Aren’t we the other people too

Fremont Pizza

We have been eating pizza here on Sunday for about 6 months. . Its got a big room with long tables but we prefer to eat outside, you can do that in Fremont most of the year. This pizza place only works on throwaway—plastic utensils, paper napkins, ,cheese and peppers in separate throw away packages, throw away plastic glasses and the final product is delivered when the customer picks up the pizza in a corrugated cardboard box, take out or eat in, no tax or tax. respectively. When finished eating the customer throws the stuff away. We get one margherita pizza and split it , just right,. In spite of only throwaway they are usually tout of something, last week it was basil for the margherita pizza and pre measured packaged parmesan cheese.

Japanese have a different take on zoning., more of your property is under your control. .Retail businesses, factories and residential areas may exist side by side. Right in the hearts of Tokyo—and Tokyo has many many hearts—residents may have a business in the lower part of home and live upstairs. Land is usually at a premium.

Alameda Creek

Every week for the past five years I have presented some images from Alameda Creek. Since Covid restricted my outdoors experiences, I have attempted to take these common everyday images not just to show more interesting everyday images, but rather to suggest that photographs as a print need not be about records of how the human eye-mind connection works but to just experience the visual dynamics of a photographic print for its own qualities, unrelated to the normal human record keeping related meanings

Rather than a visual record of an event in time, I try to show a feeling of the thing s making up the event unrelated to the importance or meaning of the event. Most of the people seen along Alameda Creek are also likely to be seen around Earth, its not t e individual people, its the unity of the visual design.

Globalization is not some conspiracy  of individuals seeking to dominate the Earth, its  not to do with political policies —although many hope that political policies can find a solution before violence gets too bad—it is happening in spite of people with their political and economic agendas as well as because of people with their political and economic agendas.

For hundreds of centuries—300,000 years— when individuals and groups had survival problems or sought better survival opportunities they emigrated; now they immigrate. Now there are no more places for those “down on their luck” or “extra ambitious” to go. Earth has been divided up into geo-political units—countries —each claiming their sovereign rights for self determination.

Where for homo sapiens immigration has been one of the most popular and legitimate  solutions to problems of survival, its been normal human  behavior for at least 299,500 years, while for nation states, with their “closed geographical  boundaries” has been the“ abnormal”for about 500 years. ( I will choose The “Treaty of Westphalia” resulting in a federated state of Germany clearly defined by geo political units.)

Trying to use law which means control by force— to forcibly stop or control people from doing what has been a basic human behavioral solution for more than 99% of the duration of homo sapiens is one thing, but declaring it a crime which justifies incarceration or death is very different.

 It is normal human behavior to immigrate as a solution to survival problems. It is abnormal   to make it illegal  and use “normal human behavior ” as justification to imprison or kill people who immigrate.

Saying it doesn’t solve any problems, but don’t let the demagogues fool you into believing the best and only response is the military or police directed by law of authoritarians who believe social solidarity only comes from maintaining strict and rigid control over the behavior of the “other people.” On the other hand people have to be willing to respect other people, something we have yet to figure out to accomplish.

“We are the other people,
You are the other people too!

Thank you Frank Zappa for those words.

Here in the USA, if you are Christian and you see immigrants as a threat by evil people, ask yourself do you believe in a God who created all human beings, who created some that were good and others bad? with a standard which is determined by the color of one’s skin, the level of one’s technology or one’s place of birth?  I ask you What kind of God is it that would create humans and put them in such a situation?

I am sure we can ask that of most religions but specifically the ones that have joined their religion to a political ideology to justify in the name of their God this human history of killing others, plundering their property and stealing their natural resources for profits. With no place to go any more and hell bent on destroying earth it seems to me now might a good time to figure out how to stop this inhumane cycle.

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I am not “really religious” whatever that means, whether there is “A God” or ““Some Gods, I do not know, and unlike others, God has either not attempted to contact me or I am not able to receive the message. I don’t know but if it was important I believe God would have let me know.

