Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Felt Like A Thousand Food Stamps

I swim in Aquatic Park with the Dolphin Club, and through the divine plenty of the women's sauna, I overheard talk about a nonprofit that does amazing work with Native Americans from Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and thought, that's my AAU Environmental Portraiture class's next assignment. One google search and one phone call later, we had ourselves some real life to document.

PathStar sponsors Ogalala Sioux youth and adults to come to San Francisco's South End Rowing Club to train for one intense week. And ultimately, to swim from Alcatraz. The island prison, with its historic and frustrated AIM occupation in 1969, is a mile from shore, full of swift-running ocean currents, salty tides and a very deep bottom. But steeped with motivation to lead themselves and their tribe toward health and survival, all of this year's participants bravely made it to shore. When my student, Kevin Hill (light blue shirt, above) asked his subject, Alcapone White Calf, about his successful swim from Alcatraz, Al answered, "I felt like a thousand food stamps." The quote, that speaks so poetically about poverty and joy, became the title of our show, our document of the 2008 PathStar swimmers.

Last night, with the handball court banging through the plate glass window next to the happy hour bar, we drilled nary a hole in the venerable 1870's wood structure, clipped the 13x19" images onto wire wrapped around existing screws, and toasted Dr. Nancy Iverson, PathStar's founder.

This year's SF Chronicle story.
Darcy Padilla's images from Pine Ridge.
Web site of Bill McLeod (peach shirt, above), a great photographer-pal and South End rower.
More student images from this project.

Oui, on peut

Dirk Powell (above and in post below), his lovely wife Christine Balfa, and other Cajun musicians campaign for BHO at the Whirlybird in Opelousas, Louisiana. I still feel tingly about our "Oui, on peut" history. Could not resist embedding this upswell of blue support from a most Southernly red state.

The video recalls a November back aways, shelling pecans with the Balfa cousins, on Dirk and Christine's wide porch, looking out at the bayou a hundred feet down the front yard. We made pecan pralines for dessert to eat after our pot o'gumbo Thanksgiving dinner. And the next night, Dirk and Christine's band, Balfa Toujours played a bar gig in Bazile, Louisiana, exactly like the vibe above. The Cajun Hall of Fame honored Christine's daddy, Dewey Balfa, that night, and I got spun around the dance floor by a handsome, slicked back man with a sparkly string tie on, while my Scott sat in with the band.

Musicians, a noble breed of Community Organizers.

The Joan Baez Band

Here's a shot I did of Joan in her front yard for the Boston Globe Magazine.
(The goddess, diva, leftie sleeps in a tree loft on dry nights.)

Scott's friends Todd Phillips, Dirk Powell and John Doyle
backed up Joan Baez last night.
John's persuasive melodic percussive guitar,
Dirk's downbeatin' creamy bayou fiddle,
Todd's oxblox acoustic electric bass,
like smooth caramel pouring out-the-kettle.

While-they-tune patter from Joanie about
our recent election night, when
she and this band were outside D.C.,
in Alexandria, Virginia,
in their hotel rooms,
in their safari bathrobes,
when they saw the
yes-we-did news
on the hotel telly.
"Let's get a cab and drive to the White House!" cried Joan.
Off they went, telling the taxi driver to,
please by all means, lay on your horn.

Dirk, after show packing up, being his own crew,
says to us, "It's like seeing everything she marched for come true."

Joan Baez, salty singer said to the ovation,
"I was never in it for the money, but I love the adulation."
The musicians glowed in the lights of the stage.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Not Blind, I Just Can't See

Celebrated the disability civil rights movement last weekend by documenting the World Institute on Disability's 25th birthday party. The Blind Boys of Alabama were the star attraction and they worked everyone into a sweat with their gospel funk. We ALL needed a cool drink of water after the show, especially the men in red.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hello Bianca Sparta: Ars Laboris

My year long Cantilever Project
is going up at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund
and Bianca Sparta has a thing or two to teach me
about installing a wall of photos.
Thanks for keeping it real and making it level
drummer, rocker, exhibition technician, all-around positive gurl.
Hello Bianca Sparta. This Bianca Sparta.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hunters Point Gets Out the Vote

Email from Time Magazine, election day:
Can you go out and shoot some enterprise photos?
Yes I can.

