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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Perhaps a nibble of relevance

Today is the day after the first week in August and the days are running together like nothing I've ever witnessed. My gosh, wasn't it just St. Patrick's Day? The acceleration of time when the world was analog gave everyone a moment to digest their experience. Now, this sense of time urgency has propelled us forward at warp speed. Yet, this is 2020 and we are all walking around on a fragile planet, where a virus has everyone in check.

This all is leading up to some observations I've had looking back. Having grown up in San Francisco was like being at the center of a vortex. In 1959 when I arrived, there were the beatniks from North Beach. My teen years were spent during the sixties, which was the advent of the hippies. The seventies were the disco years and the beginning of the gay renaissance. The eighties were the "Me" generation, and all the est grads that came with that evolvement. The nineties ushered in the tech boom which really upset the apple cart. San Francisco became much larger than itself. If you took your vacation in Bali for instance, and someone asked where you were from (and your home residence was somewhere in Novato or Redwood city...) you could claim San Francisco with no clue that you were exploiting or modifying the authenticity of that statement. Hey, the Warriors and Forty-Niners can always be considered San Franciscans, despite their physical location or areas of origin. Keeping in mind that San Francisco is no longer a TOWN like it was back then, where you could easily walk from the bay to the breakers in around two and a half hours. Where people could look at one another in the eye as they passed each other on the street. Where you could ask directions and instead of pointing out a certain landmark, the likelihood would be that a person would "Walk you there" because it was easier than explaining it.

Then it became a showcase city and ultimately a spinning wheel, like the turntable at the old Funhouse at ocean beach. People who grew up here would try to hang on to the middle of that vortex of historical relevance, but eventually, spin out to the peninsula, Marin, or Napa ( which, at one point was known more for its state hospital than being a globally recognized wine region ). It's too easy to feel "known" in San Francisco, where looking or acting strange was your calling card. Now it's a designation for avoidance or even worse... disdain. My, how the pendulum of social adulation swings from one extreme to the other. All of this brings me to this idea that we are a network of populist thinkers who all consider themselves unique individuals parading around with a device that earmarks us as members of the status quo. It reminds me of a child star who is destined to lose their innocence before the age of five.

When I was ten, The movie "The Time Machine" with Rod Taylor came out. One part of the movie really sunk in. It was when, in the future, this peaceful community of people gathered by a river enjoying what looked to be a casual picnic holiday which was suddenly interrupted by what looked to them like a minor annoyance. Someone fell in the river and began to scream for help as she was drowning. These people on the grass nearby did nothing and blissfully ignored her cries. I remember asking myself, is this what the future will eventually become? The scene was not just frightening to me... It was terrifying. No one even paid attention to her! It looked like the ULTIMATE DISTRACTION was taking place, and no one was going to act upon it or even entertain a modicum of responsibility.

This is the fear I have about the Smartphone. It not only connects us anywhere at any time but disconnects us just as instantly as we are continually re-prioritizing the importance of each audio/visual element destined to bombard our conscious minds. I hate that I can multitask, and feel like so much is being accomplished. Truthfully though, the attention I purport to give you is not nearly as relevant as the time I am spending staring at a screen.

Below is a shot that I've wanted to share for a while now. This is Ray. He is an exclusive patron of the arts. Here he is relaxing as he is waiting for his dad to pack up the canopy so he can head home.


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