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Under Construction
San Francisco Carnaval parade

June 4th, 2005

Online, All The Time
Saturday. Home after breakfast, touch up Friday's entry, wonder why I'd want to stay in the apartment with the weather so nice and all, so out the door to catch a bus downtown.

An old man is talking to himself in the seat opposite the back door so I take a seat two seats in front of him, no desire to get into an off the wall conversation. A few people on the bus today, an old man sitting two seats in front of me with a giant plastic trash bag on the floor beside him filled with something - it's too big to be anything too heavy - or else I'd have put more distance between me and the talker. A street person, the guy with the big plastic bag? Maybe, maybe not. The old man talking to himself behind me is clearly fried, but (one hopes) content and reasonably harmless.

There are three more passengers at the front with miscellaneous physical impairments and maybe other impairments when you look in their eyes. A woman is talking on the phone. Somebody's always talking on the phone. And me. How do I fit in, an old guy with a camera? I'm on the bus, I often ride the bus on the weekends, so I'm a paid up member of this patchwork melange. What's my story? Maybe another rider watching could put me in context. Who knows what context? Plenty of questions for a Saturday morning.

A friend made a comment last night three beers into the evening that women on the streets in Walnut Creek (a relatively up scale east bay commuter suburb: those without a million to put down for a house need not apply) all looked Bay Watch buff - I'm not sure of the context - and I replied, having grown up in a similar suburb in another part of the country, that for me, suburbs were isolation chambers of despair and stagnation, the pastel American Dream turned Death Trap yet my solution seems to be sitting in this allotted seat on a bus surrounded by broken people. This is my soul expanding alternative? Is this travelling with bus rider crazies my clever answer to suburban living?

Nah. Loners who truly need to be physically alone live in a cave up in Oregon or an up on blocks trailer parked under a freeway. My kind of refugee from suburban utopia wants a mix of people, plenty of Chinese restaurants and a high speed Internet connection. Hard to shoot pictures of people where there are no people, hard to be a street shooter when no one walks the sidewalks. I hear you can find one or two decent Chinese restaurants, though, these days in suburbia.

Where did that come from?

Don't know. I was thinking as I was riding I'd like to buy a small digital recorder and record the conversations I was hearing - cell phone conversations, hallucinatory rambles, people discussing art, life and bus schedules - to edit them later for sound and rhythm and words for, well, what? A story? This journal? Should I just do it and see what happens?

Buy another toy? Are you kidding?

I fled the suburbs not knowing why many years ago with no intention of returning. I, however, have no intention of leaving the remainder of the American Dream on the table, particularly the part where you can practice it with a click of a mouse on the Internet - two from column A, three from column B - and have it all packed up and delivered before the weekend. iPods, cameras, drip dry shirts and XXX rated movies: online, all the time, anytime, here in Oakland.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Carnaval parade Sunday with a Nikon D2x mounted with a 17-55mm f 2.8 Nikkor lens at 1/250th second at f 5.6 at ISO 100.