I like Zen because (for me) it has the best stories and the pictures. I also like to visit the nearby Wat Buddhist Temple . Its a Theravada Temple,. Mahayana and Theravada are two different meta level categories of Buddhism. Some may use the terms Mahayana and Hinayana but the latter may be considered by many to be offensive and when used, then the former maybe considered to be arrogant..

Buddhist Temples are often very much involved in local community relations with festivals and ceremonies and whenever the temple is open, anyone can visit for a personal relationship.

I have previously mentioned “The Heart Sutra,” is words spoken by Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin in China,, Kannon in Japan) to Shariputra, that would be Shariputra on the left side of Gautama Buddha.

Nay, shun all savren tea

Should a photograph be a specific visual record of a moment in time? Or the feeling of that moment in time?

We use the camera to make images which correspond to how we see, but the camera can be adjusted to make images which are not compatible with how we see,

If you owned a signed Ansel Adams photographic print, it was hanging in your living room and iontwhe wall in another room was hanging a 115 year old large photograph. of your mother’s family made1 in 1907, and a fire burst out, you made an emergency exit and you had to choose, would you take the Ansel Adams print or a large photograph. of your mother’s family made1 in 1907?

A moment of some kind of Truth glimpsed through its own confusion.

It all appears as confusion until we put some order to it, That is how we make the Universe what it is.

Alameda Creek

Why do your war ship ride on my waters? 
Why do your bombs fall down from my skies? 
Why do you burn my farm and my home down? 
I’ve got to know, friend, I’ve got to know!


I’ve Got To Know Woody Guthrie

Walking along Alameda Creek I could easily get bored if it were not for all the interesting things I see. The observable universe known to science is estimated to contain 200 billion to two trillion galaxies.

There are 100 billion to 200 billion estimated stars—possible solar systems?—in “our” Milky Way Galaxy—To whom does it “belong ?.”

By the standard of today’s scientific knowledge, the only place in the universe where there is “human style intelligent life” is, here, on Earth.

There are over 7.6 billion people on Earth . . .

and millions of them spend much of their lives involved with making war happen . . .

with killing other people—many of them innocent people born in the wrong place at the wrong time,—whether actually doing the killing, producing materials or paying taxes that enable the politicians to wage war with no accountability armed with tax payer funded standing armies. On this Earth war is an acceptable business, and a respected professional career.

A few weeks ago excitement over UFOs maybe we think aliens who traveled here,—even from such a short distance as another planet in our own galaxy— will be impressed by our achievements?

Maybe such “aliens” would be the same as us—war is just another part of their ”life style”—I cannot come to use the word “culture” anymore, it has seemed to have lost any semblance of having a common meaning, even when the conversation is just two people..

To whom does the Universe Really and Truly belong?

Human history is a story of people in small groups geographically separated, finding behaviours which enabled survival . . A story of “societies” —an interactive group of people with a definable common structure to their behavior—evolving from family to clan to village, to city to country. Can it come together to form a global political entity with rights and freedom for everyone?

It seems obvious, humans survived by doing the things that enabled survival.—But if they did not do those behaviors we would not know about them, failure is life or death.

Along the way war became part of that.behaviour, that “lifestyle” which enabled survival included death, just like real life.

We cannot seem to get rid id it. Out damn Spot!

Where ever we go to get away from each other , others are already there—Earth is getting full, no place to go without having a conflict with other people.

Its unlikely we can get people to stop killing each other, that is a Real Big Step, too big.

hBut we could learn to settle many other things peacefully.. There may always be those who are physically stronger and use that attribute to take advantage of others. There are those are wealthy and use their money to buy the muscle of those physically stronger. Perhaps in the end the only way to stop was is to have laws enforced by the threat of and use of violence. We are our own enemy.

