Monthly Archives: September 2014

Silence Insane @ Haight and Divisadero, 28 September 2014

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Good Evening:

I had hoped he didn’t see me.

He went hopelessly insane years ago, and I know little of psychology, but unfortunately it appears that nothing can save him. However, today did not count among my lucky days:

Immediately Before the Attack.

Immediately Before the Attack.

He saw me. And made me his next target for his next assault.

But this was no ordinary assault.

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He assaults people by harassing them without saying a word, he hardly makes a sound even when he moves, circles his victims, makes threatening gestures for a few moments, and then moves one, but then moves back and repeats the above until his victims are thoroughly terrified. I have used my camera to chase off a thug threatening two couple, and then to chase off a homeless addict/alcoholic threatening me, so I tried it again. It sort of worked; he left me alone after one circle, then walked down the street not harassing people when he saw me continuing to photograph him. This might be my money shot:

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Looks kinda like something that madman Winogrand might have taken. Aside from the first photo, I have not edited any of these shots (taken with my point-and-shoot), but I might crop the top and convert to B&W to see what happens. Here he is retreating from my camera:

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I didn’t scare him away, but my camera did.

Vonn Scott Bair

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Aperture Studies (Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime)

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Good Morning:

Is it just me, or have the weekly Challenges become, well–challenging?

Night photography has always baffled me; even when the results turned out well in the post on fire spinners, it took over 200 shots just to finish with a handful of acceptable pictures. Aperture has always baffled me; a low number means what, a high number means what, why do camera speeds change with aperture changes, uh, how does that work again?

Might as well make a Challenge twice as challenging and combine my personal challenges.

San Francisco on overcast nights takes on the colors of the San Francisco Giants (who are back in the playoffs, yeah!): lots of orange in the blackness.

Out of 40 shots taken at 1:00 a.m., 9/28/2014, the most accurate terms of color.

Out of 40 shots taken at 1:00 a.m., 9/28/2014, the most accurate terms of color. 0.5 sec exposure.

Hardly a great shot, of course, but it gives you an idea of how the city looks from my fire escape. One huge problem consisted of the camera’s refusal to take any pictures depending upon the composition (which objects were in the shot). This angle was the only one that let me take pictures at any setting.

My ancient Nikon D40 DSLR has 17 aperture settings ranging from f3.8 to f22, so the project presented itself: one shot at aperture setting, letting the camera adjust time of exposure on its own, then crop and convert to B&W in iPhoto and see what happens. The results present some subtle differences, even though the camera auto-focused on the same area in every picture, the cluster of lights in the upper right quadrant.

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f3.8

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f3.8

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f13

San Francisco, 28 September 2014, f13

San Francisco, 28 Sept 2014, f22

San Francisco, 28 Sept 2014, f22

The f3.8 has the softest focus, the f22 had the longest exposure yet turned out darkest, and the f13 turned out brightest. Still baffled; just have to keep on practicing. Fortunately, photography has a tendency to become more enjoyable the more it baffles me. A good thing, right?

Vonn Scott Bair

More Spam Scam Poetry! 27 September 2014.

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Good Morning:

Ahem. Ahem, ahem, ahem. Oh wait a minute. I don’t need to clear my throat. I’m writing, not reciting. After months of nothing from the spam scam vultures, I have received their second attempt to steal my money in one week. This one allegedly comes from PayPal, a company I will never patronize. I love the spelling, capitalization and punctuation errors (the incorrect spaces), which remind me of e. e. cummings.

Your Account Will Be Limited

by Vonn Scott Bair

Dear Customer,

Your account will be

Your account will be limited ,

Until We Here From You .

To Update Your Info ,

Simply click on the web address below ,

(or copy and paste the link into your browser):

Help Center Å Å | Å Å

Partner Directory Å Å | Å Å

Logo Center Å Å | Å Å

Security Å Å | Å Å

Business Center

Vonn Scott Bair

Answer: Thursday.

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Good Evening:

Question: What do San Franciscans call two men with terrible taste in women’s clothing and suffering from bad hair days walking in the Civic Center in front of City Hall at 5:10 p.m.?

Yes, These Are Men.

Yes, These Are Men.

See? Told You So.

See? Told You So.

You should see Fridays.

Vonn Scott Bair

New Spam Scam Poetry! 24 September 2014

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Good Evening:

This newest email spam scam looks pretty dangerous; it comes from something called “E-Z Pass” and claims you better click on the button below to pay your invoice for not paying at a toll booth or you will face civil and legal consequences. Be careful; it’s a jungle out there.

