Maybe They Are
Friday. I forgot yesterday marked the first day of my twelfth year keeping this journal. Time to ask myself why? For all my many ruts, is this the deepest? Is it useful? After eleven years? I'm not the last journal standing from those early days, but the old room is getting empty. What in the hell have I been up to? If I wasn't doing this, then what would I be doing? The photography? No problem there, it continues to grow and entertain. The writing? I haven't made progress with my writing here in, well, years. Is forgetting your anniversary a sign of involved contentment or a brain numbed and dysfunctional? Maybe both.
Walking back from breakfast with camera in hand, taking the odd photograph, an Oakland policeman hailing me as I crossed Grand on the way to my street, walking over from a group of workmen to ask questions. What was I shooting? For whom? He didn't want to see any photographs up on a web site, you understand. Did I live in the area?
All this very civilized, but he knows the law: I can shoot whomever I want on the public streets without getting hassled as long as I don't step into a proscribed or private area. And I know the unspoken law: you don't look like you're trying to fuck with the local cop on the beat without getting heat.
Now, I'd shot some pictures of the crew working on this power cable project as I was walking, but from a distance without particular notice (as perhaps can be seen from the ones I've posted). They're not easy to take, as it's hard to make them visually interesting without getting closer, but I did take some from the sidewalk, noticing the two police cars in passing parked at either end of the open trench, but not seeing the policemen themselves in evidence. This is the norm, a police car parked at either end, the officers there for problems that can arise. A quick survey of the photos shows the officer in question in the background of one. What was he thinking? What kind of photographs did he think I could have taken, careful as I was to keep to the sidewalk and the crosswalk? Was there a photo there I didn't notice, something to raise an eyebrow? As I said, a calm and courteous conversation, but with undertones an old ACLU'er knows full well.
No, but a heads up should I ever find myself shooting pictures in a situation where something is clearly not right. Keep my eyes open, know the street rules are not the book rules or what you find in the Constitution. Again, young cop, clear eyed, clean shaven, hair cropped, polite as all get out, but, you know, curious and aggressive enough to stop me from a distance by calling out, walking up to me and asking what I was about. Here in Oakland.
Later. Friday, the Oakland Bay Bridge still out of commission. It's a big story around here, two hundred and eighty thousand cars cross it every weekday, lots of frustration and more than a few stories and interviews on local radio and the papers. This bridge, like other bridges of this design that have had catastrophic failures in the last century (the one most recently in Minnesota comes to mind), can't have one of their supporting “struts”, or whatever they're called, fail without a significant chance the entire associated bridge section will fail. No need to listen too closely to these interviews and stories is my thought. Don't fret when you have no control (and cross that bridge maybe five times in any given year).
Better to read about the group of just up the way north of here Richmond high school kids who stood around watching a fifteen year classmate being gang raped for over two hours, taking the odd picture or two as they whiled away their time out behind the school after a homecoming dance. I take that back. Pay no more attention to this story than is required to understand the bare facts. Let this one evolve, let more information be gathered to better understand the situation, otherwise the blood pressure will go up. Up and up. The visceral reaction to what is undoubtedly more complicated than is now known. Still.... No, just skip it for now. Frightening things, high school kids. The males are strong enough to be a threat, but too young to know, well, much. Those four young guys who held up the people in a local restaurant down the way recently, guns in hand, for two hundred bucks? Eighteen, nineteen years old. Five years in the slammer for their split four ways fifty bucks?
Enough. We are not feeling paranoid on this sunny morning. I'm feeling good about the photographs. Lots of energy and enthusiasm. There will undoubtedly be opportunities to take more before the day is out.
Later still. A decent walk back from downtown, a bit too slow to think of it as exercise, but still, enough to say it's done for the day, happily done, feels good and done, nap time now I'd say. After the news. One or two pictures carrying the camera with the strap wrapped around the wrist. When I do that, I use it; when I don't, I don't. Otherwise I think a movie this evening, one of the Netflix DVD's I have sitting on the player. I have no memory of what I ordered. Gives you an idea of my movie viewing habits. I'm not sure it's good or bad. They say habits and interests change as you grow older and these changes can be disconcerting. Disconcerting. Maybe they are.