For some its they have rights while others have responsibilities.—in the end everyone will have to give some freedoms to get the advantages of living in a global society, You always have the choice of being an outlier, to a degree of more or less, depending on how much you are willing to give up or how much you reject. Everyday we are increasingly involved with other all round the globe—i.e. Other Human Beings—and the best way to bring order and justice —and its both that are important—is to open the society to opportunity by tearing down the barriers that people have built during their 300,000 of becoming human beings..

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There are many ways of seeing but the truest and best is with the intuition, for it takes in the whole, whereas the intellect only takes in a part.

The Unknown Craftsman Soetso Yanagi with editorial support from Bernard Leach

My mother’s name was Lynn, this was in Union Square in Somerville, along the train tracks, its possible that that the train runs through Lynn MA, I am sure the commuter train from North Station does—then gain who knows what the train does in Somerville? . this was almost 50 years ago.

Paseo Padre—the father’s walk—runs by Alameda Creek for a short distance, still many years ago it was a distance long enough to take the life of a child—someone still remembers.

Hey there Rick, Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world on all the planets in all the solar systems in all the galaxies in the Universe, she walks into mine.

Gate gate, paragate, parasamgate, Bodhi svaha

Wore know more

Krishna shoving his left arm into the mouth of the Horse Demon Kesi. Krishna is the good guy here even though if you not familiar with the Krishna story you might think of him as less aggressive than this image. His arm and fist are like a hot piece of expanding iron thrust into the mouth and down throat of Kesi as he kills the Horse Demon, sent kill him by the bad king Kamsa. Note the “frightened” gopas hiding in the trees

To know who the people are and what is happening you need to know the story. Compare a cave painting to a photograph or a movie. Everyone knows what is going on in the cave painting because everyone knows the story from oral transmission, spoken, not written. Most ‘Western ’ people would recognize an image of King Arthur, or Hercules, even though there was never such a person.

Modern media may include, and spread, visual information from less common, more specialized, more contemporary sources, such as news, fashion, or a popular movie or book and create is own “folk images, ” Santa Claus would be an example of a made up person by modern media whose image most Westerners as well as many around the world, would visually recognize.

Alameda Creek where I walk almost every day, we are at least 100 miles away from the fires. There would be blue sky except for the smoke and because of the heat from the fire, the smoke is above the clouds . Yesterday it was a little cooler, the smoke was pushed down below the clouds which made breathing difficult. Skin is covered over with a layer of something foreign.

The photographic image is generally considered to be a representation of some “thing” real, or a “real” thing. When camera exposure is different the images of the some thing made with different exposure settings will be different images.

The camera can make different images of the same thing using different exposures, the extremes on the exposure continuum from no light or too much light with different light exposures in between resulting in different images of the same thing.

Which one is the Real Thing ? The “Real” photograph is the one which shows us the same thing as it looks to our eyes. Eyes of other living things may experience something different but other living things do not have photographs nor do they have expectations of what is photograph.

We know people see photographs differently, and as well, we know people see “real” things differently. Philosophy explored this issues centuries ago.

There was enough commonality between how people sensually experience the universe to evolve a social structure enabling survival, society, trade, shelter, a body of skills and knowledge and a language.

The camera sees it not just differently, the camera can see the same thing in different ways, different being in non-human ways that produce an image we cannot experience with our eyes but the camera can show it to us ,or does it create it. Would you think a photograph made from digital information transmitted through outer space is “more real” than an image created by a NASA illustrator.?

Humans have five senses; sight, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. This is how we experience the universe. My own definition of empirical is the human process of knowing based on the experiences of the five senses.

This establishes a common human standard to compare “what is known” by comparing it to “how it is known.” If I see it and you see it and they see it and we all saw it and agree on what she aw (conclusion) while standing (methodology) next to each other, we will accept it as “Real.” And when you write it down so others in the future can do it again to check it, that is basic science methodology.

“There was a time when the wisdom of the men of old was perfect. When? When they were not yet conscious that things existed. Next, they knew that there were things , but did not attempt to distinguish them , Next, they distinguished things but did not try to label some “right” and “others” wrong. As soon as such judgements were passed, the integrity of the Tao was dilated and prejudice came into being.”
The Chang Tzu James Legge translation

One evening at a large business social gathering, inspite of the din of people eating, drinking, networking while passing out business cards, I found myself in a corner conversation with an engineer from India. Somewhere in the conversation I said that in the development of knowing religion came before scientific method.

