A day with a man who defined an industry.
A groan escapes a half-awake mouth, sun spills through the partially transparent, seafoam curtains that obscure the chaotic movements of a city in a constant state of transformation.
He pops into the bathroom, and I take a quick gander at his modest apartment. To call Zupan a mad genius may give him too much credit, or it may not give him enough. I notice shoes strewn about, clothes that appear to have been removed in a drunken stupor, and the crumbs of tortilla chips in the cracks of the couch. A closer inspection reveals that my subject shares a fascination with one-word-titled books, which perhaps points us to the conclusion that he's a concise and forward man.
William eventually emerges from the bathroom, a layer of shame on his face, a sense of urgency in his eyes. He shambles into the kitchen, squinting as the light streams onto his face and the few remaining dishes are washed.
After some generally aimless wandering through the house, Will settles into his first true test — making coffee. As I learned in my time documenting him, William is a creature of habit — nay, a monster of habit. The blades of the coffee grinder jump into motion, the kettle gurgles with the sound of boiling hot water, and soon the smell of the fresh brew fills the small kitchen.
Coffee consumed. Batteries recharged. Email opened but not actually read. A tinny iPhone speaker produces the noises of an obscure sports radio show. A gentle tapping commences as the molehill-sized pile of emails is wittled away.
A few hours of solid work under his belt, I follow Will to a nearby “Dietetica” — health food store — and watch as he charms the woman at the register. It seems he’s truly embraced the culture and language of his second home. Back home, he scarfs down a wrap of some type in pure silence. The sound of chewing and breathing is interrupted occasionally when he looks over at me, a sort of embarrassed look on his face, as I write notes in my journal.
Gesticulating wildly, Will passionately explains his vision to a prospective customer. His bedroom office is small, his equipment is humble, but the space he fills with his imaginative dialogue is immense.
The more time I spend with William, the less time he has to give. I can tell he operates from a different place than the rest of us. His mind leaps, bounds from concept to concept. Possibly feeling a little burnt out by my constant inquiries, he answers my question by opening up YouTube and searching "black person dancing show." We watch a rerun of Soul Train in silence.
At first I am confused, but I start to understand what he is communicating -- that life is about flow, rhythm, creativity. Will shuffles and jives through his work with the grace of a newborn fawn -- perhaps not yet surefooted, but always eager to take the next step forward.
Before taking my leave, I notice a curious artifact on the corner of Zupan's desk. Upon closer inspection I realize it's a bobblehead of himself. A little taken aback, I ask him about it. He relates that it was a gift, and that at times when he's without inspiration, he gives the head a little tap and watches his head nod, "like a scratched Bollywood DVD," he says.
Photo Credits: Luc Iyer
A big thanks to the Zupan family for allowing me to drop in on a busy day and understand a little more about this fascinating creature.