San Francisco, California / The Early Aughts
I have a fondness for taking pictures of this church. These four pictures taken on different days at different times in different weather between December 2020 and January 2021. I think it’s this whole corner that I like because to the immediate left of this church is this tree which I also take pictures of. This particular walk that I go on is about 3.5 miles long and sometimes it starts out being a bit of a struggle but by the time I get to this corner which is about a third of the way through I’ve hit my stride. It’s a marker and so I guess I like to document it to remember that no matter how much I think I’d rather stay home and lay about it’s always better to get out and be among the trees.
These photos were taken around noon. In layman’s terms, the orange sky was caused when smoke from the surrounding fires – that had been burning for weeks – rose so high into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun. What I remember most about this day is that for days upon days the air quality was so bad that we couldn’t even go outside. But on this day the air quality was good. It didn’t smell like smoke and the air actually seemed fresh, as if the sky were blue. But it wasn’t blue. It was far from blue. Right before I took these pictures it was almost as dark as night. And I wondered if we would ever see blue skies again.
I don’t know what 2021 holds and I’m realistic enough to know that all the problems won’t go away with the turn of a page on a calendar. I have spent most of the year split between a feeling of dread and a feeling of hope. That’s not healthy. There has to be a point when things start to get better. I hope 2021 is that point. And to you 2020 – goodbye to you – you piece of crap year.
Taken twelve days apart on December 3, 2020 and December 15, 2020 at roughly about the same time of day – late afternoon. The tree is so bare now that you can literally see the two trees behind whose trunks were only visible in the first photo. But look at those wonderful leaves still hanging on in the smaller tree. Still holding on. Standing guard until the bitter end.
- Photographer Thomas Hawk has been showing found slides over on his Flickr account. I love old photographs. I like to see the way people dressed, the cars, the buildings. Things seemed to have so much character back then. I suppose in forty or fifty years people might look back on this time the same way. It’s hard to imagine though. But I suppose that’s how time works. Here are a couple three of my favorites.
- On my bucket list is to travel the entire Country and take pictures. I think every photographer feels that in their bones. So it was a great pleasure to find that every Sunday of this year The Atlantic has been posting photographs from a different state. These pictures don’t get into the nitty gritty. The back alleyways. The details. But they are pretty interesting and beautiful of what a state has to offer. A jumping off point perhaps.
- And last but not least a documentary of photographer Harold Feinstein. I can’t find this documentary anywhere on the major platforms. But here’s a trailer of Last Stop Coney Island. Man, I’d really love to see this documentary.
“Photography is about that moment. Most people try to complicate to show how difficult it is. When your mouth drops open – click the shutter. Hello. That’s it.”Harold Feinstein
Picked up this book by Helen Levitt at the library and I’m a little in love with the above photo. I ‘m not sure why. Is it the look of confidence on this little boy’s face? The way his head is slightly tilted up as if he tilted it any further back the helmet might fall off? Is it his hand in his pocket? The other hand placed gently on the seat? Or is it the way his right foot is resting on his left foot? Or is it the Wallabee’s he’s wearing. If you were a kid in the 70’s, as I was, such a thing can bring back an avalanche of memories. Or is it the cuffs on his pant legs? Is it the front of the banged up car behind him with a hole in the grill? Is it the piece of paper across the street? The piece of paper behind him? Or is it what looks like a crumpled up bag in front of that paper? It’s here that I should tell you I have really bad eyes. What at first looks like a simple crumpled bag – on second look – looks more like a lions mask. A crumpled lions mask made out of a brown paper bag. Do you see it? Click on the picture. Tell me you see it. Tell me it’s obvious. Or tell me I’m crazy.
Or is it the composition? The subject? The light? It always comes back to the light.
I think it is that and I think it is all of it.
Afternoon walk back in November. The days are getting to be faster than they are slower. Time is shifting. A week no longer takes a month. A day no longer a week.
Photos from a walk last week.
