…but you do not.
Part of my S&R Tokyo Series
In my chosen profession there are extremes which exist outside of me and are mine (or yours) to take or leave. The world is ugly, and the world is beautiful, and I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable calling myself a photojournalist if I wasn’t willing to embrace how wonderful and horrible the world can be. You got to love the hate and hate the love, so to speak.
Scholars & Rogues has given me a forum to show you, our faithful readers, the weird bits of pathos, promise, and pain that I encounter as I wander in and around San Francisco, California and its suburbs. I do this to show you that we are not just a collective of progressive thinkers, critics, and college professors. We are also no strangers to the street. We have been in, and sometimes slept in, the gutters and found within ourselves the strength to take a realistic but also an humane and compassionate view of American life and how our country fits into the world.
So on the tenth anniversary of Scholars & Rogues, I want to make you feel good. And I want to make you feel bad. And I want to give you hope. Because that’s what life does to all of us on a regular basis. And to start here’s my kitten Kuro-chan grooming himself at my house in Brisbane, California…
How do I pay tribute to a man who both enriched and destroyed my life? If I had never read his work I’d be less of a boozer than I am, but also less of a human being. Charles Bukowski would have been 96 years old today, and I have praised and cursed his very existence with every gulp of cheap beer or sip of fine rum that I have ever taken.
(↑Kiyokawa, Tokyo 2012)
In January, 1987 I graduated from Lehigh University with a B.A. in journalism. By the first week of March I was in Tokyo, Japan to start my first real adult job and the rest of my life. I was 23 years and two months old, and had decided I wanted adventure instead of an entry-level stateside newspaper job. So through some business contacts of my father’s I secured an entry-level marketing position with an American information services company in Tokyo.
What I present to you here are poems and photographs I created while living and working in Tokyo in 1987 and 1988. All the images are of Tokyo drunks and homeless people because, at the time, I was naïve and couldn’t believe this aspect of Japanese society existed. I felt I had to document it.
Poverty and homelessness still persist in Japan, of course, and through some strange twists of fate I resumed documenting Tokyo street life four years ago. This has resulted in a book I’m trying to get published called “Tokyo Panic Stories.” You can see samples my recent Tokyo work here and here.
So please enjoy this 28 year-old folio of words and images. And keep in mind that while I make no apologies for the quality of the poetry (I am actually still pleased with some of it), the poems were written by a man less than half his current age of 52 years. Also note that each photo is paired with the text right beneath it, and click any image to see it full-size.
Humor of the ‘surd
When you stare straight ahead, people love you. Continue reading
What was BBH Labs thinking? Michael Sebastien at PR Daily is on the money in saying that “it might go down as one of the biggest PR disasters of the year.”
New York-based marketing firm BBH Labs equipped homeless people on the streets of Austin with devices that made them wireless hot spots. Internet seekers then paid what they wanted—in cash or via PayPal—to access the Web. The homeless men and women kept all of the money.
The media wasn’t amused, and now BBH Labs is licking its wounds. Continue reading
“There ought to be limits to freedom.” Who said it? Continue reading
“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading
“I think women rule the world and that no man has ever done anything that a woman either hasn’t allowed him to do or encouraged him to do.” Who said it? Continue reading
“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Who said it? Continue reading
Been a long hard week. All around the college where I work as a benefits coordinator, programs are out of funding for the summer. Financial aid is strained to the breaking point by the influx of new students. Students come flooding in for vocational training designed to switch them out of their now-defunct line of work.
Worker retraining can pay for tuition, but not books. What program offers to pay for childcare? Can I qualify for financial aid if I worked most of last year? I have to stay in school to keep my food stamps; who has grant money? I field a dozen phone calls a day from students trying to find a way out of the current economic situation.
Trying to find a program to help each student is taxing at best and on bad days it is heartbreaking. Our state is broke and our social service safety net gets more threadbare each month. Continue reading
33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.– Matthew 25: 33-40
I was reminded of this little passage today as I reviewed these numbers: Continue reading
I was walking up the 16th Street Mall this morning when I got stopped by a man offering me a small newspaper called the Denver Voice. It’s a paper written in large part by the homeless, about the homeless, and sold on the streets of Denver by the homeless. For a suggested donation of $1.00, I got a metaphorical smack upside the head, and an article inside the the Voice brought made it smart even more. I hadn’t even noticed, and my lack of noticing was something unusual. Downtown Denver is missing something.
Where are the homeless? Continue reading