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San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade.

May 18th, 2003

Photographs In Mind
The "Living" section of the Chronicle this morning leads with "The softer side of addiction", by Jane Ganahl, a Chronicle staff writer who begins with a quote from Stephen Vincent Benet: "Life is not lost by dying, life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways."

We are talking here about the minor addictions, the minor habits that take up major time, habits that allow us, one and all, to avoid whatever it is we wish to avoid in our lives. I thought immediately of my writing here in the evenings, working on the journal. And the days on the street shooting photographs, "stalking the Bay Area to capture images of the local citizenry". I take it further than some. I don't often pass another camera addict on the street and, when I do, we usually avoid one another - it's a photographer thing - although I've met my small share of journalers. We have conventions. We meet in brewery pubs. Some own motorcycles.

Ganahl quotes Judith Wright, the author of the book There Must Be More Than This: "People are susceptible to cravings and time-wasting behaviors that they think enhance their lives, but in fact take them away from really living. They spring from spiritual hunger. We all yearn for something more and what we do with this hunger defines our lives. Our soft addictions arise when we try to fill that hunger with things, or moods, or activities, to numb or deny it."

Examples run from my own journal and photography obsessions to anorexia. Buffy obsessions (you know who you are), reality TV addictions, back yard gardening gone bonkers projects, the Oakland A's, noir flicks, space operas, sugar, macrame. More sugar. "Being cool, being part of a scene, procrastinating, being bad, being good", says Wright.

Better than heroin is all I can say. My question, I guess, is not how to stop, I don't want to stop, but how to urge it along, how to morph it when it needs morphing into something more, something beyond, like moving from wine to single malt whisky? I've seen wine. A hundred thousand dollars in your cellar? It happens. (You know who you are.)

So, and this is two whiskies talking, late in the afternoon, listening to Roxy Music (which brings back old memories), what's a journaler photographer to do in order to "move forward"? Well, what else? Order the damned studio lights. I have some photographs I want to make.

What happened? How does any of this follow? We started with a newspaper article.

Ask me tomorrow.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival parade.