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December 14, 2011

Game The Same

Wednesday. I did get to bed early, not sure how long it took to fall asleep though. I seem to recall it turning ten in that half awake, half asleep time I can never quite remember the next morning. Up forty-five minutes after I turned off the alarm, to breakfast, the papers and back running about thirty minutes later than the norm. The norm, my norm. Whatever, we're still comfortably in our rut. Still, a good morning with a bright sun, my guitar lesson at ten. I'm ready. I think.

Later. A decent lesson. I played like a klutz, but there was progress. I think. I'm assuming I'm practicing enough and the instructor is always encouraging, but ultimately, not having learned to play the guitar before, I guess you never quite know. If, in two or three years it turns out I'm a hopeless dunce, well then, that would be indicative. For the moment I'll assume it's going well and keep on playing. The song we're learning now is, at least, nice.

Later still. A decent walk, two, maybe three miles in total at my usual “ambling along” pace. I walked to the bus stop at the corner of Harrison and Grand where I could get a look at the Occupy Lake Merritt raft (that's what the local news has dubbed it) and take a picture or two deciding to get off the bus on the way back to get closer and take a better set of photographs.

Mr. RunningWolf's tree was now empty by the City Hall, the various platforms, canvas coverings and such were gone. Nice to see the tree itself seems undamaged, at least from a distance. Mr. RunningWolf himself was busy with chalk on the sidewalks, so he seems to be keeping himself busy. Always good to keep oneself busy.

The group over on the other side of the plaza was still in place, one of the younger members giving me grief for taking a picture. I mentioned I'd taken it from the back, no part of his face visible, but he said we'd had this discussion before and didn't want any pictures, front or back, as he'd spent six years in jail over a picture in the past.

Hmm, six years in jail. A picture of what? We were talking in a reasonably controlled manner with a dozen people nearby sitting about, little chance of anything getting out of hand, although the fellow sitting next to him good naturedly suggested he'd be happy to have me take his picture for, say, five dollars. Now, I have a rule when someone suggests I pay them for a picture: I pay them and take the picture, it's an agreement I've made with the street, a street that's given me many a photograph over these years, so, the mood being right, I said yes. And did.

You always wonder, should you meet someone such as this young man later, on another day at a different place, whether this “run in” might have consequences. Same thing with street people you give money to when asked, of whom there are more than a few. In the wrong circumstances, their demons acting up for the moment, this old guy with a camera who's given him money in the past, maybe this self righteous asshole needs a good blow to the head. Well, such thoughts lead nowhere if you want to continue shooting, but it gives you pause. Part of the deal. We'll continue be careful and hope our luck remains intact.

I did get off the bus on the way back home and photographed that raft. There was a guy behind the curtains, some people who were walking by me as I was shooting called out and he responded. A recent picture and story on one of the local newscasts reported the raft has no permission to be on the lake and will soon be removed. The story said the raft captain suggested others with boats might like to join in, form an Armada, the kind of situation that can lead to more photographs.

Later still again. I received Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson from Netflix today. Hadn't heard of it for some reason, so I watched it this evening (while practicing the guitar). I realized, while watching, what's been missing from this god damned fantasy we're calling a presidential campaign: coverage by a Hunter Thompson. Yes, I've been reading Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone and he and some others are indeed good, but the sheer mind numbing madness of the mess requires Thompson level voltage, someone to rip the faces off these bastards and reveal the rotted core beneath.

Thompson was good at that. Yes he was. Those were not bad years, those early seventies years living snug up on then low rent Potrero Hill, an old two flat building that looked a wreck, was a wreck, but more comfortable to me than many another I've known. Which may or may not be such an odd thing to say.

Reading his coverage of the '72 election there, a bright light shining through a never before opened window into the terrible core of a nation twisted and frightened in assassination and war. Thompson approached it from the proper direction: they were ladling out cruel insanity like it was chicken soup sent to sooth patients on a psychiatric ward and he, Thompson, one of the inmates, was revealing and describing this carnage from inside with wit and fervor.

Is it just nostalgia, does everyone remember old periods in their lives as magic? Different? Better? Worse? Probably. It isn't that the national dialog is any more unreal today than it was back then, it's just different, the naked realities clothed in differently shaped and colored swirls of smoke and fog, the television faces different, their words and game the same.

The photograph was taken at the entrance to Frank Ogawa Plaza at noon on Monday with a Nikon D3s mounted with an 24-120mm f 4.0 Nikkor VR lens.