A lot of people who talk about the redevelopment of Central City point to the Freret Street corridor as a good model. One that the developers of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard should follow. I’m not sure about that A dozen or so semi-upscale restaurants does not a community make. But, as a walk up to the Central City work, I had a look at Freret Street. Well. Mostly I go there to eat. Yes. There are some good restaurants and some over rated ones. But, I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder. Anyway… here’s my idea of a busy restaurant. This is a server at Dat Dog. Yes. Hot dogs and sausages. They start at about $8. That’s a lot of money, huh? It’s a lot of money for different sausages that are grilled on the same grill, and therefore, all taste about the same. Andouille? Kielbasa? Tastes about the same.
I’m not a foodie. I’m a photographer. A storyteller. So I won’t say anything further about the food. Here’s the picture. I shot it at a very slow shutter speed to capture the energy in the place. Funny story. The server looked it at on the camera. She said something to the effect of too bad it’s out of focus. It’s classic me. Oh well. She’s not a photographer…
Working is good for us. It’s what motivates us. it’s what gives us clarity. It’s what gives us fulfillment. So, “they” say. “They” may be right if the Buddhist monk is just doing the next thing that is front of him. In many ways, his work in this image just illustrates and old saying about doing the next thing. It goes something like this. A young monk has just finished his meal. He says to his elder, “Father, I have finished my porridge.” The elder replies, “well, you better wash your bowl.”
There you have it.
This image was made at Wat Pho in Bangkok, Thailand. Or, Wat Phra Chetuphon as most Thais know it. It is the largest and grandest of the wats in Thailand. I’ve photographed it a number times, so now when I go back I really work hard to look for moments like the one in this picture.
I had to laugh. I wanted to get the spelling for name as Thai people know it. So I Googled it. The first reference was for a cultural way of saying “what for?” The second reference was in answer to why you eat the Vietnamese soup, Pho. The third reference was for the soup. And, finally…
I thought that I would take a break from posting little collections of images and post a single portrait. For me, portraits aren’t the images that you usually think of when you hear that word. Mine aren’t lighted in a studio. They aren’t overly propped. They really aren’t posed. Mostly, they are discovered or found while I’m making pictures of something else. I usually ask my subject to continue doing whatever they were doing. For this particular image of the man playing the horn, I was mostly photographing San Francisco as a travel destination. I was staying in The Mission District when I sort of stumbled into a Central American restaurant. Musicians were setting up in an outdoor courtyard and were getting ready to play their music. I hung out for a bit and they got started. Noy only was their music a real treat to hear, but the pictures that they helped create were pretty amazing. By “helped to create,” I don’t mean posed or stage images. They played as hard as they could, and I managed to find their rhythm. Sometimes I get lucky that way.
While I’m a great believer in change, there are certain things that I hope will never change because they are sort of touchstones to me. In Hong Kong that usually means small family run businesses that have been managed the same way for one hundred years or more. In these pictures, we see typical Hong Kong small business life from the various dried farm products stores that are found in almost every district, to the outdoor cook who is cooking for what looks like a normal indoor restaurant, to the chefs in a noodle houses that happens to serve barbecued pig and duck.
There is a story about the place where the man is cooking outdoors. That place is located along the Travelator. You can look into businesses and flats while riding up or down the hill to the Mid-Levels. When I first started commuting on Travelator there was a very run down mid-1920s building on the site where that man is cooking. It was torn down with plans for redevelopment into a towering estate building. It never happened. First, there was an Asian economic crash and following deflation. This allowed guys like the one in the picture to work there. It took a while to recover and during the intervening years nature took over. Being in a sub-tropical place, first new growth trees broke through the concrete and cement. Once that happened, nature really ran riot. Today, 15 years after that old building was demolished, a small forest has taken over the land. Apparently, the local people who live and work next to it seem to like it that way. They added a few benches and keep the wildlife trimmed so that you can still walk on the sidewalk and use it sort of like a pocket park.
All I know is what I learned after Katrina. Nature. It is relentless and it seeks stasis.
This is the last post from the collection of images called China 1989. This image was actually photo – graphed in Stanley Harbor, Hong Kong.
At the time, Hong Kong was still a colony of Great Britain and would not really become part of China until the Handover in 1997. Even with the return of the island, Kowloon and The New Territories to China, they are still considered to be an SAR (Special Administrative Region) and is governed differently then Mainland China. There is more freedom and a more democratic system of government. This was guaranteed for 50 years in a treaty signed by China and Great Britain a few years before the island reverted back to Chinese control.
Stanley has seen a huge amount of development since the days when this picture was made. It is a bargain shopping destination for tourists, but there is a large number of upscale restaurants, cafes and pubs there now. Additionally, there are some new, beautiful and very expensive houses located in the hills surrounding the harbor. It’s days as a sleepy village on the back side of Hong Kong Island are long over.
This is another image from my time in Shanghai. While bikes are still a very popular way to get around, the coming of the car, the new subways and more modern means of transportation have made scenes like this one harder to find.
You might ask yourself, did they not have cars in 1989? Of course they did. But, they weren’t affordable and generally they were limited to those more well connected people, usually those who had Communist Cadre connections.
Today, everybody wants a car. And, if you can’t afford a car today well there is still a very modern and well thought out subway system which can take you to locations that peddling a bike never could.
Am I anti-bike? Oh no. I like the old days. But, I like to keep my options open. On the other hand, bike accidents in 1989 were one of the leading causes of accidental death.
I made this portrait during my last few weeks in North Carolina. This man was supposedly the last blacksmith in the state. He was one of those craftsman who could pretty much make anything out of metal. He worked in the most old school of ways. He used no machines, preferring to do almost everything by hand using simple tools and a forge. Not only was this American craftsmanship at its best, but his working methods were hundreds of years old.
Although, I’ve read stories about a few craftsman who are starting to make certain products — shoes, for instance — by hand, I seriously doubt that there is a blacksmith left in The United States. I wish somebody would prove me wrong. Photographing an old fashioned blacksmith would make a great story and a lot of good pictures.
For a while during the 1970s, I was photo – graphing a lot of music in The Bay Area. I shot first for the SJSU student newspaper, The Daily Spartan and then I freelanced for a lot of music newspaper startups.
Of course, The Bay Area was just rich with local bands who grew to become national and international acts. Some of them were sort of one hit wonders, while others had rich and varied careers. One of the biggest names was Neil Young. Of course, now in 2011, he has risen to the level of American Legend and he currently has been playing in one of his earliest bands — the reformed Buffalo Springfield, which he introduces by saying, “We’re Buffalo Springfield and we’re from the past.”
This image is truly from the past. It was taken in 1976 at Stanford University.
For the technically inclined, the picture was made on Tri-x rated at ISO 1600 and developed in Accufine. For those of you who are a little too young to remember this, we called this push processing. We couldn’t just turn up the ISO setting on our digital cameras. We had to expose differently and then compensate by developing our film differently. The good news – this technique allowed us to expose in available darkness. The bad news – it produced almost uncontrollable contrast.