Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 12 2018

Bangkok, continued

We awoke early again on Tuesday and met in the lobby at 7 a.m. before heading out, this time accompanied by ABC and Barry and their respective flashes. Breakfast was a proper Bangkok alley breakfast this time, although still followed by Starbucks coffee to wake everyone up. The sun was doing that already as we walked towards the river with every intention of and completely failing at getting there in a reasonable amount of time. Students lagged ahead and behind, of course, and it wasn’t long before we were again behind schedule. Eventually everyone reached the ferry building, where a small boy slept in a bed amid all the hubbub. We bought orange flag boat tickets and boarded the vessel across the river, and I was happy in that way one is when one likes boats and rivers and photography and is crossing a river in Bangkok shooting people on a boat, mostly with the Ricoh.

We toured through some of the city’s landmark temples and were joined by some other photographers, foreign and domestic, before heading back across the river towards the palace. There we had some nice lunch and conversation before heading into another temple, this one featuring an inordinately long reclining Buddha, which, along with the muddy old river, gripped me just fine. More than the game, even.

Then it was time for us to head clear across town for the cabaret show Chenbl had booked. I feel asleep in the Grab car and thus was not in the proper mood to dispute the extra tax we were levied at the end. We waited for the other car and then headed into the Golden Dome for the show, which featured mostly, from what I could tell, were transgender performers lip-syncing to a variety of songs. The audience was mostly poor mainland Chinese tourists, and they were louder than most of the songs. The comedy bits were funny and well-done, anyway. Chenbl, who had seen it ten years before, said it was greatly changed, and not for the better, by the new demographics of the crowds. Apparently the part at the beginning where mediocre calligraphy was auctioned off to the highest bidder is new.

After the show we walked to the subway station along roads I could have sworn I’d walked down in Hangzhou, got on the metro and got off again near our Chinatown hotel. Then it was a nice walk along a dirty canal to the riverside once again, where we met Rammy and boarded a lovely wooden vessel for dinner and another show, this one featuring some very balanced dancing and a surprise performance by Thai Panther. I was stuffed by the time we returned to the dock, and we bade Rammy farewell and walked back towards our hotel. ABC messaged from a nearby bar, though, so Barry and I walked over to meet up with him and Daniel and some other photographers, for drinking and conversation and 80’s hits from the DJ. It was a lot of fun.

My head was not quite as fun when I got up this morning, however. Nonetheless, we headed out early again, this time to the train station where the subject of Rammy’s book, Platform 10, is located. Apparently they’re going to make the whole place into a museum next year, which kind of sucks as the place has a metric shit-ton of atmosphere. Monks and soldiers, oddly enough, comprised most of the passengers, probably because they both get great travel deals. A group of men were getting their hair cut nearby, and ABC and I hopped into a stranded dining car to do some shooting. Every so often a train would arrive or depart, and the scenery and light would all change. Men walked on top of the trains, washing them, and I had a Dunkin Donut because, well, I was curious if it tasted the same as elsewhere (it mostly does, except I couldn’t find the chocolate-filled variety that has been my benchmark over the years; I had to settle for Blueberry).

We caught a series of cabs to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center where the main photo events are being held. I say a series because the first one got the destination wrong, and the second one nearly refused to let us out at the BACC because he was afraid of being arrested. It seems that Grab is actually illegal in Thailand. Who knew? I didn’t.

The photography on display there was nice, with several interesting projects upstairs. The center is located on an aggresively 3D traffic circle, with overhead expressways, metro lines and elevated pedestrian walks. We had lunch and walked down the line a bit and back, meeting Job on the way, before heading out again for another show, this one a Thai history themed affair that was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen on a stage. They had a river. And elephants. And goats. And thunder and lightning. All on stage. The music and dancing were great, although I’m not entirely sure how accurate to the actual history it was. We’d invited Barry but he got lost and couldn’t make it in time, which is a genuine shame.

