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On a crowded BART train

May 23rd, 2000

Smog Test
Hot yesterday, yes. They say it was well into the 100's on the east side of the hills just 10 miles behind me (on Sunday). All of the east bay suburbs are much too hot in the summer (unsolicited and not universally shared personal opinion). Napa is located at the north end of San Francisco Bay and it was too warm too, even on the water, and the Napa Valley itself grows ever hotter as you drive north through Yountville and St. Helena and, God help me, Calistoga. Nice town Calistoga. I knew nice people who lived there, but hot in the summer. I liked the vaguely sleazy spas, the run down motel version of what is said to have once been a popular destination for the hoi polloi of San Francisco and other exotic Northern California cities. Mud baths. Pools. Bottled water.

The young lady in the banner was sitting beside me in the isle of a BART train on the way to the Bay to Breakers on Sunday. I assume she, her girl friend, and another similarly aged couple were going to participate in the race. This was early in the morning, the train was packed and standing at the Oakland 12th Street BART station waiting for another train in front of us to clear the tracks. Something about a fire. Something about fire engines. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood and I shot these and others, one or two of them OK. They have a more, um, erotic feel than someone sitting in the isle of a BART train might normally project, but they're nice.

I'm in a period where I'm at least thinking of doing more photography. I was going to say "over the Fire in the distance. summer", but why make any promises? Just more. I say I want to get better technically (yadda - yadda - yadda), but really, what I need to do is shoot more, look them over, think about things, make corrections, and shoot some more again. Am I seeing things I like in my pictures? About one in a hundred, most of it luck. Which isn't bad. I just finished a book on the life of Alfred Steiglitz, the "Father of Modern Photography", more a history really, written by a woman named Dorothy Norman who knew Steiglitz from 1927 when he was 63, until his death in 1946 at the age of 82. Steiglitz, when he was young, shot a lot of pictures. Steiglitz, when he was old (a lot older than I am), shot a lot of pictures and in between young and old he shot a whole lot more. I am detecting a pattern: shoot a lot of pictures, look at your pictures and figure out what seems to work and what doesn't, and then shoot a lot more pictures and look at those too. We'll see.

I drove my old Toyota over to San Francisco Tuesday afternoon and donated it to the San Francisco SPCA. They had snapshots on the wall of other cars that people had donated, a white new looking Rolls Royce sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of the group along with some restored cars from the 30's and 40's, each of their tires probably worth more than my poor old Corona. So be it. It's a tough proposition being left at a pound, cats or cars. Wuss doesn't have to worry. They're not requiring cats to pass a smog test yet.

The photographs were taken Sunday on the way to San Francisco, the young woman on a BART train on the way to the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco and the fire from the Rockridge BART station platform.