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Under Construction
Jack London Square

December 7th, 2003

One For Fun....
Odd. Yesterday afternoon I was visited by the weird feeling in the leg (the doctor thought Sciatica, a pinched nerve) so I spent a good part of the afternoon in bed spinning end of the world stories, watched chapter forty something of Musashi that evening on Japanese TV and got up this morning feeling fine, thank you: the sun shining, breakfast at the usual place, an hour and a quarter at the office cleaning up the stuff I should have cleaned on Friday (the late afternoon celebration party, the wine, a sudden lack of ambition on a Friday afternoon, lending itself to sloth) and I am now sitting at the computer just before noon thinking life is OK.

It's good to remember when you get these minor aches or pains that tomorrow is usually better (he said).

Are these not the stories your parents have told you ad nauseam throughout life? Wipe your feet, save your money, tomorrow is another day? The stuff we never listened to when we were young and have learned and relearned again through messy behavior? The trite realization that step number seven thousand and three on a never ending journey to Enlightenment with the capital "E". I'm told there are ways to skip these intervening steps and just, you know, "get it" in an instant at an early age, the realization of the samurai at the end of yesterday's movie: "all the blossoms are perfect!" Yes they are and yet I mutter: Who, what, when, where, why? Oh my.

I've always been fascinated by Japanese culture: the samurai ethic, yes, all of that, but the day to day culture of the everyday Japanese. Hence the fondness for subtitled Japanese television and movies. It's the fascination of a personality that knows living within such strictures would kill me, an approach-avoidance thing. I had a similar relationship with the army.

I have less familiarity with Chinese culture, although I also watch Chinese television and have both Chinese born and American born Chinese friends and once spent a lot of time with a young woman from Korea whom I still remember fondly.

There are issues between Japanese, Chinese and Korean people that must be handled with discretion. This is, after all, Sunday, December 7th. The Japanese I know in the here and now have parents who spent years in internment camps and the two smiling, but oh so scarred young women, survivors of Nagasaki, whom I met at an early age brought to the United States for plastic surgery, bear no blame that I can understand whatsoever. In a wholesale era of war and killing, there's much blame to go around.

But this is degenerating to the weird and depressing. If I were starting life again I'd do more with the Japanese interests: learn the language, study Origami, drink tea. Cartier-Bresson talked about reading Zen in the Art of Archery for the practice of photography (the old fox). I wonder if I would shoot better portraits in a kimono and a pair of well tempered swords, one for fighting, one for fun....

The photograph was taken in Jack London Square in Oakland with a Nikon F3 and 105mm f 1.8 Nikon (Nikkor) lens on Kodak TMAX 400.