Posts in Category: People

Darkness/lightness

This is brief recounting of two men from very different walks of Japanese life, whom I encountered near Ueno Station within 45 minutes of each other. The first, an older and somewhat rugged-looking salaryman, stopped for a smoke on the south end of Ueno Station by a ramp which descends down to the Tokyo Metro…

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The second, a monk holding out a bowl for alms on a street corner across Chūō Dori from Ueno Station. Monks with such bowls are a familiar sight in this spot…

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I wondered if the monk was a fake, for in Tokyo these men are sometimes convincing imposters who collect money from unsuspecting passersby for no legitimate religious purpose. But about the salaryman I had no doubts. He was who he appeared to be, and I respected the miles I saw in the lines on his face and the battle his hair was losing to age.

Ultimately, however, the contrasts between the two men captured my attention. The differences between their appearances, apparent professions, and between Japan’s new ways and old ways.

(Ueno Station, Tokyo 2015)

The kitten, the junkie, the dog, and Steven

Extremes enrich an abundant life…

In my chosen profession there are extremes which exist outside of me and are mine (or yours) to take or leave. The world is ugly, and the world is beautiful, and I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable calling myself a photojournalist if I wasn’t willing to embrace how wonderful and horrible the world can be. You got to love the hate and hate the love, so to speak.

Scholars & Rogues has given me a forum to show you, our faithful readers, the weird bits of pathos, promise, and pain that I encounter as I wander in and around San Francisco, California and its suburbs. I do this to show you that we are not just a collective of progressive thinkers, critics, and college professors. We are also no strangers to the street. We have been in, and sometimes slept in, the gutters and found within ourselves the strength to take a realistic but also an humane and compassionate view of American life and how our country fits into the world.

So on the tenth anniversary of Scholars & Rogues, I want to make you feel good. And I want to make you feel bad. And I want to give you hope. Because that’s what life does to all of us on a regular basis. And to start here’s my kitten Kuro-chan grooming himself at my house in Brisbane, California…

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Then we have a junkie fumbling with a meth needle on 16th Street and Potrero in San Francisco…

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And here’s a dog from my neighborhood named Babaloo showing a bit of pink steel…

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Finally, here’s Steven, a manic street kid who treated me with grace and humor while we hung out behind a gas station on Patterson Street in San Francisco…

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This is our lives, all of us. We all have to understand that we live in an uncomfortable zone encompassing the kitten, the junkie, the dog, and Steven. It’s a place stuck in between soft kitty fur and the used needle on the sidewalk. You don’t get to choose whether you’re in this paradigm or not. You’re in it.

All we at Scholars & Rogues can do is try to draw you in and make you a willing part of it all. We owe you that. As human beings and journalists, we owe you nothing less.

(Pictures taken in Brisbane, California and San Francisco, California. See my other work here and here.)

The man who laughed t‘ai-chi

On my way to work this past Monday, I drove past an older man doing t‘ai-chi exercise by the side of a particularly busy street in South San Francisco. I broke several traffic laws turning my car around so that I could pull up to the curb in front of him to take a photograph. Luckily, I got to him just in time to capture this exuberant expression.

I’ve looked for the old man each subsequent morning since this encounter, but haven’t seen him…

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(Hillside Boulevard near Lincoln Street, South San Francisco, California 2017)

I’ve been seeing red

I don’t know what it is, but the past several days I’ve been noticing people who are dressed in red. It’s pleasing, but odd, as I typically never consciously emphasize any particular color when a scene has caught my eye and I decide it’s worth a photograph. Perhaps it’s my subconscious manifesting the abundant anger I’ve been feeling about my wife’s recent medical traumas and the death of my cat, among other things.

Nevertheless, I take photographs to celebrate moments in life that appeal to me and that you might also cherish, or at least find interesting. So here’s some glorious red, though the color is not so glorious as the people wearing it…

Kinetic Red, Webster Street @ Fell Street, San Francisco 2017

A woman crossing Webster Street while Fell Street traffic zooms by in San Francisco on March 28th.

 

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An stylish youth in Geneva Avenue traffic near Mission Street in San Francisco on March 29th.

 

NYC attitude at a South San Francisco Safeway, California 2017

At a Safeway in South San Francisco on March 31st.

(San Francisco and South San Francisco, California 2017)

Kung-fu Spring

I was in San Francisco the other day, in front of the Goodwill Store on Clement Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. It was a warmer day than usual for early March, but even so it was surprising to see this guy with his shirt off in the middle of the day. He was unleashing a series of martial arts kicks upon an unresponsive parking meter…

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He didn’t appear to actually be kicking the meter, just feathering his foot close enough to show the meter he meant business in case things got ugly…

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Things didn’t get ugly, though, and when the man realized he was being photographed he was pretty cool about it. San Francisco’s a great town for observing people doing weird but benign things…

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(Clement Street between 9th and 19th Avenues, San Francisco, California 2017)

Waiting at the Mark Hopkins

Yesterday I photographed a luncheon for a San Francisco lawyers’ group in the Peacock Court at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. During a down moment I noticed this food server at the ready and looking completely patient, professional, but also a bit procedurally weary. I admired the combination of those three elements in him, and wanted to honor the man by preserving the moment…

Food server, Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, California 2017 (Story:

(Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco 2017)

Tiny woman, big butt

Spaceman and Mickey pants…

My wife has been in the hospital for almost two weeks. Thankfully, she should be home in a couple of days. It’s a dicey thing shooting photos in an hospital. Ethically (and morally, and legally), hospitals have very justifiably strict rules about whom and where you can take pictures. You can’t infringe upon a person’s privacy, nor endanger anyone’s patient confidentiality.

Fortunately, today I encountered a couple of good sports who allowed me to photograph them. I’m and grateful and happy to have the opportunity to showcase their visual distinctiveness…

An hospital technician in airborne disease precautionary headgear…

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A fellow in Mickey Mouse pants who I happened to see in an hospital hallway…

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Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco, California 2017

The Ueno Ameyayokochō Time

Kaiser, my baby

I’m a lousy husband. I find it impossible to hang around my wife’s hospital room for hours watching her writhe in pain while the nurses and her doctor wait for her condition to stabilize. When it does, they’ll determine if she needs surgery. In the meantime, I’ve been bringing her things that she needs, and drinking too much when I’m home. This is all new and overwhelming to me. My wife’s the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever known, and I can’t take away her pain. I can’t do anything at all right now but love her.

And take a few pictures, to maybe make some good come of this in the form of my inadequate art…

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South San Francisco and the El Camino Real from the roof of the Kaiser Permanente parking garage.

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Colma Creek from the roof of the parking garage.

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Hallway on my wife’s ward.

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Hospital gift shop couture.

Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco, California 2017

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