28 May, 2010

OK Go(ogle)

The band OK Go stopped by Google this past Tuesday, May 25, where they played a short concert, talked, and answered questions. The concert was very similar to a lot of other concerts I've seen at the Googleplex — a couple guys, sitting on chairs, playing some instruments — but at the same time it was unique in a number of ways.

At the beginning of the event, they played an intro video consisting of snippets from a variety of music videos and other sources. And "they" means these folks. From what I could infer from the situation, an OK Go video guy was working with the Google video folks to make sure the video stuff went smoothly, and the video folks were coordinating with the audio folks outside of the booth to make sure the audio and video were synced properly.

Another departure from the standard concert was that they offered USB sticks with audio from the concert immediately after it finished (for some value of "immediate"; I didn't hang around to see). It was pretty cool to see the two teams work together to provide such a different concert experience.

Partway through the concert, lead vocalist Damian Kulash noted that there was a time in most concerts where he asked audience-members to wave their cell phones or other electronic gadgets. This being Google, he implored the Googlers to wave their laptops, at which point he stepped on top of an amp and put his guitar aside to take a photo.

Amidst a backdrop of laughter, the Googlers obliged.

A little while later, the group played their song "What to do" featuring handbells as the only instrumentation. An audience-member later asked about the performance during the question and answer period. After a quick sophomoric moment where Damian noted how the ladies "like [bandmember] Tim's big bells," he also said that the idea for the act was inspired by seeing a performance by The Alchemy Handbell Ensemble. (Having just watched a performance on YouTube myself, my only words are "wow.")

The band closed with their now-iconic "This Too Shall Pass," most recently made popular by their fantastic Rube Goldberg music video, which was recorded all in one take. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth the four minutes to watch.

If you're interested in more photos, you can check them out by clicking here.

Until next time, here's a quotation from the band itself:
"Music is alchemy. You mix sounds together and get emotions."

26 May, 2010

PAW: Rain

21 May, 2010

War is Peace

In what was likely an act of vandalism, a glass wall in the San Jose Veteran's Memorial appears with a shattered pane of glass, as photographed last Tuesday, May 11th shortly after noon. A short metal pipe lies on the ground amidst the broken glass.

The Memorial is sited in the Guadalupe River Park, which is overseen by the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy (GRPC). In a phone discussion, GRPC Executive Director Leslee Hamilton estimated the repair costs for the damage at around $15,000. She also said the fund that might otherwise be used to help repair the damage is running low. GRPC accepts tax-deductible donations; different ways to donate are listed on the group's website at http://www.grpg.org/SupportDonate.shtml

This would not be the first time the Memorial was vandalized. In April 2005, the San Jose Police Officers' Association established the Victims' Assistance Program as a "community fund to assist victims of violent crimes or loss of property," according to the Program's website. The inaugural donation, in the amount of $5,000, was made toward the repair of an estimated $20,000-worth of damage to the Memorial from an act of vandalism which was discovered in March of that same year.

The GRPC Public Art webpage describes the site as follows:
The Veterans Memorial consists of 76 flags on 30 ft. steel poles, representative of military personnel in formation. They also reflect the tiers of white headstones in a military cemetery. The white flags represent the anonymity of each who serves -- white is a sign of peace. The snapping fabric in the winds, contrasted with the serene canopy of white banners, reflects the military strength which preserves our peace.

The etched glass panels tell, through excerpts from letters home, the experiences of local veterans during the various wars. The figures in the panels cast shadows on the pavement in front of, or behind the panels, depending on the time of day. (Used with permission.)
The now-defunct Manhattan Projects architectural firm designed the memorial, and the glass wall was constructed by John Lewis Glass, an Oakland-based glass studio founded in 1969 by UC Berkeley alum John Lewis. The Memorial was dedicated on November 11, Veterans Day, of 1997.

08 May, 2010

Going for a Walk

A few months ago, I went on a photo walk with a friend up in San Francisco. We left Best Buy, where she had literally just pulled her new DSLR out of the box, and started wandering.

After a couple blocks, we meandered into a motorcycle dealership. It had a fairly laid-back atmosphere; the doors and windows were wide open, there was Moto GP on the television, and it seemed like people were just hanging out and talking motorcycles.

While my friend was talking with one of the employees, I got this photo. I was drawn by the red pinstripe on the rim, and I hadn't seen a one-sided swingarm in person before.

One thing I've been practicing for a while is trying to capture smoke. I spotted this man's orange cap from a distance, then noticed the smoke curling up from his cigarette as I got closer. I stopped, took two quick frames, and kept moving.

It wasn't until I was home that I noticed how little he fit into my mental model of the world. Seemingly homeless, but with glasses and a watch (though that pretty well for wear), he was sitting relaxedly at a cafe we walked past, having a smoke and some coffee/tea while working on a Sudoku puzzle.

It made me wonder. What's this guy's story? What is a typical week for him? Thinking about it now, it seems obvious that most people who beg for money don't do so continuously. But it's interesting how it can seem that way until you think about it.

A couple minutes later, my friend and I doubled back toward where we had come from, walking a block away from our original route. On our way back, we spotted this fantastic window grating before it was time to part ways.

We hopped into a cab, and I hopped out at some point during the trip back to keep walking around and shooting.

And it's a good thing I did. I've seen bikes with tubes made out of steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, even wood. But French bread? Admittedly, the rolls aren't load-bearing, but that makes them no less mystifying. Why bread? Why on your bike? How was it attached, and how long had it been there? Inquiring minds want to know.

This was another unexpected sight. Most frequently, when I see a homeless person with a cart, the cart is decked with bags of cans and plastic bottles, and the person is either actively scavenging for more cans and bottles, or is pushing it on a level or uphill. As odd as it seems, I can't recall ever having seen one directing a cart downhill before.

And then, this guy approaches. At the time, I was surprised he wasn't flying down the hill, given how steep it was. Having looked at the images, now, it looks like he's standing on the wheels, using his feet as coaster brakes. Neat.

Near the end of the day's shooting, I was standing by a fire-hydrant and watched incredulously as a car appeared to be silently pulling up to park right in front of it. Looking back, I noticed that the car was being propelled by three young women, and suddenly it all made sense.

When the car came to a stop, the frazzled driver hit the parking brake, stepped out, and rested her head on her hands, and her elbows against the roof of the car. I asked what had happened and she explained, "the AAA folks said it's probably vapor lock." Oh well.

But we keep on moving. The window grating reminded me of this statement by Tupac,
"…You see you wouldn't ask why the rose that grew from concrete had damaged petals… we would all celebrate its tenacity; we would all love its will to reach the sun…"

05 May, 2010

PAW: Naptime

Admittedly, Tigger is my favorite Pooh character.

03 May, 2010

PAW: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

02 May, 2010

PAW: Sushi

A caterer from Jin Sho, a restaurant which specializes in Japanese cuisine, prepares a number of sushi rolls during an event this past Friday evening.

The experimentation continues. Over the past few months, I've been uploading photos (sometimes a couple per week) to Twitter and Facebook. I've decided to also post them here on my blog. The title for each discussionless photo post will be prefixed with "PAW:", in honor of the "Photo-A-Week" assignments from the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism class at MIT. The post will generally consist of just a photo with or without a caption.

Also, since a number of people seem to have enjoyed it, here's the prior photo, "Handstand", which I shot a couple nights ago from the parking lot next to my building at work.