Chasing the tabs

Seen just after 5 p.m. today: When did the words "We love you Oakland" go away? #bw #Oakland #vscocam #latergram

A photo posted by George Kelly (@allaboutgeorge) on

Mirzoeff focused his presentation around the idea of the “visual commons,” which he defined to be conceptual spaces “where we practice freedom, see each other, invent each other, and create a common space between us that cannot be owned.”

He also said citizens have a responsibility to use the visual commons to protest injustice in innovative ways in order to combat the short attention span of the media.
[Harvard Crimson]

“To have a better understanding and appreciation of potential talents among people whose initial linguistic impressions may not strike one as favorable takes a great deal of discipline,” he says.
[Fast Company]

The following are seven essential truths about the news today that Kamarck and Gabriele explore in detail:

Print newspapers are dinosaurs
Hard news is in danger
Television is still important
And so is radio
News is now digital
Social media allows news (and “news”) to go viral
For the younger generation, news is delivered through comedy

[Brookings Institution]

What Sunni Islam needs, rather, is a counter-reformation, a renewal and reconstruction of what made Sunni Islam great in the first place—pluralism, debate, disagreement, and dialogue, with mechanisms for cooperation. The Muslim world could also really benefit from some kind of overarching and truly multinational institutions, independent and well-funded organizations dedicated to discussing our differences and productively and deliberatively addressing ongoing challenges.
Like, say, a caliphate.


“As a mother and a woman, there’s plenty of missed opportunities in your lifetime,” Christine said. “The chosen ones. You choose to miss them. But then you get to a certain point, and you don’t want to miss.”

So, who is winning and losing in the large and growing boredom market today?

The losers are easy to identify. Anyone who was banking on consistent and predictable boredom slots is out of luck. Newspapers, radio personalities and daily game shows and talk shows. They’ve been thoroughly outclassed by a new generation of companies that serve the new atomized and variablized boredom market: pipes like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Still up in the air is what content you’ll engage with while using these apps.
[The Information]

“Shared experiences make a community,” reflects Zoppelletto, “there is nothing more thrilling than being with others in a dark theatre and together burst out in laughter or being in suspense. These shared emotions make us feel equal to the stranger sitting next to us and [because of this], cinema is a very democratic art.”
[The Guardian]

Lynsey was stunned. “You can write on Instagram?”

She laughed, picked up one of her phones. Swiped toward the retro-camera icon.

“I thought that was for, like, food and cats.”
[Nieman Storyboard]

“The boys that I liked read magazines with girls on them that looked nothing like me,” she said to me. “And I thought that I was undesirable for them. When I was a kid, the standard I held myself to was what I’ve perceived the boys I liked personally wanted.”

Double panorama drama

#Panorama pair, shortly after noon yesterday at 20th and Broadway #bw #UptownStation #vscocam #Oakland #latergram

A photo posted by George Kelly (@allaboutgeorge) on

I had a busy day yesterday and forgot to fill out a time card. Since I don’t like to dream about getting paid, I dropped A. off at BART and parked on the east side of Broadway across from the Paramount Theater. Walking to the corner, I stood there and watched a new row of tight white tarps get pulled across the Broadway face of what will eventually be Uptown Station, and probably something more.

Swinging my phone slowly across my field of vision, I tried to extend it with care and precision. All those cars filling the intersection had another idea though, and left trails of metal skipping across it like needle scratches on a vinyl record. Plus, it captured pretty dim, so it felt right to just filter it down hard and dim. The second pass came out more clearly, but also uncannily empty and spacious, except for that pedestrian who was just slow enough to get caught up.

Shot for me

I didn’t take any selfies today, but someone else did. One of my co-workers, the photographer who works out of the bureau I’m at three days a week, shot me for a personnel badge. Last year, when the Mercury News photographer working on that documentary managed to sneak a shot of me, that was a happy accident. Today was professional, purposeful and pretty straightforward. I stood where he told me to, behind a metal ruler laid in the center of the room, three or four feet of space and air between my backside and a tall white hanging canvas. He told me to hold my hands in front of me and to look in his lens’ direction. In front of me were two of those umbrella-arrayed lights, and they kept flaring in time, connected to controls on his Nikon camera by a cable that kept falling off with every second or third shot he took. He crouched in the corner, pausing occasionally to ask me to lift my chin or turn it to one side or ask if I wanted to look some other way than serious, and after a while he went and got a foot-tall footstool to stand on so he could see me slightly differently. Afterward, he said he would file and archive one of the shots, and send it to me, and I got a little chill. If anything happens to me and I die, that’s the one they’ll run in the newspaper, and maybe in my obituary. In the meantime, it will be what I show, laminated and lanyarded, to press-conference sentries and caution-tape cowboys. This is my face, this is who pays for my words, please don’t hold either of them against the questions I’m about to ask or the answers I’m listening for.

A handful of keys and a song to sing


I dropped A. and our mutual friend K. off at Lakeshore and Lake Park avenues, about as close as I was going to get given the area’s blocked-off streets, before heading over to Uptown to meet my friend Heather at the Octopus Literary Salon. But streets coming off of Grand onto Webster were just as blocked off, for completely different reasons that only now became clear. Those cyclists that the day’s event listings mentioned that visitors could cheer were actually a thing, and in order to accommodate them, stretches of streets were signed-and-blocked off from parking, slow-moving, evil cars.

