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Here In Oakland

Art & Life


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November 11, 2011

We'll See How

Friday. So, to bed last night at a decent hour, up this morning with the alarm then off and back from breakfast with another two cent drop in the price of gas. The Veteran's Day Parade today in San Francisco and then a walk through the Occupy area (just after noon) on the way back. More than enough on my plate.

I'm relegating the shooting and killing last night of a young man in front of the Occupy encampment to one of the “can't be predicted episodes” that happen too often in Oakland. Young men who killed over some few words or dollars, the way young men do before their brains are fully formed, have more to do with the economy and environment than Occupy encampments. Raises my pucker factor a bit out shooting photographs, as there's an antipathy to photographers shared by many of the “residents”, but that's always been the case. But enough rationalizing for a morning.

Later. Packed and ready, out the door to catch the bus to BART, stopping at the outside stair landing that's open to the weather and discovered it was, well, raining. Hmm. Do I want to go over to San Francisco and photograph the Veterans Day Parade this morning and then photograph the Occupy people after or do I want to stay inside and take care of Occupy later? I wanted to stay inside and take care of Occupy later.

So a half hour in bed lying down to listen to the news on the radio and to contemplate the redesign of artandlife, Mr. P having sent we an initial mock-up of what he's thinking. For whatever reason I've been putting off sitting down and doing anything now for the last couple of years, not just the artandlife project (which will go ahead, which needs to go ahead and is happening), but also some follow-ups on health insurance, information promised to an author who's writing a friend's biography, a piece on the old Seagull magazine for an old friend and numerous other little tasks that have accumulated over these last several years. Not sure what that's about, but I suspect it's not good.

But we'll trundle on, wrap at least one of the cameras in plastic and keep the head together until afternoon when we'll see what Occupy's up to after yesterday's excitement. Life goes on in other words, stumbles on maybe, but on. And that is the idea, after all.

Later still. A bus downtown, the rain having stopped, but the sky very dark and rain clearly in the offing. The Occupy area was relatively deserted just after noon, lots of TV people present shooting pictures of a makeshift memorial to the young man killed yesterday, a group of them gathered around speakers at an interfaith tent.

Crossing the street to the entrance I passed a man probably in his sixties, thin, a close to empty bottle of white wine in his hand. He followed behind me and started shouting at the top of his lungs at two policemen who were standing together at the 14th Street curb. A member of the encampment rushed over and talked him down, making it very clear he wasn't helping them by shouting and he needed to shut up. He shut up. The last I saw of him his wine was gone, although he still had a quizzical look of fire in his eyes.

Again rainy, the night couldn't have been altogether nice, many of the open tents closed up tight, some looking empty and alone. A group over in what was originally the tranny area that didn't like photographers very much were pulling apart wooden flats and building what I thought was some kind of walkway between the tents, although a passerby mentioned he thought they were building fortifications against a police raid. I'd noticed some of the Occupy people where carrying gas masks for the first time, maybe the guy was right, although I'd think a walkway system would be more useful.

Some photographs, not enough of them done with enough heart and effort (actually, I rather like that particular one), but photographs none the less. I had coffee in the Rotunda building and then walked over to Peet's overlooking Broadway at the old office building and sat out front eating from a package of chocolate covered cherries, remembering as I was eating that chocolate was on the ocular migraine to be avoided list. OK, we put those away for the while.

The woman painter whom I'd photographed yesterday on the spot the young man was killed walked by my table on her way into Peet's and I asked if she'd been there when it happened. She had, she'd watched the shooting, she wasn't altogether happy about it, but she was back with her canvas and paint. She mentioned she'd been talking with the other artists who've been painting on site, she knew of three, I thought I'd identified four, but they'd been talking about doing a joint show at some point when it was over. I'd been wondering, had thought to ask one of them in passing, if they were planning a show, one I'd like to see. I told her I'd let her know if an idea for a venue came up. It should have a chance to be seen by a lot of people and not buried away in a small café or some other less well travelled space.

What do you know about any of that?

Zip, but then I don't think I gave her the idea I did.

Evening. Another section up on artandlife. I'm not happy with my performance. Some of the photographs of the tents are included because I want a day by day record of what the area looked like, where the tents were located, how the population was changing. And it does change daily. Similarly with the signs. They're interesting and they change daily, I'm sure I miss some because they come and go within a single day, but they're not photographs you'd necessarily think to put up on a wall. I'm interested in this - the signs, the attitude, the message - but not as interested as the faces. But I can do better. We'll see how maybe later.

The photograph was taken waiting at the Oakland Occupy Wall Street encampment on November 10th with a Nikon D3 mounted with a 24-70mm f 2.8 Nikkor G lens.