After the show the others left, and Chenbl and I went shopping at a large store called Big C before catching the last train back to Chinatown.

posted by Poagao at 2:44 am  
Jul 10 2018

Bangkok, part 3

We got up early this morning and explored the area around the hotel, i.e. Chinatown. It’s a very different place than it is late at night, full of different kind of energy and people…the only constant, it seems, is the ubiquitous cats. We walked down alleys, through markets and into temples…it has a great vibe. We spent so much time exploring we forgot breakfast and ended up suffering the ignominy of consuming a Starbucks breakfast in the van after William arrived.

Our destination today was the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, about an hour north of Bangkok. The first stop was the summer palace, an immaculately groomed piece of land where half the historic buildings were under renovation.  It was Royal, so everyone had to wear long pants and cover themselves, and one of our group had to buy a skirt. They had electric golf carts for rent but the place wasn’t really all that large. William said I would find a lot of photos there, but I think he doesn’t really know what kind of photos I like to take…or maybe he does, because I did actually take quite a few photos of the workers repairing the buildings as well as the soldiers armed with M16s in various states of not being ready to be photographed.

We woke William up and continued on to a temple full of an enormous Buddha statue and many smaller ones, some of which, according to Chenbl’s delicate sense of such things, contained actual deceased monks. William said it was a lucky temple, and it did have a nice vibe to it, including the Chinese temple next door, which featured some kick-ass door gods.

Next was more old capital stupas and a reclining Buddha where devotees could haul fabric over it, which is, uh, nice I guess. Although it was quite hot and I’m not entirely sure that removing fabric wouldn’t have been more appreciated. Signs warned of pickpockets and thieves, and at the top of the main building was a well you could toss coins down. At the bottom a couple of people were picking up the coins, even as they were raining down on them. I wonder if that hurts.

Lunch was a delicious affair on a dock along the river, rocked every so often by passing boats. Some of the boats were long chains of huge barges full of rice. Everything was good, but the lime slushies were the most popular drink.

We then drove to some more old ruins, but then someone said we really had to see the Buddha head in the tree because it closed at 5 p.m. I don’t know who started saying this, because it didn’t actually close til 6:30, but we all packed into the van and rushed over there, and it was actually fortunate we did because as soon as we reached the tree-wrapped Buddha head, the weather began to change, a wall of dark blue approaching over the ruins. The clouds became an ominous combination of colors, and we all stood atop walls trying to get the right combination of tourists, clouds and headless Buddha statues. Some Chinese tourists tried to duck out of my shot, but I just said, “Don’t worry, you’re all in the shot; it’s a really wide lens.” This was apparently not the most reassuring thing I could have said.

A sudden gust of wind picked up all of the long-accumulated dust and thew it in our faces, causing a certain amount of spitting and wincing as the weather front passed over us and the pelting rain sent us rushing back to the van. William suggested visiting a nearby reclining Buddha, but it turned out it was reclining outside in the rain, so we returned to the original ruins we’d abandoned to see the tree buddha, but when we approached, we found the temple there, which supposedly contains a really large Buddha, closed and bereft of people save for a little girl on the steps trying to sell toy turtles. We gave her some money, and she walked away through the downpour under her large pink umbrella.

So clearly it was time to return to Bangkok. The drive back was pleasant; William is really a good driver, and it was pleasant watching Thailand through the rain as night fell, wondering what kind of people were living what kind of lives out there in the Thai countryside, along the canals and in the fields now drenched in rain. Back in town, we ventured out for some dinner of spicy pepper soup in an old movie theater lobby while roving bands of German models made videos in rainy alleyways nearby. A cat slept under our table, providing the chaotic scene with a measure of calm that only a sleeping cat can provide.

Back at the hotel we met up with Barry and ABC, both of whom just got in. Tomorrow we’re going to hang out and see what happens.

posted by Poagao at 12:49 am  
Jul 09 2018

Bangkok, part 2

I didn’t sleep well last night, but that’s not news…I haven’t been sleeping well lately anyway. I did sleep, but getting up was all too easy at 6 a.m. Downstairs, our driver had already picked up the students who are staying at another hotel; they were all waiting downstairs. We piled into the van and headed through and out of the city, across an impressive bridge and through countryside riddled with canals. Our first destination was that famous market where the train comes through and the market miraculously reappears. We got on the train one stop before the end of the line, which is the market, with the hope of getting some of the reappearing market from the last car, but apparently most of the Western tourists had thought of that, and were lined up. When we did pass through the market, the only thing visible was other Western tourists hopping onto the track after the train, far overshadowing any actual market. It was all rather comical.

