Dear Sleep, Bring on the dreaming.

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 29, 2011

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"Insomnia" artist unknown from flickr.com
Insomnia. For a year, now, I've become rather familiar with this bastard companion. I've spent whole nights lying awake, turning from side to side in a desperate effort to sleep. Books move from my nightstand, to my hand and back again. Sometimes the pen will find a way to scrawl words in that half awake, half mindless state. So close to sleep, yet unattainable.

The whole world seems to make its way through my thoughts while I lie there, eyes wide, staring into nothing. And all the words I searched for earlier in the evening come spewing forth. All I want to do is sleep. I don't want to write the poem. But my brain has other plans.

When I was young, I can remember lying awake for hours constructing richly detailed stories in the darkness. High-speed car races twisting around curves, tires screeching. White knuckled and high on adrenaline. Hitting home runs out of Fenway or Yankee stadium along greats like Mickey. Getting the girl who sauntered down the halls of my high school, unattainable to me for whatever reason. Eventually, I'd sink into the mattress wrapped in a world of ethereal thoughts.

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That, however, was childhood. When energy was abundant and worries were few. Now, instead of concocting  fiction, I wrestle with reality. Sometimes the reality seems more unbelievable than the fiction.

What really has me worried is wondering whether or not this is simply an unfortunate phase or if this will continue on throughout the rest of my days. I suppose, either way, it's something I've got to face. On that same thought, it may be a way for my own restless mind to force me to confront those things I'd rather not.

Dear sleep, bring on the dreaming.


--
If anyone happens to know the artist of the first photo,
please let me know in the comments.

The writer's harvest comes in winter

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2011

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“I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, 
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
~Joan Didion

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Writing has been a bit of a difficult task for me this past year. It's not that I haven't any material from which to cultivate words and scrawl them across the pages, but every word, it seems, has been stubbornly yanked from stone like a sword. When I finally do come to pull them out, they've become deformed and ugly. Useless. Or, seemingly so.

The words have not ripened. They're still growing within the fields of thoughts sprawling through my mind. I've spent the year gazing over the endless acres of memories. Taking a broad look. Watching the growth. Now, as the year ends and the snows near, it's time to look closer.

Now, I'll look at the pebble and not the mountain. Trace its subtle curves and grooves.  I'll gaze into the puddle, not the storm, and watch each drop of rain expand through ripples. Concentrate on the minute and not the hour. It's time to focus in on the details. Harvest my words and prepare them with great care.

Pages turn as I catch up on my reading. Patience sets in while I wait for submission responses. And my pen, my typer and the keys of my laptop begin to chisel away at the granite. It's time to sit before the blank, white expanses of what could be and create. Time to roll up my sleeves like Hamsun's Isak, dig in and bleed.

..

The lake of reason ripples; Hitchens gone at 62

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, December 16, 2011

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“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

Christopher Hitchens, a voice of reason and advocate of free thought, passed away at the age of 62 on Thursday after a battle with cancer. An extraordinary writer, exquisite speaker and thought-provoking man, Hitchens leaves this world with less like him when we desperately need more.

Hitchens was a man who asked you to think. Who made you challenge your deepest beliefs. We, as humans, have the extraordinary ability to question and philosophize. To use our minds and reason to understand the world around us instead of falling into ignorance.

When I read a Hitchens piece, I find myself exploring my own thought patterns. Asking myself questions that I had never asked before. While I didn't always agree with what he said, Hitchens' work always came through honest and sincere. I respect that, in writing, more than anything.

He didn't try to beat a new way of thinking into your skull with no supporting argument. Hitchens painted a mural and asked you to actively partake in it. To ask him as many questions as he was asking you and to deduce your own conclusion.

What people should learn from Hitchens and what they should remember is not how controversial he was, but how we all should question our world. That we should use our minds to explore and ponder. That only through the exchange of ideas and thought, not bullets and bombs, will we understand one another as one human race and not multiple, feuding teams.

And we should always remember that, as Hitchens' words speak above, life is to be lived intensely and fully. There are no second chances. This single clock is all we're given and, when it winds down, it is over.

Pick up a book from Hitchens and read it. You don't have to agree with him. You don't have to like him. You just have to think. 

Photo by John Huba, Vanity Fair

Christopher Hitchens 1949 - 2011


Keep our internet and speech free; Strike down SOPA.

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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████ is █████████, ██████. ████ █████ ████. You ████ to see ████ ████ █████████ █████ ████ in ███████ and not the ████████████ █████ ███████ of ████? If not, ████, █████ and █████ ████ ███████████ and █████. Don't let ████ ████. ████ our ████████ and ██████ ████.

Uncensor This

The Wolves are Feeding the Sheep: My rant on SOPA

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2011

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digitaltrends.com
Since the election of Barack Obama, the words socialism, communism, fascism and various other terms have been thrown around by fear-mongers and the Right to frighten the populace into believing that we are one step away from concentration camps and Riefenstahl films.

Although this is hardly the case, an alarming amount of citizens believe it to be true whether they understand what socialism or communism is or not. It's an incredible feat of trickery, then, when those who scream communism and socialism, in an effort to preserve our American ways, come to support dangerous legislation that could and would bring the United States closer to the realization of such government.

One bill, H.R. 3261 - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), being pushed by both Republican and Democratic members as well as media giants like NBC and affiliates, Rupert Murdoch behemoth News Corporation (which includes FOX News and 21st Century Fox), and virtually any company tied to Hollywood and the like, threatens to strangle the internet in censorship much like communist-controlled China where what you see online is strictly controlled by government.

