warheads, or the mating rituals of the Pine Fish.
When I turned 6 years old my parents brought me back to The Singing River Hospital. They told the doctor they thought I was a mute. Presumably they either wanted a refund, replacement, or credit. I eventually started talking.
There's a window at my folks' home in Pennsylvania that my mother looks out of as she does the dishes each evening. For months she watched as a Robin made a nest on a tree limb. The Robin gathered twigs, string, and plastic. A ribbon from an requited Valentine. A quarter-machine necklace, and tabs off Coke cans.
Soon there were 4 or 5 speckled blue eggs in the nest. Soon after, 4 or 5 tiny pink Robins.
A few days later, our house cat Sammi produced a crumpled red Robin to the door step. As she knelt to pick up the Robin, the Sammi closed her eyes and rubbed her face affectionately on my mother's ankles.
I leaned over a boat in New Jersey and my cellphone fell out of my front pocket and into the Atlantic ocean. A few days later I received a bill from the telephone company stating I had $253 in roaming fees. I told them that such a thing was impossible because not only had I not left the city in weeks, but I had also dropped my phone in the ocean and had not gotten a chance to get it replaced.
We had finally come to the conclusion that a Blue Fish, at that time in the midst of their seasonal migration to the Gulf of Mexico, must have had swallowed my phone. It's complex and lean stomach muscles and digestive tract were capable of depressing the buttons of the phone, and their adherence to warmer, shallow water enabled a clear, consistent range of cellular reception.
My case became the precedent for the inclusion of the Marine Migration Liability clause in Verizon's User Agreement Contract (L5. 3329) annexing marine life to possible causes of losses and expenditures incurred as a result of the theft of a Verizon phone. Coincidentally, the phone calls were made to front desk of a fish hatchery in Brookdale, California.
I have always seen taking photographs as somewhat of a selfless endeavor. Good or bad, I feel that I exist as a middleman negotiating a transaction between two parties. A surrogate witness, an invisible archivist, or silent watchman - an antiques vendor with a particularly thorough collection of handwritten Antebellum letters, or a used cars salesman who happens to know a guy with a pristine selection of auburn Novas.
I am still trying to figure this whole thing out. I had taken a long break from taking photographs and am just now slowly coming back into it with a more self-criticizing mindset. Mostly, I just wish I could understand the causes and reasoning behind this chronic masturbatory sickness. I recently became sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts and am currently researching, preparing, and pursuing a few relatively long term series. Other than that, I think that's about it.
FARM TOUGH: When he was in his early twenties, my dad was fighting a war alongside the Americans in South Vietnam. With their helicopters, napalm, and Marlboro Reds, they also brought with them a peculiar sound called the Chicago Blues typified in the wailing and whooping of Muddy Waters. My dad took a particular liking to him.
One day he was in Saigon watching a military procession. He saw a company of American soldiers carrying a banner on which were tall black letters that proudly read "MANHATTAN". He said to himself "Manhattan.. I want to go there. I want to go to Manhattan."
He came to America as a refugee and landed in Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania. When the Americans withdrew from Vietnam, the fort functioned as a large refugee camp and resettlement installation. His first job in America was as a dishwasher at Long John Silver's. Eventually he was promoted to cook.
He never made it to Manhattan, but was able to send 2 kids to college there by the sweat on his back. Both of us still live here. Better late than never, Pops.
THE LIGHTHOUSE: Bill has owned a motel off a forgettable strip of highway in Pennsylvania for about 5 years now. In front of the motel is a large ceramic candle about 15 feet tall and 2 or 3 feet in diameter. The candle has a strip of lightbulbs inside of it, making it function as a lighthouse of sorts for weary travelers.
The night before it had snowed like hell, and when I woke up Bill was cleaning all the snow off all the cars in the parking lot. I noticed the night I checked in the candle was not illuminated. I asked him why. Bill told me that after buying the motel, he would keep the candle lit at night but shortly thereafter stopped.
A series of irate guests had explained that the previous owners of 50 years had used the lit candle to signal motorists far from home and far from wives that the motel had a working-girl checked in.
ROBERT FITZPATRICK: Robert Fitzpatrick is the author of The Doomsday Code, the book cited by Family Radio in the prediction of The Great Rapture on May 21st, 2011. Fitzpatrick came to Times Square to see his prediction come true, and as six o'clock slowly passed, a crowd of hecklers, journalists, and supporters surrounded him. He stayed there for about an hour and entertained every single question. After about an hour he left, and I watched him descend the stairs of the subway.