Suppose you were driving home from work and you came to a stoplight and you saw a guy, seemingly down on his luck, asleep on a bus bench in the twilight. This reminds you of an image you’ve seen before, but can’t quite put your finger on. Being a street photographer you might recognize a camera-worthy moment, and take a few quick snaps.
Waiting for the light to change, you might review them in the viewfinder, only to be interrupted by a second man leaning in your passenger window, wanting to know what you were doing.
It’s a bit confusing, cause while you’re having one conversation with your lap: meh, the light’s not that great, someone is suddenly in mid-converstion with your right ear, practically inside your car, verbally polite, but physically aggressive. He’s just crossed three lanes of traffic to speak to you.
This guy, below, on the right side of the frame, with the pink weed socks and the baleful stare:
There, in the middle of Sepulveda Blvd, in the short eternity in which the light refused to turn green, you have what diplomats refer to as a tete-a-tete. You reassure him you were not taking his picture. In truth, your focal point was so fixed upon the tableau on the bench, you hadn’t “seen” him at all. He was entirely peripheral, and found his way into the frame by happenstance. When he came to the window you assumed he was some sort of panhandler.
But he was there, in the frame, and he wanted you to remember that. He didn’t wish to be forgotten.
Descending the Cahuenga Pass at twilight, bright fruited bursts of neon glow from the rooftops and brickworks of old Hollywood in a most appealing way. I don’t normally consider the Valley bland and colorless, but the view from the 101 in the evening is of another city altogether, once neglected now restored to a former glamour.
The Emerson College campus on Sunset is the next incarnation of the City: vertical, modernist, Dubai influenced and eye-popping. Built for the oldest purposes of Hollywood: taking money away from people who want to be famous.
Even disposable plastic crap from China has a backstory. The story begins with petroleum.
It doesn’t end in the Pacoima Wash. This is but a waystation. The metal parts, the gears, the chain and spokes will eventually end up at the Raymer Street scrap yard, where they will be compacted, dropped into a container and trucked to Long Beach, then shipped back to China.
The Chinese will melt it down and make something new for us to buy.
Maybe, as Americans, we should make stuff for ourselves again. We’ve done it before. People who work with their hands tend to value what they make. They don’t so readily throw it in the creek.