words: where my domain name comes from

jason isbell & the 400 unit @ the national

Occasionally when I give someone my card, they ask me where my domain name — my Twitter user name — comes from. It is, at this point, a clever play on the fact that I work hard to make sure that my concert photographs don’t look like everyone else’s concert photographs, but it was, originally, a Jason Isbell lyric. In 2008, when I needed to separate a professional web presence from a previously established personal one, I was deep in the throes of a Jason Isbell / Drive-By Truckers obsession; I considered using selfdestructivezones (one of my favorite Mike Cooley songs, from Brighter Than Creation’s Dark), but it was too long for Twitter. So I went with part of Jason’s “Brand New Kind Of Actress”, from his first solo record, Sirens of the Ditch:

there’s a body there, somebody you once knew
he took a liking to your conversation cues
the way you cut your hair, the time you did it yourself
your lack of hired help, the way you fit right in
the way you fit right in

’cause you’re a brand-new kind of actress
you’re a brand-new kind of actress
you’re the same old stubborn waitress, baby
you’re a brand-new kind of actress

I’ve always loved the line the way you cut your hair, the time you did it yourself. I have been known to cut my own hair when it bugs me. I often prefer to do things myself, because, generally, people exhaust me. (No offense, People Of The World! You’re all lovely, I’m just introverted.) Jason was one of the first acts I photographed after I got serious about photography, first on film in 2008 and then two shows in 2009 which were the first I shot with my then brand new manual 50mm lens, shows that changed my life in a couple of ways (both photographically, in that they were some of the first shows where the images I made matched the images in my head that I wanted to make, and personally, in ways that are still in my heart but nobody’s business but mine). And something about the phrase a brand new kind of actress just still makes my heart ache, without reason. It spoke to me then, and while I’ve grown away from Isbell’s music, and the Truckers, that song still speaks to me.

I’m a brand new kind of actress, baby. I still cut my own hair.

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