Entering Another World

Sometimes don’t you just want to leave this world behind and go some place else for a bit (or forever)?

I was invited to go for a private walk of the shark reef aquarium at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I went in with average expectations and came away very impressed! There are many cool areas, including a dreamy jellyfish tank and another nearby section where you are in a sunken ship. I’ll post that one as soon as I get around to processing it… my brain has been overloaded as of late…

Entering Another World (by Stuck in Customs)

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I was able to hack the D3X into a flux capacitor to time travel to 1958

This is my favorite bakery in the world – Clear River Pecan Company.  I’ve been there about four times… it’s about two hours away from Austin in historic Fredricksburg, Texas.

The brownies here are somewhere between a solid and a liquid… sort of a sweet plasma of brownie!

I do consider myself a connoisseur of chocolate with a specialty within the magistarium of brownies.  So believe me when I say they are a 10/10.  The only other 10/10 I can find in Austin is something called “Miles of Chocolate”, which also barely surfs within the existence of this mortal coil.

I was able to hack the D3X into a flux capacitor to time travel to 1958

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Where to Party in Vegas

I just recently got back from Las Vegas and betwixt a panoply of activities that kept my mental faculties on edge, I did manage to go out and get some photos, of course. At least I am assured that these always turn out winners!

I stayed in THE Hotel. I think you are supposed to capitalize that THE. In fact, maybe it is even one word like THEhotel. Before going, I thought it was just "the" hotel at Mandalay but now I know it’s much different…. It was a great place and probably the best of 7 or 8 hotels I have stayed there. Although 2 or 3 of those should barely be on the list…

This is a shot of the restaurant area of Club Mix, which sits on the top floor of THE Hotel. I was able to see so many cool places there — I hardly knew which to process first! …more coming in the next weeks and months!

Where to Party in Vegas (by Stuck in Customs)

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Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place

I sensed a profound sadness in him. He was totally alone, seemingly waiting there for someone or something. I’ll never forget it.

His name was Marzouq. He was nice and solemn. As we talked I certainly felt an emptiness there with him. I’m not sure what it was, but it was like there was something wholly unrealized in his life. While we talked, he looked at me strangely at times, a look of not knowing what to think of me and accepting me at the same time. It was comforting, and he was nice to talk to. He created the distinct impression that he was thinking about my questions before answering.

We were there, totally alone, in an unexpected rear corner of a Moghul monument. I always like to go around the backside and try to see the things that are not obvious.

After sitting to rest and talking a bit, he motioned behind him with a quick glance and raised eyebrows, and said cheerfully, “Want to see the bats?”

I said, “Are you kidding? Let’s go.”

Marzouq ducked down about ten feet from a smallish door with hard black shadows shooting inside. He began a near crab walk even while approaching the tiny door. I ducked my head too, which felt strange in the open air. Maybe he was afraid of bats streaming out, which I suddenly realized, causing me to duck down a little more than him.

He made little grunting sounds and kept waving his hand to the side for me to follow. After entering the door, a short walk, and a few turns, we ended up in what felt like a chamber. It could have been darker in there, but I don’t know how. He grunted in a way like “watch this” and he flipped on a flashlight, shining it up into the half-domed room. There were hundreds of bats hanging there, totally silent. It was eerie as heck. I set up my camera but it was way too dark even with a slow shutter speed… and I didn’t feel like light-painting with the flashlight because I thought it might look stupid and not really capture the mood anyway. We sat in there for a while handing the flashlight back and forth and making little grunt sounds. It was very strange, but entirely delightful.

Alone and Dejected in a Strange Place (by Stuck in Customs)

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Alone in the Bhagavad

I feel like I end up walking alone through the epic book of the Bhagavad Gita. These mythical places are made manifest in unexpected ways as I look around. It feels somewhat empty inside, like it needs to be shared with someone. The only devastated remnants I have are these little pictures, which seem a poor substitute.

