Archive for the ‘Favorite Images’ Category



Categories: Favorite Images
March 19, 2011

Early last week I received a fiery invitation that caught my eye, billed as THE BURN IN THE BOWL – WHERE OLD JUNKERS MEET THEIR FATE.  This was to be no ordinary bonfire – seven junked pianos were set to burn, to celebrate the Vernal Equinox.  I was hooked. Twice each year, Earth’s position relative to the sun brings night and day into perfect balance, with 12 hours of each, an “equinox.”  The Vernal Equinox marks the turning point when winter gives way to spring (at least in Tucson).

Joining a group of friends, we headed towards the O’odham Reservation. Our printed invitation led us to a dirt road, a gate, and into a private patch of desert.  I recognized this place – last summer I was filming toads out here, and what an orgy it was!  In front of us stood seven pianos in a heap of old timbers. The ball of the sun sank in the west, chased by a spectacular moonrise in the east. As a live band set up their sound system, a group of kids made their own music on exposed piano keys and wires within their reach. A couple fresh-in from Socorro, New Mexico, came over to strike up a conversation, as I caught a glimpse of a guy sporting a pirate’s hat.  A fun evening unfolded as cars continued to pour in.

A musician announced just one more song before the pianos would meet their fate.  The music ended, and someone lit a dried Christmas tree to start the blaze. Whoosh . . . within minutes the whole pile was ablaze.  Two or three piano strings let out a “ping” under the stress. The intense heat drove us all into a quick retreat. People were quiet and mesmerized as piano skeletons were exposed and tumbled, one by one.

What a visual treat!  So engaged in my photography, I failed to notice the arrival of a fire truck and ambulance that sat silently in the parking area, lights flashing.  Even though we were on private property a fair distance from civilization, the conflagration had drawn outside attention.  But it was a calm evening with no risk of the fire spreading, so all was well.

You just never know who you might bump into at an event like this, one of the things I love about living in Tucson. A super-friendly gal visiting from New Jersey spent a lot of time peeking over my shoulder, watching me work. She was one of the few people in the group without a camera but was artistically involved, calling my attention to fiery details that she feared I might overlook. As we waited for the last piano to fall, I raced around the fire to fetch a fresh CF card and got back in time to capture a few more stills and a video clip of the piano falling. She was as excited about this success as I was.  And herewith is one of those images.

So who is his mystery lady? I immediately checked out her website when I got home last night, and it turns out she’s a world travelin’ freelance singer-songwriter-musical performer of rising fame, Linda Chorney – perhaps you’ve heard her perform. She has shared the marquee with Paul Simon, Jackson Brown, Sheryl Crow, and Dave Mason, among others. Linda has entertained audiences as big as 250,000 and has had the honor of performing for Nelson Mandella in Boston. Check out her cool website:  Under the “Tour” tab, you’ll even see a picture of her getting a squeeze from Bruce Springsteen, one of my idols. I’m certainly honored to have crossed paths with such a genuinely sweet and talented human being last night.

It’s fortuitous perhaps that 2011’s Vernal Equinox marks the “completion” of this website, a time for new beginnings.  What you see here has been three years in the making, with a couple of major set-backs along the way.  This, like all websites, is a work in progress, and we hope that you like what you see.  Please notify us of any flaws that you encounter as you browse through these pages. ~ TW

LAST PIANO STANDING in a bonfire lit to celebrate 2011's Vernal Equinox west of Tucson, Arizona.

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