Chenbl and I walked around until we found some egg and rice for breakfast, and then we all got back in the van and headed out for one of the water markets. We’d thought we’d get there and maybe take a boat, but it turned out that there was a boat service to the floating market, and we had to get our driver William to get them to agree to just a one-way trip there in the boat instead of a huge itinerary that included coconut milking and a temple. Even though we’d agreed to go directly to the market, our boat driver still stopped at most of the little stalls along the way where they try to get you to buy things like beer and painting of elephants. But I like boats, so I just sat and enjoyed the ride, even though they made us get out before we actually entered the floating market itself. We walked around for a while, taking photos and having some lunch and avoiding being bitten by the occasional poisonous lizards that are lying around, before getting back in the van and driving to the tree temple, which is a temple that has apparently been enveloped in a tree. People were surrounding it, taking off their shoes before entering, and burning even thicker incense than Taiwanese people do (which is pretty damn thick). I took some photos from outside but didn’t feel like going in, electing instead to go take pictures of tourists posing with painted cement martial arts figures in the back while a smoking monk stood nearby and coughed at us.

I was taking photos of cement martial arts figures apparently depantsing each other when I heard a loud noise from the road. A car had hit a motorcycle, taking it down and destroying its bumper in the process. Nobody seemed to be hurt, and police soon arrived to direct traffic until the wreck could be moved off the road. We sipped coconut juice and ate bananas as we watched from the temple. Thai temples tend to be very tall. In fact, it’s obvious from most of the buildings here that this is a country devoid of earthquakes. Even the buses are taller, for some reason.

Our next and final destination was another floating market, this one featuring a firefly tour that evening. It was extremely crowded, and we booked a boat for the evening before spending the afternoon wandering around the area. My favorite part was by far the outlying edges of the place where people actually live, far away from the crowded touristy bits. Chenbl and I bought blue and red hats, respectively, to match our shirts, and munched on market snacks. It was hot, but not more so than it would be in Taiwan.

We got in our boat, along with its pudgy Thai pilot, around 6 p.m., and headed out to watch the sunset, but the sun wasn’t having it, so we turned around and headed towards the firefly area. It was quite pleasant, as I love boats, and the houses and people on the banks were all interesting to watch. Other boats began to pass us as I recorded a couple of experimental live videos on Facebook and Instagram (with the latter you can zoom). Soon it was quite dark, and we saw several trees filled with either fireflies or clever LED displays before we circled around to the floating market. Something very large on the other side of the river was completely engulfed in fire, but we didn’t get close enough to see exactly what.

Traffic on the way back was stupendous, but William managed it well. I have to say that, although most Taiwanese drivers are fearless, I saw Thai drivers doing things that would make even the most fearless Taiwanese driver step back and say, “Hmm, I might want to reconsider this, what with all the animals involved and so little clearance.”

After we got back we went for another stroll around the night markets near our hotel, including sitting down for some nice pad thai. I’m beginning to get the hang of shooting here, I think. It’s good that I came a few days early.

posted by Poagao at 1:39 am  
Jul 08 2018

Bangkok, part 1

Due to my recent lack of decisive clarity, pre-departure preparations were a kind of slow-motion scramble over the course of the last few days, culminating in me still being nearly half an hour late to the airport MRT terminus. We got checked in ok nonetheless and boarded the train. A storm followed us out to the airport, and we arrived thinking we had more time than we actually did, resulting in a lot of deliberately fast chewing.

We took off just as the thunderstorm was descending over the airport, drops on the window as the windmills of the coast slipped past underneath, and then we were free to navigate over the sea south of Hainan Island, which we could see on the horizon. The plane was old, as were the movies on the tiny screen. I tried to sleep, but only got a half hour in before I was squinting at a low-res Kung Fu Panda.

