Monthly Archives: July 2016

A coda for Irwin Fletcher

At the DoubleTree Hotel in Brisbane today, there was a seized asset/estate sale auction open to the public. Some legitimate art was on display, including bronzes by Remington and original drawings by heavy hitters like Picasso and Miró. Seems the seized assets came from drug dealers with decent taste. There was entertainment memorabilia as well, including an L.A. Lakers Fletch jersey signed by Chevy Chase. It’s clearly an humorous extension of the Fletch character’s basketball fantasy from the 1985 movie

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(DoubleTree Hotel, Brisbane, California 2016)

A lineman not of Wichita

A Comcast installation technician, taking a short break while installing cable service for my new neighbors next door. He piloted this boom truck bucket skillfully to the top of the utility pole near our houses to do whatever magic he’s paid to do to bring television and internet to the entertainment-hungry masses.

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(Brisbane, California 2016)

Let’s English here

The unwavering jizō

Kozukappara is one of Tokyo’s most notorious Edo-era execution grounds. This beautiful jizō overlooks and guards the place. The grounds are a very short walk from the south end of Minami-senju Station, and so trains are constantly coming and going on elevated tracks on either side of Kozukappara. But despite its unquiet location, the jizō, in its wisdom and patience, keeps calm, unwavering watch, guarding the living from the dead and the dead from the living…

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(Near Minami-senju Station, Tokyo 2015)

Greetings from television…

I was bored one afternoon last November, waiting to leave my short-term apartment rental in Nakano 5-chome to go pick up my wife at Haneda. To kill the time, I turned on the television. The TV happened to be tuned to a kid’s program on NHK Educational TV (NHK Eテレ)…

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I barely understand Japanese TV, because I barely understand the Japanese language. But Japanese TV is always visually interesting, so I rolled with it for awhile, looking forward to seeing my wife.

I have no idea what the shirtless guy with the obviously oiled skin was advertising…

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(Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

Incongruous mouthfuls

She was chewing on French pastry, he had her pacifier in his mouth. I’m not a dad so I don’t know how these things work, but the incongruity of it was surprising and delightful…

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(Midtown Market, Brisbane, California 2016. Published with additional commentary on Scholars and Rogues.)

Bravery

He was smiling his way through Takadanobaba Station on Halloween, a night that’s crazy in Tokyo. The Yamanote Line crowd was a thick slurry of rush hour commuters and partiers in transit. His white cane made his blindness obvious. That and the cardboard mikoshi on his head made him stand out. His face held joy and purpose, and what he was doing took guts. I felt respect for him, and hoped his Halloween was happy…

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(Takadanobaba Station, Tokyo 2015)

Kyoto, in motion and at rest

I was wandering around Gion, Kyoto one morning last November, checking out what kind of activity beats in Japan’s cultural heart before the typical white collar work day begins. It was a Tuesday around 8:30 a.m. Most shops and restaurants in Gion don’t open that early so it seemed like only essential infrastructural stuff was happening.

There was this fellow and his crew, installing a new hunk of concrete among the paving stones on Shinbashi Dori to replace the frame around a manhole cover leading to a storm drain…

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Around the corner on Yamato Oji Dori, this fellow was taking a smoke break from unloading construction materials from the back of the truck he was in. One of his co-workers was slumped down asleep in the seat next to him. They were parked in front of a restaurant which looked like it was being renovated…

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And that was just a morning, in passing, in a city the definitely sleeps but also gets up early and ready to work.

(Gion, Kyoto, Japan 2015)

Jasmine and Buddy

She was sitting on a Japantown sidewalk, on Webster Street around the corner from Nijiya Market. She looked displaced, like a woman who’d just left a difficult relationship and the apartment that went with it. But she also did not look frantic, and I hoped that meant she had friends who could let her crash on a couch for however long she needed to.

Then there was the dog, Buddy. He may well have been the reason she was holding it together, not freaking out, while she figured out how to use the city to take care of them both…

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(Japantown, San Francisco 2016)

Determination

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