when you drive by the beach
you see big bastard machines
and boys on skateboards
you don’t know if
one is going to crush the other
but you figure
what the hell
you might as well stop
have a look
and wait to find out.
(Erosion control @ Ocean Beach, San Francisco 2016. This photo is also on Flickr.)
Look at this unconventionally beautiful man, and what he was willing to share with my wife. She and I were at a festival at the Ohtori Shrine in Asakusa on a Tuesday…
To this man we were strangers, foreigners to him, and that mattered for nothing. When I asked to take his picture, he agreed. Then he saw my wife and insisted she borrow his shimekazari so that I could take a picture of her holding it…
The Japanese are often the most warm, generous people you will ever meet. And because of this man, that day in the Asakusa sun with my wife was one of my best days in Tokyo or anywhere ever.
(Asakusa 4-chome, Tokyo 2015)
This is our country now, this is our lives.
I saw a flag on a house
that does not usually fly one.
An elected official lives there.
I voted for her, hell yes.
I’ve voted a shitload in my life.
I voted the last time,
the bad time
when the change we wanted
is the worst we could’ve imagined.
And I’m standing there
looking at this flag,
and the dog’s looking at me.
And I’m pretty sure
the dog’s asking “What in the FUCK did you people do?!!”
And, you know,
I love that dog,
I’ve known him for years,
but I hate the question.
Because I don’t have an answer,
and I’m not gonna like
the answer that comes.
(This is a real photograph, not staged, proudly taken in Brisbane, California on November 12th, 2016)
Yasukuni Shrine is an interesting place, but I won’t make more of visiting it than doing so deserves. The truth is, my wife and I went there on a rainy Sunday primarily to browse a weekly flea market on the shrine grounds. We arrived around 9:45 a.m. There wasn’t much right-wing nationalist activity, just five or six men in olive-drab uniforms sitting out the rain in two black propaganda vans. They drove away 20 minutes later.
Everything at Yasukuni was wet, the sky was uniformly dour and grey, and the immense Daiichi Torii gate looked as if it was indifferent to who walked under it that day and would maintain its indifference for the next 1,000 years…
(Yasukuni Jinja, Tokyo 2015)