If it were a painting would you think What is it?

He replied that logically empirical methodology (scientific method) had to come before religion because without it, religion could not deliver enough information for humans to survive.

This bird has amazing patience, it can stand there for long periods of time intently focused.

Which makes logical sense. By the time religion came around people already figured out how to survive without words or books. Language, instead of being a part of the “biological OS,” was developed over time in the very process described by The Chang Tzu above—the process of differentiating things and giving them names.

It might seem as if I am little abnormally obsessed with images of myself, however I do not have another model, often when I make the photographic image no one else is there except me and often if someone is there they may not want to be in the photograph. But as the song goes:


If you give me weed ,whites and wine
And show me a sign,
I’ll be willin.’

Willin’ Lowell George

At certain times,  I believe certain things. But my beliefs are fleeting. That’s why I’m troubled when asked to state my policies, my beliefs. If I could express my beliefs in words I wouldn’t be making clothes.
Isey Miyake


Show me the me I am when I am not me?

And these are all people who may have different views of a same photograph. Can they have the same view of different photographs?

Its fun to make photographs of people . . .

First there is skepticisim.
This is what I think,
Creation begins when I doubt my own thinking
and question whether something is really so.
Issey Miyake


. . . and with people; When someone else is there you get two sides of the camera. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Is there question here? or just an answer?

Because photographs are just fun all by themselves, guess that’s an answer,

The artless dodger

All through human history its obvious that people like Art— paintings, drawings, music, decoration, poetry, dance, sculpture, and so on. While different individuals may have different “tastes” in Art or they may argue what is or is not Art, people like Art.

Here I am stepping on a piece of Art, off to the side there is a sign that says “Please take off your shoes“ but I did not. Not intentionally, but when I realized it, I did not come down immediately, it was too much fun.

In pre-digital graphic design, art (small “a”) referred to anything which was pasted up on a board, photographed using high contrast film which was used to burn an offset printing plate to be put on a printing press.

Along Alameda Creek Levee , I walk everyday, well not exactly everyday, but very close . . .

We know the universe through our five senses, and and, maybe in some part, reason—another human created tool. In Art sensual feeling is another way of knowing. The eye of the visual artist feels information about the qualities of things and expresses those qualities.

Its been over five months since Covad 19, everyday walking along the creek levee with my little Nikon 8200 camera.

Where for most people what they see goes through the eye to the brain which defines what they have seen—I see a house!. But for the visual artist the image does not go to the brain, but stays on the eye and is known visually as line, texture, color, shape, gesture, and the relationships between them —the visual qualities.

Art does not have to be anything in particular, it can be political, it can be decorative, it can have hidden meanings or superficial meanings, it can serious, it can be light hearted fun. Its often said that Art is in the eye of the beholder and rules are made to be broken.

But there are some rules to Art. Visual Art, like music, is about creating tension and resolving it, visual art creates a visual tension and resolves it visually; music creates an audio tension and resolves. it.
In visual art, the tension— a visual question which seeks an answer— attracts your eye like an accident on the road attracts rubber neckers. The resolution is when the visual question is visually answered, and when this process is successful the viewer feels it instantly. for and if this is not resolved the reader moves on.

Design is different than art . . . Design is how how the pieces fit together and often what the pieces are.

Design is a part of Art, but also it is its own distinct and separate thing. Artists are often good at design, but not necessarily and designers are designers, not artists by intent. Art may often pose visual questions but commercial or graphic design, such as in designing an advertisement, or a brochure is not about posing visual questions, but eliminating visual questions. NO reader of an adorable a brochure should ask “Is this an ad Isthis a brochure? Where do I start reading? or How do I read this? What is going on here?—yet all may be legitimate questions for the Artist .

