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Oakland Korean Independence Day parade.

August 24th, 2001

Good Thursday
OK. Another day. A Friday. This is good.

Yesterday I did my usual trot over to City Center after work to have a glass of wine and listen to the band. The wine gives me a buzz, particularly on an empty stomach, the afternoon light turns a bit fuzzy and the mind relaxes; all these weird assed looking people I'm surrounded by now seem, well, good natured. They probably are.

Anyway, this is the day, remember, that I've learned that I'm not going to die (immediately) so I'm thinking life is good so lets kick back and have one of these tasty chicken with bread sticks and blue cheese appetizers, sip the red and get out the camera.

There are people I recognize from earlier concerts. Perhaps they themselves recognize me, the photographer, and I feel more comfortable now over time shooting their pictures. I, certainly, feel more comfortable, not only getting into the faces of the performers, which is no big deal, because that's what they're here for, but also shooting faces in the crowd. I like faces, you understand, and just shooting someone singing in front of a microphone or standing up playing a guitar can get repetitious. But the crowd, ah, the crowd, now that can be a different matter. Particularly when people are standing out in front of their restaurants plying them with alcohol. Relaxation is endemic.

A woman I've seen before, interesting face, I recall shooting one or two pictures of her in the Oakland Korean Independence parade.past that didn't turn out as well as I'd have liked, takes a chair beside me. I'm sitting at a small table, the table to my right. She sits down in a chair to my left. Two young well dressed African American men, whom she obviously knows, perhaps through their business, coworkers, sit down beside her and they start an animated conversation. She seems comfortable as the center of attention, interesting features. Someone from another group of tables, again to my right, comes over and asks her to dance. She says no, and I think "when is the last time I've been to a place where people asked strangers to dance"? Been a while, let me tell you, a shock to realize how long. Old fart. She then turns to me and asks if I'm a professional photographer. No, but I am occasionally asked for prints and I'm happy to provide them.

She said she'd spent four months in Paris as a model and that if I shot any photographs of her, would I be willing to email them? Hmmmm. A woman has just given me permission to photograph her along with her name and her email address. (Yes, I was bright enough to pull out a notebook and she wrote them down.) I'm sitting there finishing my wine, but I'm also watching me sit there finishing my wine and I'm thinking: "Hmmmm. Far out".

I got up and began photographing the band, then circled through the audience. Good audience. Lots of people. A Zydeco band, a good one, maybe twenty people dancing on the patio in what looked like a choreographed routine, another two hundred people in the audience sitting on folding chairs in front of the bandstand and at the surrounding tables, some around the base of the fountain. Maybe it's a traditional Cajun dance that when you've done it once, you're pretty much able to pull it off anytime in a group of strangers. Nice. I'm shooting pictures and nobody gives a shit. The mood is good. I shoot the woman who has given me her email address. I'm not confident that they work, but that's all right. Makes you think. Makes you make them better.

Now, understand. You've heard the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, the way to a photographer's heart is thorough his photographs. When a woman you've never met before says hello and gives you her name and email address, that's a good sign. Doesn't say what she's interested in, but it's a good sign. When a woman says hello and suggests that she wouldn't mind if you photographed her, that's fucking heaven. Although an attractive woman, my first thoughts were not particularly personal, my first thoughts were I'd like to take her picture.

As I mentioned, I've seen her here before, generally associated with the musicians, generally surrounded by people, and I've shot her photograph. A sign you've found your passion as a photographer is when you meet an interesting woman you think images. (With Ansel Adams, I believe it was mountains.) Eyes, look, mood, smile and presence: how would they translate to film? She gives you her name and her address and she tells you she'd like to be photographed and you think, "Shit! Maybe, just maybe, that's what she really does want: to work at making an image. If I'm really, really lucky, that's what she's after, not just another roll in the hay, you understand, but pictures!"

Mailer said that writing for him was like sex, the writer's little secret. Mailer said all kinds of off the wall shit and I was never sure I believed him. There are times when I've drifted into a kind of erotic mood when I'm writing, but, you know, you can do the same thing folding laundry. (Feelings of satisfaction and excitement from the writing, when it goes well, but erotic? Well, what the hell. Sounds good.) There definitely have been times when I've felt a rush shooting a woman's photograph. Just another way to the bedroom? Maybe, but the object of the passion seems to focus on the image. Then the bedroom.

But back to yesterday. It was a good Thursday.

Photographs from the Oakland Korean Independence Day Parade. Yes, Oakland has declared its independence from Korea. The quote is from the play, A Woman of No Importance, by Oscar Wilde.