I didn’t have time to be mad at this. I just looked for someone who was leaving a spot they’d scored on 21st just west of Franklin Street, and took over when they waved and drove off. Outside, while Heather and I toggled back and forth between YouTube and lyric-sheet sites, men in spandex and sunglasses and grim expressions went whirling past the Octopus’ outside in what seemed less like time trials or some level of athletic competition and more like blind luck.



The best picture I took all day


Saturday, September 19, 2015, and most of the day I’ve been lying low, but I did get out for a walk along Lakeshore Avenue and Lake Merritt, and I took a few pictures with my phone.

One picture was of a bench, and the one lovely thing about walking alongside Lake Merritt is that the lake is always on one side of you or the other, and it’s always this level horizon that you can point your camera at, and the buildings in the distance just sort of shimmer above the water.

One nice thing about the picture is it’s sunny, the sky is blue, and I managed to capture this slice of the sidewalk. I wish I’d backed up enough to catch all of the shadow of the bench. I would have had to back up into the grass and I would have risked stepping on someone’s picnic blanket, and that just would not have done.

I didn’t see any birds in the picture. They were all probably hiding out from the heat.

You know, if I’d had my ‘druthers, I would have sat down on the bench and relaxed because I left the house without my inhaler, and I could have used having it with me to just sort of take a shot so I could stand up straight and not be so out of it and needing to distract myself with pictures.

But there I was and there it was. Until next time, this is George Kelly with the best picture I took all day.

Trails and errors

Habits aren’t habits until you start noticing you’re doing them. Maybe it’s different if it’s something pleasurable, something that requires a bit more effort than other activities, something you do with one other person or a group.

So here I am, standing outside in a public park, at least semi-willingly driving away from home on a day I don’t have to work in a newsroom, using my magic tricorder-cellphone-supercomputer in a location where it cannot and does not receive complete and total connectivity. I think the deal is that if I have to be someplace, at least I can follow tips from someone else who had a good time, and document my experience this particular maze’s twisty little turns. But the deal pleases other parties, as A. wrote someplace else today: “The only thing keeping this from being heaven is that in heaven George would be happy to be here.”

We got a bit lost for about half an hour. Rather, given our time spent and our lack of a paper map and aforementioned connectivity, we didn’t have full confidence in our directional progress. Fortunately, people who were willing to be stopped in the middle of recreational distractions were willing to reassure us in our meandering. We got the most help from a youngish, nonchalantly fit, lightly bearded gentleman in a red T-shirt on a mountain bike. If I saw him again anytime soon, I’d buy him several beers.


Richmond to Oakland along I-580 in five seconds

My editor at the West County Times, Chris Treadway, noticed that I’ve had a habit of filming my car’s travels in the hyperlapse style. Today, as he was leaving the Richmond bureau where I was working, he joked: “I expect to see a video of your drive back to Oakland!”

As I got in the car and cruised through the semi-industrial stretch of streets that separate the business park that houses the bureau from our closest freeway exit, I figured, why not?

After about 7 p.m., traffic along the Eastshore Freeway corridor cools off considerably. I was able to get back to Oakland quickly. I’d had the presence of mind to tweak my phone’s capture settings, so I wound up shooting about fifteen minutes of footage in less than six seconds.

It would have been longer, but pulling off I-580 at Grand Avenue and stopping at the traffic light for El Embarcadero meant I was right next to my gym, and my phone decided it was the right time to auto-connect to the gym’s wifi. That ended my filming a little abruptly.

Wet windshield witnessing

I noticed A.’s text message before I left work today. She asked me to pick up a couple of things from the grocery store. Remembering how she’d flown into a minor ecstasy over a particular make and model of chocolate, I figured I’d pick some up. Having to call her and directly ask which one it was spoiled the surprise I’d hoped for.

But coming outside after shopping, I saw that a bit of the evening’s light rains were still all over our car. I figured I could capture a little bit of the view on my way back around the lake before getting home.

Sunset train

I started seeing the pictures on Twitter, sliding past too quickly to do much more than favorite them or just glance. Was that a landmark? How high up were they, and out of what window were they looking? If I was seeing them, then they were all on the West Coast, and likelier close by than, say, Seattle or Los Angeles. So strange to see these reminders on days the skies are clear, signs that other humans are walking around and observing this perfectly normal physical phenomena, something you can share if you just get off your ass and join in and be human for once.

By this time, everyone else had left, so I got up and stretched my legs, made sure to grab my keys and stepped outside. Not as much of a glow as others elsewhere in the Bay Area, but enough to make it worth my while. And then I heard the rumble down the tracks that told me the train was going to roll slowly past in a minute or so.


Two wheels good, four wheels meh


Another day working at the Tribune in downtown Oakland, watching bicyclists whiz past on two wheels good. Watching the workers install new sharrow icon lanes on 19th Street just steps from where I’d parked my car felt sadder than sad. I mean, I know I have to drive in because who the hell knows where I may have to go during my shift? But that’s the nature of the beast: breaking news is anywhere news breaks, and it isn’t tied to a location like City Hall or a particular ZIP code. I miss rolling over these streets at tire levels, keeping watch for potholes and feeling able to stop at whatever might catch my eye, exercising as much as gravity and inertia might require of me. Give me my city, let me gather what I can find without filling the air with hydrocarbons and exhaust, and treat me like the infinitely renewable resource I can be, instead of a widget in a bin, a body in a cubicle, and so on.