SOPA supporters say that the bill will allow law enforcement to better combat "rogue sites" engaging in Intellectual Property Theft, which they claim costs the U.S. between $100 billion, by conservative reports, and $200 billion a year. The bill would allow sites to be blacklisted and blocked using practices such as DNS blocking if they were found in violation of the law.

Stopping illegal copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods from "rogue" sites may be the overall intentions of the bill, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith  (R-Tex.), but H.R. 3261 is written so broadly that negative repercussions, internet censorship and Free Speech infringements are inevitable. 

Even now, media corporations are pressuring affiliates and anyone associated with them to stay away from the discussion and support the measure. Television outlets are barely mentioning the bill or any of its problems. You can rest assured you wont find any negative commentary, if any, about the bill coming from FOX news and their "fair and balanced" [sic] reporting, but you wont find much on MSNBC, CNN or anywhere else, either.

Assück's "Blind Spot" cover.
What does this all mean for the average internet user? It means that the possibility of sites like YouTube and Facebook facing private legal action and, in accordance with the bill, being blocked through your ISP or nationally is very real. And those two are media giants in the online world. Smaller sites, blogs and personal sites could also face censorship or be blacked out completely. 

Imagine being fined for embedding a YouTube video on your blog. Or maybe something like the Occupy movement would have never happened, a movement largely organized and orchestrated using the internet. 

Smith claims that this will not be the case, however. That his bill is solely aimed at combating and eliminating internet piracy. He even goes so far as to compare internet piracy to child pornography in the National Review, another great shock-inducing tactic perpetrated as a means to scare up support for the bill.

The fact remains that this bill is dangerously written. That the possibility of a communist-like internet is very real if H.R. 3261 were to be passed. It is broad, held up by shaky arguments, and an actual threat to Constitutional rights. While pundits and members of government are trying to frighten you into the belief that you're living in a communist-led, socialistic, Marxist society, they're marching in secrecy to try and push laws through that will actually lead us there. 

They're playing you for fools. And some of you aren't seeing it.

A new bill, called the OPEN Act, will be introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa to combat the dangerous aspects of SOPA. The OPEN Act is described as targeting financial flow to piracy outlets rather than targeting and censoring any portions of the internet. SOPA is an "overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective," said Wyden

Whether or not the OPEN Act will be a much more reasonable and Constitutional alternative to SOPA remains to be seen, but at least the opposition towards SOPA is growing.

Keep an eye on all of this and contact your representatives to say NO to SOPA. There are a myriad of sites which help you contact your reps if you are too busy to find their email or telephone information.


Articles Referenced:


In the works

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2011

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It's been quiet for me as far as writing goes. Publicly, anyway. Between long work hours and various other projects, I haven't taken part in a reading since summer. But the pen keeps moving. Fingers keep clacking away. I've been working on new poetry and tackling bigger projects as well as diving back into photography.

Winter always seems to get me writing more, though. While the molasses slows, my words quicken. I've got to do something with my time cooped up indoors. Something tells me I'd more than likely begin emulating Jack Torrance without writing. Then again, he was a writer. Maybe it's innevitable.

This winter I've been invited to trudge from the confines of my home and release my words before an audience.

Prose in Pubs, brainstormed and created by fellow writer Amye Archer, has been, in my opinion, the best ongoing literary event in the northeast Pennsylvania region for the better part of a year. Amye has consistently showcased local writers from around the NEPA region who's talent never ceases to amaze me. And, for the last handful of Prose in Pubs, she has begun adding one national act to the mix.

Prose in Pubs is a no frills event. Sans-microphone, even. Couple that with the incredible venue which is Jack's Draft House and you end up with a laid-back, thought-provoking beautiful night.

In January, I'll be joining Gale Martin, Dawn Colangelo Leas and Laura E.J. Moran for 2012's first Prose in Pubs. It promises to be an incredible night, as every PiP tends to be. So, when you've got nothing to do on a cold (if the weather ever decides to match the season) January night, come out to Jack's on the 22nd to join us for a drink and some words.

- You can find more information about Prose in Pubs by visiting the Facebook page here.
- Visit Dawn Leas's site here.
- Visit Gale Martin's blog here.
- Visit Laura E.J. Moran's site here.

Watch Jason Carney's performance during October's PiP. 




A shivering sun

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2011

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December. After a week of unseasonably warm weather, it begins with a chilling frost. The icing of winter. Even the sun seems to shiver in the sky with promises of warmth. I can watch my breath form around my words as I speak. The year is slowing to a crawl. Trembling while a gravedigger breaks ground.

With the new year closing in, many things have been running through my mind. The holiday season is a time of interaction, not only with family, friends and disgruntled shoppers, but with thoughts and memories of the year passed.

I look at the soles of my boots to see where I've been. Toward the mountains to see where I'm headed. I never look too far ahead anymore, though. One lesson I'm walking away with this year is that the future is never guaranteed. Right now, where my feet stand, is the only moment promised. And even that can be fleeting.

I've been remembering back further and further to past holidays. Joyful and miserable. Times spent in the company of family or good people. Times spent alone. Times spent grieving.

All of the memories have a way of  whittling down the excess of the season leaving me with a clearer view of the core. Instead of seeking shinning wrapping paper and disposable like I did as a child, I look for a smile. A laugh. Warmth.

During winter, moments seem to hang suspended like photographs. Maybe we all just slow to take it in. Remember it better. Etch the seconds into our mind to relive time and time again.

