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Under Construction
A store window on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley

May 19th, 2005

For A Living
Wednesday. The power went off in downtown Oakland around one o'clock this afternoon for about half an hour. We weren't sure how long it would take for the power to return - some, at the time, were saying six hours - so I decided, once we'd shut down the non-essential computers, to go home. Watching my bus approach as I stood waiting in the middle of the crowd congregated on either side of Broadway - with the traffic lights out cars were bumper to bumper and a large number of young men and women who'd probably just been released from school were mixed with just released office workers like me, all of us moving through the area on their way home - I noticed two what I assumed to be newspaper photographers being verbally assaulted by a young man near an area where a short fight had broken out between two young women (I saw them briefly over the heads of the crowd), so I decided to skip the bus and hang around.

The two newspaper photographers, I assumed already in the area to cover the blackout, had headed toward the commotion. Why two women were fighting in downtown Oakland, I do not know, but the young man chewing them out was saying the photographers worked for the police. That seemed unlikely, but who knows, maybe I should have looked more closely at the identity cards hanging around their necks? I figured they worked for the Tribune, the Tribune building standing just two hundred feet from where this was happening. I moved closer behind them, listening to the guy baiting them with my own camera in hand, but the (big enough to throw a hell of a punch) young man wasn't interested in me or my camera or maybe he didn't see or, for whatever reason, care. I consider it a plus when folks don't care. My interest, I must admit, was in how this might play out. How often do newspaper photographers take a punch? How did they handle it? Any lessons to learn? All of this, at least, was getting interesting.

Then another fight broke out across Broadway, again, for whatever reason, between two young women and half a dozen police, who'd arrived late to mediate the first fight, now ran across the street, broke up this new fight and handcuffed the women. Again, the sidewalks were crowded and it was difficult for me to see who was doing what to whom let alone why, but I again figured why go home? Opportunities for photographs seemed to abound.

And so you got some pictures?

Two or three very ordinary shots, but it was interesting to hang around. Still, looking at what I shot, it's a good thing I don't shoot pictures for a living (or I'd starve).

Thursday. A good day after a good night's sleep. Lunch with MSV at Max's in the City Center, much hustling about getting things done, the day passing quickly. Life in the fast lane, here in Oakland.

The photograph was taken on Telegraph Avenue through a display window last weekend with a Nikon D2x mounted with a 17-55mm f 2.8 Nikkor lens at 1/30th second at f 6.3 at ISO 100.