Posts Tagged: African-American

Sidewalk soul food buffet

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.

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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.

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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.

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(Photographed in San Francisco, California in September, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

Her daddy died the day before

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.

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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.”

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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.

(Photographed in San Francisco, California in August, 2021. See my other work here and here.)

In darkness…

In darkness
we cannot
shine a light,
so we
undervalue
our own radiance.
We pick locks
we cannot see,
taste foods
we cannot smell,
and gossip about things
we do not know.
We enslave
ourselves
and blame
others for our capture.

Christmas Eve at the 380 offramp, part 1...
San Bruno California, December 2020

We stop loving
our lives
and blame
others for our cold empty.
In darkness
we dance
with the children
we used to be
and wonder why,
now we’ve grown,
we don’t dance
any better
than we used to.

(Photographed in San Bruno, California on Christmas Eve, 2020. See my other work here.)

How we get to the snacks

So, the coronavirus, yeah. How are you holding up? It’s crazy out there, right? Not like ‘violence in the streets’ crazy, not yet, but nutty enough. I really hope you’ve got enough savings and food and family support and job security to get though this as painlessly as possible.

I’ve been going out every day, mostly just to my local grocery store a few blocks from my house to get Dr Pepper and cigarettes. And I started a little project photographing people wearing masks, at food stores and elsewhere, to protect themselves from viral infection. It’s not a world-changing project, but it’s something to keep me occupied while we’re all mostly stuck at home all day.

So I hope you enjoy the photos here, and the growing number of photographs I’m compiling here. Thanks for having a look.

Dressed like the frozen food section is contagious Antarctica...
San Francisco, California, March 2020

At a Grocery Outlet in San Francisco

Happy family in virus time...
San Francisco, California, March 2020

Waiting in line outside a Nijiya Market in San Francisco

Lovely eyes and a virus mask...
Brisbane, California, March 2020

At Midtown Market here in Brisbane, California

(San Francisco and Brisbane, California, March, 2020. See my other work here and here.)

Convenience

I’ve shopped in a lot of 7-11s in my life.

At the 7-11...
South San Francisco, California, September 2016

Maybe you have too.

At the 7-11...
South San Francisco, California, May 2017

I only started photographing people I’d encounter at 7-11 a few years ago. I was a public school substitute teacher in 2016 and 2017, and I used to stop by whatever store was on my way to work for a Dr Pepper and some kind of donut for breakfast.

At the 7-11...
South San Francisco, California, November 2016

I’m not a school teacher any longer, but I still treasure my 7-11 adventures. See more of the people I met at the convenience store here. I hope you enjoy them.

(Photographed in South San Francisco, California in September and November, 2016 and in May, 2017. See my other work here and here.)

My week of shooting, 28 April 2019

Codename: McDonald’s Hamburger Eyes

Because I live about two miles south of the San Francisco city and county line, my photographic work continues to evolve and to benefit from the rich cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity of this area. It also benefits from living with two loveably-insane cats…

  • This week I got a big boost professionally from Hamburger Eyes, a highly-regarded Los Angeles photo magazine that has just published some of my cat photographs in its latest issue. The photos are from my ongoing “Kitty Noir” photo series about my cats Kuroneko and Mikadzuki, which you can see here.

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  • Thursday I stopped into a Daly City McDonald’s for a snack, and congratulated myself for deciding at the last second to walk inside instead using the drive-thru…

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  • As I left that McDonald’s, this woman asked me for a light and some change. I gave her both, and felt a kind of peace and comfort while standing in front of her. Visually she reminded me of CCH Pounder.

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  • On Friday “Avengers: Endgame” opened nationwide at a theater near you, but I’m sure you knew that. Huge American movies like this follow us everywhere. They watch us as much as we watch them. This photo is also on Flickr.

Superheroes on the menu...
Daly City, California, April 2019

  • Saturday in Brisbane I encountered a Sikh and his family. And I think once you’ve photographed a suburban Sikh dad who’s wearing coordinated shades of pink, you’ve reached some kind of visual pinnacle. He is also on Flickr.

Once you've photographed a suburban Sikh dad in coordinated shades of pink, you've reached some kind of visual pinnacle...
Brisbane, California, April 2019

That’s it for now. Until next time see my other work here and here.

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.

My week of shooting, Easter Sunday 2019

“It’s easy to be a holy man on the top of a mountain”…

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…

Homeless man San Francisco

This photograph is also on Flickr. And please have a look at my other work here and here.

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.

Mother days

Yeah, I know, Mother’s Day is quasi-holiday that is way too commercialized. But that doesn’t mean we can’t legitimately set aside one day per year to honor our mums for bringing us into this world and then doing their best not to fuck everything up after that. Motherhood is hard work, a lifetime of it. It’s 24/7 for at least 18 years but really it’s from the day you’re born until the day one of you dies. And for the rest of their life whoever remains has to do whatever it takes to keep from falling completely apart emotionally.

It’s vicious, it’s cruel, it’s love, and it’s life itself. If asked I bet most mothers would say they wouldn’t trade one good, great, bad, or horrible second of raising their children for anything. I hope that includes your mom.

To celebrate this day of Eggs Benedict, mimosas, and fresh-cut flowers I present a small gallery of photographs I’ve taken in the past few years of moms and their kids. I hope you enjoy it, and see the beauty and edginess in these people who share a human bond like no other…

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Brisbane, California, July 2015

Akagi Shrine, Kagurazaka, Tokyo 2015 (Story: http://www.brisbanegraphicartsmuseum.com/?p=116)

Kagurazaka, Tokyo, Japan, November 2015

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Sierra Point Yacht Club, Brisbane, California, September 2016

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Clarion Alley, San Francisco, March 2017

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Nijiya Market, Japantown, San Francisco, July 2017

(Photographed in Tokyo, Japan, and Brisbane and San Francisco, California. See my other work here and here.)

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