Everybody Hurts

Every year for the past few years, my friends and I gather at Revere Beach to make this thing called a mandala.  Its a kind of a shape in the sand that is filled in with flowers.  The friends I see at this occasion are people I’ve known for years.  We exchange what’s going on with us and all of our hurts and our pains.  I don’t feel good hearing about other people’s pain, but its a bit reassuring that not everyone’s life is perfect and that my friends, as I am, are going through some painful, unresolvable heart breaking crap, as am I.

Everybody hurts, no matter what:

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Saturdays If You Like

Yeah, that’s a lame title, but I couldn’t think of a better one.

Well anyway, let me explain it.  When I was a kid, up until now, one of my favorite movies has been The Gods Must Be Crazy, about a Bushman forced out of the Kalahari to dispose of an evil Coke bottle that has been dropped into his village by an absent minded guy in an airplane.

The narrator of the film explains that 500 kilometers from the Kalahari, there is a big, bustling city where people work normal hours.  At 7am, they rise to go to work.  By 9am, they are working.  At 10am, they take a coffee break.  At 12:30, they take a lunch break and by 5pm, they are heading home.  Monday to Friday they do this, having Saturdays and Sundays off.

For the Bushman though, its always been Tuesday or Thursday or Saturday for that matter.  They don’t follow any kind of calendar and they don’t have to do things by any set hours during the day.  Their lives aren’t so segmented.

I might be in the minority, but somehow I’ve always liked the Bushman way.  When I had what I used to call a “normal” job, I’d be in by 9am, working until 5pm.  I always wondered how it was that I started at 9 and finished by 5pm.  Sometimes I still had work at 5pm, but at 5pm I was ordered to stop.  On Saturdays and Sundays, the conventional calendar said I didn’t need to come to work.

For about eight years, I’ve been a teacher and I have this sort of unconventional schedule.  I work from 9 to 12pm sometimes and have the afternoon off.  Sometimes I work until 11pm.  Sometimes I have Thursday afternoon off.  Something I work on Saturdays.  I go through periods of time when I work on Saturdays and now we’re in one of those periods.

Working on Saturdays really isn’t that bad.  You’re out of the house.  You don’t sleep in but that’s OK.  My work on Saturdays is usually easier than during the week.  Most of all, you get to be out when a lot of people are in their houses.

Call its Saturdays if you will.  But its pretty great I think:

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Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

No, I did not write this poem.  Its kind of famous, as it is on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty.  I never gave it much mind but lately I’ve thought more and more about what brings us all to this great United States of America.

This past week we celebrated July 4th, rapidly becoming one of my favorite holidays.  I’ve gone to the fireworks every year since 2010 and I can’t even believe how much I still enjoy going.  I thought it would get boring after a year but it never has.

As usual I go with a group of friends and most of my friends are from other places.  I always think its so funny that I moved to Boston, the cradle of liberty, the place where the United States began and I started to feel very American.  Then I also started to work with students from all over the world.  I become American to leave America.  I guess.

But then I thought of how funny it was what had all brought us together.  I went with three Spanish friends and a Brazilian friend.  Three of us live here in Boston and two were visiting.  I think its so funny always that I’m the only one in my extended group of friends who went to an American high school with the cliques, the cheerleaders, the football players, the divided lunch rooms and the proms.  The rest of my friends grew up in other countries.  I really only have three purely American friends.  The rest are either immigrants or the children of immigrants.

The poem, July 4th and the composition of my friends group made me think a lot about who gets to come to America, who stays here and why.  The current political climate seems to be really harsh on letter more people in.  Obviously I think that’s wrong.  It kinda goes against what this country is really all about.

Either way, walking through the crowds on July 4th made me happy thinking about what had brought us all to the United States.

Let’s enjoy some fireworks photos!!!!!
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Albertslund

Welcome to Wrongsideofthecamera, worldwide media juggernaut, those of you who have landed here because of a search of the word “Albertslund.”  I hope you enjoy the prose and the pictures.

Well, there will be some prose on what Albertslund is, where it is, what part it plays in the life of this blog writing person and how it is connected to a lot of poop.  Stay with me. I’ll make a point eventually.

So in 1997, which seems like yesterday and a long time ago, both at the same time, I boarded a plane from Newark Airport bound for Copenhagen, Denmark and a really uncertain future.  I had departed for my long dreamt of study abroad semester.

I had seen images of the seaside Copenhagen, slick Scandinavian architecture and the like.  Imagine my surprise when I happened upon this:

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What on earth is that you ask??  Well, this is Albertslund, the student town I lived in in Denmark.  No, it does not usually look like that.  Usually it is not covered in fog but that’s how it lives in my memory.

Now round about the time of the actual anniversary of my departure to Denmark and a detailed account of all the interesting folks and things that happened to me will be detailed in an entry in August.  I’ve already gotten most of it written out.  It just needs photos to dress it up.