And then we were landing, nearly half an hour ahead of schedule. Chenbl fired up the wifi, and I kept Rammy appraised of our progress from taxiing to immigration, and he met us outside customs and drove us into town. It was good to see him again. We drove through some very nice light to Tavepong’s new book exhibit, and there I met him as well as Job, Larry Hallegua and many others. Many of my students, who arrived earlier, were on hand as well, and more showed up later.

The exhibition is on a scale I have hitherto not experienced, more like a small theme park, with molds and corridors and interactive displays. Tavepong was nice enough to talk to my students for a bit about the photos. It is impressive work. But as always, I was a little uncomfortable in such social situations, and going right to one in a new country right off the plane was a little overwhelming.

Rammy had to split, but he showed me how to use the Grab app to get taxis back to the hotel, which we eventually did. Driving through and over the city was surreal enough, but walking around our hotel in Chinatown was even stranger, with the big neon signs, street food and foreign tourists everywhere. People have told me that photography is difficult here. We’ll see.

posted by Poagao at 12:58 am  
Jul 05 2018

Not really back, but off again soon

Things never really got back to normal around here since I got back from San Francisco. They just kept being strange. Oh, I kept going to work and teaching classes and returning to the Water Curtain Cave at night, but the surreal feeling I’ve had ever since I got back never lost its edge. I’ve been delving into Wiki articles about Erik Satie and how he and Debussy used to hang out in Montmarte and at Le Chat Noir and what that world must have been like. Wiki articles tend to leave out moments and details like smells and feelings while walking down a street or crossing a bridge.

So when I found myself at Jiantan Station with nothing to do for two hours before a gig at the American Club last weekend, I figured I’d just wander in the general direction, hauling my instruments behind me. I walked along the former riverside before they changed the waterway’s course, wondering exactly where the exit to Chiang Kai-shek’s Emergency Fun Slide was. I really, really, didn’t want to enter the American Club earlier than I needed to, so I sat down in the armory park next door, the one dedicated to a couple of large guns that helped defend our outer islands against Chinese attacks in the late 50’s, and sat and thought and listened to the cicadas. But mostly I enjoyed not doing anything in particular, apart from scratching the occasional mosquito bite. Eventually I was joined by Slim, and then it was time to go do the deed.

The local staff inside the complex walls was being wrangled by a heavy blonde man with a German accent. There were lots of stands with the names of various foods and states and football teams or something. One stand, staffed by two people, emphasized the fact that Americans Can Vote Anywhere. It was very hot, and we shuttled between the very hot stage and the very cold ready room upstairs for most of the afternoon and into the evening for the Independence Day event. Every so often aircraft would pass over after taking off from Songshan Airport next door, and a vision flashed unbidden into my mind, of the local staff looking up at the military planes carrying the last of the U.S. staff off the island as the club lay abandoned due to a Chinese invasion and Politics As Usual. These thoughts thrust me into an even stranger state of mind. Unlike previous incantations, we were allowed access to all the stalls and people at the event, though it was sparsely attended. We played three long, lumpy sets, and everyone was hot and exhausted afterwards. I scored a couple of cupcakes as they were too sweet for the local staff and nobody else seemed to want cupcakes. Packing up amid the emptying complex, hauling our stuff down darkened halls and through empty gates, we took some cabs to Yuanshan Station, where some of the band was hanging out, but I was spooked and had to leave.

More surreality awaited me as I attended an event at Taipei Main Station, in the atrium no less, held by the publication for which I work, on tourism in Taiwan. Several bigwigs talked on the subject, including Premiere Lai, who was sitting once again a couple rows away. I talked with writer friend Joshua Samuel Brown and Stephanie Huffman, who were also there. Joshua mentioned something that had escaped my notice: The invitations had been sent out in English, many to foreign nationals, yet there were no English translations; the entire event took place in Chinese. It was a jarring disconnect from the messages being given lip service to at the event itself. Why, again, are we doing this? The location was selected “because everyone sets out from the train station” yet I wondered if these people knew that this exact spot was usually inhabited by Southeast Asian laborers on their day off.

