San Francisco: New Mission

    It’s 5 AM in San Francisco as I quickly reach to turn off my alarm as to not wake up the rest of the house. “5AM…” I think to myself, “Edu said 5:15, I have time to sleep another ten minutes.” 5:05 rolls around and I get a text from Edu saying “I’m outside.” I throw on what decent clothes I had lying around and head for the door, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. The post apocalyptic-like setting of an empty city that was still asleep made it easy for us to make our way from Precita to downtown. The gig was to gather promotional shoots for a married couple's life couching business as they ran their 6AM bootcamp class in a warehouse studio that let the morning sunrise shine through the industrious windows onto the sleepy eyes of those who were determined enough to get a work out in before work. The boot camp instructor was ex-military and ran a tight ship of two morning classes.

   As we took his portrait on the roof of the Ritz Carlton Residence later in the afternoon he jokingly referred to himself as a Bruce Willis on steroids, but in my imagination he was more of a Mr. Clean. His wife on the other hand was not so light hearted on her appearances. What was only suppose to be a half days worth of work took a full day due to her insecurities of her self image. She was very particular about the way she looked. I constantly would remind her that portraits are a direct image of who you are in this very moment. What is important is to accept who you are and recognize how beautiful you are. That didn't help. Frustration was setting in amongst all the guys, even her husband who at times would walk over to calm her anxiety kept having to leave the room to take a breather. It wasn't until after the shoot when she took us out for a late lunch and apologized for her insecurities that she is well aware of. She then goes on to tell us the story of how her and her husband have been married for 13 years. The day after they got married he got shipped off to war only to come back a very different man, a man psychologically scared of the things he had seen. I had asked him about his experiences earlier in the day about his time in the war as we sat on the sun baked roof of the Ritz. He amusingly said, " I was there when we caught Sadam... I've never seen people act so barbaric." "Who? The enemy?" I ask. "No!" he replies "I'm talking about my fellow soldiers. It was chaos everywhere." 

 

Disclaimer: If you are reading this I must apologize for what I am about to do. The intensity of how fast things have been happening in my life is causing me to fall behind on my memoirs. For now I am going to ditch the story telling format of writing and just log my memories on my site before the memories of my experiences become overrun by new ones. This is a selfish decision, but in attempt to make it up to you I will save you the boringness of reading on from here. The writing that follows is about to become full of grammatical errors and in some parts might not make sense, but hang in there with me and I'll explain later. Just know that my time spent in San Francisco set the stage for everything that happened in Los Angeles. I was beating myself up mentally for not saying hi to Carrie Brownstein at the café. I had rationalized to myself that I was not ready to say hi to such a celebrity, but the after the fact all I could think was "life presented a rare opportunity for me and I didn't take it." The regret I lived with for making that timid decision was eating me up everyday. It was a lesson to not make the same mistake again.

 

      Monday rolls around and I am still in San Francisco. I had originally planned on taking off sunday to Santa Cruz to visit my uncle and an old friend, but the city would not let me go. There was no telling when I was going to leave. The only pressing thing that was going to make me leave was a meeting I had planned with a friend of mine who is a designer at Alternative Apparel. We had met years ago in LA through an old roommate of mine. I had sent her a text message to let her know I was going to stay in SF a little longer. She says its fine but to hurry. She also tells me to visit their new SF store in Hayes Valley and to meet the president of the company who works out of the location on Mondays. Unprepared for such a meeting I thought to myself, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be" and go visit EJ.

 

    Once all the madness died down I wanted to spend a day to myself and visit museums in SF. Coincidentally the friend I was staying with the first couple of days took tuesday off to visit museums as well. So we spent the day biking around town together going to the museums. 