Here's to another year. Here's to experience. Here's to life.

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer”
~Albert Camus


Visions and Thought: Gallery at Dietrich theater

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2011

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Snow was falling in large, lazy flakes sticking to ledges, coats, and sidewalks. It wasn't even Halloween. I loaded my truck, after brushing away its powdery coat, and headed to town. Parking in front of the Dietrich theater, I looked at the clock capped in snow and tree limbs that grew fat and heavy.

While jack-o-lanterns sat abandoned on porches hidden beneath a wintery mix, I unloaded my truck and ventured inside to begin setting up. Earlier in October, the Scranton Cultural Center hosted a gallery of my photography to benefit the flood-damaged Deatrich in Tunkhannock. Members of the theater's board stopped by and, after viewing my work, asked if I'd be interested in showing at the theater itself.

Now through the month of November (and quite possibly a portion of December) a gallery of my work, entitled Visions and Thought, hangs in the Sherwood Gallery at the Dietrich theater in Tunkhannock. Photos that I have taken through the years are accompanied with my own words in an attempt to convey personal experience and thoughts about the moment captured.


All work is up for sale and, if you stop by and happen to be interested, my contact information is available here and at the theater. For more information about the Dietrich, call 570-836-1022 or visit DietrichTheater.com. The theater is located at 60 East Tioga Street in Tunkhannock, PA, 30 minutes from both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.


"Fear of Heights" for dVerse Poet's open link night

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

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I've been pointed toward a very interesting and exciting link by Twitter user @crosescribe. Over at dVersepoets.com, they have what's called Open Link Nights where writers are encouraged to submit links to a piece of their work. Since this sounded like an incredible idea, I've decided to participate. Below, you'll find a piece which was published in the Summer 2011 issue of the Boston Literary Magazine entitled "Fear of Heights".


Fear of Heights
Dale R. Wilsey, Jr.


The sound of roofing nails
piercing tin. Finding the
skeleton of heavy
timbers beneath.


Strength in my father's
shoulder swings the hammer
in a perfect arc, driving
nails through in a single
blow.


It's 1986. I am 2 years old
on a tin roof in a cloth diaper
creating the earliest memory
I'll ever hold on to.


A sunny day carried on a cool breeze.


Playskool hammer in hand,
I mimic my father.


Imaginary nails are driven
through thin metal
beneath my
child strength.


My mother is still here.


They're still married.


That was 24 years ago.


Nails still hold fast
in the roof of the
crooked barn.


But everything else
fell apart from then on.


And today I have
a fear of
heights.

--

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to stop by dVersepoets.com to check out more great writing.

Hell's Breaking Luce: Tom Waits' "Bad As Me"

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Monday, October 24, 2011

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Tom Waits has always had an extraordinary talent for weaving the real with the surreal. The every day with the oddities of life. He's a circus midway in the middle of a swamp. A Peterbilt hauling a diner down a desert road with the Tattooed Lady from the sideshow in the passenger's seat. And blaring through jukeboxes, bullhorns and radios everywhere is Waits' new album Bad As Me. His first in seven years, Waits has delivered once again.

Right from the get go, "Chicago" sends you flying down the rails on a trip to the unknown as Waits gives you his own brand of a history lesson on the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities beginning in 1916. Waits states, "Maybe things will be better in Chicago / well it's brave for us to stay / even braver to go", ending with an urgent "All aboard!" 


One of the things you'll notice about Bad As Me is that Waits touches upon some current sociopolitical issues in a few tracks. Something, I feel, he doesn't often do. "Talking at the Same Time" is a blatant, melancholy comment on the current state of the American economy and the contrast of poverty and wealth.

Get a job, save your money, listen to Jane
everybody knows umbrellas cost more in the rain
and all the news is bad
is there any other kind?
Everybody's talking at the same time.
Well it's hard times for some
for others it's sweet
Someone makes money when there's blood
in the street.

Some artists can overdo the political commentary, but Waits approaches it with a subtle touch. The backing instrumentation to "Talking at the Same Time" paints a picture of trudging, down-on-their-luck feet walking along the street, peering in at well-off fat cats profiting from the labor of the lower class...

Well we bailed out all the millionaires
they got the fruit
we got the rind

Bad As Me is an eclectic mix of sounds. Something all Waits fans will expect before hand regardless, but here he really swings in all directions of sound. From the rockabilly infused "Get Lost" which professes a want to ramble and roam with a tight sweater-wearing love to the flamenco-tinged "Back in the Crowd" to the  uncharacteristically heavy anti-war song "Hell Broke Luce", a track only slightly rivaled in intensity by previous Waits' tracks like "God's Away on Business".

Kelly Presutto got his thumbs blown off
Sergio's developing a real bad cough...
Hell broke Luce...
Boom went his head away
and boom went Valerie
what the hell was it that the president said?
Give them all a beautiful parade instead
left, right, left

Even for Waits, this album touches an incredibly varied amount of sounds and ideas. It's as though a pinball was fired through his gray matter touching every corner of his creative conscious before constructing Bad As Me. For some, this may be a bit to take in but, for the experienced and seasoned Waits fans, you'll enjoy just how much he can still surprise you after almost 40 years of creating music.

Waits' tender, romantic side shows through in tracks like "Back in the Crowd", a western-tropical sounding, love lost ballad, "Kiss Me", a crackling, jazzy tune that searches for the excitement of new love in a long-time lover: "Kiss me like a stranger once again / I wanna believe our love's a mystery / I wanna believe our love's a sin". In "Last Leaf", Waits creates what most will interpret as having a deeper, more personal meaning of holding on to more than what he shows on the surface. Waits explains, in a recent interview, "...you could say everything's a metaphor for everything else, but sometimes it's just what it is. It's just what it's about...a tree."

