About photography, the act of photographing, my own photographs, and photographers I admire

Look What They've Done to my Walk

I walked around my old San Fran home near the Bay Bridge this morning. In particular I wanted to see what they did with the park they were finishing along the Embarcadero by my place.

Oh. My. God.

The park itself is rather nice, with simple green hills and flowers and nice chairs for people to sit on and watch the water. On some of the cement blocks bordering the green, bronze imitation octopus and shells were embedded in the cement, for those tourists who, I assume, were too dense to notice that they're by the Bay. One or two embedded items might have been nice — several dozen repeating in a pattern, like tile on a kitchen floor isn't. I'd have taken a picture, but I has to ask myself, Why?

Still, these were not the jewel of the park, the center of attraction. On no. That was reserved for a 60 foot tall bow and arrow embedded into ground.

I stood there for some time looking at the supposed feathers on the arrow, trying to figure out why San Francisco was using a Native American theme for what is a water-based parkway. I assumed that's what the bow and arrow symbolized. Still, it didn't make sense –after all, San Francisco has never had much identity with native american history, other than the tribe that took over Alcatraz that one time.

I also wondered if the statue had increased the traffic accident count on the Bay Bridge, with its full view of the, urh, artwork.

(When I came back to the hotel to rest in the early afternoon — still feeling the effects of the drive and the moving yesterday — I looked the statue up. It's called "Cupid's Span", and symbolizes San Francisco as a romantic city. Oh. Good. God.)

After the bow incident, I explored the newly renovated Ferry building, and that was a real treat. Lovely restoration, and the use of the space for upscale dining combined with hometown food purveyors like Acme Bread (Yum! My favorite!) is a great use of space. Not to mention the Farmer's Market. In fact, I'm heading back this evening for the Thursday night Farmer's Market, where I hope to pick up dinner. Following, I'll wonder down to Pier 39 and beyond, saying hi to the Pelicans and seals, and the guys painted silver.

I thought about walking down to the bow and arrow one more time, taking a photo of it in the sunset light, which could only help it (nothng can make it worse). But then I thought — Why? Hopefully I'll have other pictures for you tonight.




The fog was out today, but not so heavy that it triggered the fog horns on Golden Gate. Too bad, really — the fog combined with the horns is unique and one of my favorite experiences.


No dogs on Dog Beach. It looks like pooches are now banned in an effort to protect the wildlife. I can understand the choice, but I did enjoy watching the pups play in the waves.

Still, I imagine the birdlife on the beach is pretty happy about the new laws.


The Ferry Building is finished and the Tower Clock was working when I drove past it to get to the hotel. The Famer's Market has moved there, and I plan on visiting the building first thing in the morning. I remember the Ferry Building as a hulk of a building, with only the steel frame and front and what was left of the tower.

The park along the Embarcadero where I used to live, down by the Bay Bridge, is also finished. Looks like a huge Bow and Arrow sculpture has been added. Another place to visit tomorrow.


Having a great time. Wish you were here.



The Road Goes On and On

When I'm on the road, I'll either sleep like a baby or toss and turn all night, and this trip is a tosser and turner. Normally I take great joy in road trips, but this one just isn't clicking for me. It shows in my writing, and it showed in my driving, which was, frankly, pretty bad today. Not because of the car I was driving but because I kept doing stupid things. Stupid, stupid things.

I decided to see if I could wake up my interest in the trip by varying my route and going I70 through the Rockies to Castle Canyon in Utah, and then travel up I15 to Salt Lake City.


As I expected the scenery was incredible, and I've included some photos in this post. Note that the day was very hazy, so the colors and lines are muted. But I think you can see at least a glimpse of the beauty of the scenery of I70 west of Denver.


First comes the Rockies, and my roommates poor old van had a difficult time making the steep grade. I was further slowed because around every corner is another breathtaking moment, and by the time I entered Utah, I was far behind my scheduled arrival in Nevada tonight.


