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Lake Merritt area, Oakland.
December 29th, 1999

Drifting Toward Friday
Another day of fun and frivolity. The sun has been shining now for as long as my short term memory can remember and that's fun. The frivolity has to do with this organization I work for and its Y2K preparations, not the preparations themselves, they're pretty tight, but the bureaucracy and the fumbling to get so many to march in line lock step through the weekend. Like new recruits. Or cats. Sometimes it's like cats. Who to call if this, who to call if that? Meetings and emails and phone calls, fortunately more to the distraction of the people I report to than to myself.

What is the plan if the phone system fails? If the internet fails? If the toilets clog up? If dinner doesn't arrive at the command center on time? If Hillary leaves Bill? These are important questions. It says so in a memorandum from the highest levels. Questions that require staffing and planning and white papers and emails. Where's the contingency plan? Who gets the call in the middle of the night? Moi?

I am considering shooting photographs in San Francisco on New Year's Eve. I have to be at the office at 4:30 AM on New Year's morning for my first 8 hour stint of the weekend and since our company is located on top of a BART station, I can easily slip over to San Francisco and get back to the office with plenty of time to spare. Unless BART stops running (under the bay at midnight). I wonder at the estimates of over a million people who will be celebrating on the Embarcadero along the San Francisco waterfront, wonder how good the light might be shooting pictures with ISO 400 film and I wonder about the mood of the crowds and their feelings toward photographers, although not very much.

And I wonder at my own bullshit. I think and I talk of doing these things and then I don't. No, not bullshit, but chicken shit. Bullshit, after all, has a certain macho quality about it. There are celebrations planned near our office in Oakland this Friday New Year's Eve so maybe I'll hang around here instead. That seems timid unless these celebrations turn colorful with all the real photographers over in San Francisco on the "big" story and I'm over here, the one photographer in the world who gets pictures of the gas blowing down Broadway. What sort of filter brings out the contrast in Mustard Gas, I wonder, or the cold florescent grey of a high explosive?

Timid. Like my home town Seattle. They can't guarantee total safety. Well? We'll just cancel, Lake Merritt area, Oakland. thank you. Whoever is out there in Millenium Mojo Central right now can just chalk one up on their side of the blackboard. Or whiteboard, if they're automated. You can't fault them for cancelling a celebration for purposes of safety. Be like rapping Motherhood. Still, if I were in Seattle I might just go out on the streets to show the flag. Most city streets have been denied to us as it is - care to walk in the city at night without thinking of muggers? or serial killers? or pale men in black raincoats? or, dear god, black men in pale raincoats! and nothing else? - now we're to be denied the streets in drunken celebration. Driven to the Internet alone behind locked doors. Our only human contact through pizza deliveries and groceries ordered over the web. Maybe I'll change my tune come Monday, though. Maybe Seattle got it right. Maybe I'll be on the Embarcadero when the bomb goes off, true, but then maybe I'll get some really good pictures of the carnage, the one photographer still on his feet, Nikon in hand, selling them at great profit to the Associated Press. Or Sports Illustrated. It's a crazy world. Leads to nonsense. And the nonsensical.

The photographs were taken in the Lake Merritt area in Oakland. I ran a color photo of the same guy some days back and the animal in the window is, I don't know, an animal in the window of a shop that sells cigars and moose heads.