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Archive for iPhone Photo Project


2.5 years in 5.5 minutes

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So, anyone waiting for the next generation of the iPhone to come out, feel free to get excited. I finally upgraded to the iPhone 4, so whatever is coming next will probably be moved up to next week.

Before I left for the store this morning, I decided to back up my 3G one more time. In doing so, I downloaded more than 600 pictures from my phone through iPhoto. In chronological order. At about one every half-second. I’d been staring at it for about a minute when it occurred to me that it was like my life flashing before my eyes. Kids. Hospitals. Drinks. Friends. Bartenders. Poker chips. Money. Don King. Races. Music. Trips. South America. London. Vegas. Food. Oh, man, the food. It was all there and flashing by as fast as it felt in real life. It was, in a word, freaky.

Now, keep in mind, when I take pictures with my iPhone, it’s usually not for the purpose of framing. It’s like a scrapbook I carry in my pocket. The pictures are, by and large, horrible, but they were a representation of what was happening in my life. Everything went by so fast, I had myself asking questions like, “How in the hell did Don King and Tony Hawk end up within seconds of each other in my phone?”

My next thought was, “Wow, I wish I had a recording of what I just saw.” If I’d thought ahead, I could’ve recorded the screen as iPhoto imported the pictures. But, it’s me. I didn’t think ahead.

The idea of getting all the photos and putting them in chronological order again was way too much to consider. Then I remembered I had this Mac and it can do just about anything, including recreate my life flashing before my eyes. So, here it is. Two and half years of my life up to last night…in five and half minutes. There is a lot that can be gleaned from this about me, my faults, my joys, and so forth. Analyze as you like. It’s all there in technicolor, and it’s about as honest as I can be about who I’ve been over the past few years.

2.5 years in 5.5 minutes from Brad Willis on Vimeo.

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The Dive

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Part 4 of the November iPhone Photo Project … aka…NaNo-iPho

June 2009

The night before Phish hit Asheville, NC, some friends were in town to get an early start on the fun. Part of the night included my local friends taking everybody to our favorite dive. It’s a little quonset hut turned dive bar on the road out of town, the kind of place where plastic checkered racing flags hang from the ceiling, the specials are Miller Lite, Jack Daniels, and not-hipster-ironic PBR. Crusty men with bad attitudes play pool, everyone turns to look at you when you walk in, and someone has taped comic strips above the urinals. If you stand there long enough, a closeted gay guy will ask suggestively, “Do you like comics?” It’s also the kind of place where people do exceptionally bad karaoke. Most of it’s country–Travis Tritt, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks. Every once in a while you’ll hear some rock and roll.

Toward the end of the night, The Joker stood up and whispered something to the effect of “This is either going to be epic or it’s going to get us killed.” And he walked to the stage. And we all grabbed for our tabs, because this was certainly not the place for anything The Joker was about to do. And that’s when The Humpty Dance came over the karaoke speakers.

“This is how we do it Colorado, yo!” he said into the mic.

And there he sang the Humpty Dance. The crowd, after a stunned moment of silence, started dancing. And cheering. And erratically loving the Joker.

Apropos of nothing, he pointed to our buddy at the table and screamed, “That’s my friend, G-Rob! He owns this place!”

The picture itself doesn’t speak to the moment, but it reminds me of one of the top five funniest things I saw happen all year.



The Club Guy

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Part 3 of the November iPhone Photo Project … aka…NaNo-iPho

June 2009

It was late, about the time the clubs start to let out in Las Vegas. I was a deer hunter in a tree stand. Just sitting and waiting. It’s not quite fish in a barrel, but when the club guys (aka Los Angeles Douchebagicus) begin their migration from the clubs and toward the DUI arrests and Rohypnol cage, they are a lot easier to convince to play cards. I had a stack of green, 14 stacks of red, and a bottle of beer I wouldn’t finish. That’s when The Club Guy sat down with $600 (six stacks of red) and proved within one hand he had no idea how to play cards. Before long, he had destroyed everybody at the table (except me, fortunately) and run his $600 to north of $6,000. He couldn’t lose. He couldn’t stack his chips.

The beauty of it was, no matter how hard his friends pushed him, he wouldn’t get up. He was in a sick zone and almost unaware of what he was doing. Then, some old, cranky drunk said something snide that snapped Club Guy out of it. Club Guy looked up as if waking from a dream, stood, and left with everybody’s money. I had 2,000 bullets and my gun jammed against the guy. Not only did he destroy the table, he left before I could put him out of his misery. Like the Great White Whale of Club Guys, I’ve been looking for this guy ever since, and will again when I’m in Vegas this weekend for work.



Chilean millionaire

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Part 2 of the November iPhone Photo Project … aka…NaNo-iPho

January 2009

I have made a number of bad decisions in my life, but never any that have resulted in me having so much money in my pocket that I couldn’t count it in public. I was in Vina del Mar, Chile and made a series of exceptionally poor decisions that led me through a bar, to an ATM, to a poker table, and eventually to bed before a long day of work. When I finally got around to counting what I had in my pocket, it took laying all the bills out on my bed so I could see it all at once. It was there in the posh Chilean hotel/casino that I discovered I had 1.2 million in Chilean cash. If you’re wondering why I’m still humping a computer job after that big score, you can find the whole story over at How I became a millionaire. Turns out you can’t get very far with Chilean millions.


I did the math. If I do all I need to do between now and the time I have a break on December 9th, I should have about 10 minutes a day for Rapid Eye Reality. The last time I ran into this situation, I let my little home here wither on the vine. In an effort to not let this happen, I needed something to keep this space alive.

I noticed yesterday that I have about 120 photos on my iPhone that I have taken over the past ten months. Most of those photos end up getting posted to my Twitter feed or Facebook. They rarely appear here because the picturess generally suck. Still, they are sort of a visual record of my 2009.

So, for the next month or so, I’m going to post one of the photos and the briefest of stories about it. Hey, at least it’s something, ya know?


Anna Nicole Smith’s final rest
January 2009

It’s a long and winding road around the Caribbean Sea that leads from Paradise Island, through the heart of Nassau, and on to the airport that would eventually take me off the island for another year. Once again, after more than a week in the heart of the islands’ biggest poker event, I found myself weary and in the back of a cab.

The cab slowed just enough as we passed the salmon-colored gates the guard the little cemetery on the ocean’s edge. There, somewhere in the ground laid the body of Anna Nicole Smith. She was a woman who sought fame and found it. She was a woman who wanted money and found it, too. Now she was as dead as everybody else in the sandy ground alongside the highway. For all her life of reality excess, she was now part of what could only be described as a rolling sight-seeing trip in a place far more beautiful that her legacy could ever boast.

We didn’t stop.