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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
I wasn't even going to write a post today (it's Monday, and there's a stressful vibey thing going through the office... more closed door meetings, ugh) and then a little rolling tremble rumbled under our feet.
We're so tired or blah or whatever that we all look at each other and say, Was that an earthquake? (We're on the 9th floor.)
Or was that a truck?
It did end up being a earthquake south of here, rolling all the way up to the city and under our Aeron chairs, but maybe we needed a little jolt today.
The wise man says "No Trespassing."
And as the new moon rose over Chinatown last night, a perfect thin sliver of white, I couldn't help but notice how thinly divided we are in this city.
The building immediately in front, with the fire escapes, is a typical aging Chinatown storefront, selling cheap bric-a-brac, the same stuff sold in every touristy shop up and down Grant Street. The building behind it is the back of the Ritz-Carleton Hotel, one of the most expensive hotels in the city.
As I'm taking this photo, a little voice says behind me, good morning, help.
She is wrinkled, with a face like an apple doll and hunched over a cane. I can hardly make out her English. Good morning, help.
Then she says, I'm hungry. That I understand.
I had a dollar in my coat pocket. That's all I had but at least I know in Chinatown she can get something to eat for a dollar.
Some days I do get weary here. Don't get me wrong. This place isn't a postcard. It's like Kathryn described in her piece in i live here: SF. I can see what happens here. But there's enough beauty to make it worthwhile.
Thanks to Kathryn's blog, I found this wonderful video: "San Francisco" by Jill Sobule. I think I've watched this at least ten times already. It makes me misty eyed. This song makes me realize why I live here and love it even when I'm weary.
She shuts the door behind me, waits for me to get undressed
She ask if I need water, I can barely understand her
I think she asked me what I do and I said that I'm a singer
She laughs and claps her hands
And then she begins
And she sings:
"I like to go to San Francisco
I like to go
Put flowers in my hair
I like to go to San Francisco
I like to meet
Some people there"
She looks just like a sparrow, but she's strong just like a wrestler
She kneads and pulls and climbs on top
It hurts, but I will try to take it
Ask her if she's ever been
Been to San Francisco
She tells me that she can't leave
They won't let her leave
"I like to go to San Francisco
I like to go
Put flowers in my hair
I like to go to San Francisco
I like to meet
Some people there"
And in Golden Gate Park
[ Jill Sobule Lyrics are found on www.songlyrics.com ]
She'll throw a Frisbee
She'll bring a dog
And she'll meet a boy
And they'll fall in love
And she'll feel so free
Still walk on his back
Wonder 'bout the place I'm in and how they treat the girls
I know that it's legitimate
But still it makes me wonder
She gets up to leave
And I put back on my clothes
I tip her well, she bows to me
I really hope one day she gets to go
"...To San Francisco
I like to go
Put flowers in my hair
I like to go to San Francisco
I like to meet
Some people there" (Some people there)
La la la la la la la la
La la la la
La la la la
La la la la la la la la
La la la la
La la la la
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The gracious and generous Relyn of Come Sit By My Fire, one of my favorite people and places in the blogosphere to visit, asked me to write a post for her recent series on people and their passions.
So if you haven't visited Relyn before, I hope you'll make her a regular habit. Relyn is one of those people who makes you realize how precious and wonderful life is in a daily, real way. She is a virtual ray of sunshine in my world.
My guest post is here, and I'm so happy to be a part of her world. So pay her (and me) a visit today. We'll be so glad to see you.
Friday, March 27, 2009
That's why I was so excited that Allan from Mission Mission decided to take me up on my offer to be a part of i live here: SF. I've been reading Mission Mission regularly, whenever I want to know what's going on in that part of town... kind of like a kid with her nose pressed to the glass window because there's a lot more to the Mission than I'll ever get to experience.
And Allan always seems to know what going on first.
You can see Allan's story here.
And this is a general shout-out to you SF readers... I need more faces for the project. So let me take your photo, okay? I know you're out there.
ps.: And for you who haven't seen it, my photography book of the Mission is here.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
... you sign up to receive Gwyneth Paltrow's weekly newsletter.
