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Somewhere, on the road.
November 21st, 1999

Cross The Fingers
Late yesterday afternoon I drove to Jack London Square to see Sleepy Hollow at the Jack London Cineplex, a large seven screen theater catering to locals and tourists. Traffic backed up and slowed to a crawl as I approached 5th and Broadway, the obvious cause being the aftermath of a fire on the far corner, the area littered with fire trucks and hoses still pumping water with four of five police cars directing traffic. Nobody too excited, nothing left but the cleanup. Sitting in traffic I decided to pull over and park. I was only two blocks from the theater with plenty of time to kill so I figured what the hell, shoot a couple of pictures and get a latte at the funny looking coffee shop across the street.

A ladder truck sat parallel to the sidewalk with its ladder swiveled around resting on the building roof and I shot two or three photographs of firemen ascending, one or two sihouetted at the top against the sky, again, clearly the fire was out or almost out as everybody was taking it easy, struggling with air bottles and extinguishers. There were one or two gawkers and no one payed any attention to my wandering around with a camera. I should have brought the 135mm telephoto, but then again, for what? Keep the eyes open, try to think in terms of subject, cropping, angle and light. The sun was setting and the light was interesting. Black and white, of course. I'm into black and white at the moment.

The coffee shop I'd noticed on the corner was a converted gas station, two large car bay What It Means to Live in Berkeley Parade. work areas with overhead sliding doors set with small windows all nicely gutted, scrubbed probably for whatever number of weeks it took to get it clean and then painted in bright basic colors then filled with small tables on the cement floor. Clever stuff framed and hung on the walls. Primitive with just the right artsy fartsy right up to but not quite over the edge touch that made it, um, comfortable. One young Asian woman, a lone customer sitting at one of the tables reading, perhaps a student. Student chic. A quick takes a millisecond age check. Pegged way over into impossible. Still, nice. An attractive woman of whatever age adds to an ambiance. A serving station where the office once stood sealed from the work bays by a wall now stood open offering the usual selections. Some tables outside in close to the building, but it was late afternoon and getting cooler, although they had a good view of the firemen and the building across the street. Two hard core cyclists rolled up and quizzed the waiter closely about a particular tea on the menu. Was it? Was it not? They decided to find out. I took my latte and left to watch the firemen. Still plenty of time before the movie started.

I haven't been to this movie house recently and never on a Saturday night. It is a large seven theater complex. Large individual theaters with a wide expansive open area in front of the refreshment bar as you enter. The Sleepy Hollow theater was already filling when I arrived 25 minutes early. Nice seats, though, with backs that supported your head and the screen up high enough so you didn't have to worry about the person in front.

Sleepy Hollow, Tim Burton directing with Johnny Depp playing the New York City police detective Ichabod Crane at the turn of the nineteenth century, sent up state to take care of this headless horseman business. Music, of course, by Danny Elfman who, I remembered, had done the music for The Nightmare Before Christmas (and all the other Burton movies except Ed Wood). The music and images set a mood similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas, nice dark blues and early morning fog, pumpkin heads and severed heads, lone carriages lurching through forests. Nice photography, nice special effects, good job by Depp. A necessary view by anyone following Burton - Depp and a good view by anyone who likes a nicely tuned and turned out chestnut. Blood and all that, but nothing, um, disturbing.

I'm no judge of crowds, but there were at least two hundred people in my theater and they all moved The Solano Sroll. toward the one exit door to the lobby. There was an exit off the side of the screen and I thought about using it for a minute, but then decided since I had a camera I'd rather exit with the crowd. One small exit and two hundred people meant we moved slowly and once exiting entered a lobby larger than the theater itself, packed with people pushing to enter the theater we were just leaving all of this hemmed in by the crowd waiting for the theater beside us. What? Five hundred people packed too tightly to move? Caustrophobic in the sense I realized what could happen in a fire or if something spooked the crowd. Don't think about that, keep moving, the doors are getting closer. If I return to this theater, I'll exit through the back and if there are crowds like these waiting to enter I'll find another movie house. What's the risk of fire? Low to nonexistant, but I didn't like the experience. The theater is doing big business, I hope it's fireproof.

The computer failed again on the first try this morning, but eventually booted. Wuss goes in for his sonogram tomorrow. I'll drop him off at the vet on the way to work and pick him up on the way home. He looks good, hungrier than usual, of course, but I won't really know how well he's done on this diet until tomorrow. Cross the fingers.

The banner photograph was taken somewhere this year by mistake. The two dancers were photographed at the Solano Stroll. I have no idea how the belly dancer is able to dance and keep them tucked in. I should have been a structural engineer, I suppose, but I'd rather just shoot the photographs and leave the design to a different mind.