London 2010

1) Tuesday, june 7

I couldn’t go to London this summer, but Billy could. He sent me these pictures. He emailed me one picture each day he was gone. Some days he forgot. Some days he sent an email and forgot his attachment. But mostly he remembered. So in a way I got to go to London, too, as a vicarious experience. It was lots of fun! Billy has a nice camera, though he couldn’t always hold it straight. Here he’s out in the center of the vibrant metropolis, where people are shopping at the top shops. He is photographing people, mostly girls. All of the people are aboveground, but one woman is ready to go down into the Underground. The young girls are anxious.

 

 

 

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Most of the days Billy was in London I was working. I was worrying a lot, like I usually do when I am working. I can’t remember now what I was worrying about. But it was something. It wasn’t something important like the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Anyway, Billy must have gotten on a boat or a train one day and took this photograph. Or maybe it was a bus. The young man in the picture is deep in concentration. He looks a little angry. Billy has photographed him so the reflection of a woman with her arms folded on her lap has become a part of his head. Her fingers caress his brow. If this is a bus, you could say that the young man is a succubus driver! Her fingers look like a brain tumor.

 

 

 

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I have been to London too. It has been a few years now. Every time I go, I try to visit the British Museum. Here Billy is on the upper floor of the museum, looking down on the Great Court, or a corner of it where museum visitors eat their snacks and lunches. Every photographer knows it makes a difference where you stand to take a picture. Billy is like an angel in this photograph. The museum looks empty. The man is walking away from the woman, carrying a book. Maybe he’s been sent away! He is trying to look cool. You can tell by the way he’s walking. But the woman doesn’t care. Those are totem poles framing the view. They come from far away.

 

 

 

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London is full of nooks and crannies, little neighborhoods tucked away around a corner. Many neighborhoods have similar houses. The terrace house is of outstanding importance to the historical development of London. In this picture, we see an empty truck and a plumber’s butt. Plumber’s butt is a phrase for a man showing his fanny, a man showing his crack. Coin slot is another, and sideways smile and builder’s bum. It is never too early to see a bad moon rising.

 

 

 

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This picture is one my favorites. Billy wandered into one of the nooks and crannies and came upon this little park. The little boy holding up the toy snake looks like a young Mick Jagger. “Look, it’s all wire!” he says. He is satisfied with his destruction. His lips– it could be a microphone. The little girl on the pony is not having any of it. She knows this little boy. She will keep her distance. She holds her Barbie in case she needs to ward him off. She can’t keep her eyes off him. In the background, there’s the usual disarray.

 

 

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The afro jumps out at me in this picture–the way it goes with the cotton candy. Billy has quite an eye. The white man on the right is none too happy about what he is watching under the tree. The little boy clinging to his mother is afraid, but his mom likes what she sees. The black boy is cool with it all.

 

 

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Billy cheated on this one and told me what it was about and where it came from. He wrote, “Margaret is under the weather so today was a bit low key and you get an image taken from our bedroom window. The guards are always outside. At first I thought they protected Americans but it seems a foreign minister lives next door. Martin Amis also lives in the ‘hood and there’s also the house where Plath called it quits.” I am glad Billy and Margaret were safe during their stay in London, near where the foreign minister was safe too.

 

 

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As I said, where and how you hold the camera is an important issue in the art of photography. The man with the movie camera knows that. He is standing in a famous place I recognize, thanks to the sign on the crooked building. I am more interested in the woman at the bottom. I like her hat. But every time I try one like it on my wife and daughter tell me that I look like a fool.

 

 

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This is a public transit worker coming up the escalator from the Tube. He looks very serious and intent on what’s ahead, very prepared. He is about to pass a poster of Jimi Hendrix, who has eternal life, especially in London. You can google Jimi Hendrix’s London and find the cornerstones of his life and career in London: Scotch of St. James, 13 Mason’s Yard, the Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, the Bag O’Nails on Kingly Street. Those were the days. That’s Grease, the musical, below. It was a big hit in the West End. The man could not care less. He is headed for the world above.

 

 

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I love street musicians! They give me hope that we can go on. But I am wondering–a banjo and a string bass? What do these young men think this is, New Orleans?

 

 

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The English love their drinking and their pubs. They are not alone in this, but they really love their drinking and their pubs. Every year, after certain holidays and football matches– that’s what they call soccer in England–the English tabloids feature stories about the youth of England falling down in the street or running around town without panties. Everyone is appalled. That’s the flag of St. George poking out. It is World Cup time. The English side is not any good, but everyone is hoping for a win. Everyone is ready for a drink.

 

 

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One day Billy rode the train to Cambridge to have a look around the town and its famous university. He found this man leaning up against a shop and blowing his harmonica. You cannot really see the harmonica, though. He might be eating a melon rind, like a homeless man who has just been through the rubbish.

 

 

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This picture is a little fuzzy, as things that go on inside churches are sometimes a little fuzzy, in England not as much as some places. Billy has taken the picture through a window. The conductor does not know what to do. Oh my, that music!

 

 

14) Monday June 21

It is hard not to like this little family. They are so attentive, so perfectly matched looking back at their little daughter on this bridge in this beautiful place. She is in the rear with her new scooter. It is really hard to ride a scooter on the bridge! I think this is another famous place, a garden or park, but I can’t be sure. Every place is a famous place in London.

 

 

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The English are not like us. They like to read. It is why they speak so beautifully! But there are fewer of them who read books than there used to be. This man has found a book he likes in the middle of a long row of books. I hope it doesn’t rain!

 

 

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Here is another crowd staring at something we can’t see. There is always something we can’t see in a photograph, just like everywhere else. These boys are looking at it, with a few girls.

 

 

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Billy likes to have fun. He is a fun guy. His photographs are fun. They are like graffiti, except in reverse. This kid can really ride.

 

 

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You know what this picture is about. It is about photographing another photographer. Her subject is posed beside her purse, and beside the river. In the distance, you can almost hear the quacking.

 

 

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It has been fun writing about these pictures. Billy puts on quite a show with them. I hope you like them as much as I like them when you stop by to look. I like vacation! There is nothing to worry about as long as we keep blowing bubbles.

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