To be fair, I can't entirely blame the moldy chocolate for why I signed up for GOOP, because if you read my previous post about GOOP, you'd see this was very out of character for me (which actually does make a case for some sort of poisoning, now that I think about it).
(I did accidentally eat a moldy truffle today and so did a co-worker and although we're not really ill, the mental anguish and imaginary visuals we're going through is not pretty. I'll spare you the details of how such a thing happened.)
After downing the unfortunate truffle, in order to distract myself, as though my dinner last night was not enough for producing stomach ache inducing food issues this week, I had to read the Fug Girls' post about their addiction to Gwyneth's weekly newsletter.
This was the paragraph that sold me on GOOP:
"But little by little, GOOP's relentless obliviousness sneaks up on you and becomes oddly charming. Once you realize you're reading it not for the information, but for the peek into how Gwyneth ticks, it becomes hilarious — not annoying — when Gwyneth blithely exalts rare hibiscus-flavored Majorcan salt, or recommends giving someone a $1,400 leather weekend-getaway bag for Christmas. You react with an amused, "Of course" when a pal of the woman who once evangelized macrobiotic living produces a recipe called "Dino Meat," made of unappetizing lumps of obscure meat substitute served with mushy grains arranged in the shape of a cow (the awesome photo of which single-handedly validated our continued membership). Entertainingly, even the tongue baths Gwyneth gives to the celebrity pals she’s roped into contributing feel like she thinks they're cute insider dish. Christy Turlington is an “amazing mother” who recommends Jane Austen... There's something endearing about the image of Gwyneth sitting in a garret somewhere banging out a few paragraphs about the butt exercises she does when her trainer goes on tour with Madonna, or nagging Steven Spielberg to boost our cultural education with a list of his favorite flicks. (That he actually did it is also rather sweet.) Indeed, as vanity projects go, at least Gwyneth's intentions are good, if perhaps condescending — like when she had Deepak Chopra proffer tips on how to be grateful at Thanksgiving, as if we Philistines couldn't figure that out otherwise. On the other hand, obviously Deepak is one of her go-to gurus; we're actually shocked the Dalai Lama has escaped her reach."
I mean, who can resist a PR job like that? And it's free, which means I can save up for my Gwyneth-inspired trips to the Ritz in Paris and my stash of hibiscus-flavored Majorcan salt.
Actually, the real reason I signed up is that it might give me more opportunities to hone my Dorothy Parker skills, and/or use GOOP as fodder for future posts (sorry, but it's true). I should give the gal some props though, because in looking through the past issues of GOOP, it's apparent that she must write the thing herself.
And for all of us busy busy bloggers, we know it's a hard thing to come up with something new to say even without the demands of stardom. I have a hard time coming up with ideas and I just have a regular office job. I'm not even close to being friends with Madonna.
So despite the fact that I may or may not have ergot poisoning means that you are the possible beneficiaries of some GOOP wisdom in the relatively near future.
Because good things should be shared, I think.
And snarky things are even better to share. Bring it on, Gwyneth. I need to know more about "nourishing the inner aspect" because I am quite sure that I am not be doing that part correctly. And god knows I could probably do with some butt exercises.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In a serious attempt to avoid throwing up-- People, please. I'm asking you a huge favor... if you ever hear me say that I'm going to have popcorn again for dinner, STOP me. I don't know how you'll do that, but I know in my heart that you want the best for me and you will try to keep me from making bad food choices... like having popcorn for dinner, which leads to the inevitable tummyache and we are OUT of Pepto-Bismol and yes, it's my own damn fault. So just promise, okay?--
Anyway, to keep my mind distracted, I decided to re-read an email I got from my sister today, regarding my niece, Little Curly Girl (you all remember her...):
"Wish us luck--we're potty training. She got married this morning in my black spiky heeled boots and black cocktail dress. She peed in the dress and into the boots... But she was a beautiful bride. Pictures to follow..."
I think the gist of the email is clear but what you don't know is that my sister and LCG had their honeymoon in Fiji, before the peeing incident. I think that is so romantic. I wonder what the pictures will be like.
