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…
Then we have a junkie fumbling with a meth needle on 16th Street and Potrero in San Francisco…
And here’s a dog from my neighborhood named Babaloo showing a bit of pink steel…
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…
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.
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)
Snack time for an energetic dog in the parking lot at Brisbane’s grocery store…
(Brisbane, California 2016)
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…
(Japantown, San Francisco 2016)
While running errands today, I stopped at Brisbane’s laundromat and grocery story respectively. This town loves dogs, and I’ve been shooting and compiling pictures of people with their dogs for a themed book I want to do. Here are two pictures I took today for that project…
Mike and Sassy at the laundromat.
Letitia and Romeo at the grocery store.
(Brisbane, California, April 2016)