What Is Your Story?

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What Is Your Story?

There is a saying that I often use, “It is what it is, and that is all that it is. The rest is your story.” It came to my mind after I read an article in The Jerusalem Report titled, “A Whole New Jew”, written by Tibor Krausz, a writer from Budapest, Hungary. It is a story about Csanád Szegedi, who was a far-right politician, who trivialized the Holocaust and blamed the Jews for the wrongs of the world before finding out that he was one himself.

Szegedi, who is 34, is a former Member of the European Parliament for Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party, where he became a member at age 26.

Szegedi was an anti-Semite, until he discovered he was a Jew by descent, in 2012. Now, he studies with a Rabbi about Jews and Judaism every Friday.

The transformation occurred after one of his opponents discovered his grandmother’s birth certificate. She was born a Jew and was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. She survived, but decided to keep quiet about her ancestry. She always wore shirts with long sleeves to hide her Auschwitz tattoo. His mother knew about it, but decided not to tell her children.

When his old “friends” discovered his new identity, they considered him a traitor and he lost his political career. To follow his new discovery, his non-Jewish wife is now converting into Judaism and they are planning to immigrate to Israel with their two children.

Perhaps it is a fantastic story. But I have my personal experience with a non-Jewish friend. When she had some personal problems, she expressed her frustration by claiming that the world is ruled by Jews, who control Hollywood and Wall Street. In those moments, she sounded like a typical anti-Semite. Some time ago, she invited Elfa and I over for dinner to meet her new boy friend, who, according to her, is “like all Jewish men; a caring and good person.” I learned recently that they got married.

Perhaps those are very interesting, but isolated events. But for me, these stories indicate the traits we all have. Our beliefs and actions are based on the information of our past, whether we received it from others, or learned it in past experiences. This often defines who we think we are in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Often this relates to our religious and political beliefs. A change of information can sway us and our story can change, and so can we.

P.S. When I was thinking about which images to use for this essay, I remembered another story. After the Berlin Wall came down on November 9th 1989, the German authorities considered what to do with the viscous German Shepherd and Doberman Pinscher dogs who were trained to attack people who tried to scale the Wall. They could be easily eliminated. Instead, they were retrained to be companion dogs for older people and children. Can people be trained and/or changed as well? I have no idea, but I have four images of children with dogs to share with you.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

How Much Vacation Do We Need?

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How Much Vacation Do We Need?

We recently vacationed in Kauai for a week, using our time-share exchange. We stayed at a resort on the North Shore, in Princeville. Kauai is geologically the oldest of the eight islands of the state of Hawaii, which became part of the United States on August 21, 1959. It’s nicknamed “the Garden Isle”, thanks to the tropical rainforest that covers much of its surface. The dramatic cliffs have served as a backdrop for many big Hollywood films. Many rich and famous people, like Julia Roberts, own properties in this paradise. But the biggest part belongs to the Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, who bought 700 acres of the island, for more than $100 million. In spite of the high cost of living, the local population of 65,689 people manage to accommodate about 80,000 tourists coming to this island every month.

Out of the seven days of our vacation, we spent two of them traveling. In the remaining five days, we hopped from one beach to another, while waiting for the rain to stop. Our daughter Alona joined us to celebrate her birthday. One day on the beach, we met a couple who came here from Germany, with their two children. They had a twelve-week vacation, which they spread over the different islands. With a big regret, the man told me that they only had ten days left. For most Americans, it is a great luxury to have four-weeks of vacation a year. Where would you go and how much money would it cost if you had twelve weeks off from work? I have heard an expression, “Americans live to work while Europeans work to live.” Though our stay here was relatively short, we had an opportunity to relax, to read, to write, to walk along the sandy beaches and to photograph. But what was most important – we spent time together.

Enjoy and Share.

P.S. There is so much to photograph here – nature, sunsets, birds, flowers. This anyone can capture. Instead I decided to share with you four images of tattoos. Many Hawaiian men have tattoos; often one color covering their big shoulders and arms. Women seem to get more creative with their tattoos, as you can see from these four images.

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Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Want To Take Better Photos?

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Want To Take Better Photos?

Nowadays anyone who owns a smartphone can take photos and many do. Thanks to social media, people are exposed to millions of images. The word photography means to draw with the light. But one also needs to know the rules of compositions and myriads of other small things that could differentiate a good image from a not so good image. I’ve encountered two types of good photographers – those who learned photography in professional schools and those who just had natural inclination (some call it talent) and practiced, practiced, practiced and learned from other great photographers (I belong to that category). Some years ago, I met a well-known Russian filmmaker who gave me good advice – if you want to become better at taking photos, study the works of the Old Masters (including any visual artist, not just photographers). I took his advice to heart and built an extensive library of photography and art books, which I review daily (one at a time). And I also visit art shows and art galleries. As my friend told me, “after a while, what you see with your eyes will become part of your being.”

For me, the art of photography is not actually taking photos. Old school photographers taught to frame the image in the view finder before taking the photo. That means to include only what you want to be in the image. With modern technology, cropping a photo is quite easy. Nevertheless, it is your vision of the final image that counts.