(I guess the potty training train derailed a few months back when Princess Chubness was born-- who has been renamed The Forgotten Child because being the second, totally chill and happy baby that she is, no one is taking any photos of her-- anyway, having that kind of distraction kept LCG's Potty Training Train from leaving the station. So my sister thought to tell LCG that brides know how to use the toilet [that's a ruse, certainly] but unfortunately the idea of being a bride and then going on a romantic honeymoon with her mother to Fiji was not enough.)
See, just in writing this and laughing, I almost am forgetting about my poor tummy and what I've done tonight. Perhaps I've cured you of some small ill, too.
If I have not cured you (and you needed curing), I want you to know that there is a product that will improve the appearance of your aura. I bought some body oil today, by the brand Aura Glow. (I think body oil is way better than a moisturizer after a shower--okay, maybe that's a little too personal but I am always trying to provide you with helpful and inexpensive beauty advice).
Anyway, I didn't think much of the brand name, until I read on the label that the formula was recommended by none other than Edgar Cayce, and it "has actually been shown to brighten the physical aura when it is used."
To quote the inimitable Dave Barry: I am not making this up.
So now my aura is lavender scented and obviously brighter, even though I can't tell (does this mean I can read in the dark without my booklight?). I do have to say that I sincerely wish there was a Carl Sagan body oil because I'd be all over that sh*t.
Okay, I think between making fun of my new body product AND picturing my niece peeing in my sister's black cocktail dress and high heeled boots, dressed as a tiny Goth bride, is totally better than downing a couple spoons of Pepto-Bismol.
And on that note, my aura and I bid you a fond adieu.
UPDATE 5:02am: There is really no good reason for me to be awake this early, but I wanted to add that right now up at the top of my gmail inbox is an automated link (you know how Google thinks it knows what you want to read about?), and it's a recipe for:
(Again, I am not making this up.)
The secret ingredient (no kidding) is Corn Flakes.
I guess I could have had that for dinner instead of the popcorn..
How it happens that one meets a person, in any number of circumstances, and the lingering impression that one is left with, like a trace of perfume or a memory of a warm smile... aren't those the things that make us wonder more about a person? You pass by them, but are touched by something else much deeper that remains with you.
So quiet was my introduction to the lovely woman you see above. Actually I had come to dance. Unbeknownst to me, the woman in the simple, elegant red dress and silver shoes who was dancing too was also the artist whose striking, beautiful paintings covered the walls around the dancers.
Watching her dance and looking at her art were one and the same. At the end of the evening, I had to tell her so, and the rest is still unfolding. I'm glad to say she is my friend now.
You have no idea how incredibly difficult it was to choose a photo for this post. The rest of the images live here, but you should read her story first.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I took this photo one year ago today. March 23, 2008.
A lot has happened since The Boy let me "hold" his camera.
I can imagine my life full of changes and without a lot of things I might hold dear today, but I cannot imagine my life without a camera anymore.
"A photographer who made a picture from a splendid moment, an accidental pose of someone or a beautiful scenery, is the finder of a treasure." ~ Robert Doisneau
Saturday, March 21, 2009
But in the in-between moments, when I can stand a little light, I come back to my computer, to the images of yesterday (was it only yesterday?) and they make me feel better.
I am realizing more about my project. There is a subtle intimacy with the subject, a knowingness that comes after a few minutes, or many, when there is a letting go, that the subject surrenders to me, to my wishes, without shyness, without embarrassment.
I had not expected this. I only expected to take their photographs.
It is all ended when we shake hands and I put the lens cap on my camera again, saying goodbye and thanks. But the residue is there, when I revisit the images. Why do they let me do this?
That is the next question to be answered.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Now I love Billy Wilder even more, because he gives such great quote. But of course he does. Billy was brilliant.
You know where I'll be today. I don't know where you'll be but I'll be thinking of you!
Happy Free Friday! San Francisco and I wish you a lovely day!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I did go to the Stem Cell lecture last night hosted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and will tell you all about it soon but right now have to finish a bunch of work stuff I didn't do before and am trying to stay out of trouble.
But it was a very interesting series of presentations and I'm glad I went.
And then I went home and got right to bed because I was too tired to eat.