There are a few, small, almost insignificant issues I have with the album, but the good has so far outweighed those issues that I have trouble remembering them. Also, if past experience is any indication, any problem I may have with a Tom Waits track slowly erodes over time leaving me with only the good. Songs that I may not have much affinity for at first become clearer over time as the nuances come to the surface and pull me in.

Bad As Me has, so far, been another incredible Waits experience. It's filled with just the right amount of every human emotion, gradually floating between melancholy and longing. Falling fast into madness and landing in a pile of tender love. Maybe I'm just too much of a fan of Tom Waits, but I really have nothing negative to say about him right now. Unless he decides not to tour. Then, I may be a touch angered.

Overall, I'd have to rate this up there with some of my favorite Waits' albums. The best? No. But this album is incredibly diverse and full of incredible art and vision. The only thing I ask of Mr. Waits is to not keep us waiting another seven years. Bring it on the road, Tom. We all want to see your magic explode on stage like a calliope full of dynamite.

ANTI Records has released a deluxe edition of Bad As Me that includes three additional tracks on a separate CD as well as a 40-page hardcover booklet containing  images and lyrics of and inspired by the album. It is also available in a 180 gram vinyl version which comes complete with a slightly altered paper booklet and CD version of the album. Note that the vinyl version does not contain the three bonus tracks.


All photos included in this post are created by photographer Anton Corbijn. See more here.

NYTimes' #whyIwrite and Dietrich writer's group discussion

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011

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Spurred by the National Day of Writing and NY Times' #whyIwrite topic on Twitter, I lead a discussion during my writing group last night on the topic of why we writers write. Here's the comment I left for the Times about that discussion which has been "retweeted" by @NYTimesLearning:


picture-poems.com
NYTimesLearning,
Every Thursday night in Tunkhannock, PA at the Dietrich Theater, a group of local writers ranging in age from 18 to late 60’s come together in an effort to grow, learn, and sharpen their skills as writers. Some of us have been writing our whole lives. Others have only just began. The incredible diversity not only in writing styles but in individual backgrounds and personality has created a dynamic environment.
There is a set schedule of who is to read at each meeting and last night was supposed to be my turn, but I had nothing to bring to the table. The novel I’d been working on had hit a wall and every short story rolling around my desk was unfinished. After informing the moderator of the group about my predicament, she suggested I lead a discussion. Fine by me, but what about?
That’s when I noticed the #whyIwrite topic on Twitter. I’ve always been interested in why those of us who write choose to do so. What drives us to pour it all out? Surely we all have our own beginnings, but it seems that every true writer, at their core, has an undeniable force within that propels them to write.
With this in mind, I lead a conversation on why all of us in the group write. I started the group by quoting Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, one of my favorite and most beloved books on the subject of writing: “No one can advise or help you — no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
While Rilke’s position may be a bit extreme, I believe he exposes the core of why writers write. It is a need. It’s not a choice, but something we must do because our mind and heart command us to do so. Lord Byron said, “If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” I think most of us might do just that if we could not write.
The responses were as varied as the writers themselves. Most of us had always been story tellers. We lived in our minds among our imaginations. We constructed whole worlds during our childhood that continued on throughout our lives. And we all felt the need to tell our stories. To record them lest they be lost. One of the members commented, “I’ve had the urge to write since before I could actually write. I’d tell my sister what to write…and I’ve always had the urge to make a mark on the world even if it’s on a scrap piece of paper.”
After the discussion, we all felt a bit more connected. More open and personal. Not that we were not a closely knit group before hand, but now we had seen each others hearts beating with the passion of the written word.
Thanks for such a wonderful idea. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the #whyIwrite responses and hope that this discussion is explored even further. I also think it is essential for young children who feel the urge to write hear these responses. To discuss writing and reading. Too many today are left to stray away from such an amazing and beautiful world.
Cheers,
Dale Wilsey Jr.
----

Check out the Times' blog entry over at learning.blogs.nytimes.com.

If you're on Twitter, tweet why you write with #whyIwrite. Also, I'd love to hear why any of you write here on my blog. What drives you to write? How did you begin? How does it effect your life?

October off to a good start

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, October 09, 2011

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Central display at my gallery.
It was a beautiful night this past Friday in Scranton for October's First Friday events and, with the help of some incredible people at the Scranton Cultural Center, my debut gallery benefiting the Dietrich theater went off without a hitch. Between the bake sale held in conjunction, personal donations and the sale of two of my pieces, the event raised approximately $500. 

Throughout the night, I was approached by many in attendance who offered great feedback and, more interestingly, stories of Tunkhannock and life in general during and after the flood. 

The general buzz and interest in my photography work has given me the push I believe I needed to take it a bit more serious. For a long time, I neglected my camera in favor of the pen and other pursuits. Though I'm not sure why. Training my eye on different subjects allows me to inspect them more closely and, in turn, study my surroundings and life more intimately. Ultimately, it combines with my writing to give me clarity in certain aspects. 

The ladies from the Dietrich have also asked me to hang my work at the theater and, as soon as I get in touch with them, the details will be ironed out and announced here and on my Twitter account. 

