The dancing kind
dances with her daughter
in the street
on the sidewalk
both of them radiant
like champions of love.
This is a short, simple story. I was on my way to my favorite discount supermarket in San Francisco when I encountered these three guys on the sidewalk at a bus stop, and a couple of the gents decided to smoke some meth.
They were really nice guys, though, so don’t get the wrong impression.
The fellow who initially pulled out the glass pipe wore a wrist band that suggested he’d recently been a patient in a hospital someplace. While a few people at the bus stop looked on with obvious disdain, he pulled out his lighter and sparked up his gear…
Then he took a few drags from it. He sucked on it like an infant feeding from a milk bottle because his mother’s breasts had run dry…
Then he passed the glass to his pal, who had been patiently waiting to take a few hits himself. The big fellow on the end didn’t partake, he just kept chatting with me about the plumbing business he was saving money to open up one day. He and his companion were sitting on a huge audio speaker and I have no idea why…
And’s that’s pretty much it. Despite the fact that these gents were smoking hard drugs at a moderately-busy bus stop, It was all rather low-key and somehow calm and civilized.
Like I said, they were really nice guys.
Well it’s my birthday, literally today is my birthday, and so I wanted to give you a present. I’m 57 years old today, in case you were wondering. Frankly, because of some mental-health and past booze-related reasons I’m amazed and very happy to still be here. But that’s a story for another place and time.
Right, on to your gift.
2020 was a shitty year for many reasons, mostly the COVID-19 pandemic. I mean, my daily movements and social interactions were restricted, your daily movements and social interactions were restricted, we had more free time, more booze, more Netflix, less money, less security, and less hope. It was a big fucking mess that will hopefully come under rapid and compassionate control due to the leadership of our new president.
Anyway, what I did most of last year during my short trips outside my house to the supermarket, the pharmacy, and a few other essential places was take photographs of people in masks doing the same ordinary, essential stuff I was doing in our vastly-altered national circumstances.
And now I’ve made a book of my favorites of those photographs.
And, as with my last two books, I’m making it available to you for free. It’s full of both color and monochrome photos of folks in the same kinds of places doing the the same kinds of things you have been doing since this national disaster started in March, 2020.
Thanks for having a look, and I hope you enjoy “It’s In Their Eyes”.
(Brisbane, California, January 21, 2021. See my other work here.)
Tuesday I was in this pre-apocalyptic part of San Francisco right next to the 101 freeway that’s a mixture of big box retailers, warehouses, fast food joints, and a few liquor stores. Homelessness abounds in that part of town, so I wasn’t oblivious when this frail, gentle old man wheeled his shopping cart up to me and asked for spare change.
I gave him a few $1 bills and took a few photos of him, with his permission, during our transaction. And although he didn’t say “What would Jesus do?” while we briefly spoke, I keep looking at my photograph of him and thinking that the question and his image would fit together perfectly.
And for me the answer is I don’t know what Jesus would have done, but I know what I would’ve done if I wasn’t too broke myself to do it…
Remember: people and the world are more beautiful, odd, and interesting than you think, you just have to stop and look long enough to notice.
If you’ve seen this column before, you know what it’s about. If you haven’t, you’ll figure it out quickly. So I’m just going to get right to it because life as