Memorial at an Eagles hall…

The first Sunday in April, I went to a memorial at an Eagles hall for a man a I never knew.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

My wife and I went together. She had known the man, and so had my brother-in-law who was also at the memorial.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

My brother-in-law actually served as the quote-unquote minister for the event, and he said some kind words of remembrance for a man who was universally liked by everyone in the room.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

I did what I always do at the many memorials I’ve attended at the Eagles hall for people I didn’t know or barely knew.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

I wandered around and shot photos.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

I’m not an Eagles member, but I have friends who are. And I know other members on a social basis. And, like my wife, I knew some of the folks who knew the deceased, the man we were there to honor.

Memorial at an Eagles hall...
Brisbane, California, April 2022

It was a somber event, but it wasn’t entirely dour and funereal. I talked to a lot of people, and photographed them, and that was fun for me.

But as I was leaving after an hour and a half I remember hoping that when I’m dead there’s 55 or 60 people who remember me fondly enough to gather together at an Eagles hall on a Sunday afternoon and talk about what a good man I was.

Photographed at the Eagles hall, FOE Aerie #3255, in Brisbane, California on April 3rd, 2022.

See the entire collection of 33 photographs on Flickr.

See my other work on Flickr and Instagram.

The dancing kind

The dancing kind

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of woman

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dances with her daughter

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in the street

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on the sidewalk

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with joy

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with abandon

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both of them radiant

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like champions of love.

(Photographed in San Francisco, California in February, 2022. See my other work here and here.)

Betty was Hawaiian

Betty was Hawaiian, she was short, she was my mother-in-law, she was (I think) 86, she was beautiful, she knew she wasn’t educated but she knew she was smart, and she died two years ago today.

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Betty loved mumus (she looked great in them), she fiercely loved my father-in-law (her second husband), she was gentle and compassionate, she loved her kids deeply, and she hated Windows computers and didn’t trust email or electronic commerce.

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Betty was a Christian, she fucking hated it when I cursed around her but eventually grew to tolerate it, she once “paid” me 1,200 bucks (when I was recently unemployed from teaching public school) for a series Windows computer lessons it quickly became clear she never intended to take she just wanted to help me financially, and she made this sort of jellied white crab dip that it was absolutely to die for.

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Betty laughed like she invented laughing for all of humanity, she knew I struggled with alcohol abuse for years but loved me anyway and didn’t judge me for it, and she died peacefully in her sleep in a mumu thankfully never knowing how much I wish I’d spent more time with her during our lives and how much I’m going to miss her until the end of my days.

(Photographed in Brisbane, California at Christmastime in 2014, 2015, and 2018. See my other work here and here.)

Glass pipe sidewalk

This is a short, simple story. I was on my way to my favorite discount supermarket in San Francisco when I encountered these three guys on the sidewalk at a bus stop, and a couple of the gents decided to smoke some meth.

They were really nice guys, though, so don’t get the wrong impression.

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The fellow who initially pulled out the glass pipe wore a wrist band that suggested he’d recently been a patient in a hospital someplace. While a few people at the bus stop looked on with obvious disdain, he pulled out his lighter and sparked up his gear…

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Then he took a few drags from it. He sucked on it like an infant feeding from a milk bottle because his mother’s breasts had run dry…

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Then he passed the glass to his pal, who had been patiently waiting to take a few hits himself. The big fellow on the end didn’t partake, he just kept chatting with me about the plumbing business he was saving money to open up one day. He and his companion were sitting on a huge audio speaker and I have no idea why…

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And’s that’s pretty much it. Despite the fact that these gents were smoking hard drugs at a moderately-busy bus stop, It was all rather low-key and somehow calm and civilized.

Like I said, they were really nice guys.

(Photographed in San Francisco, California in October, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

Sidewalk soul food buffet

About once a week, usually in the late morning, I drive into San Francisco to do my money errands at a Bank of America at the corner of Leland Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard. Sometimes when I’m standing in line at the ATM, there’s a guy across the way setting up a large buffet.

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I’ve heard he runs a soul food kitchen in Hunters Point, and on slow days he drives a couple of miles south to this San Francisco neighborhood to make a few bucks selling jambalaya, fried catfish, greens, mac and cheese, and other soul food comfort classics. He had a menu displayed that identified him as Chef Tasty, and the ‘tasty’ part surely described the odors from the food he was putting out.

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The day I shot these photographs I literally didn’t have the time to do much more. The chef himself was in a bit of a hurry setting up his buffet; in the moment we briefly chatted he didn’t seem like he had the time yet to wait on me anyway. So it all worked out.

But the next time I see him I’m getting me a full plate of whatever he’s selling that day.

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(Photographed in San Francisco, California in September, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

Her daddy died the day before

I was on Sunnydale Avenue in San Francisco recently at weekly food bank, working on a project of mine about people and community outreach during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. And this beautiful little girl caught my eye because of the bright pink braids she had flowing from her hair.

The girl was with a friend of mine, who is also the girl’s godmother, and she had no problems with me taking a few pictures of the girl and her striking hair.

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As I was lifting my camera to my face to begin snapping, my friend told the girl “Hold it up, let him see it.” What she meant was the laminate hanging from the girl’s neck, a family photo featuring the girl and her father right in the center of it. The girl’s father had his arms around her.

I looked a question at my friend, who said to me “Her daddy died yesterday. He got shot.”

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Ten minutes later I was carrying a box of food bank vegetables to the girl’s nearby apartment, and I asked my friend what happened. She told me the girl’s father was shot dead nearby when he was trying to score some weed from a man who had a gun and who was just too crazy to be dealing weed at that particular moment in time.

I looked at my friend and asked her “Who dies over weed anymore? It’s fucking weed, it’s legal.”