My photography class’s last class was on Tuesday, and Chenbl and I worked hard to finish the accompanying photobook. These books have gotten better and thicker each semester, and this one is no exception. Some, if not most of my students have improved beyond recognition, and it’s a wonder to see them finding their individual styles and reveling in the practice of photography, a world they didn’t know existed before. We’ve become quite the big family over the years, and about a dozen of them are actually coming to Bangkok with us.

Bangkok? Oh yes, didn’t I say? Even though I’m still recovering from my trip to San Francisco, Chenbl and I are flying to Bangkok on Saturday to spend a week or so there. The reason for this is that, in addition to being a judge for the Bangkok Street Photography competition, I’m going to be teaching a workshop there with Rammy Narula and Barry Talis from Israel. Oddly enough, I’ve never been to Thailand before, only catching glimpses of it from across the river in Vientiane years ago when I visited Prince Roy there. People always exclaim in disbelief when I say I’ve never been to Thailand, which puzzles me, and, to be honest, is probably one of the reasons I’ve never gone, just because it was somehow expected of me, and things being expected of me nearly always pisses me off because it’s often because of the stupidest of reasons. But I’m happy to be proven wrong, and hopefully this will be one of those times.

So I’ve spent the last few days since the end of our class trying to rest up and recover and get my mind right. This has involved afternoon naps, copious amounts of tea, and watching every single A Tribe Called Quest video  – Rest in Power, Phife –  intermixed with early seasons of Star Trek: Voyager. Also Little Debbie Snack Cakes (“Zebra Cakes” for you Philistine kids who know not from whence you came). Am I showing my age yet? Today I had to go to the local government office to pay my housing tax, get my household registration for a gig we’re playing in Hong Kong this fall, as well as have some passport-sized photos made for said gig. Late-40’s passport photos usually tell a sobering tale, but I’m ok just being along for the ride so far.

 

 

posted by Poagao at 5:38 pm  
Jun 11 2018

Back from San Francisco

Ken drove me back downtown on Wednesday morning to the Leica store, where I met and had a nice chat with Jeff Mermelstein, who was starting his own workshop that day. People say he’s the anti-Gilden, and I can see why.

I met Andy in the lobby of his hotel, and we caught an uber to the airport, where we got off at our separate terminals, his domestic and mine international. Then all that lay between me and my 12-hour flight was the pathetic TSA demonstration of ignorance and paranoia. That over with, I bought an extravagantly expensive turkey sandwich to eat while I waited for boarding.

A window seat awaited me on the plane, and fortunately no one in the middle seat so I could stretch out, but my cold didn’t make any part of the flight pleasant. Back in Taipei, I went to an ENT clinic to get something for it before going back to my comfy Water Curtain Cave and passing out.

So I’m back, but due to my cold-induced fogginess I never really experienced arriving, putting me in a rather surreal state of mind.

posted by Poagao at 11:10 am  
Jun 06 2018

San Francisco, Part 5

After the bus I thought was taking me to the ferry building unexpectedly veered off onto a side street, I got off and hurried over to meet Andy before we walked over to where our students were waiting. We discussed a few things before sending them off to shoot. Then Andy, Harvey and I took a circuitous route through downtown in the general direction of Glass Key, where we were meeting everyone for afternoon discussions and final reviews. I was gratified to see that most everyone seemed to show significant improvement, and were happy with their progress. My friend Ben Molina arrived as we were finishing up; I introduced him to Andy, and we walked back down towards Andy’s hotel, stopping along the way to shoot some nicely lit corners. After hamburgers for dinner, we went over to Cameraworks to meet up with some old friends, including Tyler and Skyid, and new ones such as Fadi. I wish I had more time to meet the other guys, but alas, I’m coming down with a cold, and my flight back to Taipei is tomorrow.