Alone in the Bhagavad

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The Magic of Shanghai

It was well after sundown when I finished some meetings, so I went down to the Bund to take some shots across the river of Shanghai. Even in the middle of the night, the river was full of boats coming and going, all lit up with various festive colors. Everything had an electric feel and I very much enjoyed walking up and down the river as the lights changed and new boats came and went…

The Magic of Shanghai (by Stuck in Customs)

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The State Capitol of Texas at Dusk

I went down on Saturday evening to do some shooting around Austin and caught the capitol around sunset. There are all kinds of interesting things about the Texas capitol, like this cool underground Illuminati chamber you can see here, but the one thing that all Texans seem to know is that our capitol is 14 feet taller than the one in D.C. This is a source of pride for Texans, along with the cool and trivial fact that we maintain, in our state constitution, the right to secede from the Union.

The capitol is made out of this pink granite, and it gets a little pinker at night at soon as they turn on the lights, especially against the blue sky.

The State Capitol of Texas at Dusk

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The Light Sculptures in The Breakers

These light sculptures are incredible to capture. I normally don’t like taking photos of “art”, and I rarely carry my camera around museums any more… I just feel strange taking a photo of something that is already a piece of art. I was explaining this to my mom a few weeks ago, and then she mentioned these shots from Palm Beach, which was a good example of where I go against my own rules. I think the asterisk here is that some pieces of art can be (and should be) captured to help the viewer evoke the same response that I did while I was there. I suppose you can say anything is art… lights, sculpture, architecture, and the like… And I shoot all of those things. Okay this is going too deep down a thread now, so I’ll just close it off by saying I don’t like taking photos of paintings on walls, but this kinda stuff seems fun and cool to me.

This first photo is a new one of this crazy-bizarre wall light. I don’t know what your Rorschach reaction to it might be… The other two photos are from the same restaurant there in The Breakers in Palm Beach. I didn’t eat in this restaurant… the first night I tried this other Italian restaurant that is part of the hotel called Mangia that had these bright yellow heirloom tomatoes with their caprese salad… they were the best tomatoes I had ever eaten… I had to go back the next night again since I couldn’t stand not tasting them again!

Edit: I found out these incredible sculptures are from an Israeli artist named Ayala Serfaty.

The Rorschach Light (by Stuck in Customs)

The Glowing Alien infantsacs (by Stuck in Customs)

Shrooms in the Lounge (by Stuck in Customs)

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Young Buddhists about to endure the rites

Away from the main temples of Angkor, this temple rests about two hours from Siem Reap through thick jungles and a sketchy road. As I made my way through the stone halls and entrance ways, I emerged onto this scene of a bunch of young Buddhists preparing for the next phase of their rites.

I think I ended up talking to almost a dozen different monks in and around Angkor. It was very interesting to hear their version of what happened with the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, and that whole mess. They killed over 1 million Cambodians after the US pulled out of Vietnam, eliminating anyone with “involvement in free-market activities”. I was a little afraid to tell anyone there that I sometimes speak at Libertarian conferences, in case there were a few rogue Khmer Rouge agents roaming the jungles!

Some of the stories are a bit sketchy to be reprinted in this format, so if we ever meet for coffee some day, I’ll be glad to tell you… but there is some messed up stuff around there.

On a lighter note, I’m headed to Vegas next week for just a day and a half. I have a little speaking engagement, but I’ll be spending every spare waking moment living with my right brain and seeing what bits are appropriate to capture for you all! :)

Young Buddhists about to endure the rites (by Stuck in Customs)

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Reaping the Storm

See that tiny storm on the left? See those tipis there on the right? That’s where I slept all night through the storm!

So, a word of warning… you may not want to travel with me. I come up with good ideas like sleeping in a tipi in the middle of the stormy season in Montana like this. There are a lot more good ideas where that one came from. At least I can promise it will always be an adventure… and you won’t get much sleep!

By the way, this is not a traditional HDR photo… I used LucisArt 6.0… working on a new tutorial for it!

Reaping the Storm (by Stuck in Customs)

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