Neither one of us had an answer. Then she walked into the girl’s apartment, and I put the box of vegetables on the trunk of a car parked in front of it and left.

(Photographed in San Francisco, California in August, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

The first place I’ve gone in over a year and it was Hollister

During the first weekend of June, 2021, my wife and I took a trip together for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdowns began in California in March of 2020. After 15 months of basically being locked up together for 23 hours a day, she and I were looking forward to the short road trip.

A shop on San Bruno Street, part 1...
Hollister, California, June 2021

We were headed to Hollister, California, to stay with my niece and her family. Her daughter, my great niece, was graduating from San Benito High School.

Decorations for a high school graduation...
Hollister, California, June 2021

We got to my niece’s house on a Thursday afternoon, but after spending the night and waking up there Friday morning it was clear that the whole endeavor was a disaster for me.

Lawn care on Cienega Road...
Hollister, California, June 2021

My rheumatoid arthritis had decided to act up, and I was in a lot of pain. So I decided to drive back on Friday to my quiet house just south of San Francisco where I could get the rest and sleep I needed to get through the arthritis flare-up.

A front yard on California Street, part 2...
Hollister, California, June 2021

I left my wife in Hollister, to enjoy the company of our family and the graduation festivities. I drove back down to get her that first Sunday in June. I really wish I had been able to spend that whole weekend in Hollister, but at least while I was there I shot some pictures I liked.

See the entire album here.

(Photographed in Hollister, California in June, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

Roadside repairs

During the first week of May I was driving from San Francisco into Brisbane, California along Bayshore Boulevard, and I encountered this interesting scene…

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It turns out that the man with the beard was driving along Bayshore Boulevard too, but the upper control arm on the driver’s side of his big old car snapped and he had to immediately pull over and call an emergency mechanic.

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So while the mechanic worked away, I snapped a few photos and the young man and I talked for a few minutes. He showed me the groove out on the street that his damaged car had cut into the pavement as he pulled it out of traffic.

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He was a nice young fellow, very warm and open.

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The mechanic was a nice guy too, but very busy.

(Photographed in Brisbane, California on May 04, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

Gone, just gone, 10 years on…

The idea of the kids still haunts me ten years later.

Very infrequently I have nightmares about ghostly green, purple, and burnt orange faces of Japanese children floating above their anguished parents, who are still living bitter lives in tiny yatai-shaped temporary houses scattered throughout a cartoon nuclear meltdown hellscape version of Fukushima.

I know the reality isn’t quite that bad. But ten years on folks in Tōhoku still can’t go home, and in the deep ocean there are the bones of innocent kids from 3/11 that will never be discovered nor buried. For ten years the loss of those lives and their potential has bothered me, and probably always will.

I wrote this poem about the lost children in 2014 for the third anniversary of the disaster. It’s also an ode to the sorrow and horror felt by a man who merely edited other people’s stories from the disaster but didn’t actually experience it himself. So take that for what it’s worth as you read the poem, and I hope you enjoy it…

Gone, just gone

The bubblegum kids no one is ever going to know,

rotting out their lives in the cold of Mishima’s boiling sea.

There’s grace in the truncheons of justice they may have become.

There’s iron will in the blood they will never spill on land.

There’s a permanent school of candyfloss and diamond textbooks

waiting to teach them about the ghosts of great emperors.

It’s the time when they died that will never forgive, and will ever hate itself

for taking them walking to the undersea graves of lost civilizations.

There’s teeny shoes floating in the sea that had warm, happy feet in them.

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There’s a TV somewhere that always shows cartoons only Japanese children can understand.

There’s a tear we cry for strangers who will never grow up to be our friends.

Or invent new light.

Or cure the gangrene in our hateful bones.

There is soil that will never be disturbed, for there is no reason to displace it for graves.

It is fine soil, still, and we should honor it by planting flowers that taste like rice candy.

We should remember that sometimes the bubblegum kids see with both a living and a dead set of eyes.

And we should love them, and we should remember them,

And we should hold what we know of them with a warmth that radiates down into the deepest chasm at the bottom of the sea.

(—For the lost children of Japan after March 11th, 2011. Photograph taken in Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo in September 2013. See my other photo work here and here.)

“It’s In Their Eyes” is a present for you on my birthday

Well it’s my birthday, literally today is my birthday, and so I wanted to give you a present. I’m 57 years old today, in case you were wondering. Frankly, because of some mental-health and past booze-related reasons I’m amazed and very happy to still be here. But that’s a story for another place and time.

Right, on to your gift.

2020 was a shitty year for many reasons, mostly the COVID-19 pandemic. I mean, my daily movements and social interactions were restricted, your daily movements and social interactions were restricted, we had more free time, more booze, more Netflix, less money, less security, and less hope. It was a big fucking mess that will hopefully come under rapid and compassionate control due to the leadership of our new president.

Anyway, what I did most of last year during my short trips outside my house to the supermarket, the pharmacy, and a few other essential places was take photographs of people in masks doing the same ordinary, essential stuff I was doing in our vastly-altered national circumstances.

And now I’ve made a book of my favorites of those photographs.

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And, as with my last two books, I’m making it available to you for free. It’s full of both color and monochrome photos of folks in the same kinds of places doing the the same kinds of things you have been doing since this national disaster started in March, 2020.

  • So download “It’s In Their Eyes” here. It’s in PDF format and totals 36.6MB.
  • And donate (if you’re so inclined) to my “getting ‘It’s In Their Eyes’ printed” fund here.

I’d love to hear your comments or criticisms. You can unload on me about “It’s In Their Eyes” by leaving a comment on this post, or by contacting me via Facebook, or Twitter.

Thanks for having a look, and I hope you enjoy “It’s In Their Eyes”.

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(Brisbane, California, January 21, 2021. See my other work here.)

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