California redemption value

A destitute man in San Francisco’s Japantown. He was digging through public garbage cans, apparently for containers having California redemption value…

(Picture taken in San Francisco, California on September 7th, 2014)

For those of you who enjoy my work on these pages, I was absent for nearly four weeks due to a death in my family. My apologies. I won’t let it happen again. Death, I mean. I have recently begun diverting all my beer money towards developing an immortality serum in my basement lab. I also have a new photography project in development. Click here to have a preliminary look.

Fermented soybeans are your friend

An ode to nattō, an horribly lovely Japanese import…

Do you like soy sauce, tofu, miso soup? The humble soybean gives us so many edible wonders that you probably didn’t know it is also used to make what Westerners consider to be one of the foulest foods ever to come from Japan.

(Nattō from my grocer’s freezer about to get mixed with raw egg. This is one of my favorite toppings for rice.)

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San Mateo County Fair

American quirk

Various odd, unusual, and interesting sights from the 2014 San Mateo County Fair…Roving musicians, each with their obvious differences in appearance.

As America becomes more divisive and divided on issues like gay marriage, gun control, and religious influence in schools and government, it’s sometimes good for one’s mental health to consider the things we Americans in common still seek out and enjoy. To me, nothing still provides the level, apolitical (mostly), highly-caloric, and deep-fried playing field for Americans to gather into one more-or-less harmonious population quite like the good old county fair.

With the summer solstice mere days away, and outdoor temperatures and certain global tensions on the rise, Scholars and Rogues offers this pictorial tour of the recently-ended San Mateo County Fair for your amusement, distraction, and enjoyment. Consider it a sort of mental vacation from the grind behind whatever desk you’re riding, or as an inspiration for the amorphous, as-yet unplanned summer vacation you’re obliged to take this year with the spouse and kids. So, as they say on the midway, “step right up, ladies and gentlemen….”

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“Tokyo Panic Stories” in Brisbane: a photography exhibit by Dan Ryan

Ten images from the forthcoming book “Tokyo Panic Stories” are on display from now until June 30th at city hall in Brisbane, CA.

I’m pretty new to Scholars and Rogues, but I think I made it apparent rather quickly that I am fascinated with Tokyo street life. Photographs like this one form the core and bulk of my photographic work.

(Picture taken in Sanya near Nihonzutsumi, Tokyo in October, 2013. This is a color treatment of a monochrome photo from the exhibit.)

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Food-&-Drink-Week

Food and Drink Week: Dan’s Tokyo curry

This type of curry is comfort food to the Japanese the way macaroni and cheese is to Americans…

I love to cook, and I am told I’m pretty good at it. The one thing I cook for people most often is this Japanese curry. I’ve been making it for nearly a decade, but I really got serious about it after my wife and I went to Tokyo in March, 2008. I make it four or five times a year. Amongst my neighbors and friends it has become my signature dish. If you are familiar with Japanese curry at all, you know the basic dish is wonderful during colder weather, the spicier the better.

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WordsDay: Literature

The oyster climbs the Great Chain of Being: Eleanor Clark’s Locmariaquer

“…But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oyster….” – Geoffrey Chaucer

The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark (image courtesy Goodreads)

Anyone who reads Eleanor Clark’s classic The Oysters of Locmariaquer will come away from the book convinced of two things: 1) cultivating oysters is a complex and difficult task that might well suck the life out of one foolish enough to try to do so; 2) if the people from any place are up to the task of cultivating oysters, it is the Bretons. Clark’s book falls into that interesting category of nonfiction made famous by the great John McPhee. That is, Eleanor Clark, like McPhee, combines meticulous research (there is more in this book than anyone this side of an ichthyologist would want to know about the biology of oysters and the history of human/oyster relations) with personal narrative (there are stories of the lives of Breton villagers who are tied to the oyster industry – or to Brittany – that can move even the most jaded soul).

Of course, Clark antedates McPhee, and perhaps he owes her a debt for combining the scientific and historical with the personal in ways that can engross the reader and make one learn in spite of oneself. After all, Clark won the National Book Award for Nonfiction with this tale of Belon oysters and the Breton people who raise them in 1965, the same year McPhee published his first significant workContinue reading

Let’s camera

A song like “Tokyo Storm Warning” is closer to real life than you think…

You have to suck Tokyo into your lungs and let it rewrite your DNA.

You have to piece together your own reality one combini at a time.

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It seemed like a fair trade, until…: a ‘Tokyo Panic Story’

In which I encounter a pair of drunks, one of whom tried to grab my crotch…

At Minami-senju Station in Tokyo, this guy was drunk beyond belief and reeked of booze. But he let me take is his picture.

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Tokyo Panic Stories: a city of the dead

Touring a Japanese graveyard…

The surreality of it was astounding. In Minami-senju, Tokyo, while I was looking for the barely- and roughly-living, through a haze of my own cigarette smoke I found a city of the dead. I savored the irony of that.

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He scared me: a ‘Tokyo Panic Story’

An excerpt from a photographic diary in which I encounter an angry Tokyo drunk…

Down in Sanya, he was calm at first. But he shot me this look that put me on edge. There were empty Ozeki One Cup jars near him, and I’m pretty sure he was drunk as a bastard.

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