Setting up this photo layout took over thirteen hours of extremely non-Zen attitudes. Our lighting director Clyde, who is continuously fingering Buddhist prayer beads looked at me in an almost hopeless glare and asked, “Why did we accept this assignment”? For the money I replied. Oh yea he responded while increasing the speed of his digital meditations. We had found our location, got our permits, enlisted one of the very best Zen sand garden landscape architects and, interviewed and test photographed over fifty different breeds of cats for this layout. Finally we selected three species to take on site for the shoot. When everything was in place and the cameras ready the problems started. Initially the Persian who was our first choice, flatly refused to sit out on the stark cement floor without a cushion and, her aroma therapists, which of course we felt detracted from the whole nuisance and essence of the feeling of what we were going after. After three hours of negotiation, pleading, and consistent dialog with the cats agent we all finally decided to move on to another candidate while we still had some light left. Incidentally I looked over at Clyde and noticed that he had started smoking non-labeled cigarettes in between mediation-beads and was now sweating profusely. Then the Abyssinian (who was our original understudy) took the set, got makeup and a stylist blow an combing and everything seamed, as well as can be expected of someone with such an aloof attitude, (about as good as it was going to get) anyway. Just as the camera was about to shutter the Abby held up a paw to wait. Finally there was an argument over touching the cat-litter. Our idea was to portray the image as if the cat had created the Zen sand pattern with her claws. However we were curtly informed that under absolutely no circumstances was this Tabby putting her paws anywhere near this sand box no matter how sanitary it’s contents were alleged to be. In desperation (Clyde now had a spasmodic tick going under his right eye) we enlisted the sand rake from the Zen landscape Monk in hopes of at least getting something going in this “Tempus Fugit” but, by the time the tool arrived, our Abyssinian model had walked off the set, obviously having grown bored by the whole affair and, Clyde by this time had started a series of incoherent metaphysical “Lamaze” breathing exorcises, while still sucking smoke, twitching and still fingering his beads like crazy. Catatonic and, catnipped to the max we found our third model, Ralph-Mar-Lay (our producers relative and, a clear case of negligent payroll nepotism) catnapping in the staff trailer surrounded by thirteen empty cans of gourmet tuna imports and a couple of half empty quarts of pure cream. Literally dragging him to the set (it was roughly six in the evening and almost all the light was gone) we propped him up and a heartbeat before the “click” his paw shot out and he grabbed the rake (which we found out later he was going to throw at the camera man) and in that very moment the frame snapped and we got our picture. Later when we asked Ralph-Mar-Lay what he thought about the Zen sand motif he replied, “ Hey man, I thought this whole thing was about crop circles man”. Afterward as we packed everything up to leave we found Clyde unconscious on the floor of his beater Toyota. Apparently he had tried to asphyxiate himself by tying his beads to the rear view mirror and, around his neck. Alas however, when he jumped, so to speak, the mirror snapped off knocking him squarely on the bean and cracking his windshield into a million shattered fragments. Ohmmmm!
Paradox – Koan, What is the sound of a Zen toilet? (Hint, it has no whole)