Saturday, December 26, 2009

that white night.....

I had planned for several days to take a walk around the downtown area of San Francisco to photograph the homeless. Usually I don't make it a big thing to photograph them, as I do it whenever I am out and about with my camera.... this would be the very first time I would devote time for such a theme.

I have been downtown on previous occasions to photograph the skyscrapers at night in all of their reflective beauty, so I have been in certain areas and seen homeless, so I know "where" they are basically. There are areas of the City I wouldn't venture into though there are a lot of homeless there... I might be crazy but I am not stupid.I ate leftovers from a week ago, made sure my camera battery was charged, then set out an hour before sunset. Walking down from my sister's apartment building in the late afternoon sunlight, I cut across Columbus Avenue and Mason Street toward the Embarcadero. I had no set path in mind, determined to vary my path as the light and search varied. I was at the foot of Telegraph Hill when I cut down some steps to sea level, just a few blocks away from the Embarcadero. I passed by a few stores and a neighborhood shopping center... all closed due to the holiday. People were being turned away by security guys... everything was closed. Crossing the street, I looked down and saw a flash of thin folded green.... it was a rolled-up bit that was a dollar, and I picked it up though I really wanted to leave it - I thought it was rolled up meant it was used most likely for drugs. Disgustedly I reluctantly picked it up using the very tips of my fingers - though I am now in the best financial state in the past seven or more years, I need money too.

I saw several nice views of Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building, so began snapping. I was surprised and shocked to see all the parking meters were flashing "FREE PARKING". Continuing with camera in hand, I crossed over to the wide sidewalk that is the Embarcadero and started walking south toward the Ferry Building. I stopped at the pier at Pacific Avenue, filled with many tourists as always, but amazingly no homeless who normally sit here with their shopping carts full of their lives.... The clouds were gorgeous as I watched the unseen sun set behind the waterfront skyline, backlit by the sunlight, seemingly a brush stroke of light, gray and orange against the darkening sky. Many people with cameras of all types and sizes were snapping away, of the seagulls flying overhead, the clouds toward the west, the boats passing east of the pier, and of the bay bridge. Onward I continued to the Ferry Building where I discovered that area empty.... instead of its usual busy restaurants full of tourists, now empty of chairs and tables, the building itself also closed and doors locked. It was a depressing sight, as if you were in downtown New York City and encountered not one person, nor cars or birds.... everything closed and abandoned. This was a dream out of an eerie movie of decades long past. I crossed the Embarcadero to the wide plaza now filled with people in the temporary ice-skating rink. A long line waiting to buy tickets for shoes and time. This was quite a contrast to the emptiness just across the street.

I passed this all and entered the Embarcadero Center. The lights were lit of the tall buildings and I captured those flashing lines in the black windows of nearby windows of other buildings. I walked across the street to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and saw again the lines of lights hanging from the sky within... I had only seen then entered this place once before since when I was a teen, this all did not exist. Most of what I walked through now was built during my decades-long absence from the City.
Up to this time, I had only seen a few homeless - normally I would see many more, along the Embarcadero, the SOMA area... but saw only enough to count on one hand. On the other hand, I saw my first food shop open.... I moved up Market Street, where many times I had seen lost souls wandering up and down the wide streets, their shopping carts filled high with their bags of clothes..... I watched the people around me. It was a sight to see... mostly tourists lost or headed back to their hotels. Many looked around them as they quickly walked in the dark light, suspicious of anything and anyone near them, regardless of attire.

How utterly depressing.....
have a merry christmas!!! :-(

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