The Life of an Image

Roughly 1998, cobbled-together PC and Mac Performa

While drinking my coffee this morning, I decided to take a look at Flickr. I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted about my love/hate relationship with Flickr over the years, so I won’t rehash it now. I was looking at stats, and this image is my second all-time most popular image with 10,253 views. It brought back some memories.

I moved to Portland in ‘96, and bounced around a few jobs before landing at a moving company. I ended up managing systems furniture inventory for a few of our corporate clients. These companies would just pull hard drives from old PCs and toss the rest, so I collected them. Cases, power supplies, mother boards, processors… You name it, I kept it. I couldn’t afford a new Mac, so eventually I started putting together my own PCs. That’s plural, because I failed more than a few times at first. I’m pretty sure this photo was taken sometime in 1998.

The apartment where this photo was taken was in Tigard, Oregon. It was the best place I could afford on $8/hour, and it was a bit of a dive. There was no AC, so summers consisted of opening every single window, turning on every fan, and drinking every cold beer in the fridge. There were trees on the east side, so mornings were relatively cool. The west side of the apartment had big windows, and no trees so it turned into an oven in the afternoons. It became a bit of a crash pad for my friends. So many people stayed there that eventually I just set up a futon with a regular full mattress in the living room. I kept clean sheets, pillows, and blankets on it all the time because I never knew when someone was going to need a place to stay.

Good times.

Even though I was completely broke most of the time, those were some of the best summers of my life. We explored the areas around Portland, floated the Clackamas river, and drank a lot of beer at RJ’s Wichita Pub in Tualatin. My job may not have paid well, but the people I worked with at the moving company were some of the best people I’ve ever known. I still talk to a couple of them from time to time.

I know this photo was shot on film, but I can’t remember which camera I had at the time. My guess is that it was shot on the 35mm Canon Rebel I had on layaway for over a year. That camera would probably still be on layaway if I hadn’t dated a woman who convinced me to survive on Top Ramen for a few months in order to finish paying it off. She was a photographer, too, and wanted me to be able to shoot with her.

I scanned and uploaded it to Flickr back in 2000, gave it a Creative Commons license, and it slowly made its way around the internet. Non viral meme status, mind you, but it definitely got around. There’s a Reddit post, a LinkedIn post, and others from sites I’m not sure I want to click on.

It’s now 9:30am, and I realize I’ve spent the past 2 hours going back and forth between writing a sentence or two and reminiscing about the late 90s life in a Portland suburb. I should probably get off my ass and do something with the rest of the day.

If you’re wondering what the all-time most viewed photo (17,746 views) on my Flickr stream is, it’s this one:


The internet is a funny place.

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