On weekends its crowded with bike riders, and a general increase in dog poop.

For the commercial designer, design is an end in itself. In marketing communications design, marketing has an objective (hopefully) and a strategy to realize that objective (hopefully). The work of the designer is to visually implement that strategy to realize the marketing objective—the feel of the visual experience of the ad should communicate through feeling any questions about how to read the ad—such as this is an ad (its not an editorial or article) ; where to start reading; where to go next; where to end reading; where is the message—it wants to get you to the message which you may accept or reject.

The goats are back again along Alameda Creek. A goat herd is hired to eat up the growing stuff along the creek and sides of the levee. Sheep were there last month.

The designer wants to minimize the time spread between the moment the viewer initially experiences the ad and the viewer getting to the content of the ad—unless the strategy of the visual experience of the ad is make that difficult. These are decisions made instantly by feelings. This is when you are reading a magazine and you turn the page “without thinking” —you are not “thinking ” but you are “knowing by the feeling of the page and instantly have made a decision to go on that honest page. The opposite is true too, if there is something on that page that interests you, you will know that by the feel of the page and make a decision without thinking.

Maine is cold in the winter time

A painting or drawing hanging on my wall would be very boring if everyday I had the same visual experience with it. Visual Art needs to have a visual experience which grows with the viewer.

When I see images of the cold in Maine I remember the fun snow is , but then the memories of the reality are automatically recalled.

Photographs as Art have their own situation, people commonly associate a photograph as a visual record of a real moment in time. If they do not recognize what they see, they begin thinking about What is it? and alienate themselves from the visual experience.

Finding out who you are can get very competitive and introverts like myself tend to try to hide among the feelings —if yuo saw me here you would think I was someone else.

On the other hand an advertisement wants to create a common visual experience. The purpose is not to encourage the viewer to have their own independent experience but to have the same experience as everyone else an dwhen that works is that common experience positive towards the content.

At the cross roads where both choices go up

We may expect the artist have the skill in their own hands to create their vision. For the designer its the vision that matters and the designer, as art director, may use others for their skills to realize their vision. This is reasonable as the designer is a “commercial artist,” their vision is to design a solution which works for others while the artist is about creating their own vision. How close do you think the artist should be to the skills needed to produce the art?

Before I came to California in 1979 I lived in Cambridge MA. Once a year Philip Guston would hold an evening presenting works, comments and taking questions,— I attended once, he showed his klan series. Link to a new exhibition of Philip Guston. In his early career before this style he was known as an abstract expressionist.

The artist practices their skill to respond to their feelings without thinking.

Daruma is the historical character of the man who brought “zen” from India to China in the 6th century. More specifically he brought Dhyana to China which became Chan and in Japan is Zen. A KnoWay Daruma .

When Japanese get a new Daruma “doll” there are no eyes in it, just two white circles. Make a wish, draw in an eye, if the wish comes true draw in the second eye. Many people buy a Daruma at New’s Year or at Jindaiji Temple Daruma Doll Fair where people come to buy a new Daruma and burn an old one.

Sometimes to much of a good thing makes yo stop wondering.

There is another interesting use of the word “art.” When a skill or profession for which there is very specific training yet some individuals have a special “knack” outside of and beyond that specific training is described as “the art of” —the art of the medicine ; the art of sales; the art of carpentry. In the West that is what often some use to separate Craft from Art.

An Acoma bowl, maybe 1950s or later? Acoma is one style of Southwest Indian pottery. If you are ever about 45 miles west of Albuquerque on Highway 40 stop and buy some pottery. If you take the tour you may get the opportunity to purchase inperson from the artist.

The sense of Art is that its a meaningful human expression beyond the ability of words. Except that using words is an Art, or is the writer just a craftsman with unexplainable word abilities, a wordsmith, theocrat of writing and only some of them have the Art of writing? (That’s a joke.)

Gary Holt , chawan, Berkeley potter, It was one of his early “soluble” (I think that was his term) chawans. It felt like Miro to me.

