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Paisley Epilepsy Apology

 We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine. – H. L. Mencken

 (bryan farley)

Last Friday, Brad Paisley performed at the same Sacramento area venue where I met him in August 2014. On Saturday, he performed at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. (Both tours support his recent Moonshine in the Trunk album.) I have photographed musicians at both places and I had hoped to see him again so that we could continue an important discussion. More accurately, I wanted another chance to share a complicated story about epilepsy, music and apologies.

 (bryan farley)

Last year, Brad Paisley invited me to his concert after I had written an open letter to him. People in the epilepsy community found some of his comments insensitive. (I have epilepsy and Brad Paisley CD’s.) I did not expect a response or an apology from Paisley, but he contacted me directly to apologize for his “poor choice of words.” When we met, he appeared genuinely sincere. I photographed part of the show and wrote about our meeting. Paisley impressed me and I wanted to share his gesture with a larger audience. I wanted the epilepsy community to feel heard. I wanted country music fans to know that their celebrities followed a code. I failed. Hopefully, I will be more successful this time.

 (bryan farley)

If this is the first time you are viewing my photos and reading my blog, you might be asking, “Who the hell does he think he is?” I often ask myself this question. Sometimes I think I am a leading epilepsy advocate; other times I wonder if I am blindly wandering into the forest. Alone.

 (bryan farley)

I mean, one day Brad Paisley contacts me while I am grocery shopping; the next day I am ignored when placing a simple headphone order. One minute people are giving me high fives; the next minute I have completely lost the ability to crush it. Who am I to think I can write and speak for millions? Who am I to write to Brad Paisley and suggest that Walt Disney had epilepsy? Why do I care if our voices are heard? Why do I care so much about music and imagery?

 (bryan farley)

I wish more people who had epilepsy understood country music. Country music shares a common language with epilepsy. (We fall; we get back up.) Country music is also multi-generational and layered so that different ages can relate to some of the content. During last year’s concert, Paisley let a small child sing. After the child sang, Paisley appeared to sing a little worse than usual so the boy would not seem off key. (Paisley began performing with talented local musicians when he was young and they let him shine.) Country music remembers its past while pushing forward. Just look at the other performers on Paisley’s tours. Listen to his lyrics. Some who don’t know country music confuse corny with backward. It’s a layer.

 (bryan farley)

This week I played Garth Brooks’ country music anthem “Friends in Low Places” for my nine year old son. “Well I guess I was wrong, I just don’t belong, but then, I’ve been there before…” I know the feeling of showing up in boots and thinking that I belong only to find out that I was wrong. When I listened to the song this week, I also realized that I know I survived each time … AND I will experience the process again. I will be wrong again, yet I will still show up and survive.

 (bryan farley)

Many people forget that we will survive being wrong. This is one reason that sincere apologies are rare. It’s not enough to “just show up.” Sometimes we must show up crazy with our hat on backward knowing that we are going to be wrong eventually. When we are wrong, we must do something about it. We must do more than act like a child who is ordered to “say you are sorry.” We can’t stop showing up. This is what I find special about Brad Paisley’s apology. It appears genuine… and if we were never taught how to apologize, we were probably not taught to accept an apology. So what do we do now?

 (bryan farley)

 

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Notes on a blog

 

Carnaval 2015 San Francisco

I attended the 37th annual San Francisco Carnaval Parade on Sunday May 24, 2015. This was the third consecutive year that I have attended as part of the Fogo Na Roupa contingent. I am allowed to walk the parade route with my camera, because my eleven year old daughter dances. I took some photos again this year.

 (bryan farley)

There were more than sixty groups participating this year. We arrived about two hours before the parade started so that we could park and find our spot.

 (bryan farley)

I probably enjoy the parade preparation more than the actual parade. Photographers and groups mingle with each other. The dancers rehearse and complete their costumes.

 (bryan farley)

Some participants finalize their floats.

 (bryan farley)

Once the parade began this year, I still enjoyed myself. It’s Carnaval.

 (bryan farley)

Even the dogs are friendly.

 (bryan farley)

People of many different ages and appearances participate at Carnaval. Carnaval provides a positive experience for many body types and abilities. You can dance to your own drummer or you can dance with a bunch of different drummers. All drummers are welcome.

 (bryan farley)

My family also attended the 2014 Carnival. (You can see more of those images here.)

The 35th Annual San Francisco Carnaval was held Sunday May 26, 2013 in San Francisco's Mission District. My children danced with the local Fogo na Roupa. (bryan farley)

The 35th Annual San Francisco Carnaval was held Sunday May 26, 2013 in San Francisco’s Mission District. My children danced with the local Fogo na Roupa. (bryan Farley)

The 2013 Carnaval was my first. I will never forget it. Both my children participated. Here is the 2013 Carnaval blog post. You can see the images too. I took a few decent pictures.

 

Train Concert Photos Revisited – and the Photo Not Revealed

The Bay Area band Train is touring California again for their new album Bulletproof Picasso. I photographed two shows during their previous Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour for the California 37 album. The Script and Gavin DeGraw played both shows. Ashley Monroe joined Train during their set in August of 2013.

Can’t believe how time flies by.

The Bay Area rock band Train headlined a concert  at the America's Cup Pavilion in San Francisco, California on Sunday August 11, 2013 during their Mermaids of Alcatraz tour. Train performed with The Script, Gavin DeGraw and Ashley Monroe. (Bryan Farley)

I wrote a really good review for me … I mean, I wrote the review so that I would enjoy reading it. I don’t know if anyone else would find the review useful, but I thought I was quite clever. I liked my pictures too. I photographed the bands and the audience, and while some of the pictures were decent, I never posted my single most amazing concert photo. Perhaps I will share it with the lead singer some day.

The Bay Area rock band Train headlined a concert  at the America's Cup Pavilion in San Francisco, California on Sunday August 11, 2013 during their Mermaids of Alcatraz tour. Train performed with The Script, Gavin DeGraw and Ashley Monroe. (Bryan Farley)

A couple years ago, I was developing a project about artists who donate time and money to charitable causes. Some famous people probably contribute because their publicity agents direct them to do so, but many stars contribute because they care. Train and their lead singer Pat Monahan fit into the second category. For many reasons, these contributions are not often photographed well. Perhaps it takes a unique talent for a photographer to deal with fame and tragedy.

The Bay Area rock band Train headlined a concert  at the America's Cup Pavilion in San Francisco, California on Sunday August 11, 2013 during their Mermaids of Alcatraz tour. Train performed with The Script, Gavin DeGraw and Ashley Monroe. (Bryan Farley)

On Train’s new album, the song (and video) “Give It All” promotes suicide prevention. Just as many other music fans, I have my own personal story with suicide so I appreciate the message. The video includes a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Train also supports other charities. Pat Monahan performed at the Acoustic-4-A-Cure concert to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Many artists also visit patients and families to raise spirits.

 (bryan farley)

In 2009 I passed an opportunity to photograph a life changing event. (I made the right decision.) Something similar happened during Train’s 2013 Sacramento area concert when an enthusiastic fan showed Pat her support. I had quickly turned to photograph the crowd and snapped a few photo. I don’t use flash. It was dark and yet somehow the photo is composed perfectly without any edits. (The RAW file is saved on my Photoshelter site.) I know Pat saw the woman too, because he paused while singing. Nobody needs to know who it was, because that is not really the story.

But it is a good story.