Call to James Bryant of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute:
Can I come along on your Get Out the Vote in Hunters Point Bayview?
Yes you can.

Mothers, daughters, sons and neighbors.
First time voters, long time poll workers.
Golden day at Double Rock, Civic Center, Bret Harte School,
Market Street, Third and Palou, Oakdale Avenue.
Yes we can.

The Content of their Character

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character; I have a dream...." Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day: Get Your Vote Out

Had the chance to photograph Barak Obama for SEIU way back when he was one of many Democratic primary candidates. Even though I was leaning toward Bill Richardson at that point, I was impressed by his genuine concern for Miss Pauline, Mr. John and their families. Get Your Vote Out Today.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thank-a-Farmer Day

Thank-a-Farmer Day at Mission Pie details.
Murale Numero Cuadro will be unveiled at 1:30pm, November 1st.
Come for the pie, stay for the sky.

Turn the car around.
Low sun behind coastal fog.
Equinox darkening the sky already.
Brussel sprout stalks, two dollar honor system.
Biggest pumpkin I can lift, hobbling toward Victoria's trunk.
I thank the farmer, I praise the harvester.
I praise the hands, I praise the gloves.
What Mayan blood moved this pyramid of imagination?
I can barely carry this load.
Victoria laughs and lifts.
I praise. I praise.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Music, Memory, Madness

Past tense: In the 1990s, I read Chris Hedges' daily New York Times dispatches from Yugoslavia while I nursed our newborn boy, my grounded career as a photojournalist silently juxtaposed to Srebrenica's horrific mass graves. I wished I could cover the war in Bosnia, even while I was safe and content on the couch, listening endlessly to Kate Rusby and watching Josef grow.

Present tense: Adm and I are producing Enisa's story of coming to America from Bosnia, distilling her courage and strength into a tight two-minute narrative. Simultaneously, a few days ago, big news of Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic's arrest after living openly for 13 years in Belgrade, disguised as Dr. David, a new age healer. I contacted Enisa for her reactions. She said, in her beautiful Bosnian accent, that the arrest was good news but that it stirred up a thousand bad memories.

While researching music for Enisa's piece, my friend Lucija Hadziselimovic gave me beaucoup leads, she being a veritable idea faucet. Through the winding path of discovery and grief, I found this tonic for my sorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When We Dream Together

Inspired ideas and living, breathing leadership at the Victory Garden planting today. Amy Franceschini, humble genius and brilliant curator of the project (in pink above), quoted a Brazilian proverb while dedicating the public art + garden installation: “When we dream alone it's just a dream, but when we dream together we can turn it into reality.” Willow Rosenthal of City Slickers on far right, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse + Edible Schoolyard with the dark shades and Gavin Newsom with trowel. I came to plant the curly kale, the broccoli and the sunflowers. It was a great photo op for the full media wolf pack and me with 12 frames left on my son's disposable plastic camera in my back pocket. Sometimes all that matters is where you stand.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Neighbors, Love, Courage, History

I rolled down the window of the bio-diesel as handsome neighbor, Brad was walking his dogs. He said, "Our party tomorrow? I'll tell you what's REALLY going to happen." As soon as he spilled the beans that he and Michael were going to surprise all 100+ guests at their annual Fourth of July bash and have State Assemblyman Mark Leno marry them legally in our great state of California, I was like, "And I'll photograph it?"

In Leno's nuptial speech, he insisted that he fought for the word "marriage" because everyone, gay, straight, or gender non-specific, was entitled to give and receive love in full measure. A human need. Beneath it all. "Mazeltov," he declared. Cue the DJ.

Mural #3 + Pie Contest #2

Full Event Details.
In brief:
Mural #3 Unveiling
Sunday, August 3rd
2:00 - 5:00pm
at Mission Pie.

Music by old time
duo Susan + Sarita.
Baking demo by Joe the Baker.
Sidewalk chalk for the kiddos.

Pie Baking Contest #2 with returning MC Nathan Lynch. Submit your entry by 3:30pm. Spread the word, and roll
your own.

Junot Diaz: History is Here

After returning from a work junket to the Caribbean, my darling handed me a book, and said "You'll like this." Historic, erotic, heroic, what else? Soulful, violent, disturbing, tragic, sadistic, comedic, pure art. From the first sentence of "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" to the final fiery word, the muscular vernacular style pinned me to the page and I'm not the only one.

