Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Starbucks, A Mirror Of Society

Just about every day you'll find me at the local Starbucks a few blocks from my house. Coffee and a cinnamon donut at breakfast, coffee after dinner. Sometimes a cup or two in the afternoon also. I meet my friends there. I meet clients there. I make new friends there, getting into conversations about everything from hurricanes to politics. I always carry a camera loaded with black & white film, the Bessa L with the 15mm Heliar, even when I'm not carrying any of my Leicas or other lenses. Most people there are regulars. They get used to seeing me photographing myself and whatever with whomever. I often give out cards with links to my photos on line, along with my phone number. From time to time I make up a bunch of small prints and give them to the people in the photos. One time Belle Deaux made up a bunch of little refrigerator magnets using some of the pictures and my name and contact info. They're stuck on refrigerators all over town!

Everybody that works there knows me by name, and I'm warmly greeted when I arrive, but God help me if I ever wanted anything but "a tall coffee" because it's usually poured and ready before I make it in through the door! During their breaks they'll often come out on the patio and sit at the table with me, as do a lot of the students from the nearby college campuses. Maybe it's because I have interesting stories to tell or perhaps it's that I insist on being called Al, not Mr. Kaplan. Just one of the guys! Once I got into a long conversation with a young woman about the writings of Jack Kerouac. I suggested that she read "The Town And The City", and I was very surprised that she'd never heard of the book, that it hadn't been mentioned in the course she was taking. I then told her about meeting and photographing one of his contemporaries, beat poet Allen Ginsberg for a newspaper article years ago. She asked me a bunch of questions about what it was like back then.

I find it interesting that the under thirty crowd seems so at ease in socializing with one another. The accents you hear include plenty of foreign ones from Russian to Jamaican to Spanish and Israeli, but this seems to be the generation that finally pretty much said goodby to regional U.S. accents, being I suppose the second generation that really learned their English from watching Sesame Street, not just from their parents. They also seem very at ease in racially mixed situations, and interracial couples have become quite common, openly showing affection and holding hands, walking arm in arm.

I've posted this photo a little larger than the rest (just click on the photo to see it larger) so you could get a better look at the people behind me. You may not realize how much the 15mm distorts space/perspective if you are not used to looking through that lens or at photos taken with very wide angle optics. The couple at the next table are a lot nearer to me than they appear to be in the photo. Well, it's the same thing with your side mirrors on your car and the warning that reads, "objects in the mirror appear farther away than they actuallly are."


Blogger Todd Frederick Photography said...

Al, I hope you know them because they don't look happy! Excellent photo. In this we can see how the eye goes from you to the couple.

8:04 PM  
Blogger taffer said...

Like the sentence which said you could stay at one point and with enough time, just everybody would pass by there.

6:08 PM  
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