Following the gallery there, I will more than likely begin to sell some of my work online. I've yet to figure out exactly how to go about that, but ideas for a full-fledged site and such have been rolling about my skull. Below are two of the prints I sold at this past weekend's gallery.

Alley at Night
Alongside the Dietrich, an alleyway is illuminated
in a way that makes the brick and mortar come to life.
 The bricks almost breathe with pulsing life in the 
constant glow of a single bulb.


Steam Engine at Riverside
In the morning, I wake to the hollow, 
echoing sound of an iron ghost bouncing
from ridge line to ridgeline. I can hear the
grinding of the wheels along the snaking
 tracks. Smoke billows from the stack 
and hangs lightly in the air tracing its path.

I may post images of work I have done here on my blog with ways to purchase prints for now until something more concrete comes along. However, if you are interested in seeing what I have to offer or in purchasing a print of those pictured here, feel free to email me. Contact information can be found on my contact page.

Thank you to all of the people who stopped by and especially my dear friends who came out to show their support. An extra thanks to those of you who donated and to those who purchased my work. To those of you who shared stories about the flood and life in Tunkhannock and also those who complimented me on my work, I thank you as well.



Countdown to exposure

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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This month has started out as crazy as the last and, for the most part, things have been gliding along smoothly (though somewhat overwhelmingly). Then, along comes that inevitable hurdle. As I crack open the seal to a bottle of Theraflu and fight back a cough, I look at the photos and frames strewn about my room. I'm determined to kick this cold before week's end.

Enough of the bad news, though. Some of you may have noticed by my constant Tweets and updates here on the blog that, at the end of this week on October 7th, the Scranton Cultural Center will be hosting a gallery of my photography to benefit the Dietrich theater in Tunkhannock, PA. The theater was recently damaged in the flood and is in need of over $100,000 worth of repairs.

The event and, by proxy, have been getting a bit of attention. In an earlier entry (here), I posted the interview that Electric City reporter Julie Imel conducted with me. There have been various mentions of the gallery in local papers and online, but, most recently, this blog was chosen as NEPA Blogs' "Blog of the Week". Consequently, I was also featured on the local program PA Live! during the NEPA Blogs segment where Harold Jenkins shared his thoughts on myself and my blog. He also managed to give the gallery a plug. See the footage here and the NEPA Blog entry here.

If you're a local to the northeastern region of PA, please try to stop by the Scranton Cultural Center from 5-9. All donations will be accepted and every piece of my work will be up for sale. Every penny made will go straight to the Dietrich theater.

War is Hell, but colds are just bollocks.
I'd like to thank everyone in advance for everything they've done. I will be posting after the gallery to let everyone know how it went and to give proper thanks to those who made it possible and who helped to bring attention to it.

Come this Friday, I hope to have beaten this illness which has filled my skull with fog and water and made my body ache more than usual. Off to the frontline. I come loaded with gallons of OJ and cough drops. Do white blood cells bleed if they're wounded in battle?

(Please excuse any grammatical errors. The germs are waging war against my cerebral cortex.)

Information on my benefit gallery this Friday

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Monday, October 03, 2011

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On October First Friday, there will be a gallery of my photography opening at the Scranton Cultural Center in Scranton, PA. This gallery will serve as a way to raise funds for the restoration of the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock, PA, my home town. All of my work will be for sale and, if purchased on the first night of its showing, every penny will be donated to the Dietrich Theater. Donations other than the purchase of my photography will also be accepted up until 10p.m. Here is the information about my upcoming gallery:


WHO: The Scranton Cultural Center featuring artist Dale Wilsey Jr.

WHAT: First Friday Exhibit: to benefit the Wyoming County Cultural Center at the Dietrich Theater


WHEN: October 7th, 2011 5-8 p.m.


WHERE: The Scranton Cultural Center

420 North Washington Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
4th Floor, Shopland Hall Lobby

TICKET PRICE: Free
FROM ONE CULTURAL CENTER TO ANOTHER: SUPPORTING ARTS IN NEPA: Scranton, PA -- Sept. 20th, 2011 -- The Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple will host a benefit exhibit to raise money to help restore and rebuild the Dietrich Theatre in Tunkhannock. The Dietrich Theatre (the Wyoming County Cultural Center) was recently devastated by record flooding. Estimated costs to restore and repair are close to $100,000.

The exhibit will take place Oct. 7th, in conjunction with Scranton's First Friday, as well as, the kickoff of the SCC Electric City Listen Local series. The free exhibit will begin at 5pm on the 4th floor Shopland Hall and run through 8pm. Money will be raised through individual donations, sale of artwork and a bake sale. Donations will be accepted until 10pm.

Photographs in the exhibit were taken by writer/photographer and Tunkhannock native, Dale Wilsey Jr.

All proceeds will go directly to the Dietrich Theatre.




All the leaves are brown

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, October 02, 2011

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"Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day."
~Elizabeth Bowen

It's been a long, stressful, busy and, most of all, wet month(s). On the surface, in Tunkhannock, everything seems back to normal since the flood. The roads are clean and clear of mud and people go about their normal business.

Look closer.

Brick's Market is "Closed until further notice". There's still a drooping barrier of caution tape strung across the parking lot of Gay's True Value. In small corners, I find caked mud. Stains of oil. Ghosts of the flood remain on stalks of corn and trees in pale shadows left by the water.


While driving around, I've felt I've been sailing. Waterfalls are still pouring down the side of Avery Mountain and the Susquehanna runs muddy and high along its banks. Route 92 was closed for a second time just last week.

