About once a week, usually in the late morning, I drive into San Francisco to do my money errands at a Bank of America at the corner of Leland Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard. Sometimes when I’m standing in line at the ATM, there’s a guy across the way setting up a large buffet.
I’ve heard he runs a soul food kitchen in Hunters Point, and on slow days he drives a couple of miles south to this San Francisco neighborhood to make a few bucks selling jambalaya, fried catfish, greens, mac and cheese, and other soul food comfort classics. He had a menu displayed that identified him as Chef Tasty, and the ‘tasty’ part surely described the odors from the food he was putting out.
The day I shot these photographs I literally didn’t have the time to do much more. The chef himself was in a bit of a hurry setting up his buffet; in the moment we briefly chatted he didn’t seem like he had the time yet to wait on me anyway. So it all worked out.
But the next time I see him I’m getting me a full plate of whatever he’s selling that day.
I was on Sunnydale Avenue in San Francisco recently at weekly food bank, working on a project of mine about people and community outreach during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. And this beautiful little girl caught my eye because of the bright pink braids she had flowing from her hair.
The girl was with a friend of mine, who is also the girl’s godmother, and she had no problems with me taking a few pictures of the girl and her striking hair.
As I was lifting my camera to my face to begin snapping, my friend told the girl “Hold it up, let him see it.” What she meant was the laminate hanging from the girl’s neck, a family photo featuring the girl and her father right in the center of it. The girl’s father had his arms around her.
I looked a question at my friend, who said to me “Her daddy died yesterday. He got shot.”
Ten minutes later I was carrying a box of food bank vegetables to the girl’s nearby apartment, and I asked my friend what happened. She told me the girl’s father was shot dead nearby when he was trying to score some weed from a man who had a gun and who was just too crazy to be dealing weed at that particular moment in time.
I looked at my friend and asked her “Who dies over weed anymore? It’s fucking weed, it’s legal.”
Neither one of us had an answer. Then she walked into the girl’s apartment, and I put the box of vegetables on the trunk of a car parked in front of it and left.
shine a light,
our own radiance.
We pick locks
we cannot see,
we cannot smell,
and gossip about things
we do not know.
others for our capture.
We stop loving
others for our cold empty.
with the children
we used to be
and wonder why,
now we’ve grown,
we don’t dance
than we used to.
(Photographed in San Bruno, California on Christmas Eve, 2020. See my other work here.)