Utah was hot, hot, hot — 105 degrees F. But again, around every corner was another vista, formation, bit of color what have you that I had to explore and capture. Even when it meant walking around in the desert and around rocks at these temperatures.

(One legacy of this adventure — a headache that began with the altitude change in Colorado and was continued with the temperatures in Utah.)

The oddest thing happened along I70 just before making the turn to I15 to head north — these bugs were crawling across the road, big ones that looked like a cross between a giant red bee and some kind of beetle. They were a dark reddish brown, all one color, and they crawled quite quickly. I would estimate their size at 1-2 inches long. I tried not to run any over, but it was impossible as more appeared as I traveled.

Now, what was even more disconcerting is that several 'attacked' the van as I drove past, or at least, that's what it looked like. They hopped at the van as it went by. To me this suggests an attack. Perhaps they're a hitchhiking species.

The further I traveled the more bugs, until at one bridge, there were literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, crawling across the road. I never, in my life, wanted a car to work as I wanted the van to work today. Do not break down, I found myself whispering.

I have no idea what these bugs are, and have never experienced anything like this. True, I've had little sleep the last few days, but I'm not imagining the critters. At least, I hope I'm not — I still have several hundred miles to drive. I know that I'll have nightmares tonight from this one, which is probably why I'm still up writing this post. If anyone knows what these things are, please, please, let me know.

I ended up getting into Salt Lake City at 9:30. Bone tired. I have another day of driving tomorrow, which I am not looking forward to. However, I'll have time in San Fran to rest up before trip home, the fogs are in this week (my favorite San Fran weather), and I won't need to make another run to the coast for anything other than pleasure in the future.

At this point, though, what I want is to stay close to home. To continue my exploration of Missouri's hikes and culture; to work on the Wayward Weblogger co-op server (the neighborhood is filling nicely); to contribute to Echo and some other RDF projects. Not to mention write and take more bandwidth stealing photos.

For the first time in I don't know how long, I don't want to travel. I don't want to go somewhere. If a rolling stone gathers no moss, then I want to grow some moss on my butt.



On Poetry and Pictures

The rest of us watch from beyond the fence
as the woman moves with her jagged stride
into her pain as if into a slow race.
We see her body in motion
but hear no sounds, or we hear
sounds but no language; or we know
it is not a language we know
yet. We can see her clearly
but for her it is running in black smoke.
The cluster of cells in her swelling
like porridge boiling, and bursting,
like grapes, we think. Or we think of
explosions in mud; but we know nothing.
All around us the trees
and the grasses light up with forgiveness,
so green and at this time
of the year healthy.
We would like to call something
out to her. Some form of cheering.
There is pain but no arrival at anything.

Margaret Atwood, "The Rest"


I started pairing my photographs with poems I found on the Internet as a way of playing with the mood of the photograph, and to discover new poems and new poets. It is fast becoming a favorite hobby, and is very effective at relieving stress, anger, and sadness. (Which is why I found myself spending a lot of time with it the last few weeks.)

I'll look at a photograph and write down my first impressions of it: what it means to me, why I like it or not, and what I was trying to say with it when I took it. From this, I'll gather select keywords and use these to search for a poem at a site, such as Plagiarist or the Academy of American Poets. I'll wander about through the results until finding the poem that best connects.

For instance, the Margaret Atwood poem was, fortuitously, in the list that resulted when I searched for the keywords for the photo of the fence. Since I had recently been exposed to her work, hers was one of the first I read, and it felt right for the picture.

When searching for poems for my second photograph, below, another Atwood poem appeared, which clearly demonstrates something. When I find out what it is, I'll let you know. Regardless, I fell in love with this poem and it was the perfect one for the photograph.

Now, if people ask, "What does the photograph mean?", I can answer, "Read the poem". If they ask, "What does the poem mean?", I'll answer, "Look at the photograph." I no longer have to explain myself, and can hold my inner thoughts secret, in plain view.

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

Margaret Atwood, "Variation on the Word Sleep"





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