The weather sways like an erratic pendulum taunting me with shining, beautiful days only to pull blankets of dark, miserable clouds across the sky dumping sheets of rain down over hills and across my face.

Leaves are beginning to change and fall, covering my lawn in speckles of reds and yellows. I find myself closing my window at night to keep the chill out and, in the morning, it's harder to leave the comfort of my blankets. Even the sun finds it hard to come out. I smell winter coming.

Jack, my niece's horse who stands quietly behind the weathered wood of the old barn, will grow thick with a winter coat. Snow will fall, clinging to the lashes around his dark eyes. His breath will billow out in gentle clouds around his snout.

Watch the trees grow naked. Feel the crisp retreat of another summer. Another year. Unpack the jackets and mittens and store away the memories created in the passing months. Pick pumpkins from the field and cut character into their face while you drown in cider. This is the winding down of time.

The deep slumber of the land is coming. The hollow winds of winter. Blank canvases of land lit by the moon and pinpoint stars.

Another year is just beyond the banks of snow to come. All is reborn when the last bits of ice melt away and hearts begin to beat faster.

"O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

An interview with the Electric City

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, September 23, 2011

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Writer and photographer Dale Wilsey Jr. loves Tunkhannock. It’s more than just his hometown, and more than the place his ancestors settled in so many years ago. To him, Tunkhannock is inspiration. His roots in this lovely Wyoming County region are evident in his work that he takes great care to perfect. Wilsey’s subject matter is as varied as his interests and perhaps even as varied as the jobs he’s held over the years. He’s done everything from working in a stone quarry to a bustling newsroom. Influenced by Hemingway, Bukowski, John Fante, Faulkner, Ginsberg and Rilke, Wilsey loves to write and has been published on several occasions, including in the Boston Literary Magazine. He participates in a writers’ group every Thursday at the Dietrich Theater, and has aspirations to write a novel. Most immediately, though, he is compiling his best photographs for a benefit show for the Dietrich Theater on Friday, Oct. 7, at the Scranton Cultural Center.  A place that is close to his heart, the Dietrich Theater, sustained damage from the recent flood. And while the theater is open thanks to the efforts of committed volunteers and staff members, funds are needed for more repairs.  Without hesitation, he is ready to help. Meet artist Dale Wilsey, Jr…

How did you become interested in photography?
I've been into photography for a long time. My father got me into it. I wasn't even a teenager yet when he started taking pictures and he got me interested in it, and probably around age 16, he gave me one of his old Nikons and I started shooting with that and experimenting. That was about the time I really started getting into the arts. I started meeting more people in the area, and I had more of a creative outlet. I started traveling, too, especially at 16 because I got my driver's license, and I went all over taking photos.

At that point, what was your subject matter?
Very early on it was all sorts of things. I never really had one focus. There was a stint where I just liked to go around and take pictures of architecture and then there were basic landscapes - things my father was into and anything from Tunkhannock.

Tunkhannock is so beautiful.
It really is, and I've grown to appreciate it so much more over the past five or six years. It's really grown on me and it's something I appreciate more and more as I grow older. When I was young, I wanted to get out. I was in Wilkes-Barre every weekend when I was in high school, going to punk shows and driving all over and wanting to just go - and now I find peace in Tunkhannock, and a lot of inspiration.

Funny how your perspective changes with time-
It definitely does. My entire father's side of the family has lived in Tunkhannock for eons.They came over here through New England, came down and plopped into a little village called Eatonville right outside of Tunkhannock. That's where my father grew up and I lived close to my grandmother's house when I was young and we sort of grew up there and we never really moved too far away from Tunkhannock. I'm used to Wyoming County and the valley and the river and the woods. I've been all over, and it's something that I really love.

It must have been difficult to see all the flood damage in your hometown. Did this inspire your work?
I did write a three-piece blog entry about my experience, not really too in depth about any particular portion of the flooding or anything, but I did mention that a bit. I'll probably do more with it as it sinks in. It usually takes me a while to process and get things out on the pages. I roll things around in my head for a while before I actually write about them. I usually have a couple ideas rolling around up there (laughs) but it comes out eventually.

Tell me about your show coming up at the Scranton Cultural Center. Can we expect to see a lot of scenes from Tunkhannock?
You'll see Tunkhannock shots, and you'll see modeling shots that I've done with people. I grew up a "gear head" around my father, so you'll see some shots of older cars, but it really goes all over - from architecture to humans to everything. I'm putting all my work up for sale and everything that I make is going straight to the Dietrich. I figured maybe a mixed bag would be better for this show because I can sell all sorts of photos to all sorts of people. I'm really hoping we can make some money for them. One of the first things Hildy (Morgan) told me was that the theater didn't have flood insurance. The biggest thing they lost is the heating and air conditioning in the old section of the building because it was downstairs. And that was one thing they were looking at renovating and updating, but it never came about. So I'm really happy to try to help out.

Do you remember when the Dietrich first opened?
Yes, I was there when we started cleaning it out. In high school, a class of mine walked down there and we started pulling out all the old stuff. And I remember back when it was closed and boarded up and we walked in and it was really cool to see. I could only imagine what it was like back in the day, back when it was first built. And I loved it, just looking at it and knowing it was going to be up and running again. I thought it was something really great to come to my town. That's when my town started really growing up a little bit from what it used to be and it was great. So I was there when they started it and I guess this is giving back a little, and I'm happy to do it. It's one of the best buildings in Tunkhannock and one of the best things to come to Tunkhannock.

