So close to the feet,
When did you creep noticed,
The slow moving snail.
Haiku by Issa
Almost everyday I walk four miles on the levee along the Alameda Creek, I moved my office home in 2007 when I could do the walk in 52 minutes, nine years later at 71 it will take me 56 minutes, sometimes even 60, although after nine years I have met so many fellow walkers that I often find myself stopping to chat or walking with someone, often at a slower pace but the conversation is rewarding.
The rain last week has filled up the creek.
I generally listen to podcasts, first The Archers, then Bloomberg Surveillance—perhaps for the current opinions but more for Tom Keene’s adjectives—or In Our Time with Melvin Bragg, Car Talk—I listen to the shows over and over—and The Reith Lectures.
My mp3 player also has selections of Old Time Radio such as Gunsmoke, Our Miss Brooks, The Great Gildersleeve, Lux Theatre, Jean Shepard, and many others.
Houses backup to the path on the levee
and a range of foothills makes up the background.
Sora, our dog for 14.5 years and I would go walking among the hills,
where we would get a panoramic view of the bay as well as see tracks from a mountain lion.
Last week was Chinese New Year—Year of the Rooster, that’s me. Late in the afternoon in San Francisco I was somewhere up on Russian Hill and I had to pee. At 71 the plumbing gets a little less controllable and usually I stop at a coffee place, buy coffee and use the bathroom. But this time I thought I would walk down to Washington Square where there is a public toilet. When I arrived the crew was busy cleaning it—wait time 30 minutes, or more as the crew was sitting around eating and drinking coffee, so I figured I would walk over to a tall building in the financial district where there is a coffee shop across the street. However walking through China Town which was celebrating the New Year I found plenty of porta potties watched over by Buddha, a pleasant surprise.
I like to see people doing the things they normally do, how they stand in relationship to each other. Movies, TV and plays are interesting and fun and there is less noise watching them, but its also scripted, rehearsed, and played by actors. Its not real but a metaphor for reality,still it has its place.
Simple things like having a conversation, time is spent talking, does it make a difference what the content is? Our lives are short, time is precious, every minute of what we do is important because one day we cannot do it anymore, we won’t even remember being alive just as we cannot remember our life before we were born. A simple conversation…
Not all people have wonderful experiences, these men have a mother and father, and they are alive. We all get only one time around, some have so much and others so little. I sit in my home, sometimes I feel sorry for myself, wishing for something someone else has—actually not so much, I have little desire for material things— and yet it seems so sad that with all of the wealth in this world some live like this, and we do not understand why.
I find people—I include academics and professionals—have very little understanding of why others do things, though that does not seem to stop from having careers where they make money from the problems of others. Yet those who can focus and discipline themselves often manage to reach intended and/or unintended goals, we may not get what w ewant but do we actually get what we need?
When I look at my phake foetoegraphs I do not see the detail of the individual in the image which serves to differentiate one person from another, but I see the more general things that make up what it means to be human, what we have in common.
As a marcom graphic designer one thing I noticed after computers became common. Before computers design ideas whether for ads, brochures, packaging, whatever, clients were first shown design concepts as comprehensive sketches (comps) made by hand and drawing media such as markers, colored pencils and colored paper. Generally body type, was indicated by lines, photos were sketched (and later shot at a photo shoot), and clients generally responded to the feeling of the design in the visual concepts. I believe because they could not actually experience the “real thing” it was easier for them to experience the more abstract visual concept.
After computers were established, and comps became almost identical to the final printed piece with actual type, photographs (perhaps stock images were used, everything mechanically correct and when clients saw these they responded not to the visual experience of the concept but to the detail. In essence they were busy looking at individual trees and missed the forest, or the feeling of the design concept.
Its the form, not the content, While it does not matter who the TV head shot is, on the other hand there are physical guidelines for the job. Still, a man on the street watching the video image seems like a medieval man reading a broadside posted on a wall—perhaps computers will retrace illiteracy.
family lunch in North Beach
The Zen of phoney concentration
Hanging out on Market Street
or passing other people on a street corner
These images are very normal people doing very everyday things and yet the shapes, textures, colors lines, and normal gestures frozen in time give an overall feeling about something, though I am not sure what to say in words. I will never meet these people, they will never see the photographs and even if they did, they probably would not recognize themselves—its not who they are but the feeling of the moment, a moment which will never happen again, and is of little importance in the material world of fame, wealth and power,
Each of these people have hopes and dreams, have parents who have hopes and dreams, and a reality of one chance at a life in this world.
Below is a quiet place for hiding somewhere away from it all.
The Fifth Patriarch knew he would not live forever and wanted to choose a successor but he did not have a definitive choice so he decided to hold a contest. One monk was recognized as the outstanding member and he wrote:
The body is the Bodhi tree,
The mind like a clear mirror.
At all times we must strive to polish it,
And must no let the dust collect.
