Friday, July 10, 2015

Brown Bikini Diaries - "Welcome to Paradise"

 (All pics. snapped on 7/07/15 - using a Sony Cybershot and edited on iPhoto)

 Today marks the one year anniversary of when I came to Anguilla last summer with a plan: to stay on island (for just over a month), in order to try and determine if it might be possible for me to live here long term. After crashing at The Anguilla Great House for the first six days of what turned out to be a phenomenal extended vacation, I moved into and began renting a small, frame house in my most favorite village on the island - North Hill…and for as much as I always enjoyed visiting Anguilla as a tourist, back when I was still married and my kids were wee little - I can't even express to you how much more I loved living life here as a "local".

 Ever since first visiting Anguilla back in 1999 (I think?), I have maintained that the island is bar none - the best place on the planet. But after being afforded the privilege of immersing myself in the culture of the island, while simultaneously forming some of the truest friendships that I've known in my life - I very quickly realized that Anguilla is the place where I genuinely am supposed to be…the place on this earth where I am the happiest, where I'm stimulated artistically by my environment, where I feel sincerely embraced by her warm, friendly people...a place where (for the first time ever) I feel that I actually do belong.  

 My decision to try and make a permanent move to Anguilla, was based not only on the fact that I adore the island and her people (and because I made a pact with myself to never put myself through another miserably cold winter ever again), but also because I am not exactly what one might consider to be a patriotic citizen of The United States. The reasons for my deep-seated dislike of virtually everything "American" - are too abundant to waste time itemizing on here. Suffice it to say, I do not like The U.S. (with a passion). Besides being completely offended by the commercialism, negativity, excessive gluttony, greed, ignorance, complacency, uppityness (shall I go on?), I also never felt entirely comfortable in any of the many different environments in which I tried (in vain) to find some semblance of contentment during the 45 years that I lived in Virginia (specifically)…I've spent the better majority of my life feeling like a social reject - a fish out of water, so to speak.

So here it is. One year after I got it in my head that I was gonna havta try and make a go of island life here on my favorite rock, and I can honestly say that it is absolutely one of the very best decisions that I've ever made. I was fortunate enough to have been able to buy the little wooden house in North Hill, and even though it is the smallest house that I've ever lived in (600 sq. ft.), it is absolutely my all-time favorite, you have no idea (I did the inside over, and it's super cute now, plus I just love being up here in North Hill!) And on top of that, I am stimulated daily, by the endless supreme beauty of this place - be it in the turquoise water that surrounds the island, or simply the island itself. As an artist who makes the majority of my work using a camera, I am never without plentiful and interesting photo opportunities. Praise be. 

I literally have only two total gripes in regards to living here on Anguilla…two - that's it! And neither of them grate on me the way that shit used to annoy the feck outta me so badly, back when I was living in The States. The first thing is a fairly recent problem, but I must say - in the last few weeks? It has definitely gotten much worse. The government water is shut off, for the better part of each week now. Meaning: on most days - I cannot do laundry, scrub the floor, fill my kettle, wash dishes, take a shower, flush the toilet - ya' check? But whatever. I can manage. The second thing though, is a somewhat bigger problem…and although I now fully understand why it is the way that it is - it still makes it terribly difficult to get by. As a person who is not a native of Anguilla, I am not able to get a work permit that will allow me to have a normal job here. That is, I am never going to be hired by a restaurant, or hotel, or even a fishing boat - because all of the jobs that those types of businesses provide, need to be made available to folks who are from Anguilla. And after coming to grips with that whole premise, I realized that it does make perfect sense, and also that I would never want to take a job away from an Anguillian, I simply couldn't do that in good conscience. 

So. I've had to try and be creative while trying to figure out how on earth I'm going to generate some income in order to continue living on this island that I love so much - and naturally it occurred to me that my photography might possibly be the best logical means to that end. 

When I moved all of my belongings down here, I packed a brand spanking new Epson Stylus Pro 7900 printer into the container along with everything else, knowing that I would want to be able to make fine art, archival prints of my work no matter what else was going on in my world. So I am able to make, and have made some seriously gorgeous prints of my images. Here's the thing though. For years I've shared a whole lot of my pictures on the internet, and so people have grown accustomed to being able to enjoy them for free. And maybe they poach 'em, maybe they even print them out, who knows. I've always ascertained though, that unless the print is signed by the artist - then it has no real value, other than aesthetic. Lately I've seen several of my pictures turn up on other people's IG and FB feeds, without any photo creds to me at all - and that's fine. I'm just glad that people like 'em enough to want to share them with their friends. But after an acquaintance of mine who lives on Anguilla part-time, messaged me to ask for the original image file of a picture that I'd taken of him kite surfing (one of many that I shared with him on FB), because he wanted to make an oversized print of it to hang in his house, plus his mother wanted to have it printed on a blanket via Shutterfly - I was like…"Tha fuck?!" Even after explaining to him that I don't typically "give my images away", as selling my photos it is the only livelihood that I have at the moment - he essentially poo-pooed the very idea that he should pay me to make him a print of the image in question, saying something to the snarky effect of, "Oh, so that's how you make the big bucks then, huh?" (And since I've heard nothing from him following our conversation, I have only to believe that he went ahead and stole the image anyway, printed it himself, and made the blanket for his mom. Nice. Feels eerily similar to the shit that musicians have to deal with in regards to theft of their songs) 

The guy's sarcastic dismissal of the very idea that I might make my living as an artist, not to mention the lack of respect for the value that I personally place on my work, along with the tremendous amount of effort that goes into producing it, left me thinking that I've been something of a chump for all of these years that I've been (virtually) giving my images away. Why should, or why would anyone bother to pay me, the artist - for a print of one of my photos, when chances are - they can simply pluck it off of whatever site it is that they found it on, and do whatever the hell they want with it after that, right? Right.

This is by far the longest blog entry that I've written in a long while, and so I guess I should probably get to the long and the short of what it is that I'm trying to say already…which is this: I am so utterly grateful to be living here on Anguilla now - even without pipe water, and a job. I am also still very much in love with taking pictures, every day actually…and I have no real desire to stop sharing them with the rest of the world, simply because I have begun to suspect that my photos are most likely being stolen off of the net. I do hope however, that anyone who has an ounce of respect for artists who take pride in what they do, put forth an enormous amount of effort to create (but sadly - may still be struggling financially), and whose work they do happen to appreciate - might consider doing the right thing by supporting such artists…by buying their work, and turning other people on to it so that they might in turn choose to help the artist, as well.

I have prints listed for sale on, or if you'd like to contact me directly about a particular image that you might be interested in having me print, sign, date, and number for you (all of my self-portraits are 1 of 1, and my non-self-portrait pics. are 1 of 5), please don't hesitate to email me at:

Just think...both of the only two complaints that I have about living on Anguilla, could easily be solved if enough people decide to buy prints from me…I'd essentially have figured out a way to be gainfully employed, plus if I make enough money - I might eventually be able to buy a water collection tank so I that I can ultimately wean myself off of the Water Corporation tit - woot!

1 comment:

  1. I like the red color splashes in the second one. And the bottles floating in the water are a nice touch (really). But I hope you got a good deal on your room there, for all the free advertising you're giving them here :-).