Monday, July 15, 2013

No. 325 – Shout

Performer: Tears For Fears
Songwriters: Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley
Original Release: Songs from the Big Chair*
Year: 1985
Definitive Version: None

* It was released originally as a single in the U.K. in 1984.

The soundtrack for the following story really ought to be Head Over Heals by Tears For Fears, but that song didn’t make this here list. This one did, so I’m telling it now.

When it became apparent at Wabash that I wanted to pursue journalism after graduation, my academic adviser, Dr. Herzog, and I ginned up a minor with that in mind. I can’t remember what we called it—I want to say pre-journalism—but it involved Economics classes, History, Political Science, Speech and Art.

One of my Art classes was Music. I don’t know if I’ll discuss that later, but that was an important class in my music canon, considering that it introduced me both to John Coltrane and some guy by the name of Mozart. The other art class was Photography.

I struggled with Photography my senior year. It was one of the few classes that I got a B-, which was my worst grade at Wabash. I was surprised I did that well, actually. My problem was I was thinking—and shooting—like a journalist and not an artist. I wasn’t thinking conceptually. Also, my dark-room technique was mediocre. My pictures always seemed to be grainy to a certain extent, and nothing messes up your artistic vision like a big batch of mud.

It wasn’t from a lack of effort. The dark room under Yandes Hall (now renamed the Detchon Center), where photography students developed their photos, was big enough for two people, so it was in constant use. The exceptions were weekend nights, so I scheduled my dark-room time for those hours, when I could be left alone to work as long as I needed.

The first time I used the dark room to develop film and not just experiment with photo paper ended up being an all-nighter. In fact, it was the latest all-nighter I pulled in that I didn’t make it home till 7 in the morning.

It was a September weekend in 1985, and the Wabash football team played Albion at Albion, Mich., which is about a four-hour drive from Crawfordsville. Of course, I called the game for WNDY, which resulted in a disappointing 28-26 loss (one that ended up costing Wabash the playoffs that year, a spot that went to Albion as it turned out).

I made the long drive home as the day dwindled into night, but my day really just was getting started, because after I dropped off the radio equipment, changed and grabbed some dinner, it was off to the dark room under Yandes. Saturday night was perfect, because who else would be in a classroom at Wabash on a Saturday night? No one.

Actually one guy from my class WAS there, but he was just wrapping up when I arrived about 9. He had a party to attend, after all.

I took a tape, which had Head Over Heels on it, that I could play as loud as I wanted, and that became an important thing as the hours piled up. I didn’t anticipate how long the entire process would take.

The key to producing decent photos is to develop your negatives properly. If you under- or overdevelop the film, you’re pretty much screwed. You can do only so much to the print to improve upon a crappy negative.

And, man, I tried everything I could think of that night, because my negatives on that assignment were washed out—underdeveloped. I must have made three dozen prints, all in painstakingly deliberate fashion, before I thought I had a half-dozen that were decent enough that I could turn in for the assignment.

The time rolled on, but, perhaps it was because of being in a room that had only the dim-orange light typical of dark rooms, my body didn’t seem to notice. The only indication of the time was a clock on the wall. I remember looking over at one point, and it was 4. I felt fine, so I kept going.

I didn’t wind up my work until it was around 7. When I left, it was light outside, and I hiked through the arboretum to my apartment on Wabash Avenue feeling, well, not great, because my work seemed substandard, but not terrible from having been up all night after a very long day.

I had other late nights that semester in the dark room but no more all-nighters.
I don’t remember the grade I got on that assignment, but it couldn’t have been that great given my overall grade. (I got an A- late in the semester, which saved my grade from falling into the dreaded C category.)

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