So this Christmas I had planned not to give any gifts, and was happy to have recieved only a few instead of the usual boxloads.
Unfortunatly my social concience go the best of me and I wound up giving gifts at the last minute. I was able to appease my environmental concience a little by giving my sister a couple of books I had already finished, and some phone cards I had laying around (so she can call her man in Japan). My mom got some plants from the greenhouse you see above, and for my Brother and his wife I am about to hit the streets of Chicago to find a good whole-foods coop, or a vegitatian cafe for a gift certificate (my sister-in-law is already a vegitarian).
Dad says this greenhouse advertizes that they don't use pesticides. I didn't see any sign, and I find it hard to believe... maybe it was his Christmas gift to me, to make me feel better.
A Cameron family Christmas. Paricipants were my Sister, home from Sweden, my brother and his wife, in from Chicago, my parents, from right here in Bay City MI, a cousin, from Midland MI, and aunt and uncle from Jackson MI. As you can see from the photos, things got pretty crazy... wow.
Assembling the family Christmas tree. A tradition in our family that goes way back.
The great family tradition of decorating Christmas cookies. It's strange how we started with a whole Tupperware full, but the finished cookies barely filled it half-full. Dad is baffled by it too.
I was a little worried that I would not be able to find anything of interest to shoot in my home town. As it turns out, there's way too much to fit into my time here... well, at least too much to fit into a couple hours the other day. I'll have to make my way back downtown for more photos of Bay City Michigan later this week.
At home in Bay City Michigan.
After 19 hours on the bus and in the bus station, I'm back in Bay City Michigan now. I finally made it out of the house today to take some pictures, but you'll have to wait for those, and there is no telling how long you'll have to wait. It's a whole new world working on a 28K modem.
Friday night we went to the famous Lenox Lounge in Harlem. I was expecting it to be a kind of Disney-Land tourist expeirience, like a Hard-rock Cafe for Jazz. It wasn't.I couldn't even tell which table was Billy Holiday's favorite. Apparently Malcom X also frequented the place, and it's a little famous for being in the Spike Lee movie. I don't recall exactly which scene, though I'll be watching it aain soon if only to say "I've been there!".
The antique looking camera is a thirty-year old instant camera belonging to an old photogropher who was taking pictures of the guests for a couple bucks. When he saw my camera I somehow became his assistant, and had to help him "develope" his photos half the night... He said he had been doing that for thirty years. I wonder if he's got photos of John Coltrane or Miles Davis somewhere in that bag of his too.
The last photo is from the World Trade Center site. I think I was there when I was a kid... for some reason I think I remember it, but I'm not really sure. Even if I had been there, I had no idea how large it was.
I still have no way to really know how big it was, but judging from the photos, it was about two times taller than the nearby buildings. I looked at them and tried to picture them crashing down... it's hard to believe. As I was walking around the area, I tried to picture what it would be like running from the ash cloud after they fell. Of everyone has seen the photos of people running away, but I still have no idea how far the clouds traveled.
The black building in the background is being taken apart piece by piece, floor by floor. It has a crack in it, and has to come down, but it's aboce the subway, so they can't implode it.
I arrived in New York Monday afternoon. Carrying a big bag, I found it a pain in my ass to take out my camera, so it stayed where it was.
Tuesday, I awoke at 3am, which I was happy about because it gave me a couple hours to work on things I was supposed to have finished before I left. By the time daylight rolledaround, I was ready to hit the streets with my camera. Thing is, I was so uncomfortable in this strange environment that the camera never left my pocket. I felt like more of a foreigner here than I ever do in Japan. I go into the grocery and everything is so strange, I walk down the street and everyone is nice. People are polite, people talk and make conversation... the store clerks, the man walking next to me in the park, the people standing next to me at the cross-walk... it's so different than Tokyo.
I guess part of me feels that since, in Tokyo, I am already treated like a freak, and no one makes any effort to treat other people like people, it is so easy to just take pictures without careing about how they feel. Here however, the people make a personal connection... just today as I got off the elevator, the other person on the elevator said something like "Have a good one". Where did that come from? It's amazing to me having lived so long where people do their best to avoid any and all interpersonal contact.
Another reason I didn't take so many photos was that I was actually afraid. Having only been to New York once, when I was eight or nine (ten?), the only thing I know about New York is what the news tells me... it's baaaaddd... baaaddd, baaadd, baaaddd! New Yorkers will kill you and take your camera if you let them see it!
It's not bad. I have only been here three days now, and spent the last two days walking around the city through as many neighborhoods as I can hit, and no one has ever done anything rude or mean to me. I have never had any reason to be scared. What is that crap they talk about on TV?
I do have to admit that yesterday, when I forced myself to keep the camera out all day, and took a few hundred shots, I was approached by some angry sounding construction workers after they saw me take a photo of their truck. "Did you just take picture of the truck?! Why!?". I told them I did but I'll erase it if they want, and explained that I took it because it made an nice contrast, being a bright red truck next to a bright yellow school bus, and that I was an amature photographer. He asked to see the photo, and we got in to a short conversation about photography, since he himself was an amature photographer. If I knew more about photography, the conversation would have probably lasted longer.
Anyway, these photos are all from Wednesday's walk from my friends apartment on E96th Street, across Central Park, down Broadway past Time Square, then back up Lexington Avenue to 96th street. Today I hope to get further down to the financial area, but it's pouring rain. Now that I am over my jet lag, we can had out to Harlem for dinner and some music. Unfortunatly, I doubt I'll even get a chance to make it off of Manhatten, but I'm anxious to see what the Bronx, and Queens are actually like, having heard so much about them on TV and movies.
In Japan it is not uncommon to see grown men shopping for toy guns. I have to admit that I feel much safer knowing that these freaks aren't getting their hands on real guns.
Check out Google's #1 hit for "Miserable Failure".
I received an email about this today, and after looking, I started to poke around the other links on Google related to this.
It seems this is the result of a Google washing campaign. I have no problem with the subject of this particular Google Wash, but I'm not happy to see that it's so easy to do.
In the past I have been ranked number one on Google for such things as "Japan Birds" and some other phrases I am too lazy to look up now. I guess it's good for me in that I can get more hits, but I really don't want to waste people's time as they are searching for real information about birds in Japan. I'm sure no one is trying to research my pet birds, who happen to live in Japan, but have nothing to do with species of birds native to Japan.
Should I try to be more responsible when writing my blog? Should I avoid using words that may mislead search engines? Or maybe I should add a page of links to real sites about birds in Japan. Or maybe Google should get better at judging the quality of their results.