But a poetic jungle.

The spam scam included the usual miscellaneous text designed to fool spam filters, except it wasn’t usual or miscellaneous: “Latest News: Astonishing cardboard contraptions
Daniel Agdag works with a limited arsenal of tools: a surgical scalpel, some cardboard, every so often a circular cutter and lots of glue. But from that humble toolkit, he makes sculptures that are mind-bendingly complex. For the past 10 years, the Melbourne, Australia artist has been building intricate cardboard sculptures in the form of whimsical flying machines and rickety roller coasters. They look like pencil sketches brought to life, and with good reason.”

Time for some spam scam poetry. Ahem:

Latest News: Astonishing Cardboard Contraptions

by Vonn Scott Bair

Daniel Agdag works

with a limited

arsenal of tools:

A

surgical scalpel,

some cardboard, every so often

a circular cutter

AND

lots of glue.

But from that humble toolkit,

he makes sculptures that

ARE

mind-bendingly complex.

For the past 10 years,

the Melbourne, Australia artist has

BEEN

building intricate

cardboard sculptures

in the form

OF

whimsical

flying

machines

AND

rickety roller coasters. They look like

pencil sketches

brought to life,

AND

with good reason.

Copyright 2014, unless I can’t.

Somebody notify the Pulitzer committee immediately; we have a winner. I would, except I’m ever so modest and humble.

Vonn Scott Bair

Thrashing for the Camera on Haight Street, 21 September 2014.

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Good Evening:

I know almost nothing about the skateboarding culture, so I don’t know if this phenomenon is universal or unique to San Francisco, but when skateboarders travel in packs, someone usually brings along a video camera–and not the sort of video camera that comes with every cell phone nowadays.

As I awaited the bus at the Haight/Divisadero stop, I had the opportunity to watch one such team at work. First, I present “Heroin,” the star of this scene.

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Now the director/cinematographer creates the shot and starts filming.

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They filmed close to twenty takes. The final photo records the end of one of the few completely successful runs. You’ll notice that “Heroin” managed to navigate his board down a pair of very narrow steps, which explains why they needed so many takes to get the raw material for future editing.

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I suppose we can’t do anything nowadays without recording it.

Vonn Scott Bair

Short-Short Stories of San Francisco, 21 September 2014.

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Good Evening:

All true stories, all conversations reconstructed as best as I can remember them. No photos; unfortunately, I’m erratic at best as a photographer and unlike the day when I created a photo essay of San Francisco’s homeless, this time none even reached the level of “weak but usable.”

One-Fifty of Methadone on the 47 Van Ness.

The aging heroin addict (50s-60s, beard and coat equally old and shabby) in the back of the 47 did most of the talking, while his young mentor or acolyte (the same but about 30 years younger) listened or asked questions.

“Oh, I’m good, I’m good, got my one-fifty of methadone an’ all I need is two bottles a’ beer an’ my life is complete. Oh, yeah, feelin’ real good, just wish I had those beers, go great with a one-fifty.”

“Yeah?”

“Hell, yeah, methadone is the thing, kid, you gotta get into a program and get cleaned up ’til they put you on methadone. Then all you need is two bottles a’ beer and bleeve me, life is so much f—— better than heroin.”

“Hey, is it true what they say, you shot Jack?” (not the actual name)

“Shot Jack?!”

“They say you shot him up.”

“No, no, f— no, he shot himself up.”

“Where’d he get a gun?”

“Gun?! F— you talkin’ ’bout?! He-shot-himself-up. Needle. He blew up his own heart, taking heroin ‘long with some other stuff, maybe speed-”

“-speedball?”

“Zat whuh they call it? Whatev’ it was, Jack took some big f—— dose and his heart just exploded like he had planted a bomb in his chest. Just boom. Know he was 34 years old? Yeah, just 34. Family lives up north a’ here, Sacramento I think, they claimed the body and they gave him a good Christian burial. No burning him up, they gave him a good Christian burial, buried him in the earth good and proper.”

At which point my stop arrived.

So They Can Get Him Incinerated Proper.

I think that he thought that he looked like a professional fundraiser. African-American, about my age, hair shaved close, with a badge holder that was supposed to hold a picture ID but instead held a torn piece of white paper covered with illegible scribbles. He stood in front of the main entrance to City Hall following anyone who walked past. Instead of a clipboard with an ID, newspaper articles, pamphlets, and the like, he clutched a thin 8.5×11 notepad so tightly that it had crumpled in his strong grip. More illegible scribbles there.

