Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pictures on My Phone, 8/19/2013 - 8/29/2013

Here's how it is: sometimes, you move to a mid-tier city of a nation very far from your own for school, walk around and see the sights and make some friends and go bowling, but then it's time to dig and prepare for the semester because you came here to go to school, after all, not just bowl and take pictures of intersections, and once school starts you don't have that much time to gad about.

This is how it was for our hero for in this 10-day period.

8/19: A single image. It's sort of an odd one. I think it's of a building housing a religious organization of some kind, but I'm not sure why I think that. The shot is from the street, of an unremarkable tan concrete-block building that is clearly a "facility" of some kind. We are also clearly no longer in the city proper -- a street winds up to the right to a stand-alone house, and the facility is on a spacious lot with no buildings around. It looks suburban. There are doors into a glass-halled walkway leading off to the left, and a turret that is kind of hard to describe reaches up from the center of the structure -- this turret is why I think "religious"; this plus the fact that our hero bothered to photograph it at all. The turret has rounded lines, and echoes itself 3 times: a largest turret with a similar smaller one etched within it, then a similar smaller one etched within that. It has a sculpture that I can't identify and google isn't helping me with on top: a golden orb, with either a flame or a leaf of greenery lifting off from its northern pole. It is a bright, sunny day in Cleveland or this suburb of Cleveland on 8/19/2013. It was a Monday.

8/25: This is the nadir point of our hero's photographic exploits so far. A disgusting picture of food. The food might have been good; I'm pretty sure it is sevai kheer, which is really tasty I could go for some right now. But the picture is geee-ross. Our hero manages to accentuate everything that is yucky about food, while missing all the good points of food. The noodles look wormlike and gelatinous. The pudding around them looks even more gelatinous, and possibly infected: everything white has a greenish sickish glow from bad lighting. The bits of deliciousness in the kheer -- cashews, dried fruit -- look like growths or the accidental droppings an animal that got into this grotesquery when it was left out too long. The whole thing is presented from a bird's-eye view in a black cooking pot on a stovetop: the bird's-eye view of a sick, sad bird trapped in some bird hellhole with only this vista to look down on. 

However, I am being negative. It is great that our hero, or someone, made homemade sevai kheer because sevai kheer is delicious and I hope all of its eaters enjoyed it. And it is a nice impulse to want to snap a shot of that home cooking -- I imagine him sending this to his parents back home, showing that he's doing fine and living well and making familiar yummy things. Though it is a shame, for our purposes (which admittedly are rather far from our hero's intended purposes (whatever they were (seriously, this picture is gross))), that the execution of that impulse is so revolting.

8/26: I hope I'm nice enough about the loveliness of the cool things our hero does that my negativity about some of these pics is not too relentless or mean. Because this photo -- maybe the lesson here, actually definitely the lesson here, is that we all take a lot of dumb dumb pictures on our phones -- this photo is also not good. It is a shot of the cover of Introduction to Data Mining by Pang-Nin Tan et al. It is sideways in native orientation, so you can crane your neck or flip it and get a narrow, small photo. The book is set on a tabletop, and a pair of black-trousered legs and the white loop of shoelaces are visible at the bottom of the frame. It was taken during another one of the earthquakes that ravaged Cleveland occasionally while our hero took pictures; having taken pictures with this exact same (exact same, remember) camera, I feel on firm ground giving him a hard time about this. It's not that hard to get this phone to take well-focused shots of stationary objects in good lighting. Like, for example, a book on a table.

That aside, again, it's easy and kind of nice to imagine the circumstances of this shot. He needed to know what book to buy, and his friend had it. His friend needed to know what book to buy, and he had it, etc. Semester starting -- good times. Onward, friend.

8/28: This one is cool. A white tile column on a platform in the Tower City Rapid Transit Station in Cleveland. A linear map is on the column: white text on industrial blue. Tower City is blocked in white, indicating where we are. An old white man in a blue shirt and chinos is walking down the platform, disappearing behind the column. A young guy with short-cropped hair is seated on a public-facility metal wire "bench," back to us, reading. Our hero went somewhere on August 8th, 2013. Good for him. I'll pretend this is just like me, standing on the platform in Chicago or Boston or London or any other city where I've been new, and know exactly how he feels unless I've got the circumstances all wrong, which hey I probably do.

8/29: This one is lovely too, because it's that same building that our hero and his friends took pictures in front of on August 18th, before bowling. A different angle, but again the picture gives a lot of its real estate over to a big intersection in front of the building, which is now lit red white and blue. It's night - the sky is black and city lights are on. The photo is out of focus. Interestingly, the shot is taken through the windshield of a car: the dashboard is visible at the bottom, and the streetlamps are all splayed diffractionary through the glass. There's a white sedan in front, its rear over-illuminated by the headlights of our hero's car.

I like the idea that he liked this building so much that he took shots of it kind of whenever the opportunity presented itself. Maybe he thought it looked particularly nice at that moment, being driven back (he's not in the driver's seat, you can tell from the angles) from something, seeing it there illuminated -- perhaps for Labor Day, which was coming up that weekend.

To figure out the Labor Day thing, I just looked at my own calendar. On this same day, I was pretty stressed and unhappy. It's nice to think that our hero was doing better, and somehow it draws a straight unifying line from me not-happy then, through him hopefully-happy then, to me much happier now.

What's that, reader? You want a road trip? Well brace yourself, because next up in "Pictures on My Phone": motherf***ing ROAD TRIP.