Last night I broke a piece of pottery, every once in awhile it happens, it tears out a piece of my heart, it reminds me how impermanent is my life—but then there is the zen of it, I buy a pottery because I like it, I enjoy using it, when it breaks, because it will, get another one.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, bodhi svaha

From my collection of “functional pottery ” which includes work from Berkeley potters during the 1980s, other local areas of San Francisco, four Chinese bowls with hand painted roosters, one bowl from Roswell NM, purchased as a set of four from the local Art Museum and one bowl from an Old Town pottery store which featured local potters around Albuquerque.

Whatever is Art, knowing what Art is is not as important as having it.

Cameras in search of a moment

Generally a photograph is accepted as a visual documentation of a real moment in time.

Three boys, a dog and a cola sign, it was a “real moment” between me and these boys. It could have been a “set up,” the boys might have been actors hired to pose and the cola sign just a prop. Three boys, a dog, a sign and myself came together and parted, never to see each other again and this is a record of that “1/125 of a second’ moment.

Because of digital technology how we experience photography and photographs has changed.

Before digital a photographer could afford an excellent camera and lens, expose film, develop and print— The technology got better at a slower pace. With film you were aware of the financial cost of each image. In the 1960’s I rolled my own tri-x , 30 exposures on a roll.

When you approach Yasukuni Jinja the torii feels massively dominating.

With digital the cameras rapidly improve technologically and just as fast, the cost of the everything except the cost per image, I never think about it.When you buy expensive professional digital equipment it is soon out of date. And there are plenty of low priced digital cameras on phones that are very good quality.

The priest goes one way, the people another.

And its easy, no film to develop and keep clean, no darkroom, no waiting time.

For these Japanese, the photo being taken is an affirmation of their faith in the survival of Japan or maybe its just what you do when you are old and visit Yasukuni Jinja .

The phone has developed into a personal portable multifunctional computer enabling people to communicate more information more effectively and the camera is an essential part of that machine.

Its been over the past five months that much of these images are from Alameda Creek .

Make a photograph (or a video) and send it almost anywhere from a computer you carry around in your pocket— instantly. You can communicate more information than the receiver can comprehend in real time, is that communication? If you send more information than the other person can grasp they may only get part of the message, and you may not know which part they missed.

Digital has turned the world into a global village. Good? A global market can give more competition, more value, higher quality goods, lower prices.

Like in a small-town electronic media enables global gossip, hypocrisy, judging, fear mongering, bullying conspiracy theories and ever more bad behaviours.
Are these bad behaviors the natural result of people living in a small town? Or the effects of modern society which for social solidarity, requires individuals to repress their natural urges?—alienation from our true selves.

Which moments are more important? The ones in your photo album?; The ones you send someone else?; The ones that never happened?; The ones that could have happened? The ones that should have happened?

The moment inside you when the feeling of seeing the photograph is better than was the reality of being in the moment. And no one else knows but you.

Which moments are our true natural selves? Could photographs really be a visual image of ourselves?

We think a photograph is an image of a reality independent of us, an object separated from the subject, take care not to be all in the abyss of positivism,

Last week I walked by a blue heron standing intensely still —often they are bothered just by walking by them on the trail—I walked up a mile and back and the heron was still standing intensely still as I approached and then, Whack!! its beak struck itoa hole and came up with a mole, flew across the creek, drowned it and then ate. I had only seen that one other time in 27 years . ..

And then the next day as I approached the same place, the same bird intensely standing still again and then Whack!! again another mole, another drowning, another meal . . .

still most see the tranquility moments of Alameda Creek.

A San Francisco moment of truth . . .

A San Francisco moment of power . . .

A Jamaica Plain moment of family.

When I livd in Jamaica Plain this family used to pass by our house regularly to and from shopping.the man looked to be about the same age as myself, I used to wonder what kind of relationship he had with his family. What were his friends like? Did he like school? What kind of job did he work?

You may no me before you know me, isn’t that the truth.