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.