Friday, May 20, 2011

Appreciations #1: Jeremi Blowfish

So I started writing this in early February, before Alex died, before my grandfather died...of course. Brains might be psychic sometimes, I don't know. Anyhow, I thought this would be a good one to finish, and hopefully continue the plan in the future.

It may be because I can't sleep and my brain is being a crazy person right now and not leaving me alone to lay down and breathe and sleep. Or it may be because I've been thinking about doing this for a couple of months now. Either way, I think it's time to throw around a little recognition. So...a bit morbid, yes, but maybe we need to be writing eulogies (or do I need a different word?) for people we love and care about while they're still alive. Hear me out. I'm trying, really trying, to be vocally loving and thankful to people in my life for what they've done, how they've affected me (or others or anything or the world), the beautiful little things they bring to life. I wish we did this all the time. I wish it was a part of every day life. Maybe even some sort of rule. Maybe one to live by. We need to appreciate more out loud, recognize the amazing people in our lives, and tell them. And tell everybody. So, my new project is to tell you all about some of the remarkable people I've had in my life, to share some appreciation for those people, and to tell stories about them so even more people know.

But at first I wasn't quite sure where to start; it all felt a little random and overwhelming. So, since I haven't talked this person in a really long time (but, of course, have connected on facebook recently) and I really do appreciate him, AND I've been hearing a lot of Rammstein lately, I thought I'd start here. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Jeremi Blowfish!

When she was in high school, my sister had a job at a camera store in Glenview, IL, where we grew up. She worked with mostly creepy older men, but there was one person there close to her age. This was Jeremi. He looked like a cuter version of Silent Bob. He always wore all black, often band t-shirts, and he listened to a lot of industrial music. He worked in the lab at the camera store, developing pictures. He is the most talented photographer I've ever come across in my entire life (have a look around his website here). He started hanging out with Sara, and then with Sara and I, in our parents' basement, as that was pretty much all we were doing in the early-to-mid 90s.
Landscape photo by Jeremi Bialowas

One summer afternoon, Jeremi called into a radio station to request a song (perhaps some Rammstein, Jeremi?) and he told them his full name: Jeremi Bialowas. The DJ, naturally being sort of an ass, was all "Who? Jeremi Blowfish?! What's this?" And thusly, Jeremi Blowfish was born.

Jeremi came to the Spice Girls concert with my cousins, Layla and Lameis, and I. The four of us sat surrounded by a giant field of little girls and their mothers. I think it's safe to assume that Jeremi was one of the only men there, and definitely the only one who hadn't been dragged there by a 7-year-old - yep, he went voluntarily. Behind us was a group of four girls and three moms. Each mom had a girl up on her shoulders in order to see better. One girl was standing on the ground, up on her tiptoes, straining to see. Jeremi, in his heavy accent, said to the mother, "Would you like me to peek up your leetle girl so that she can see thee Spice Girls?" The mom gave Jeremi, the tall, bearded, long-haired man dressed all in black (let's say he was wearing a KMFDM shirt), the once over before deciding, "Sure, why not?" Jeremi held the little girl on his shoulders for the rest of the show. He bobbed up and down and back and forth, holding on to her legs for her safety, while she raised her hands in the air and cheered for the band. Later he said that he didn't mind it at all because it gave him something to do with his hands. He didn't want to stand around with his arms crossed like at all those other shows, you see?

My father's office is full of Jeremi's photographs. I think they're from the Grand Canyon. The pictures are giant and framed and have been hanging on the walls of the office since probably 1996. They set a peaceful scene in the office of the urologist. They provide a calm that might not be present otherwise. Time in the urologist's office can be anxious. I love that those pictures are still there.

When Jeremi was working on a project for one of his photography classes at school, he had an assignment to use a special kind of camera. Please forgive me, Jeremi; I have no idea what it was or what it did. But he asked me to pose at the piano. For several Saturdays in a row, we'd hang out around the piano for about 4-5 hours each time, me sitting, sometimes playing, and Jeremi turning knobs and flipping switches and changing little silver things I had no idea about. He'd say "just play and I'll take pictures when I need to," and I was probably very difficult, being the extremely self-conscious teenager I was at the time, but Jeremi managed to get his shots. When we were done, we'd get these microwave cheeseburgers out of the freezer and eat in front of the television in the family room. We literally spent hours and hours together, and I never got sick of him. He gave my parents one of the prints of me at the piano and they still have it in their house, hanging on the wall right outside their bedroom.

For my high school graduation, Jeremi gave me a picture he took in a cemetery in a north suburb of Chicago. It is a close up picture of the face of a statue, gray and speckled, with a pink flower next to it. He said that when he returned to this place just a couple of days after this picture was taken, the statue had been demolished and it looked like it had never been there. Sort of magical, if you ask me. Well, that's Jeremi Blowfish for you. Sort of magical. Also? He gave me a limited edition Barbie (Prom or Princess or something) for that graduation. Yep. Magical.

And so, let us recognize, and let us appreciate Jeremi Blowfish. I'm extremely appreciative for his strong musical influence in my life, as well as his artistic influence which majorly helped feed my love for photography, and the fact that he'd totally take me to Denny's any time. Do you even know how cool I felt, Jeremi, driving late at night, windows open, hanging out with the cool older kids? Do you even know?? Damn. Jeremi now works in the Chicagoland area as a photographer and teacher, so maybe you should call him up for your next photography-related need, eh? He'll do great photography and make you feel cool. What a combination!

Thanks for reading, readers! Let's continue to appreciate often and loudly. If anybody else wants to jump in on this, I'd love a guest writer or two! Let me know. xo


SophisticatedBrew said...

I love this. I'm so glad you are writing and taking time to appreciate the people in your life. Also I'm so glad you wrote about the photo of the statue with the flower...I've seen it so many times, but never thought to ask about it (or I've forgotten). Love you.

Lameis said...

The second I saw you were writing about Jeremy, I was like "I hope she mentions the Spice Girls concert" Well you shirley don't disappoint. Still will be a great memory of mine. :)

Anonymous said...

This just made me so happy! It sounds just like Jeremi. I am so lucky and grateful to have him in my life everyday! Thanks for sharing. Ania Bialowas

Reem Tara said...

Ania, I'm thrilled you read this! You're a lucky woman. =)

AnaBanana said...

Jeremi Bialowas is probably the nicest and genuine person I've ever met. He was my professor, my boss, and now my friend. An amazingly talented man and he should be photographing for high end fashion magazines.

AnaBanana said...

Jeremi Bialowas is probably the nicest and genuine person I've ever met. He was my professor, my boss, and now my friend. An amazingly talented man and he should be photographing for high end fashion magazines.