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SF Chinese New Year Parade

February 25th, 2002

Catsup and Fries
I went by the video store yesterday looking for a movie to watch that evening, motivated to get outside in the late afternoon sun and thinking of getting an order of french fries at the local burger shop to bring home and eat as I watched the movie. This particular shop makes the chunky ones, you understand, more wedges than strings, and the idea of eating an order of chunky fried potatoes (with catsup, with catsup!) in the late afternoon, one at a time, watching a rooty-zootie movie was appealing. It turned out the idea of fries and not the fact of fries was what had piqued my interest and I passed the burger place without a thought. The video rental shop, however, was a problem. Nothing struck my fancy. Nothing. Nothing on television last night. So I'm writing this on Sunday and saying it's Monday and posting on Tuesday. (Blink!)

I don't think it's because I've stumbled into taste and discernment in my old age,SF Chinese New Year Parade leaving the greasy kid stuff of movies and television behind. I think it's some form of depression. Possibly the onset of Alzheimer's. Or late fifties blahs. I spent part of the afternoon driving around looking for someplace to park and walk for a while with a camera (sitting, as it was, ready to go on the car seat beside me). Nada. Been there, done that. Would my reaction have been different on some stretch of coastal highway I've never seen before? Some city I've never visited? Some small section of the Yellow Brick Road not far from the city of Oz? Maybe, but there's only so much coastal highway, only so many cities before they all become one.

This is Monday, of course. I picked up the black and white contact sheets of the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade after work, the color slides are due tomorrow. I've gone through a quick overview of the sheets, eight rolls of film. Depressing, mostly, until I find a good one or, at least, one I like. This is the normal routine. "Oh god, they're terrible!" Then I look at some more and scan one or two and I think, well, here's one I like. There are exposure problems, of course, thoughts I should be developing my own film, thoughts I should be shutting down the aperture more when I'm shooting Asian people.

The jet black hair and the pale skin will fool the camera, even the Nikon. There are other adjustments to make as you stumble into other conditions, black skin requires you to open up the lens for more light (I'm getting better at this. Really.) Anyway, the usual fussiness, the usual persnickety reaction, but one or two good shots. An afternoon of shooting humping around a camera bag is worth one good shot. A career of humping around a camera bag in the street is worth one good (albeit very good) shot.

Tuesday. Forgot to pick up the color slides. Tells you about the day, eight hundred miles an hour, head down, the muffled thud of shoulder pads clashing in the hallways, people up tight and precise. Hut! God wants me to take a vacation, I think. Or watch a movie, maybe, with catsup and fries.

Photos taken at the Chinese New Year parade last Saturday in San Francisco.