My wife and I live in an 88-year-old house which has never been adequately retrofitted to accommodate the installation of a washer and dryer for laundry. We’re slowly setting aside the cash to one day solve that problem, but in the meantime once or twice a month we schlep our dirty duds to a local laundromat. Now, you’ll get no argument from me that the process of driving (or walking) five or six pillow cases full of laundry to the laundromat then spending two or more hours washing, drying, and folding your wardrobe is basically a pain in the ass.
It is, particularly if the laundromat is crowded and you have to wait for dryers. So, yes, laundromats are as mundane as a library card. But they’re also rich, warm places in which to be in the thick of humanity’s ebb and flow. At least the one I use is. And yesterday, the last Monday in September, was a very rewarding day for me as a photographer washing socks and capturing human moments at the laundromat…
Tiny twin girls, who were as adorable as their big, burly father was good-natured and easy with a laugh. I learned what a easy-going fellow he was when I asked his permission to take this photograph.
Miles the laid-back Chihuahua, in the arms of his primary human and receiving loads of adoration from his fan club on the left.
Edgar the relaxed Malamute, with a nice lady who coincidentally is the mother-in-law of a friend of mine. The lady rescued Edgar from a Malamute breeder who beat him the first two years of his life and kept him in a small cage with ten other dogs.
This is Brenda. She’s 72 and undergoing cancer chemotherapy for the first time in her life. She just started the chemo, that very morning in fact, but won’t know if it takes until some time this November. She’s happy to be getting treatment, because the cancer was making her very sick. She’s originally from North Carolina, but she and her man are moving to San Diego to settle while Brenda undergoes further cancer treatments. Her pink ribbon hat caught my eye, but her candor and aura of optimism and hope held my attention.
At the laundromat, there’s always more life and hope and joy and pain than you think.
(Super Coin Laundry, Brisbane, California, September 2017)
She entered the hospital last night, for an ailment that is hers to disclose. Not life-threatening, but perhaps life-changing. She’s the best person I’ve ever known, so it was agony to see her writhing and shifting for hours in emergency room pain. I would have taken that nerve-lashing unto myself if I could.
And today is her 63rd birthday. I should be making her a favorite dinner, but she’s in a hospital bed on Opiate Street. “Time’s passing so slow” morphine-she said to me this morning. We both have less time than we used to have, but its savory quality has increased as we’ve aged.
I could’ve grown old with myself. I will likely grow old longer because of her. Not knowing what to do, and being a poor hospital tourist, I took some photographs when my wife didn’t need my attention. There will likely be more; but on her birthday when she can eat no cake on the inpatient ward, these will do…
The admitting technician was a fine fellow of compassionate demeanor.
A dinosaur-child in the hallway as my wife was moved from the ER to her room.
No names on the screen means no pain in a hallway for healing professionals.
She’s in bed and waiting, and monitoring time.
Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco, California 2017
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.)
It was a dark morning in Tokyo and had been raining for most of the night. On my way to a Ministop convenience store to buy some natto maki and an egg salad sandwich for breakfast, I spotted this kid who was dragging a huge cooler through the rainy streets.
We were headed the same way so I ended up following him for several hundred yards. Pulling the cooler while juggling the umbrella and huge shoulder bag made the kid stop a few times to redistribute and manage his burdens. Finally while passing a small park he stopped long enough for me to take his picture. I was also going to offer to help him schlep the cooler to wherever he was going.
But when he saw me as I snapped this photograph he barked a string of Japanese words which included “no way” and “foreigner”, and I knew immediately that there was no point in trying to offer my help.
(Hydrangea Park, Nakano, Tokyo 2015)
If you regularly take the Chūō Line from Shinjuku towards points west, you may have seen this face. It overlooks a playground at a school for little kids. I’ve wanted a picture of this place for years, so last October I walked from Nakano Station towards Shinjuku and found it.
I like to think there are many concrete gods in Tokyo, and they regard this wall here as their beloved pet…
(Nakano 6-chome, Tokyo 2015)