Grey skies. Gloomy weather. Yesterday it rained. Not a lot, more like a heavy drizzle if even that. Not enough to use the windshield wipers while driving, only enough to wipe the drops off in between errands. It was watch a movie weather. Curl up on the couch with a good book weather. If I had a fireplace, make a fire kind of weather. Today the weather is sort of like yesterday but it feels different. I don’t know what it was but yesterday felt good. Like some kind of bridge from what was to what can be. Maybe it’s because I didn’t spend hours on Twitter soaking up bad news like a dirty sponge. There is a peace of mind in that, that I want to hold on to. But then this morning I forgot myself and let go. Maybe that’s the difference. It’s a constant roller coaster ride of wanting to be informed and wanting to curl up inside my own little bubble.
Anyway, here’s a song I listened to ten times in a row as one does.
Shoreline, Mountain View / California – November 2020
San Francisco, California
I feel like a great weight has been lifted, and while I never lost hope there were times when it was iffy, but tonight I feel good.
Congratulations President elect Joe Biden and Vice President- elect Kamala Harris.
We have so much work to do.
“Experience has shown, however, that the best way to avoid talking about the pictures is to talk about their subjects – tract houses or fields or trees or any of the myriad and interesting details of life. If you have to fill the quiet of a picture, the least destructive way seems to be to speak about what was in front of the camera rather than about what you made of it.”
– Robert Adams / Why People Photograph
Palace of Fine Arts – San Francisco, California / November 1985
Alviso, California / November 2020
Stopped off at Alviso yesterday for a little walk before I went to Target to grab the last of the toilet paper and whatever else I could find ( I heard people were starting to hoard again and last time around I suffered from my lack of action *). I wanted to walk the trail along the shore but it was closed, so I puttered around the parking lot and walked down the block to this building (above) where I have been a few times before and took some photos.
I have taken a few pictures of this place over the years and I’m very bad at organizing my photos so I don’t know where most of them are, but I ran across these ones below, from 2009, on my flickr account and wow what a difference. I mean I already knew that, I have eyes and all. I could see that the murals were fading and the building was falling apart but I didn’t realize to the extent that it was. Someday this building will be gone, but I think I say that every time I am there and still it stands.
Also these last three from 2009 were taken with a film camera which lends a sense of awe.
I also wanted to get a photo of the building next to it which is another cool building that was sadly even further gone than the one above (there was also a guy there that was watching me behind all the signs that said “Private Property” and “No Trespassing”). It had a cool Hope sign on it that I wanted to take yet another photo of, but alas it gone. Taken down. This photo (below ) is what it looked like in 2009.
Oops sorry. It said “Hope St” not just “Hope”.
* turns out grabbing the last bit of toilet paper isn’t that important to me because I never made it to Target. People want to be assholes and hoard stuff, let them. Whoa, that’s a little aggressive there sweetie.
And while I have your attention, if you haven’t already voted, Please vote. What? You thought you would get away without a mention of voting? It’s November 3rd. You crazy.
Taken sometime in The Before*
* I read somewhere ( I think on Reddit ) someone referring to the time previous to Coronavirus as The Before. I’m going to adopt that.
Things seen on my walk yesterday.
And the obligatory I can’t believe it’s November.
But I really can’t.
Sawyer Camp Trail / October 2020
Sawyer Camp Trail – October 2020
I love it when I see random stuff on my walks. This calendar was on top of a bush.
And this take out menus book? Not even sure what that is. Is it some sort of binder for take out menus? I suppose I could have looked inside but I was carrying a bag of sushi and fried chicken and cake and eager to get home… and look! A newspaper! Not so random.
Free books! They never have anything I want but I always get excited just the same.
And look! Another newspaper! I love newspapers. I went to Books Inc. this past weekend and bought a couple of Sunday papers. I haven’t been inside a store other than grocery stores or Target since March… I was in a bank once. Working my way up to the Farmers Market. Not really a store – but still crowded.
(That’s one weird paragraph.)
Some things to help make it better:
1. At The Paris Review writer Jill Talbot wrote about the last year with her daughter before her daughter went off to college. She writes about love and loss and letting go and of course the dynamic between mothers and daughters. And it’s beautiful. It took me over a month to read all 18 entries. I took my time, trying to make them last. I didn’t want them to end. Part one begins here.
2. Sylvia Plath’s Food Diary. Sometimes twitter can be good. Even great.
3.This version of Rod Stewart singing Maggie May with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a pure joy to watch and a pure joy to listen to.
Trees of green and the things they protect.