The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Archive for the ‘crowds’ Category

Foundry of the Day #2517

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Foundry of the Day #2517

At the Folsom Street Foundry, video game consoles fill every free corner, and projected images of old and new games glow on the higher walls. Laurel and Barbie dabbled in World of Warcraft, and I played a bit of Puzzle Fighter and Towerfall.

Video games or not, though, I can’t spend much time in a venue like this. My voice disappears in the din, and I find it hard to even say my name when strangers introduce themselves.

It bothers me that I can still have that much trouble speaking. It seemed for a while that I was getting much better at it, and something seems to have slipped back. The thing to do when something is hard, of course, is to go and do it anyway until you get better at it; but I still feel so disheartened at times like this – like I haven’t changed at all in the last ten years.

I’m fine now, but this is something I need to work on.

a new heart

Written by Umbrella Man

August 13, 2015 at 11:49 pm

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Wait of the Day #2418

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Wait of the Day #2418

If society is an organism, then modes of transit are its blood vessels, and around San Francisco the Bart is a major artery. It normally runs smoothly, bringing life in and out of the city every day, but perhaps 1% of the time it runs into some major disaster.

Usually I am buried in a book on my morning commute, but today I was mired in music instead, enjoying the shifting cityscape outside and wondering about the other passengers. After a few sputtering stops in the tunnel, our conductor announced that the train was no longer headed for San Francisco, and the entire contents of the vehicle was poured out onto the platform. One of the tracks in San Francisco had broken, apparently, and this threw the entire system out of balance; half the trains headed for the city were no longer welcome there, and only the most stubborn passengers would make it into the few packed trains available.

We waited as a crowd here for a while, and the train we were hoping for came along and just dumped out more passengers, saturating the station. This was when I called it day; better to work from home than to wait indefinitely trying to get to and from work.

I’m lucky that I can do that. I imagine some wrathful bosses were waiting for quite a few of these people, though no one is really at fault.

Tomorrow, we hope, everything will go according to plan.


Written by Umbrella Man

May 6, 2015 at 11:52 pm

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Wanderers of the Day #2329

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Wanderers of the Day #2329

Rob has been wandering with the rest of his tumbleweeds for a few years now, and they’ve built up quite a following over time. Last I saw them, the band was composed of a few different members, and performing at a packed coffee house in Santa Cruz; tonight they headlined at the Independent in Santa Cruz, and played to a full theater. Brittany appeared as a backup singer for several songs, lending her brilliant harmonic abilities to their music.

They put on a fantastic show tonight.

I loved taking this photo because it made me realize how I’ve documented so many stages of Rob’s rise as a performer. More than five years ago I recorded him playing a song in his dorm bunk; from there he went on to open mic nights around the campus; then scheduled shows at cafes in downtown Santa Cruz; and now tonight the Tumbleweed Wanderers played to a full house.

It’s been great to see each phase of this story. I’m looking forward to seeing where they wander next.

there’s no way out

Written by Umbrella Man

February 7, 2015 at 2:19 am

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Capsule of the Day #2150

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Capsule of the Day #2150

Starting my commute just one train later in the morning means the ride is absolutely packed, rather than just full. The doors slid open today and for a moment I wasn’t certain if I’d be able to fit; with our first test starting right at 9, I didn’t want to risk waiting for the next train.

I made it in, and so joined the rest of the commuters in our Stranger Capsule, all of us standing so close together and so focused on when we would scatter again. An older couple was speaking Russian, and had carried luggage with them; perhaps they’ve arrived back home now.

spitting out the demons

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August 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm

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Refuge of the Day #1965

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Refuge of the Day #1965

And today, finally, I met with the rain in person. It followed me from home to work, and pattered outside the window as I listened to a postdoc’s talk; it came back home with me, allowed my umbrella to carry out its destiny; and this evening it drove everyone indoors, and Bridges was perhaps more crowded than I’ve ever seen it. Chalk dust hung in the air like a dull mist, and the windows were open to the cold outdoors so our collective body heat wouldn’t melt the plastic boulders. On nights like these, most visitors seem to spend their time talking rather than climbing – they certainly couldn’t all fit on the wall at once – and their accumulated voices start to crumple together in the ear after a while.

Accomplishments were made tonight, though, so the crowd did no harm.

Let’s see where the rain goes this weekend.

silver drips

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February 8, 2014 at 4:35 am

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Murmur of the Day #1776

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Murmur of the Day #1776

There was a metalworking art studio near our house in Santa Cruz, and like many other galleries they had an open house on the first Friday of each month. For two years we meant to go see the works they had on display, but never went; we were always too busy, or too tired, or just forgot outright. I may never know know what they created there.

First Fridays in Oakland are a bit different. It’s evolved into a full-fledged festival known as Art Murmur, and at the beginning of each month a length of Telegraph Avenue is closed down for an art festival. The street floods with visitors come to listen to music and watch dances, to peruse booths selling handmade clothes and wallets and jewelry, to eat from any of the dozens of food stands and trucks, or to listen to the proclamations of politically-minded criers.

I’ve never been before, but Jacob and Kendra are both familiar with the festival. The Murmurs have apparently become more tame over the months; some time ago the crowds were given full reign to drink as they pleased, which made it a lively event but also lead to some violence between fairgoers. Police watch the festival carefully now, and amplified sound is banned after 8:45 – just when Friday Night is really beginning to wake up.

So what I saw tonight was just a shadow of the real festival, but Oakland is always full of colorful characters; Even so restrained there was plenty to see tonight, and I’m reminded of what an interesting place our neighboring city is. The murmurs may made, but I’ll be sure to visit the streets there again.

remember to live

Written by Umbrella Man

August 3, 2013 at 1:40 am

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Set of the Day #1428

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Jacob, Anton and Megan dressed to the nines to play extras in a music video this evening. Reluctant to don my old prom suit, I went along in jeans and a sweater, just to see what the set was like.

I rarely put myself in a situation where I feel underdressed, but walking into the ballroom felt a bit like exploring the ruins of a nuclear plant without a haz-mat suit. I wasn’t supposed to be there, and there was almost a biological imperative to leave the place before I sustained irreversible damage, be it genetic or social.

But this was largely because I was a stranger in a crowd of friends, and a room full of clashing conversations is the worst place for me to introduce myself to someone. Unable to contribute to the music video, I had little common ground with the other false partygoers, and talked briefly with friends about gum and a superhero who keeps her gadgets in a purse rather than a utility belt. I only managed this meager shot, but it’s a fair slice of my perspective there.

So I left my friends to their business before the filming actually began. It’s quite late, but they may only be finishing up this very moment. I am tired and little flecks of dream are drifting in front of my closed eyes, so perhaps it was best for me to visit the set modestly dressed.

your feeling shoulders

Written by Umbrella Man

August 20, 2012 at 2:19 am

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