June 21, 2008

Behind The Image

In the cavernous old Wells Fargo bank in downtown Berkeley the clerk behind the desk looks up at me looking up at the huge photo murals by local lad Ansel Adams on the wall behind her (not the usual Saint Ansel images, but the more subtle and interesting stuff you don't normally see in places like this); when I look down again she smiles and says quietly that she wished they'd put photos of photographers up there instead of the photos themselves. She says she's rather see who's behind the photos than the photos she sees every day, she wants to see people instead of rocks and buildings (later, she shyly admits to being a photographer herself).

It's unusually hot and sunny outside, and in the Milano they've opened up the roof and the entire folding front wall, and the place is full of light, soft breezes, bright Conjunto… and a smattering of students, studying for summer courses (one of the reasons I've kept coming back to the Milano is that it's so often full of hard-working students clacking away at laptops or earnestly discussing molecular structures or l'Hospital's rule over lattes and bagels — such a contrast with the Mediterraneum, which is always full of aging loud damaged hippies and boomers talking at the top of their voices about stale politics and dead icons). Outside on the street, Mars is telling us it's "Cheap But Not Easy"; beneath the Mars sign there's an old homeless guy splayed face-down across the sidewalk asleep next to a carpet of glass, totally naked except for an old pair of embossed cowboy boots and a small beach towel someone probably placed across his arse. I don't have the heart to take a photo. A few minutes later there's a flurry of police and an ambulance, and a short walk later there's nothing to see at all.

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