The Living Wall (20060307)

A house covered in orange moss, Darjeeling, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. A house covered in orange moss, Darjeeling, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. From a distance, the orange shade of this house makes it look like it's been made from metal that's badly rusted. Once I got closer, though, I could see that the entire exterior was covered in some species of orange moss, giving the building a unique texture and definitely making it one that stands out from its neighbors.

Invasion of the Schoolgirls (20060307)

Schoolgirls returning home in the afternoon, Darjeeling, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. Schoolgirls returning home in the afternoon, Darjeeling, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. The daily stream of students leaving school for home every afternoon was something the FMA and I encountered regularly in India. The steep hills, though, made it all seem more interesting, since we could see that they took up the entire road until it turned out of sight. The sea of maroon sweaters has obvious visual aesthetic appeal, but it was the cacophony of giggling and chatting that I heard before I saw them that will forever remind me that teenagers are pretty much the same, no matter what country they're in.

The City on the Hillside (20060306)

The view from central Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. The view from central Darjeeling, West Bengal, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. Most Indians who have the opportunity to visit Darjeeling know it as one of the oldest hill stations in the country, a pleasant respite from the repressive heat and humidity that bakes the area around the Ganges River to the south. I remember it, though, as a respite from both weather and people. After more than two months traveling India, the FMA and I were cooked. Done. Burned like toast. Darjeeling, though, featured cooling mists, dense fog, Nepalese food and culture far more Asian than it was Indian. Just before leaving Darjeeling, I wrote, "Walk a mere fifty meters up the hill, and everything changes. The faces of the people change, the behaviors of the people change, the air even gets a little bit thinner and a lot foggier. The vast majority of predatory touting simply stops, as if somebody turned on a comic bookesque brain modification ray. People even smiled when the FMA and I walked past, although, being a bit cynical, I suppose it could’ve been just gas." It was the perfect way to ease ourselves out of India, and it happened at just the right moment.

Another 45 (20070712)

45 Fremont St., San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. 45 Fremont St., San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Here's a look at the other side of 45 Fremont Street.

All the Way Up (20070712)

Near Fremont and Mission Streets, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Near Fremont and Mission Streets, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. There's an editorial in this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian that neatly sums up the problem with city planning in Our Foggy City. To summarize: the planning commission spends more time worrying about how to break the rules than figuring out what is actually good for development for the city as a whole, as opposed to good for either the politicians or business and development "leaders". Couple this with a map that shows the largest concentrations of children living in S.F. are in the poorest neighbors, and that there are more dogs in S.F. than there are children, and it becomes clear that we are facing a demographic crisis unlike any other in America. On the surface, it sounds a bit like what's going on in Japan, but it's far more insidious. Historically, S.F. has always had a well-developed downtown, with the largest buildings west of the Mississippi River for most of its first 100 years. But without addressing the fact that people earning salaries at poverty plus 30 percent need places to live, now, the diversity that has driven this town to become the vibrant place that it is will evaporate and the shell left behind will host little more than burned-coffee lattes and $3000 per month apartments.

Fight at the 45 (20070712)

45 Fremont St., San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. 45 Fremont St., San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. I fought the 45, and I... won? Last week I came across this blog post, which recounts a story of a building security guard getting pissed and harassing a photographer for shooting the outside of a skyscraper at 45 Fremont Street in San Francisco. Obviously, if a building is outside you're allowed to photograph it - it's on public property. Worse, downtown San Francisco is a great place for those who like shooting the juxtaposition of light, lines and vanishing points. Asking people not to take photos of these buildings means you've given in to the terrorists. So, I went down there to see this for myself. I spent about 20 minutes shooting the tower and its environs and came up with some nice shots but no overzealous security personnel. It could be that the security guard that Thomas Hawk had his confrontation with wasn't working when I went by, or maybe he's been fired for being a mental midget. Either way, the first block of Fremont Street seems to be safe for photography yet again.

All The World’s a Toy (20060222)

Young girl playing on moped, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. Young girl playing on moped, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. A friend of mine who had visited India remarked to me that she loved that Indians seemed to live life on the street. What she meant was that much of the average Indian's daily life occurs in public, in full view of other people, and that is a particularly rich and literally interactive way of doing things. It's not just adults that do this, though, and while most children I encountered in India were begging for money or pens, a few were more like the kids I knew from Japan or the United States. There was the group of dirt-covered kids in Agra's train station, jumping over the empty tracks, clothes torn and filthy, beating each other with empty plastic water bottles and laughing through the whole affair. There was also the girl pictured above. The owner of the moped was nowhere to be seen, so she could've been the owner's kid, but not necessarily. As my Financial and Menu Adviser and I watched her, she climbed over the chassis the way that other five-year-olds climb trees: with something that can best be described as timid determination. She would reach her short arms out to the handlebars, then twist around as if to check oncoming traffic. I wouldn't have been surprised to hear loud, whining engine noises. Sometimes she would just spin around completely, distracted by something else going on in the street behind her before returning to her fast-paced imagination, and the moped.

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