I bring up Albertslund here not because of a sudden fit of nostalgia, but hey, nostalgia isn’t terrible.  Albertslund was a kind of an interesting place because there were these giant smoke stacks in the middle of it, kind of beckoning to you from all points.  The little student town was built around these smoke stacks and the whole rest of the place just kind of lived around them.

When I moved to Boston, it reminded me a lot of Copenhagen.  The two places share a lot of the same qualities.  On Saturday, I visited the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant in Winthrop or as I like to call them — the poopie tanks.

That saying was pioneered by one of my favorite students of all time, when we passed by the sewage treatment plant.  He goes “hello poopies” when we sailed by the tanks.

Now here’s how the poopie tanks are connected to Albertslund.  Albertslund had its huge smoke stacks and they were kind integrated into the town, while the poopie tanks were integrated into the surroundings of this little park in Winthrop on Deer Island.  You could walk, jog or bike around the poopie tanks.  There was something egalitarian and kinda Danish about the whole thing that I really admired.  And from what I remember of my time in Denmark, my Danish friends would have loved to visit a park that contained a poopie tank.

Danish friends, express yourself in the blog commentary section if you disagree.  Anyway, you want photos from the poopie tanks??  You get photos from the poopie tanks:

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We All Get Dressed For Bill

I don’t usually go around agreeing with Anna Wintour, but for the title of this article, I agree with her.  A year ago today came the sad news that New York Times style photographer and Wrongsideofthecamera patron saint Bill Cunningham had passed away.

As I wrote about on this blog several times, I met Mr. Cunningham a few times over the years.  Once he was so engrossed in his work that he paid me no mind at all.  The second time he was funny and warm when I ran into him in front of South Station and we talked about how Boston had changed since he was a kid growing up there.  He couldn’t get over how beautiful the Greenway was and I agreed with him.  A prettier piece of urban park I haven’t yet seen than the Greenway, especially in the summer.

Looking at Bill’s work really did heavily influence what I photograph.  Bill is looking for stylish people who stick out.  I look for that as well and kind of magic moments that can happen with extremes of fashion, as the shots I’ll post here will show.

The best fashion show is definitely on the street.  Always has been, always will be.  I miss you Bill!!!!!!!!

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The Gentle Rhythm Of Life

This week Boston was overtaken by Sail Boston mania.  Let me explain.  Every couple of years, the navies of the world send their most beautiful tall ships to Boston.  The ships are open for viewing and visiting.  They are usually filled with charming young men hawking all sorts of great things like wine.

The year I got to go on three of the ships that came for Sail Boston.  First, was the Union ship from Peru.  Then there was the Esmeralda that floated over here from Chile, a country I love.  Of course I boarded the ship and vocally voiced my undying love for that country.  The third was a US Coast Guard vessel that boasted a flag the size of your average football field.  Nah, I’m kidding.  But the thing could have easily covered half of a football field.

I observed a kind of gentle rhythm of life on the boats.  Jobs were done but there was also a palpable excitement on board each of the vessels.  I enjoyed how the sailors were so eager to answer questions and so nice about answering them.  I don’t know how I’d feel after answering the same questions over and over but the guys I saw on the ships, they didn’t seem to mind.  Just a part of the rhythm of life for them.

To a great Sail Boston week!!!!!

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Beasts of the C Line

I’ve been taking advantage more of the C line lately.  Brookline is so nearby and so lovely and its a shame I never visited it before, even though I’ve lived over here forever.

So on Saturday, I rode the C line to North Station in the hopes that I could catch a commuter rail train to Salem.  Those hopes were of course shattered but I’ll reveal that part a little later.  I mean and there’s of course my blind faith in any kind of public transportation in Boston to get me anywhere.  There’s that.

Anyway, so I get on the C line in Coolidge Corner and I see this beautiful, massive husky dog.  Now I’m a dog person.  I used to be a dog and cat person but now I think cats are OK but dogs are just so much more fun and better!!!!  They are happy to see you, unlike many cats….

So I go over and start petting the massive husky.  The husky, whose name was Loki and was the size of a small horse decided to put on a show for everyone.  He went from person to person to person basically asking to be pet by the people around him.

As I mentioned, I’m a dog person and next to me there was an open seat.  Loki was walking around the C line train, getting pet by everyone and when he got tired or bored of this magnificent exercise, he would just sit down next to me.  I thought he was a good seat mate, albeit one who decided to lick my camera lens.  I told him not to worry because it was just a filter on my camera lens that he licked anyway.

So we get to Park street and Loki gets off, I guess on his continuing tour to entertain others.  I was meanwhile covered in dog hair, as the owner warned I would be.

Then things got interesting.  I’m trying to get to North Station.  The C line was ostensibly going to North Station but when we got to Government Center, they kicked everyone off the train and signaled for us to get out by opening the train doors towards the wall.  Magnificent.  Then we all stood on the train platform waiting for a train to actually take us to North Station, when they told us to get back on the train because it was actually going to North Station after all.

Who cares.  Either way, I got to meet Loki and that made the day very much worth it:

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