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SF Chinese New Year Parade, 1999
February 20th, 2000

Dragon Princess
We'll see. I broke a rule I'd never break if I were shooting the parade yesterday afternoon for a client. I am an expert in this, you understand, having shot photographs professionally on three separate occasions in the 1970's and once in the 1960's, but I didn't get paid for the one in the 1960's, so it probably doesn't count. The Bellingham Hamster Queen would not have had her picture in the local Bellingham daily had I not come through with my trusty Mamiyaflex at the Hamster Queen Festival finals dinner in the Spring of 1964. I guess a free dinner counts as compensation. I focused on her nose and nailed her with a strobe. "Shot" her and "nailed" her. Interesting terminology. Hot stuff for an old fart, I guess. Here in the big city.

Anyway (back to the broken rule), I used a slower speed setting for the two rolls of black and white film so they'd get a little more light, something I've been meaning to do for some time now, something that shouldn't make much difference, but a change you never make when you're shooting for keeps. Never experiment on the client's nickel. So we'll see how they turn out. Now that I've lowered our expectations on what we're going to see when I get them back next week, we can proceed.

It went fine. Got overcast and darker than I like, but it was that way last year as I Year of Rabbits past recall and the pictures turned out OK. Couple of drops of rain toward the end, not enough to hide away the cameras, but just enough to get half the participants into rain slickers. Except for the two young women on the Nevada casino float. They'd been walking around in costume (gay nineties turn of the century costumes carrying parasols and I wondered what their theme was in this Year of the Dragon, one young Asian woman, good, makes sense, costume notwithstanding, and one young blue eyed blond from, I don't know, Topeka, Kansas, right out of a Mickey Rooney - Judy Garland movie) and I naturally spotted them off to the side and went over to shoot a couple of photographs. Probably should have shot more, but I was, um, you know, distracted by a radio station float featuring ladies dancing in the more recent turn of the century nineties shake your bootie idiom. They were surrounded by idioms. I was one of the photographer idioms.

I'm realizing the piece I shot is just a small section of the overall parade that's positioned toward the end or maybe even brings up the end. I saw some of my floats passing by on television almost two hours (two hours?) after I'd left on BART, so there must have been miles of it hidden away in the side streets. (note from the morning news: the parade was two miles long and took three hours from start to finish.) My little photography adventure covered just peanuts and crumbs and cute little kids dressed up in blue bubble wrap dragon skin who'd been tacked on at the end. With the casino girls and the bootie dancers. The Dragon Princess (or maybe she's called the Dragon Queen, I don't know) was probably up toward the front with the mayor and the local politicians. She must have been. Otherwise, believe me, I'd have shot her picture.

The photographs were taken at least year's parade. I won't have the new ones until Tuesday, probably, Wednesday for the color slides.