The Fifth Patriarch responded “You have arrived at the front of the gate but have yet to be able to enter. Hui-neng, an illiterate worker in the kitchen asked a friend to read him the poem, and then asked the friend to write this:
The mind is the Bodhi tree,
The body is the mirror stand.
The mirror is originally clean and pure:
Where can it be stained by dust.
The Fifth patriarch recognized Hui-neng’s enlightenment but fear of reprisal by other monks for passing Daruma’s robe and bowl to one so lowly, secretly called Hui-neng to his room, passed on the dharma and sent him away.
Color, line, shape, gesture, what is it that we see when we see.
Western philosophers, those that made a basis for science, spent a few hundred years trying to define what it is that we see.
In art school you do exercises which enable your eye to see unimpaired by the busy brain trying to undermine the visual experience by categorizing and classifying with words.
Late autumn late afternoon in Albuquerque
San Francisco alley
Saturday morning jaywalkers on California St
There are so many homeless people in San Francisco, I do not know if its the same elsewhere. People without a home, they have family, parents who had dreams for their children, we spend $billions of tax payer money to help people but it does not work.
We have more than enough money in this country to provide some basic standard of common care but we do not have enough caring to make it happen, perhaps its easier to just walkaway.
Delicious North Beach windows
When seeing, stop thinking and just see without using words to tell you what you saw.
My iMac stopped working and I had to take it down tot he Macgenius in San Jose. To begin I needed the serial number to get through the Mac phone triage and get an appointment but the computer would not turn on and the receipt was hiding somewhere in a box in the garage so I called B&H, where I bought the computer and asked them so send the receipt. Once again, why I like to buy from B&H is that when I need responsive customer support they always give it. Maybe they are not available on Jewish Sabbath or Holy days like their competitors but for me iI find it doesn’t make any difference. When I order they ship immediately, prices are good if not among the best and their customer service helps customers even after the sale.
I went to the San Jose Mac store, two and one half hours of diddling with the computer, cannot find anything wrong, it starts up fine, who knows, its working now and who cares. but I did buy a grwon up keyboard finally getting rid of the dumbed down kids toy that comes with the iMac and a mouse that connects to the computer.
I brought the computer back and set it up— I have my computers chained together to the table so its a process and depackaged the new key board ad set it up. This morning when I came in I noticed a smell, one that I was familiar with after 27 years of owning Macs .Mac stuff has its own unique smell.
And I like it.
After the repair session I took a ride up San Carlos street, When I first came this area from Boston in 1979 I lived inSan Jose, part of it in the downtown area.
The city has under gone serious changes related tot he expansion of Silicon Valley but this area of “antique” stores int he Bancroft section has changed very little as if its been cut off from Stevens Creek Boulevard on the other side of Highway 17 now known as 880. Stevens Creek Blvd has exploded with upper quality stores featuring stylish and expensive goods, yet on the east side of 880 the Bancroft district appears like it was 30 years ago.
San Francisco too has greatly changed but that would be a given .
Hills and hollars of hidden hopes and heavy hearts as change always seems to benefit some at the expense of others.
Still there seems so much opportunity in our country to seek what you dream be it business or professional success, or a personal vision of a better way to live. And that opportunity is not phake or fonny even though these images look phakir and fonier than Google maps. Still even though these images may not hold up in a court of law as “realistic images of some kind of legal reality,’there is also an ’alternative reality’ which is more poetic in seeking an additional understanding of things common and banal hidden in the reality. And then there is always Hannah Arendt’s concept of the “banalty of evil ” which to some—most of whom have never read her writings— today is just “phake philosophy.”
Really there is no East, no West,
Where then is the South and the North?
Illusion makes the world close in,
Enlightenment opens it on every side.
An old Buddhist poem quoted by Soyetsu Yanagi in his introduction to The Potter’s Book by Bernard Leach
In political/diplomatic world what one does and how one does it are equal and not separate.
Almost everyday I walk along this path on the levee alongside Alameda Creek doing four miles in about 55 minutes, if I do not stop and have conversations with people I meet, I still do the four miles and when I walk I walk at the same pace but since I moved my office home —this year I have retired—in spring 2007, I have met many nteresting people out on the trail.
One new acquaintance—we have passed each other four or five times over the past month— is an elderly woman from an asian or middle east country, approaching five feet in height, she talks to me in some unknown language—I am not good at languages at all—I say a few words in English, we both smile. Perhaps that will be the extent of this relationship as I do not know how to make it any closer, but I can make normal and predictable and take some pleasure for what it is.
I wonder what its like to work in the corner office in this corner building in Tokyo.
Entry gate to Sensō-ji in Asakusa. Between the gate and temple is a walkway which leads to the temple flanked on both sides by stores selling street food, Buddhist things and less religious consumer goods.
Small house, even so, a garden in the front yard
Shapes outside a small family restaurant
Waiting for groom
A kura in Shibuya—a kura is a store house. Often in a Japanese house there are things to be used and things to be stored depending on the season.