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cont….streettaco: things I didn’t photograph…(part 2)

April 25, 2010

The block was above a ravine that was an unofficial footpath for transients and drug addicts migrating back and forth from downtown. From the upstairs window once Richard saw two men meet briefly at the top of the ravine which also doubled as a freeway entrance. It was about 6 AM and barely light. The men looked at each other for a few minutes, then each removed their pants to exchange them and walking their separate ways. 19th street was like that; full of ambiguous weirdness and urban delight. At one point I made a joke that I was raised on 19th street by a pack of wild pigeons. Richard thought it was funny and we felt inspired to write a series of silly pigeon poems. I found a couple  in some old e-mails I never threw away. I wish I had more pictures of that house, from that time. I have many pictures of the neighborhood and its anonymous occupants but only a few of the house and my friends. The importance of that home was not what I was looking at in terms of my photographic and psychological discovery. Lately I have been somewhat regretful, as I realize the potential in photographs to connect with what is most vital and influential in my life.

There was this crazy cat called “The Wookie Cat,” that had six toes and lived in the yard and the front porch. I can’t remember when she first showed up but apparently a neighbor left her many years before. Her dejected
presence echoed the profound hardships of existence. I felt an incredible sadness for the state of her life and somehow unable to do anything about it. When we tried letting her in the house she would hang out for a while but eventually get frightened and run away. She was totally fractured. Peter felt that I was perhaps projecting my own broken feelings upon her and that probably she was just fine. I don’t have many pictures of the front of the house or of the Wookie. The ones do I have, I don’t know where they are. This summer I will look for them in the unorganized mess of an archive I have going. I do, however, have readily accessible images of the sky at night from the back yard, which was even more overgrown and unruly than the front. An enormous bougainvillea plant grew on the back edge of the yard, creating a small cave underneath where cats and other creatures could hide. There was a great view of the tops of other neighbors houses, and their yards too, if you were up on the back deck of the second story. Palm trees, billboards and power lines that silhouetted the night sky, somehow felt like reassurance of a usable reality . I still miss the sight of those as much as I miss the texture of California air, the color of the sky at dusk, and how it made me feel. The backyard felt safe and unchangeable, like the core of my being, but the front porch was like the passage way to examine the outside world.

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