Annie, the beautiful Golden Retriever shown above, doesn’t like peanut butter. Or, more likely, she didn’t like me. I could clearly see she would have much rather been anywhere else then sitting on top a small table with big lights pointing at her. Peanut butter is an indispensable tool used to create an enticing target on an accommodating pet owner’s face. Usually their dog will happily lick away while I madly snap photograph after photograph. I presented Annie with a small cup of the delectable stuff, expecting her immediate approval. Surprisingly, she disdainfully sniffed it, turned her head away and refused to look at me. (Dogs usually do that when they are mad or irritated.) Momentarily stumped, David and I decided that cheese might be a better choice. Luckily, the shoot was at the Wilde Roast Cafe and the kitchen staff was very accommodating. But Annie was ho-hum about this tasty snack too, unless she had it safely between her teeth. As you can see in David luvs Annie (who also luvs cheese), Annie deigned to look my way as long as David held a piece of cheese in front of my lens. In this shot, our team timing was off and I accidentally captured the cheese in the shot as well. Bingo! A happy accident. I now had another humor image to add to The Smooch! Project Archive.
But there is another story here, a much darker tale. David had mentioned something while we worked together that made me think a little internet research was due. Turns out this beautiful dog is the much-publicized Orphan Annie, found in December 2008 lying on a snowbank along a Western Minnesota road. She had been callously shot twice and left for dead. With the help of the members of the non-profit RAGOM (Retrieve A Golden Of Minnesota) and lots of surgeries at the U of MN Veterinary Hospital, Annie now thrives in David’s care. She has undoubtedly seen far too much of the inside of a veterinary hospital in her short life. Many dogs (including Annie, I believe) feel they are at the vet’s during a Smooch! shoot. Most dogs lose their anxieties when food is presented. Not Annie. She was clearly not going to be her happy self until she was off that little table and on her way out the door. I told David that Annie was a lucky dog to have ended up with him. He paused, looked quietly at her and said, “I’m the lucky one.” I feel lucky too, to have a photo of Annie and David in The Smooch! Project Archive. What a beautiful representation of the well-known adage, ‘Love Heals.’ Thank you, David, for sharing Orphan Annie with The Smooch! Project.
Far too much to state here. It’s almost Thanksgiving. Time for everyone to wind down for a bit. Look for lots of details in my next post. Good holidays, everyone!
November 2009 may be recalled in the history of The Smooch! Project as the month of endings as well as new beginnings. For example, the Smooch! Ellen gallery has now been removed from public view on the project website (No worries! There are several ideas being reviewed as to their future display.) My Flat Ellen cutout is officially retired. The silly thing sits on my desk, propped up against the wall behind my laptop, peeking over the top of it as I type these words. The photo I chose to include in this post is significant in relationship to Smooch! Ellen. Terry luvs Eric, from the Smooch! Archive category Together: Old Marrieds (21+ years) was collected during the last shoot that included Flat Ellen. It was near the end of the shoot. Like most people who decide to participate in The Smooch! Project, Terry and Eric stumbled over the shoot as they were exploring the Midtown Global Market, where we were located. Obviously, I succeeded in talking them into participating in the project. Terry also decided to smooch my silly Ellen cutout. As we discussed the Smooch! Ellen effort, Terry made an interesting comment. “You mean I might be the last person to smooch Ellen?” she asked, laughing. Since no one else did so after Terry and Eric left, this turned out to be true.
I am now working behind the scenes to interest the Ellen team in supporting The Smooch! Project in some way. Some significant progress has been made but it is important for me to continually remind myself that nothing is ever certain. Even though I and several of my close comrades have great optimism about this effort, there is nothing confirmed to report here. Be certain: Once we have a final answer, it will be posted here and elsewhere. Stay tuned!
As another example of endings and beginnings, the last Minnesota Smooch! shoot is coming up on Saturday, Nov 21. Check the calendar at the right for the details. As I’ve stated several times over the last few months, the entire archive is filled with the beautiful faces of my friends, neighbors, and fellow Twin Citians. We are blessed with an overabundance of Minnesotans in the archive! The time has come to focus our entire attention on getting the project ‘out of town’ to collect beautiful images elsewhere. (More to come on this in later posts.) If you have a hankering to be included in The Smooch! Project and have not done so already, next Saturday will be your final opportunity. I hope to see you and your loved ones there!
The wild toboggan ride to collect images of silly people smooching a goofy cutout of Ellen Degeneres is almost over: Three solid weeks of M-F, 7am-3pm Smooch! Ellen shoots plus a few weekend shoots through the month of October have been completed. The cutout of Ellen is officially retired. There is still work to be done to prepare the latest collection of photos. The last set of official Smooch! Ellen certificates (each one displaying one of the Ellen photos, the names of the participants and including a personal handwritten message to the star, if provided) are being prepared for shipment to Warner Bros. Studios this week. A final tally will be included in the next post to this blog.
The final full week of Smooch! Ellen shoots were held at a new North Minneapolis coffee shop called 42nd Avenue Station. Of the three Twin Cities locations for week long Smooch! Ellen shoots, the one at this small cafe was the most well attended. Sixty people were photographed and a total of 34 Smooch! Ellen pics were gathered, including the one shown above: Crazy Looking Connie luvs Ellen. Connie Beckers normally does not look crazy. Actually, a longtime North Minneapolis artist activist and the Executive Director of the Northside Arts Collective, she was the driving force behind the astonishing number of people who agreed to do a wacky thing: Smooch a cardboard cutout of a television on camera. Remarkable. You’ll find out more about Connie soon, as she is going to be the next featured Smooch! Hero in the email to go out in a week. If you are not yet on the mailing list, be sure to sign up so you can keep up with all things Smooch!
By the end of this week, the fourth and final shipment of official Smooch! Ellen certificates will be on their way to the television star. Not a peep from anyone in California at the moment but we are FAR from done knocking on that door. Plans are afoot. Stay tuned for further developments.
We are winding down the effort to collect any more photographs within our beautiful state of Minnesota. As you’ll note in the statistics to the right, we have photographed almost 2,500 people — all of them Minnesotans! Our focus now turns toward getting the project ‘out of town.’ Two more public shoots remain, both on Saturdays in November. If you live here in Minnesota, wish to become a part of a historic art effort and haven’t yet participated, you and your loved ones have only two more opportunities.
A huge THANK YOU! to all the people who have participated so far. Literally, you have made The Smooch! Project what it is today. Including the latest tally, the archive now includes more than 1,000 images. Still a long way to go in the effort to collect 10,000 images but we have made an incredible start. Your continuing support has been very much appreciated.
This project makes every part of me smile.