It’s been interesting, and kind of bizarre. San Francisco always seems a little bizarre to me, and that seems magnified in the photography scene, and more so in the local street photography scene, which is full of drama and intrigue and passion that seems incommensurate with what actually gets produced. Perhaps it’s simply the character of the city, but I’m not entirely sure I could ever be comfortable in such a place, physically or mentally.

posted by Poagao at 1:25 pm  
Jun 05 2018

San Francisco, Episode IV

The second day of the workshop was quite fruitful. Some of the students were already showing quite a difference as they tried new things and new approaches. We met at the Hyatt lobby and talked about the previous day’s work and set challenges for each student based on what they needed to work on, and they went off on their various missions while Andy, Harvey and I walked around Union Square amid the tourists, touts and of course the ubiquitous mentally ill homeless people that are such a prominent feature of this burg.

Later we all walked over to Glass Key photo, where I gave a small presentation on some thoughts I’ve had on the subject of motives in street photography, and we went over some of the students’ work. There was a little pushback, but that’s to be expected. There were also surprises. All in all it was a promising session.

Andy was giving a talk that night at the Harvey Milk Center, so we Ubered over there in a Dodge Challenger whose driver was playing an oldies rap station we were all digging. After Andy’s talk we listened to another by Michelle Groskopf presenting her wonderfully intimate flash work.

Tired and hungry after the long day, Andy, Harvey, and I were joined by Andy’s old college roommate, who is now a world-class yo-yo practitioner, and an aspiring community college photography teacher who had many questions for me, for pizza nearby.

posted by Poagao at 9:47 pm  
Jun 04 2018

San Francisco, Part 3

Ken and I went over to one of the photo spaces on Market on Saturday to attend the “Ethics of Street Photography” talk they were giving. There was very little of either in the talk, but I did meet Pei Ketron again, as she was one of the organizers of the thing, as well as a photowalk afterward. Pei came to one of my solo exhibitions in Taipei years ago. After the photowalkers had left, Ken, Joe, Jake and I put up some photos, soon joined by Andy, who had just gotten in the night before. Then we went out to shoot and chat as the light was nice downtown with lots of reflections from all the glass buildings. We had some good ramen at a place where they actually give you a whole egg instead of half of one as they do in Japan and Taiwan…American portion growth over the past twenty years continues to baffle me. After the others left, Andy and I had some drinks at the jazz bar on the second floor of his hotel, the Mystic, which seems like a great name for a hotel.

The first day of the workshop (Sunday) went well. I walked over to the Harvey Milk Center in the morning, dodging skateboarders and scooters, admiring the open windows and detailed architecture of the houses here. At the Center, which is located close to the Castro up the street, I met our assistant, who is conveniently if uncannily named Harvey Castro. It’s as if he was named just for this workshop, but he insisted that this is in fact his real name.

Some of the students were sitting on a bench outside, and we chatted a bit while I ate the bagged breakfast I’d bought at a corner store on the way. Andy had arrived but was out shooting, but we all congregated in the classroom at 11. One of the students who had had an email mixup decided he wasn’t interested at the last minute. Something about not really being into having his photos reviewed. Ok.

Andy and I introduced the workshop and ourselves, and we proceeded to review the works the students had brought; there was some very nice stuff, and we were able to figure out more or less what areas they needed to work on. Later, we boarded a train downtown and took the students shooting, meeting up at intervals and doing some individual guidance as we went. As evening approached and the students departed, Andy, Harvey and I climbed the stops above the tunnel and had some drinks at the Tunnel Top bar before catching an uber out to a Korean barbecue restaurant to meet up with Joe, Rob and Rob’s wife. The food was excellent, and I ate way too much as I hadn’t had any lunch.