     After a day of searching for inspiration the plan was to leave Wednesday, but on tuesday night a family friend from Portland commented on an IG video I posted of SF and says he is in town. I give him a text to meet for coffee. He said he was in town for work and to meet at the new Jordan Brand retail store downtown on thursday around 4:15. I had just seen him the week before in Portland, but I'm a sucker for having adventurous life paths collide in different cities. Also, I wanted to meet with Ron Walden because I know he is very business savvy and I wanted to pick his brain on any advice he could give about getting into situations like I had the day before meeting the president of a company on such short notice. I just can't leave this city. 

    The meeting with Ron was brief. He shows up to the store with another Nike representative. A man named Burton. We walk and talk as we look around the new store. Then suddenly a retail employee tells Ron "Just to let you know all the shirts you see are %25 percent off. Let me know if you have any questions." "25% percent off? On every shirt?!" replies Ron. "Yes that is correct, everything you see here." Ron immediately jumps on his phone and calls the Nike World Headquarters back in Portland. As he is speaking with one of his colleagues about this discount issue, Burton and I start to talk. "What does Ron do for Jordan that has him down here in San Francisco?" Burton responds, "He is in charge of all the Jordan Brand retail stores from here to Chicago." The instant Ron got off the phone the employees at the store realize who he is and immediate start kissing ass. "You know, I just want to know..." talking in a Jersey-like accent while beating one fist into the other hand "WHEN are those Duck 3's going to drop? That's all I want to know?" Ron, still focused on his phone doesn't skip a beat and says "they already came out months ago my friend..." Others start to crowd around him as the Nike hierarchy becomes more apparent. He walks over to me and says "So what do you think? Pretty cool right?! You know what... I think it would be cool to see this store through your photographic eye. Would you mind snapping a few shots of the store?" I pause for a brief moment... The store is very dark, everything that I like about the store is hard to capture without staging it. I think to myself, "I'm prepared as I'll ever be" and start shooting away.

Photo provided by Sandbox Studio from a photo gallery they hosted at their SF studio. I was there to support Jen Siska and Heather Gulyash, two female photographers who I very much admire.

Photo provided by Sandbox Studio from a photo gallery they hosted at their SF studio. I was there to support Jen Siska and Heather Gulyash, two female photographers who I very much admire.

iphone image on top of the Ritz Carlton residence as Edu shoots portraits of epic proportion 

iphone image on top of the Ritz Carlton residence as Edu shoots portraits of epic proportion 

iphone image of Nina at the de Young

iphone image of Nina at the de Young

I captured this photo to represent the rapid new development taking place in The Mission. The circular rainbow presented itself as I used the "New Mission" sign to block the sun from over exposing my photo. I felt the construction crane, dilapidated sign and palm tree were all symbolic in representing of what is happening in this small part of the city, quite possibly all over America. In this moment everything was speaking to me.

I captured this photo to represent the rapid new development taking place in The Mission. The circular rainbow presented itself as I used the "New Mission" sign to block the sun from over exposing my photo. I felt the construction crane, dilapidated sign and palm tree were all symbolic in representing of what is happening in this small part of the city, quite possibly all over America. In this moment everything was speaking to me.

Angry artist in Downtown SF

Angry artist in Downtown SF

An old lady steadily pushing her squeaky stroller one step at a time

An old lady steadily pushing her squeaky stroller one step at a time

A man in The Mission named JD drinking a tall can of beer while he does his laundry at 9AM

A man in The Mission named JD drinking a tall can of beer while he does his laundry at 9AM

My morning walk to start my day

My morning walk to start my day

This man asked me for some change. I asked him for his portrait

This man asked me for some change. I asked him for his portrait

Local art on the issue of gentrification in The Mission (1 of 2)

Local art on the issue of gentrification in The Mission (1 of 2)

Artistic expression on the issue of gentrification (2 of 2)

Artistic expression on the issue of gentrification (2 of 2)

Australian painter

Australian painter

Friends from Portland who were also traveling down to LA

Friends from Portland who were also traveling down to LA

Ron Walden admiring his hard work 

Ron Walden admiring his hard work 

The numbers that tie the room together

The numbers that tie the room together