Below, during a non-brief reading of his 2008 Pulitzer prize winning book, author Junot Diaz discusses living with a dictatorship hidden in plain sight, how history is unspoken but present in the scars on his mother's back, and comic books.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Schlomo the Love Sponge

Horn blower,
Bard reader,
ring leader,
love sponge,
fire walker,
temple builder,
love seeker,
booty shaker,
mighty, mighty
mitzvah maker,
our beloved Schlomo Waxler,
rest in peace.

Friday, June 6, 2008

To Do Good Work

Last night, an art reception at the new location of the 40-year old Freight and Salvage included images I shot of the awesome Chris Thile, the royal Taj Mahal, and the dazzling Patty Griffin....

....Later, I toasted three climate change activists, the current winners of the Project Slingshot Award with my buddy Jennifer Snyder and her co-workers at Clif Bar. The grantees big plans for the summer? Jesse will study an off-the-grid neighborhood in Portland, Oregon; Maya will build a rooftop garden at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, and Richard will produce five TV spots on nationwide youth activism. Ah, to do good work.

Enisa and Her Mother

Yesterday, I completed shooting a year-long project documenting the work of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. It's been amazing to bear witness to the love that drives so many nonprofits to do their deep and lasting community work day in and day out. Here's a shot of Enisa, a social worker, and her mother, refugees from Srebrenica, Bosnia. The audio capture was intense. Tears flowed from all of us. Husband gone. Brother gone. Dearest cousin gone. House in flames. Concentration camp escape. Lived as refugees in Montenegro, Macedonia, Austria, Berlin, and finally California. Rebuilding their lives as Americans. Helping countless other Bosnian refugees. Heros living among us, in spite of their ghosts. Or perhaps because of them.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Puerto Rico Frenzy

Traveled to San Juan last week with two other fab shooters to document an extravagant bat mitzvah complete with amazing merengue bands, acrobats and choreographed floor show. While editing my 1,500 pix, this frame rose from the depths of a collective, swirling throng. Here's to the power of passion, the joy of the circle, the frenzy of the hora.

A good photo is taken. A great photo is grooved. L'chaim!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sidewalk Reception May 17, 1-4pm

Sidewalk Reception for Mural #2
Saturday, May 17, 1-4pm
2901 Mission at 25th Street
Outside Mission Pie Bakery

Have a piece of Shaker Booty Lemon Pie while you're at it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Video for Javier

In honor of one of my accomplices on the Sky in the Pie project, Javier Gutierrez, I post this video.

A talented young photographer and student at the SF Art Institute, Javier grew up two blocks from our project site. Equal parts creativity and warmth, his disarming smile made many locals curious about what the heck we were up to. His soft-spoken manner soon had them willing to answer our ten questions and pause for a photo.

Thanks for your hard work and big heart, Javi. And thanks for jumping on the 14 Mission bus so we could keep on interviewing that one guy with the pork pie hat. Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rest in Peace

One of the memorable people we photographed and interviewed was tragically killed this month in a senseless freeway shooting. Even in the short hour we knew him, my assistant, Javier and I were struck by his generous spirit and the love he had for his family, his community, and his world. After he left with his two beautiful sons in tow, we both looked at each other and said, "Wow. There goes a super cool guy." May Luis "Al" Solari rest in peace.

Donations to the Solari family can be sent to:
Lilia Solari Family Benefit Account
A.G. Edwards-Wachovia Bank
456 Montgomery, 16th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104-9763

Read the SF Chronicle story

Numero Dos detail

Mural Numero Dos

After four graffiti-free months, numero uno finally got tagged. Oh well, it was time for a fresh mural anyway.

Numero dos asks the question, "Where is the farm in your family?" and in talking with the people at 25th and Mission streets, we discovered some had family farms in places as far-flung as Korea, Senegal, El Salvador, Slovakia, Morocco, Ireland, and York County, Nebraska.

Even if global mobility is vast and fast, most of us have a settled farmstead in our past. I want one now.

Thanks to Bill Cleary for the installation balancing act, Christie Rixford for the design hours, and Chris Hawkins for the print job. Couldn't have done it without y'all.