I'm going back to last Free Friday, to a group of photos I took. A late afternoon, in the Tenderloin, downtown.
It's both easy and hard at the end of the day -- easy in that I just lose myself in my photos and it's like I never went to the office (I just forget everything, even what time it is), and hard, in that I'm tired because it's been a long day -- but I have to go through the images, and even if it's just to find a few that make me happy. And then I can stop and go to bed.
Part I: The violinist
He played that violin like nothing else in the world existed except for him, and the violin, and the music.
The music was etheral, and haunting, and I couldn't quite place what I was hearing and for once, I didn't want to leave the station immediately. I remembered a recent story I had heard about virtuoso Joshua Bell playing his violin in a DC Metro station (imagine that!) and how barely anyone even noticed. If you haven't read this story, you should.
When the musician stopped playing, we talked for a few minutes. The piece I was playing he had improvised (that amazed me just in itself, what a concept) and that he was visiting from Atlanta, before going on to LA. I was already sad to know that he wasn't a local and I wouldn't see him in the metro station again.
We talked about his violins and his CDs, and a little bit about Venice. I remembered the violin museum I had gone to in San Marco, a place he would have loved more than any normal person. He's never been to Venice. I hope he gets there someday, for that city and violins are good friends.
Part II: The man on the street
Coming up to the street, I saw the Truth Building again. I know it's a repeat from a previous post, but it's a photo I really love.
The man gently helping the little boy on his bike, with training wheels, made me smile. Against the hard backdrop of this gritty part of town, you realize that kids still need to learn to ride their bikes.
then he starts goofing off, wiggling around and striking crazy poses. which of course makes for a terrible photo.
i say: stand still and just act normal. otherwise i can't take your picture!
he laughs. and stands still.
and then i take his picture.
I wonder what this mural is really trying to tell the people that see it. I'd like to think that it's something like: there are more good people than bad people, and not this, which is seems pretty vague and not very inspiring. People living in this neighborhood need a little bit more than ambiguity.
Part III: The artist
I wish I could be in this neighborhood, invisible, to observe and take photos, but I can't. Standing outside waiting, a man who looked very much like the one I took photos of earlier, lurches towards me, an open beer can barely concealed inside a brown paper bag.
He smiles at me and says, you're so pretty. You're like an angel. Before I know it, he's reached out to push some hair away from my face. I wish I was braver. All I could say was thank you and then turn inside to the safety of the restaurant.
Indoors, away from the dark and the street, my new friend and I talk and plan. We talk about Cairo, where she was born, and the Mission, where she lives now. We talk about veils and makeup and photography and paintings and dance.
Three meetings. One afternoon.
While I was working on these images, I was listening to Paul's music, so I made a slideshow to share with you. The track is from his album, Ghosts, and the piece is called "Under The Direction Of St. Teresa VI."
You can learn more about Paul Mercer, listen to his music or order CDs on his myspace page.... http://profile.myspace.com/paulmercer
ps.: you can see this set of photos on flickr and leave comments here, too.