Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Balmy Alley

Walked through the Mission with a friend out to Balmy Alley. This narrow passage is lined mostly by garage doors or sliding metal doors or back fences made of boards and both sides are mostly lined with murals on the wide hospitable surfaces. The residents maintain a site about their landmark alley here.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Just please take a good look at the colored chalk illustration commissioned by the publishers for the cover of this book. Better still, consult the helpful close-up below.

Given the context it's a fairly minor point that the woman depicted in the green business-suit has a left arm long enough to let her scratch her ankle without bending over. She NEEDS that big arm, since she is bearing half the burden of a piece of carved stone that looks like it weighs about the same as an automobile.

This green woman and her faceless compatriots on the far side of the stone, what are they about to do? Drop the stone into place, clearly. It is a metaphor, see? They are "building" (with their leadership) the "high-achievement" environments promised by the text.

Are we then to judge the worth of the text by the plausibility of the cover art? That Roman Arch is LEVITATING! Do you suppose the artist really believes that the keystone of the arch got dropped in at the end? Roman arches were supported (from underneath) by frameworks of wood until the stonework was complete. Then the wood was removed and – by a simple but marvelous balance of forces  the stones could support themselves up there in the air, which (as we all know) many of them in Europe are still doing 2000 years later.

All right, assume the graphics person is ignorant. And discouraged. Drawing covers for textbooks is probably pretty discouraging at the best of times. There still must have been a few dozen other people approving this design before it got sent out into the world. And they all apparently thought it looked just fine to have three smudgy stick figures supporting thousands of pounds with their bare hands while standing on a pair of projectiles that can only remain where they are in complete defiance of gravity.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Folsom Street 2008


Folsom Street Fair, 25th anniversary.

Folsom & Floyd

I was waiting this afternoon at 8th & Howard, South of Market in San Francisco. The intersection marked one of the entrances to this year's 25th anniversary Folsom Street Fair. While I waited for my friend Floyd to arrive, I watched two college boys stumble accidentally across the entrance gate to Sin City. They debated for several minutes about paying the $7 donation and going in, or passing on their way and retaining their innocence. Alas, vice prevailed. They went in.

And then Floyd showed up. And we went in too.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


At mid-morning on Saturday I walked over to Flax Art & Design for a box and some ribbon to wrap a gift for my daughter. They would both be solids, I knew that in advance, but had no preconceptions about the details, trusting to Flax for a stimulating choice.

Of course I also bought a few other essentials. Like some letterpress-printed note cards, and several competing roller balls. I consume roller balls like a python consumes rats. My broad nib fountain pen remains my favorite by far of all possible writing tools, but is also picky about situations and surfaces. Where the roller ball by contrast is omnivorous.


Went out early on Saturday morning to get some cards and bills into the mailbox ahead of the only pickup that will occur until Monday (for some reason there are no Saturday afternoon pickups at any of the mailboxes in this neighborhood) and right where Spencer Alley gives out onto 16th Street a lamentable sight met my unprepared eyes. Overnight, some Friday reveler saw fit to rip a large branch off the ficus tree that does its best to grow here among unpredictable humans.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Night Photography

Green Concrete Floor Under Fluorescent Light

Laundromat Before It Opens

Apartment House Archway In Silhouette

Time does not stand still and the 6:00 a.m. commute, walking and taking the bus, has now toward the end of September gone back to being a commute in the dark, with no dawn light for photographic purposes or for any other purposes. That is why I am taking pictures in the dark.