Net gain: science + knowledge + no caloric intake = smarter tangobaby who is hopefully a tad thinner.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
After a long hard day of pretending to be an Office Employee because playing Rock Star Photographer really messed you up the night before, after work would you:
A. Get some takeout food of assorted nationalities for dinner, perhaps not even finishing it all before falling asleep on the sofa like a lump; OR
B. Go to a lecture about stem cell technology.
I tell ya, the Science Dweeb in me is one tough cookie.
Just a tad because 1. it's either very early or 2. it's very late.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
After work, me and my little camera get to prowl around backstage, dressing rooms, light booth, etc. for the St. Patrick's Day performances at the Great American Music Hall. My favorite Irish band, Culann's Hounds, is playing tonight and the photo above is part of a set I took a few months ago when they played at the Plough and Stars Pub on Clement Street.
Tickets are still on sale, if you're looking for some great music in the city tonight!
I hope to have some awesome shots for you soon. (I have to admit I'm a little nervous.) Wish me the luck o' the Irish (or the luck o' the photographer with the band).
Monday, March 16, 2009
I don't want to give anything else away... you should read her for yourself.
I had the hardest time picking out which photo to use for her post on i live here: SF.
There were so many possibilities. And then I read her story and knew which one was best. This project is amazing me, but it's not the project. It's the people.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Now I think that maybe I was expecting a little more humor today. (I have two main filters through which I try to understand the world: Monty Python and/or Woody Allen.)
(Personally, I would have chosen a sandal instead of the oxford-style shoe.) But at least he's matched his socks to his footwear. And to be fair, it was quite cold and it did rain, so a closed-toe pair of shoes does make a lot of sense.
Today, The Boy dressed in a handsome navy blazer, crisp white shirt and striped tie bearing his school colors to attend an alumni meeting at the University Club downtown.
Once he had hopped in his taxi, I pondered what a person (namely, me) would wear to the 14th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair being held at the San Francisco County Fair Building, just inside the entrance to Golden Gate Park.
I tend to think of Golden Gate Park as my backyard, so of course it's only natural for me to take an interest if there are a bunch of anarchists coming to visit my park, just as I did with the hordes of Ikebana enthusiasts last weekend.
The important thing, besides having an open mind, is to choose your outfit carefully so that you don't look like an outsider. Even though technically a bunch of anarchists are outsiders, I still think it's a good idea to dress the part.
I went with drab. I chose a grey sweater, black cotton skirt, tights, and low-heeled boots. My only splash of color was an old wool scarf that I bought at a market on Blvd. Raspail in Paris, and a cheap knit hat from H&M. I only wore blush, so as not to look too conformist by wearing makeup. (Okay, I lied. I did wear a little mascara and some very light lip gloss.) I just hoped that my hair looked naturally curly in a 70s hippie sort of way and not like I had permed it to be something my hair is definitely not.
The Anarchist Book Fair was free to enter (duh) but once inside, everything was for sale. I couldn't help being amused that many of the vendors took credit cards. Even little suburban-raised dorky me, in my non-aware, non-hipster state of political innocence/inaction, assumed it would be a cash-only affair.
This is the place to buy your t-shirts with assorted depressing/threatening messages, tote bags (same messages), patches bearing messages to put on parts of clothing, stickers and buttons. And of course you could find any number of books and DVDs for sale, on subjects ranging from the Zapatista National Liberation Army to herbal abortion methods, and everything in between.
Despite my drab outfit, I no longer have any facial piercings (that nose stud was truly a pain in the ass) and I don't have any tattoos. My hair is brown. Permed, I freely admit, but the color I was born with. I had to wonder, watching the body-modified set, if this Anarchist Book Fair is just another reason to dress up in a city where dressing up is already a way of life. Heck, you know me, I even dress up for film festivals. I'm the first to admit it.
The reason why I ask this is that I didn't hear a lot of people talking about ideas. I saw a lot of things to buy, and a lot of white people buying them.
I had gone to the book fair because I was curious to hear what this gathering of people believed in, because under the outfits and under the skin, I'm quite sure that I might have a few ideas in common with some of them. I can see that things in the world are broken too, I just don't wear my heart on my sleeve. And I don't act on my anger.