“Hey, man, wait up for me, I’m collecting money for Joe Trainor (also not his real name), who got killed on Paul Avenue the other day and I’m collecting money so they can get him incinerated, Joe got killed on Paul Avenue last night and his family needs money so they can burn him up right, so please give me some money for Joe Trainor, he got murdered on Paul Avenue two days ago, and I want your address and phone number so we can send you a proper thank you, or email if you want, so can you give some money for Joe so his family can incinerate him? I’ll need your phone and address, too.” And so on and so on and so on.

I finally shook him off at about the same time an African-American woman about half his age approached him with a scowl bigger than her face, and I did not know that was possible.

“What the f— are you doing?! Do you have any idea what you sound like?!”

Bravery Unseen. Literally.

And I mean I literally could not see her. She stood surrounded by five people, the shortest of whom was a full head taller. I could only see a shock of blond hair. This group stood in front of the main entrance to the Superior Court building at Polk and Fulton. The five crowded her so tightly as if that would silence her, but her voice stood at least three taller than them.

“You! You’re his father! When was the last time you saw your son?! When?! Do you ever see him? No! You don’t! You don’t have the time, because you’re always shooting up! And you two! You two call yourselves grandparents! Do you really care about your grandson? Your so-called grandson?! Do you ever visit? Do you ever send money? Do you ever send food or care packages?? No! You don’t! I’m the one who loves him! I’m the one who puts a roof over his head! I’m the one who feeds him, clothes him, sends him to school, and does her d— best to keep him outta trouble so he doesn’t grow up to be like his so-called father, or you, or you, or you, or you! I’m the only one who loves him! Me!”

Nothing could intimidate her.

The sheriffs had their eyes on this group, and I had to return to work from my lunch hour, so I kept on moving.

I wish I knew the whole story.

I don’t know their side of the story–she didn’t give them space to speak. We can’t assume that she told the truth about what sounded like an ugly custody battle. We don’t know the others are not better providers. Or perhaps worst of all, she might have had the right on her side, but they might have had the law on theirs.

My Therapist Says My Anger Doesn’t Propel Me.

He stood next to me on the 43 Masonic and hung onto one of the overhead straps for standing passengers as he vented into his cell phone. Brown crewcut, about four inches shorter than me, I’d guess late twenties, small mustache, pseudo-camoflage pattern cargo pants, white sleeveless muscle shirt, complete with the muscles to justify wearing one of those, and Doc Martens boots.

And my oh my, did he ever vent.

“You won’t believe this s— that she tells me. My therapist says my anger doesn’t propel me, doesn’t move my life forward, yeah, s— like that, my anger doesn’t move my life forward it holds me back, and it takes me everything I have to keep from saying listen, b—-, I got good f—— reasons for anger, I mean do you ever listen to anything I say, anything, don’t you get it by now, I mean, f— man, I don’t get the point of this court-ordered s— if all I get is this therapist who uses words like ‘propel,’ I mean, come on, ‘propel?!'”

A second for a deep breath.

“I mean like the last session, you know what the last thing she says to me is? She says, ‘Remember. Propel!’ Yeah, f—— propel again, sometimes I just want to say something that will scare and I mean scare that b—- just to see how she reacts, maybe I can make her pee in her panties, you know?

Another deep breath.

“Nah, I’m just kidding, I don’t want to scare her at all, you know what I really want to do? Do you know? I know I’m her last appointment of the day. I want to say to her someday that I want to comeback that afternoon, three o’clock, for a massage. No, no, no! I don’t her to give me a massage, I want to give her a foot massage, nah she doesn’t look so hot, but she always wears skirts and open-toed shoes, and she crosses her legs right over left during the sessions, and for the entire fifty minutes she will bounce her right foot at me and I just stare at that foot while she uses words like ‘propel’ and all I can think about is how much I want to massage her feet, h— no, I don’t want to f— her, she is totally not hot, but those toes, man, someday I will ask her if I can give her a foot massage just to see how she reacts, I just want her feet, that’s all I want, her feet are-so-fine.”

“And no more of this ‘propel’ s—.”

My stop arrived and I disembarked, thinking that perhaps his court-ordered therapist should be a man.

Vonn Scott Bair