Posts Tagged: Brisbane Graphic Arts Museum

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.)

Destination suggested but still unknown

A scooter at midnight during the war

Down in San Bruno, California
there are renegades and vampires
running gun and overrunning every street.
There are always women in the crosswalks
shepherding their invisible children
to non-existent schools.
These women drink hard liquor for no pay,
because that’s their little piece
of The American Way.

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Their husbands and wives are all off at war,
there is always a war,
and they never know where the war is,
who the war is against,
or if their husbands or wives will ever come home.

This just in:
The Defense Department and Bar and Grill
just announced nobody from San Bruno, California
is on active duty in the war.
They lied to their wives and went drinking
in the next town over for several months
because their invisible children
are easy prey for vampires,
make too much noise when they die,
and they couldn’t face it.

San Mateo Avenue, San Bruno, 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

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

My wife is in the hospital on her birthday…

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…

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The admitting technician was a fine fellow of compassionate demeanor.

Sunday night at Kaiser, South San Francisco, California 2016

A dinosaur-child in the hallway as my wife was moved from the ER to her room.

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No names on the screen means no pain in a hallway for healing professionals.

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She’s in bed and waiting, and monitoring time.

Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco, California 2017

In my neighborhood…

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.

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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)

Here’s to Henry

How do I pay tribute to a man who both enriched and destroyed my life? If I had never read his work I’d be less of a boozer than I am, but also less of a human being. Charles Bukowski would have been 96 years old today, and I have praised and cursed his very existence with every gulp of cheap beer or sip of fine rum that I have ever taken.

Kiyokawa, Tokyo 2012

(↑Kiyokawa, Tokyo 2012)

So what do I do here, Hank? Praise the fucking gods that I finally decided to get sober, or laugh at my own stupidity for leaving behind your horrible, desperate, inspiring, and beautiful world? I don’t really know. This is the kind of thing I used to have to consider over a cold beer.

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(↑Nihonzutsumi, Tokyo 2012)

I would have liked to have had a drink with you just once, to probe with some sort of scientific accuracy the reasons why demons chew on my testicles and nap on my liver and never pay one fucking penny’s worth of rent for the spaces they take up in my soul.

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(↑Nihonzutsumi, Tokyo 2013)

It would have been nice to talk with you about that. But you’re not here, and some days I’m not either, and who gives a shit anyway? It was your nihilism, probably more than anything else, that I admired most about you.

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(↑Seoul Izakaya, Nihonzutsumi, Tokyo 2013)

The Art of Not Giving a Fuck, you were a master of it. You were a horse’s ass in a pasture full of donkeys, and therefore owned the patent on a certain type of irony.

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(↑Freedom, Nakano 5-chome, Tokyo 2015)

And I love you, and I hate you, and to honor you I offer up these photographs of people whose beauty and tragedy not only rivals but exceeds your best writings about how our human condition is both wretched and worth living in defiance of sorrow and hope.

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(↑San Bruno, California 2015)

I’m a better man because of you, Mr. Bukowski, but I am a worse person. I love human beings more because of you, but I also feel better when they’re not around…

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(↑Brisbane, California 2016)

(Also published on Scholars and Rogues.)

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