San Francisco has many places to experience the works of great photographers. Some galleries are located in one building downtown, at 49 Geary Blvd. There are also new photo galleries in South of Market on Minnesota Street. And then we also have permanent photo venue at Pier 24 and an incredible photo collection and shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). And the cherry on the cake; we were recently privileged to have “PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco” at Fort Mason Center.

When I entered the huge warehouse space, I was immediately awed by the great photography adoring its walls. And then I met a friend who introduced me to his companion as a “great photographer” and asked me if my photos were represented there. After I arrived at the end of the exhibit, I said to myself, “Perhaps next year I will have my images on these walls, as well.” Meanwhile, you can buy “42 Encounters in San Francisco” at Amazon.com.  Enjoy and Share on Social Media.

P.S. Visiting museums and shows give me an opportunity to capture those who also come here to experience the beauty. I was fortunate to capture some of them.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Do What They Do In Spain

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Do What They Do In Spain

On Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call. Seeing the caller ID was from a friend in New York, I suspected that the call was the news about our dear friend, Marcelo Chinsky. A few weeks ago, I wrote about our trip to New York in November to visit our good friend, who in August turned one hundred years old. Upon our return I spoke with him on the phone a number of times, but our conversations did not go further than, “How Are You?” and what the doctor said. The last few years he lived in a retirement community and he passed while talking to a young social worker. What a way to go. And he lived a remarkable life. While visiting him in November, I recorded a short video. He was born in Lithuania, in Eastern Europe in 1916, before the end of the First World War. During the Second World War, he was living in Paris and trying to escape without having any legal documents. Once while walking on the street behind two men, he overheard their conversation that if you go to Argentinean Embassy and ask for Victor, he can get you documents. With this knowledge he ran to the Embassy and two months later disembarked in Buenos Aires, where his son still lives.

After the war, he lived and worked in the United States, Israel, Germany and finally back in the United States. Marcelo was married to my wife’s close family friend, and we met the first time in Israel, over forty years ago. Through the years we became very close. When she was still alive, we would visit them both in their home in New Jersey, and would go to the local synagogue on Saturdays, where Marcelo introduced me as his son. My father who was born in Latvia in 1911, died in Israel in 1995. Now when I reached my own 70th birthday last month, every year (every day) counts. I am sad about Marcelo’s passing, but I know that he was supportive of my achievements and me. Now it is my task to keep going and to keep helping others. While my other projects move along, I started to write a new book, “Retirement Solutions for Smart People. 5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Golden Age.” Stay tuned. Enjoy and Share.

P.S. In 2011 we celebrated Marcelo’s 95th birthday. I was photographing him there and again five years later when he was one hundred. When we visited him this past November, I gave him a copy of “42 Encounters in San Francisco”. He could not read the text, but enjoyed the images. I hope you will too.

Marcelo liked to tell a good joke. His parting words to me were, “Do what they do in Spain. When it rains, let it rain.” How appropriate.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Do You Believe In Reincarnation?

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Do You Believe In Reincarnation?

Last week I wrote that the way to get to Carnegie Hall is to “practice, practice, practice”. What about having talent and knowing where it comes from?

I thought about it back on November 19, 2016, after reading a story in the Datebook of the SF Chronicle “Alma Deutscher, a composer, virtuoso, pianist and concert violinist who wrote her first sonata five years ago and whose first full opera will have a World Premiere next month, and she’s only 11.” She started playing piano at the age of two, and when compared with Mozart, who started playing in public at the age of 6, was capable of playing multiple instruments and wrote “The Symphony No. 1” at the age of eight years, Alma laughed dismissively, “I think for me it is more interesting to be Alma”, instead of Mozart”, she says. And being special is really normal because I don’t know anything else.” Her future plans include composing a piano concerto and symphony. She has started a book that she wants to make into a film, with her own score.

Alma Deutscher and Amadeus Mozart are not the only who started their musical career before the age of 12. I found a list of at least 132 famous musicians from different periods and parts of the world, online. The list continued into different genres of music like country and bluegrass, folk and world music, blues, jazz, soul and funk, pop, rock, Indian classic music, and even bagpipes.

Talent is of course not limited to music. There are talented people in the fields of science, computers, sports and many other areas. As it happened, on the same night, when I read the article, we were invited to a fundraising event. Among many adults, there was a little boy, around the age of 10. I noticed him because he was small and skinny, with big ears that stuck out, which reminded me of myself at his age. After the speaker finished his overview of today’s political climate, there was a Q and A, and the boy asked a very interesting unexpected question for someone his age. And then after it was over I overheard his conversation where he was analyzing the results of the recent election, utilizing statistics and information, which presumably would be known to only a very informed adult. I asked him how he knows all of this “stuff”. “I like it”, he simply answered. I have no doubt that this boy has potential talent and I was talking to one of our future leaders.

What is your talent? How does it help other people? Perhaps your talent is to share my “42 Encounters in San Francisco” book with your friends and family. Please go to Amazon.com and read the reviews and buy the book. Enjoy and Share on Twitter, and other Social Media platforms.

P.S. There is no restriction in photographing children on the streets. Nevertheless, some parents are concerned and are naturally very protective. As a result, the four images I’m sharing with you, I photographed ten years ago, and they are not small children any more.

Do Not Keep Me As A Secret!
Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature