Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ormond Beach Riverfest, 2010

Not much time to blog these days, but to lighten the mood around this place a little bit here are a half dozen random photos from this past weekend in Ormond Beach. Mrs. Muse and I met our compadres from the Ashley Gang, and played a few sets on the main stage (not pictured here), and had some fun running around to listen to a few of our old friends from the Florida music scene...

AL Scortino -- my partner in crime in the Ashley Gang and songwriter extraordinaire

Rog Lee

Steve Waters of the French Connection and  M.T. Pawkett's Review

Bob Bronar (left) with Larry Mangum (smooth and versatile)

Donna Frost -- came in from Nashville for the weekend

Under the U.S. 40 bridge over the Halifax River (east coast intracoastal waterway)

Wishing all of you here in the States a happy Thanksgiving -- and all the best to everyone, wherever you happen to be!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Racism In Black and White

No, this is not about monochrome photography. Not today. Today I am stepping away from my socially safe worlds of photography and music to describe a highly non-artistic picture that was painted for me during a noon walk around the tree-lined suburban office park where I work. When the weather is cool enough here in the deep south, as it was today, I will head out for a stroll around the mile and a quarter loop along which are built several dozen large office complexes. It’s all new and modern. Tree-lined streets and driveways, well landscaped buffers between the main road and the sidewalk and the parking lots, retention ponds with parks and benches. The noon hour generally brings out walkers and runners, and today started like any other – me chugging along slowly, watching nature, runners and faster walkers passing by every few minutes from both directions. Most of the folks heading the other way will say hello, or at least nod. A young oriental woman with a bottle of water walked – actually half jogged -- past me then slowed to a fast walk as she made the left turn to stay on the loop. I thought nothing of it as she continued down the sidewalk about 25 yards in front of me.

Perhaps a minute later I watched her take a quick turn into the street, back into her light jog. Coming toward me on the sidewalk just before the location that the woman hit the street was a large black man, casually dressed. The woman’s sidelong glances at him, the over-the-shoulder checks and she moves away, made it crystal clear that he was the reason for her departure from the concrete onto the asphalt. About 10 more yards down the road, she cut across the grass barrier and returned to the sidewalk at a walking pace, still looking back. She looked back several more times as she continued down the sidewalk. As I walked up to, then just past the man, he turned and looked back at her and softly muttered:
I stopped and turned back to him to acknowledge his remark.
            “Not you, man,” he said, no doubt thinking I was offended, “her. Racist-ass bitch.”
            “You’re right,” I said. “You’re right, I saw it.”
The look in his eyes was more disbelief than anger – through there was clearly some of that, too. I walked on and watched the woman walk down one of the driveways towards a glass office building. She continued to look back in the direction of the black man, who just stood there staring back. How simple it is to wreck a fellow human being’s lunchtime walk.
            I try not to judge. I have no way of knowing what that woman’s life experiences have been. After all, she did speed up to get by me and didn’t slow to a walk until she perceived a safe distance. Maybe she fears all men, though she clearly, and perhaps overtly, avoided the black one. It was like she was trying to make a point of it. If she was, he got that point. Strait between the eyes. It was hard to watch. And all I could do was say “you’re right”. I have no similar experience to draw from and offer empathetic sympathy. Sometimes people just suck. No pictures. Not today.