I have a parent who worked for the NSA and a major defense contractor for my whole upbringing. I had a husband who grew up in Communist Russia and lived in a ridiculous and corrupt society based on a flawed economic system. I had a boyfriend who owned a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook and followed the Maharishi around the world, just like the Beatles did. I have a boyfriend who quotes Warren Buffett (and Jimmy Buffett, but mostly Warren).
So it's not like I'm not used to or unwilling to understand a variety of viewpoints. I just wasn't enlightened or touched here.
And then I went outside.
First I saw this:
This local man is in critical condition in an Israeli hospital, after being shot in the head last Friday with a tear gas canister by Israeli soldiers while in a Palestinian village. I have not commented on the situation in Gaza or the current conflict because I really don't know enough about the situation, except that it saddens me. And because I deeply distrust our media, I don't think I am qualified to have an opinion.
But my heart goes out to a local fellow who thought he could help with a tragic and violent situation that is generations upon generations old, and now he is in desperate circumstances. The money box for donations was empty. I put in some money. I couldn't help thinking that those people inside buying their anarchist garb and stickers could have put some money in this box, too.
And then I saw this young lady, sitting quietly and making jewelry, her wares spread out on a dark blanket.
Perhaps because of my recent memories about being a jewelry vendor, and seeing a pretty little metal choker, I wanted to buy something from her. To support her efforts and appreciate her artistry. She seemed like the only real person there.
And she had a delightful screen print on canvas of a 20s-era woman musing about her love for Anaïs Nin, which you should know by now is definitely something I'd display proudly on my anarchist messenger tote (which I do not have so now will have to buy one).
After all of that bleakness, I was happy to see that the rest of Golden Gate Park wasn't buying into it. Luckily for us, nature ignores our cruelties and doesn't give a crap about our revolutions.
ps.: Nyssa's jewelry can be found here on Etsy at Hourglass Productions.
pps.: You can read more about Tristan Anderson here. There will be a rally for his cause tomorrow afternoon.
It's not every day that, while you are trespassing on private property taking photos for i live here: SF, you are discovered (i.e., caught) by the food editor for Esquire magazine, who just so happens to be visiting San Francisco for a few days to research some places for her next article, and then you happen to mention (i.e., blurt out) your favorite sausage place in the Lower Haight and highly highly recommend the bratwurst and the German potato salad, and then she gives you her email address so you can send her some information about it. And then when you get home and tell your Boy about who you just happened to bump into while you were trespassing on someone's private property, he gets a little miffed because if this certain sausage place gets famous due to some slight indiscretion on a person's (i.e., my) part and this certain sausage place is "discovered" by denizens of Esquire magazine readers, then when we want to go there, it will be terribly crowded and overrun by strangers, and the sausage place will have run out of German potato salad, and that unfortunate situation will all be my fault.
However, it is for precisely reasons like this that (a) I love San Francisco-- because it's the kind of place where you never ever know when something wonderful will happen but it will sooner than later, (b) there is a sausage place so yummy that I can recommend it to the food editor of Esquire magazine just in case I happen to bump into her, and (c) why I hate Mondays.
My life begins on Free Friday.
SAN FRANCISCO STREET CRED QUIZ
Without using The Google or wikipedia, who can tell me which famous San Francisco series of stories was inspired by the locale pictured above?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
It's early... I'm up working on some great photos from yesterday for i live here: SF, so while I'm doing that I wanted to ask a favor of you.
A few months ago, I wrote about my blogging friend Sallycat in Buenos Aires. She is the star of this lovely video, which to me, encapsulates a lot of what tango really is. Also, Sally's got to be one of the loveliest and most thoughtful people and writers on the planet. Her blog is truly a gift, whether you are a tango dancer or not.
Her blog, Sallycatway, is a contender for The World's Best Bloggers (South America section). Won't you please go there now and give her a vote? She's dropped to second place but I'm sure you could help her get back to #1.
Both Sallycat and I thank you! Happy weekend.
