Don’t Phone Home
March 15th, 2015

Mark Citret and I first met seven years ago at a photographic workshop in the White Mountains and we’ve been inseparable ever since. By “inseparable” I mean, we get together about once a year for breakfast, at the Griddle Café in Winnemucca, Nevada.

At the Griddle

Ours is a relationship that doesn’t require a whole lot of togetherness. Mark is a loner, and so am I, and although the two of us are like peas in a pod, neither of us would wish to be confined in a pod for very long. Given that we are both drawn to the same subject matter, you’d think we’d spend more time together. Problem is, Mark is incapable of pointing his lens in the same direction as mine. Even if I were to point out, say, a flaming dirigible, Mark wouldn’t come out from under his dark cloth. Not if he’s already focused on something else.

This year I came down with pneumonia and wasn’t able to make it to Winnemucca, alas. So Mark carried on without me, which is fairly easy for him because—as I said—he’s a loner who doesn’t require a whole lot of companionship. From Winnemucca, he made his way north and west to the remote settlement of Gerlach, where he shot what I think may be the greatest picture I’ve ever seen.

Phone Booth, Gerlach, 2015

First of all, it’s not so easy to find a public telephone nowadays. Nowadays, most everyone carries a cell phone and is thus never out of touch with the folks back home. No matter where in the world you are, you can always reach out to someone who cares about you and wonders what you’re up to.

I think Mark might carry a cell phone, but I’m not sure. He’s never called me, nor would I dream of calling him. Why? Because I know how very important it is, when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, to BE in the middle of nowhere. Nothing good will ever come your way as long as you’re yakking on a cell phone.

For thirty years I roamed the West and almost never phoned home. During all the years I worked as a correspondent for Nevada Magazine I never once called the office. I didn’t want to break the spell. Now and again I would come upon a public phone, and I’d pause just long enough to dip my fingers into the coin return. I picked up quite a lot of loose change that way, loose change that I spent on Coca Colas and M&M peanut candies—which just happens to be Mark’s favorite energy snack as well.

As for phone booths, I’ve always stayed away. They’re just too grimy, and stink of desperation. Almost always, the page you’re looking for has been ripped from the directory, and if it’s nighttime, you’re gonna have every moth in Lander County for company. So I stop just long enough to take a picture, and then move on.

Phone Booth
-Richard Menzies