I am now staying at Ken’s place as the basement I was previously staying at is otherwise occupied, but it’s all good. I’m sitting in his dining room right now typing this early on Monday morning before anyone else is up. Today we’re meeting the students in the lobby of the Hyatt downtown, and Andy says if they try to throw us out he’ll whip out his Hyatt Member Card, but hopefully it won’t come to such drastic measures.

posted by Poagao at 9:59 pm  
Jun 02 2018

San Francisco, part 2

It’s been a busy couple of days. Yesterday I got up and went over to Ken’s for a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, olive bread and conversation in his kitchen, after which I set out for Joe’s place on Hyde Street. The walk took me longer than I’d thought it would, and I ended up being rather late. We walked over to Union Square to meet his friend Jake, and we spent more or less the rest of the day walking around downtown, often encountering other photographers walking up and down Market Street. We walked down to the waterfront, had a snack, and then out onto a pier lined with elderly Asian fishermen. At one point we spent quite a lot of time at the trolly turnaround area, the others talking with a friend of theirs. As the sun set, we went to a market for fixings, and then returned to Joe’s apartment, where we witnessed a truly excruciating attempt by a dude in a Mazda Miata to parallel park. Tacos ensued.

Jake had to go, and I caught a bus back to the Panhandle area where I’m staying, stopping at Target to have a look around before walking back.

This morning I awoke with a headache, so after breakfast and some Aleve, I returned to bed until the pain was more or less receding. Then I took a bus down to Market and walked over to the Best Buy on Harrison to look at speakers. While I was there, a grey-bearded man with a cart strode in, loudly proclaiming, “BEST BUY RUINED MY LIFE!” A clerk hurried over and spoke with him for a minute about his grievance, and then he strode out again, shouting just as loudly, “IT’S OK IT WAS JUST A MISUNDERSTANDING, NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!”

I wandered over to the camera section to have a look at the new Sonys, and the sales dude came over to ask if I had any questions. “How fast does this wake up?” I said, pointing to the A7rIII.

“Point-six milliseconds,” he said.

“Really.”

“Well, maybe half a second,” he said. I picked up the camera, held down the shutter and switched it on. We both waited until the shutter activated.

“So, a little over a second?” I suggested.

“But there’s literally no situation where you’d need it to do that,” he said quickly, and I couldn’t, try as I might, to suppress a laugh.

“Are…are you a photographer?”

He took umbrage at this. How dare I insinuate that he was not a photographer. “I am a photographer, as a matter of fact.” Challenging glare, arms folded. Ok. I didn’t want to get into it, so I thanked him for his time and left. I know I shouldn’t have been so mean; I’m sure he’s a lovely photographer.

Joe and Rob picked me up in front of the store, but not before I made the elderly white man standing there clutching a printer extremely nervous. Everyone here seems unreasonably nervous, for some reason, like they’re all waiting for something awful to happen.

We drove back to Joe’s place, tried to walk his dog, but the dog, Miller, wasn’t having it. So we left Miller there and headed out again, this time for sushi with Ann, whom I’d met two years ago. We’d expected a wait but were able to head right in. The sushi was good, fresh and not cheap. Fortunately Rob is a CIA agent so he was able to make the check “go away”. Then he drove me back to the panhandle, telling me stories of various famous photographers he’s met.

I walked up to the Lucky grocery store to get some snacks and gifts, but I had to use the restroom first. I walked back to where they were located, and saw a middle-aged white woman kneeling on the floor fussing with her bag. As I walked to the restroom door she started and yelled at me, “What are you doing here?!” in a panicked voice.

Confused, I pointed at the restroom door, saying, obviously I thought, “I want to use the restroom.” But she was shaking her head, and saying she knew what I was up to, no, I couldn’t fool her. I was a sexual predator, apparently, sneaking up on her with the most nefarious of schemes.

Upon seeing my expression, she said, “Oh, and I’m the crazy one? Ha!” I ignored her and tried the handle of the restroom, but there was a keycode because everyone in America is paranoid and narrow-minded. When I gave up and began walking to the register to ask for the code, the woman said snidely, “Oh, I guess you’ve decided not to use the restroom, huh? I know what you’re up to, you pervert!”

I ignored her, went to get the code, used the restroom, picked up my snacks, and headed to the counter, where the woman was just finishing her checkout. As I waited in line, looking at my phone, she chatted with the clerk, looking for all the world like a normal person. I guess that’s the most frightening thing about all of this.

The photo activities are ramping up tomorrow, so that should be interesting.

posted by Poagao at 2:46 pm  
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