UPDATE 11:12am: Thank you to those of you who have already voted... and let's keep those votes coming for Sallycat!
Here's a little happy note for you from Buenos Aires...
My dearest TB
As your friend Relyn has said, WHAT A FRIEND YOU ARE! How many folks would go out of their way to support and champion fellow lovers of life, whom they have only ever met in cyberspace, so generously? I am very touched. And I thank you.
As you know, I type every one of my blog posts in Buenos Aires looking straight at your beautiful photograph of San Francisco on the wall in front of me. 'Follow your heart freely,' it speaks to me.
I want to thank your lovely readers too, for taking a moment to vote for Sallycat's Adventures. This competition is a step on the way to me fulfilling one of my dreams: to help more people get the very best out of their visit to Buenos Aires or out of the experience of relocating to Argentina, or indeed to any other land... and to inspire a few more folk to live their own dreams with gusto!
Thank you, you super guys and girls who hang out with Tangobaby. You are the best, and if you ever get to visit BsAs, make sure you let me know you are coming!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Collaboration. Sharing. Expression. This project feels like the start of a snowball that's growing and rolling. I'm learning a lot already: how to try to put someone at ease but then not spend more time talking than taking photographs, how to direct someone to move and look and be still. It takes time for us both to warm up to each other and to the actual photography session.
I'm loving that I can use my makeup artistry skills in ways I never imagined. To enhance a face and then be able to photograph it in my way. I thought I had put all that makeup stuff behind me, burned out and not interested in it anymore, and now I look forward to the makeup almost as much as I do the photo shoot. I had missed touching faces.
The fact that strangers will share their stories, open their faces and their hearts and their homes to some random woman with a camera and an dream is overwhelmingly wonderful. I stand amazed at how this is going. And my dance card is filling up. Five to six new faces wait for this weekend to be created and discovered.
I also love getting to know the people on the other side of the camera. Their hopes and aspirations, our common bond of living here in San Francisco, what they would like to do with their photographs. The shared excitement when they tell me which photos they like.
I have an understanding with these people who are so generous: they have the final say on the photos that I will use. I think that's only fair. I'm not going to cajole them or convince them about which photos I think are best. We're going come to that consensus together and present them in they way they wish to be seen.
I'm happy I don't know where this project will lead to, but more and more, I'm picturing a party at the end of it, perhaps in a gallery with all of these wonderful faces on the walls, and all of the people whose photos were taken are there, mingling with each other and meeting each other for the first time and saying hey, I saw your photo on the blog and I loved it. I read your story. It's so nice to meet you in person.
And I'll just be off in the corner somewhere, watching all of the interactions and feeling really great.
Hmmm... maybe that's my birthday present this year.
You can read more about Julie here.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Oil on canvas, 1997
I'm not sure what's gotten into me today. I can't blame it on Daylight Savings Time (although in theory and in practice it annoys me) and we've had another layoff today. There's sort of a numbing action, a mind freeze that I haven't been able to shake since I got into the office. I had all of these creative ideas this morning on the train, things that gave me energy, and then I got to my desk, and it's like my brain got sucked out of my head and I don't know how to get it back. Now I just want to take a nap.
I know when I get this way, I find that I seek out the surreal, the bizarre and the off-kilter to reclaim a little balance. I'm not really one for a feel-good movie. Odds are that Brazil or Invasion of the Body Snatchers will make me feel better. Or I'll read one of the most messed up Grimm's Fairy Tales I can find.
I guess when your world feels a bit skewed, there's nothing better than seeing something a little more skewed to put things back to rights again.
I first discovered Mark Ryden's work in a book at Dog Eared Books on Valencia Street. I couldn't tear myself away from the sweet and disturbing images he creates. I can't always put my finger on the message he is presenting, but I can still sense the truth behind the images.
I spent part of my lunch at the SF MOMA bookstore looking at Sweet Wishes.
There was something so wrong about it that it made me laugh.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Learning about the diverse and elegant world of Ikebana at the 2009 Ikebana Flower Show.
Peeking into the private parts of orchids at the Pacific Orchid Expo at Fort Mason.
Sneaking around places you aren't supposed to be, with Chipmonkey.