-julie imel

Photographs by Dale Wilsey Jr. will be on display at the Scranton Cultural Center on the evening of Oct. 7, and all proceeds from sales at the show will benefit the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. For more information, visit www.scrantonculturalcenter.org.
The original article can be found here.

October First Friday benefit gallery for Dietrich Theater

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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The day after the waters had retreated, I visited the Dietrich in hopes of finding Hildy, owner of the theater and all-around sweet woman, and to see just how badly the building had been damaged. It was only the day before that muddy water surrounded and engulfed the beautiful building.

When I finally found Hildy, there was still that gleam of happiness and optimism in her eyes even though she was obviously exhausted and heart broken. An army of volunteers had already completed a massive amount of cleaning and the theater, although down, was nowhere near being out. Hildy even spoke of the upcoming (and still happening) film festival.

Somehow, I wanted to help. As I snapped a few photos of the inside of the oldest section of the theater, I told Hildy that if there were anything I could do to help, not to hesitate in calling. Only a day or so later, my opportunity would arise.

Stephanie Bush, friend and fellow Tunkhannock native, contacted me on behalf of the Scranton Cultural Center and asked if I would be interested in displaying a gallery of my photography to benefit the Dietrich. Of course I accepted the offer, though nervously, and felt that this was my chance to give something back to my hometown in a time of need.

On October 7th, during Scranton's First Friday celebrations, the Scranton Cultural Center will be hosting a gallery of my work throughout the years. It will be a mixed bag of photos ranging in content and focus. Admission will be free with a cash bar. Donations will be accepted and I have decided to put every piece shown at the gallery up for sale with all proceeds going directly to the Dietrich. I will not be collecting one single cent. This showing is for the Dietrich and all that it's given to Tunkhannock and the residents who live, work and create there.

Come out and support an incredible cause and enjoy a beautiful night out in the Electric City. Donate what you can. Every single dollar helps to bring the Dietrich back. Tell friends and family. Mention this to anyone you know. Please come out and help me make this a success.

Thank you in advance to everyone.

Cheers,
Dale Wilsey, Jr.


Look for an interview in the Electric City paper in coming weeks about the show and a little about my rambling mind.

'72 Déjà vu : September flooding in Tunkhannock Part 3

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, September 16, 2011

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Tioga Street, downtown Tunkhannock.
Through the years, my love for the town where I've grown up and lived most of my life has grown with me. The subtle nuances and quiet, easy life has become a treasure when I search for peace and calm. Its history and age reveal gems through weathered buildings oozing with character and stories, the sprawling forests where maple, birch and evergreen trees mingle whispering amongst winds that roll over the soft undulations of the Endless mountain ridge lines. Some of my best memories were constructed amongst brooks and creeks that carve paths across the face of the land.

But now, the Susquehanna was carving a memory through me that would last until my final days like it did in '72 to my father and his sisters. My grandmother. All of those who have called Tunkhannock home their entire lives.

Down among the brick buildings of town, I could hear the rushing roar of the river as I walked east along Tioga Street. The water had come up to the main light, wrapping around the corner from Bridge Street into Tioga. The scent of diesel fuel was heavy in the air and a slick, rainbow sheen colored the surface of the muddy water.As I stood in front of the Prince Hotel, I looked across the street.


The Dietrich Theater seemed as though it were anchored to the sidewalk floating in the current of the river. Standing in the doorway of The Second Wind, a man sipped a beer behind sandbags protecting the entrance to the bar. It was all too surreal.

I made my way around to a back alley where I could see the True Value hardware store. The first floor was completely submerged beneath the river and its weathered white paint and the uneven lines of the roof  seemed like the aged, wrinkled face of an old man. On any normal day, the beaten soles of work boots would be walking along the warped floorboards shaped by every flood the town had ever lived through. Now, the river filled the aisles and burdened the ancient store once more.


The sun was beginning to fall low in the sky and exhaustion was taking over my body. By now, it would be too late to travel back along the narrow mountain path that had brought us into town safely. It would be a night of half-sleep on my mother's uncomfortable couch just outside of town.

Newswatch 16 glowed on for a few hours while I sat up watching images of surrounding downs along the river engulfed and swallowed like my own. Residents and officials in Wilkes-Barre waited nervously as the waters rose higher and higher up the levee walls that had been built to avoid another tragedy like '72. They had not been put to the test like this since being built. No one was absolutely positive of their strength and resiliency.


A video of the house I had seen crash into the river bridge looped over and over between aerial shots of West Pittston beneath water. The Bloomsburg fairgrounds. The river was cresting. The level gauges had stopped working hours ago. And I was falling asleep. When I awoke, the waters would be slowly receding and we'd all begin the process of returning to normalcy. The river would return to its banks. Mud would be washed from the streets but the memories would always remain coursing through our minds.

Part 1
Part 2

'72 Déjà vu : September flooding in Tunkhannock Part 2

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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Rt. 6 East out of Tunkhannock.
From the mountain, we could see how quickly the water was rising. Once-visible trailers were now completely submerged beneath the muddy river that crept further and further into Tunkhannock. My father was watching the shop where he worked along Tioga Street and the waters that moved closer to the front door. It was only around one o'clock and the news stations kept saying the river wasn't going to crest until late night or even the next day. How much higher could it go? How much more of my town could it swallow?

As the crowd gathered around us, my brother and a few of his friends arrived. Chatter about the rising water evolved into questions of when everything would be back to normal. When could we work? When would we be able to make it off the mountain and back into town? My brother's friends had the answer to at least one of those questions for anyone willing to take a bit of an adventure.

There was a way to town, we found out. I had kept mentioning how much I wanted to get into town to document anything I could. Get a closer look at things. Be there to help in any way I could. All conventional ways to anywhere were blocked by flood waters for those of us living at the base of Avery. Four-wheel drive and a bit of off-roading provided another route, however. My brother's friends explained the way and then left to try and make their way further down the ridge line. I was determined to make it to the downtown area.

We began our descent along the rocky, washed out trail that wound down along the backside of the mountain. By now, the rushing torrents of water had slowed a bit and the rain had finally tapered off. My boots we covered in reddish, slick mud and my pants were soaked dark below the knee.

****

The local P&G credit union.
At the end of Lane Hill road, the only other way to Tunkhannock besides the flooded route 92, the water lay deep covering a stranded car in a parking lot behind the gas station. It lapped at the entrance to the local credit union like gentle lake waves as a man bent low to mark the height with a quick spray of white paint. Near by, a little girl splashed in the water with her rain boots as her mother scolded her.

After a bit, my brother and I decided to find our way to town through the trail his friends described. As we hopped into the truck, I threw my camera in its bag onto the bench seat and settled in. 

The path was narrow and the water rushing down through the mountain carved gullys intermittently along our journey. The full-size Chevy barely fit within the confines of the eroded trail as we slowly made our way along. Onward we went. Pushing through the brush, down through an open field and onto another dirt path which led to an open road. We emerged on the outskirts of town, the bridge before us invisible under the swift current of the Tunkhannock creek.

When flooded, turn around don't drown. The message couldn't be clearer.

We climbed back into the truck and headed along route 6, turning off the road and up through Lake Carey. We'd be able to find our way down through town and into the middle of everything that was unfolding before our eyes at the top of the mountain. What waited for us was something I never thought I'd witness in my lifetime. Especially not this early in my years. 

Batron's Supply and "The Skidder Shop" in Tunkhannock.
Read Part 1 here.

'72 Déjà vu : September flooding in Tunkhannock Part 1

Posted by Dale Wilsey Jr. | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2011

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Rt. 92 South of Tunkhannock. Sept. 8th, 2011.
Thursday morning, I woke up to the constant sound of rain against pavement. The same white noise I had fallen asleep to. On Wednesday, people were talking about flooding. Serious flooding. Irene had just slipped through causing damage all over NYC, New Jersey and portions of Eastern Pennsylvania. A few small towns around me had been severely flooded by their small streams.

With the ground saturated and the skies pouring oceans of water over northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York, we began to see the streams and creeks, something Pennsylvania has an abundance of, rise and spill into each other until finally feeding into the Susquehanna. The way things were shaping up in the storm system and the rapid rising of the waters, it was beginning to look serious. Hushed whispers of a tragedy not seen since 1972 filled the voices of many.

While my coffee brewed, I watched the news outline what was happening. Binghamton, NY had received ten inches of rain in approximately two days. A fact that was repeated over and over by meteorologists on the local news. Three months of rain in such a short time. Towns upstream from Tunkhannock like Meshoppen, Towanda and Wyalusing were already experiencing major flooding.

I called my boss to find out what was happening in town. He and other employees were moving equipment from the shop to higher ground. There was already a foot of water in the building. New comments began to saturate the news coverage: "Worse than Agnes." "Record crest for the Susquehanna." We were in for a disaster the likes of which I had only heard stories.

The Susquehanna swallows Tunkhannock.
When I finished my coffee, I decided I'd walk to town since all road travel was being discouraged. There were actually rumors of $500 fines for those caught driving. As I made my way down the road, I could hear the roaring of the Susquehanna over the hill. I had never heard it this loud in all of my years spent in Tunkhannock. There had been plenty of floods that I had lived through, but this was a new beast and the river roared.

The muddy water was already lapping the banks just over the edge of route 92 and, around the corner, as the road dipped down along the edge of the mountain, the river had already crawled up and over the pavement. There was no way I'd make it to town on foot.

My father and I decided that, since we were seemingly trapped between two flood plains, we'd hike Avery Mountain and look out over the valley from Hangman's, an area near the top of the mountain where hang-gliders launch. Hiking up, the waters spilled down across rocks and ledges, mixing into a slippery, muddy mess. Fog rolled through the trees thick and heavy and the humidity made our trip more difficult than it should have been.

As we reached the top, the picture below us was beyond anything I had ever seen. The river had swelled and spread across the valley, engulfing and swallowing everything within its path. Houses and buildings lay surrounded by its muddy waters and round-bales of hay, that once sat in fields undisturbed, began floating downstream.

Slowly, other people began to join us at the top of the mountain to watch as our town was inundated with the rising Susquehanna. While we all stood and watched, each of us remarking on the unfolding destruction, a woman spotted something floating down the river. It was large and moving fast. I heard someone ask, "Is that a house?"
A house floats down the Susquehanna.
Lifting my camera, I focused the lens and zoomed in, finding the object in the rushing water. There, floating along like a toy, two windows were visible. A sharp-angled, green roof. It was surreal, but it was happening right before my eyes. My father had told me stories about the flood of Agnes in 1972 when he and his friends stood on the old, metal bridge and watched as house after house floated down and splintered into nothing against the heavy steel girders.

People on the bridge watched as the house floated closer and closer to the river bridge, colliding into the side and splintering, almost exploding, into a floating pile of rubble. The sound was so intense that we could hear it at the top of the mountain. This was only the beginning.

Downtown Tunkhannock as the waters rose quickly.