New Cycle Begins Next Week

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New Cycle Begins Next Week

According to the Jewish calendar, this Sunday evening, October 2nd is the beginning of the Jewish new 5777-year, known as Rosh Hashanah, which translates to “Head of the Year”. According to the Torah, the days are counted from the evening of each day. “God called to the light ‘Day’ and to the darkness He called ‘Night’. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5). Notice that it is written “one day” not “the first day”. The counting of the years started after the sixth day. “So God created Man in His Image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Thus, it is actually the birth of the first man Adam, which has been celebrated for 5777 years. Rosh Hashanah signifies the end of the old cycle and the beginning of the new one. Ten days later on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is observed. Though Rosh Hashanah is also called the Judgment Day, it is a day to evaluate our accomplishments rather than our transgressions, which will come ten days later, on Yom Kippur. Traditionally, Rosh Hashanah is the day when everyone’s fate is determined and sealed in the book of Life for the next year. We all are given ten days, during which there is a chance to change the verdict through prayer and repentance. It is also the day of acknowledgement of the King – God, who is “in the field” and is accessible during those days before his final judgment is rendered. If you do not believe in God or are not Jewish, you might think that all of this is not relevant to you. However, the cycles of nature cycles are not different from the one I described. October is a good time to have a break in our running around and to take a moment to assess our lives, before moving onto the next cycle.

There are a couple of traditional foods to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We dip apple slices into honey. The Apple is the symbol of the rounds of the year and the honey represents sweetness. We also eat a round Challah, which is shaped differently in this time of year, also to commemorate the round cycle of the New Year.

I wish you Happy and Sweet new Rosh Hashanah! Shanah Tovah Umetukah!
Enjoy and Share!

P.S. For me, the New 5777 year represents fulfillment of my artistic aspiration in putting together my “42 Encounters” books. The first one “42 Encounters in San Francisco” is going to be available in the first week of the New Year. Stay tuned. Hope you like my artistic rendition of apples. You cannot dip them into honey, but I hope they will give you joy and a sweet feeling, nevertheless.

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Cheers,

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

The Joy Of Reading Books

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The Joy Of Reading Books

I was cleaning my desk and came across an article that I’ve been saving for the past year, from the December 28, 2015 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, that was written by Hugh McGuire, founder of Pressbooks.com and titled “We Don’t Read Anymore – Unless We can Turn A Page.” The article begins with, “Last year, I read four books”. It describes the process the author went through getting rid of the social media, an attachment to his telephone and other harmful addictions, which took his time and attention away from his real joy in life – reading books.

As an avid reader and book lover, I can relate to his feelings. I’ve been buying books to read since my teenage years back in Riga, where I was born and lived until the age of 25. After moving to San Francisco, this tradition continued. Through the years as my interests have changed, so have the books I’ve been reading. A few years ago, I “discovered” the public library, which helped me with my budget, but I continue buying, especially photography books. I just bought 9 books on Amazon, since the library did not have them. I’ve made space on the bookshelves by donating books I no longer need to the public library.

My day starts with reading the Torah, after a 15-minute meditation, and then I read a few pages or view images from the works of great photographers. Currently, I’m reading “Photography. The Definitive Visual History” by a good teacher Tom Ang (if you want to learn photography check out his books). While having breakfast, I scan the San Francisco Chronicle and the Wall Street Journal. Before going to the office, I read a few pages from another book, “The Life and Love of Trees” by Lewis Blackwell. Currently, on the weekends before I get up, I’m reading “The Seventh Sense” by Joshua Cooper Ramo. In the car, I usually listen to an audio book, which I often borrow from the public library. The latest one is “The Varieties of Religious Experience”, a collection of lectures given in 1901 and 1902 at the University of Edinburgh by the renowned American Psychologist and philosopher William James (I read quite a few books about comparative religions). I also subscribe to three photography magazines, as well as the National Geographic and the Smithsonian. While working on “42 Encounters in San Francisco”, I read every current book about San Francisco’s history. My favorite one was “Cool Grey City of Love” by Gary Kamiya. Sometimes I wonder myself how I am able to do all this reading. After all, I am in the office every day for at least nine hours. In the evening, I write (as I am right now) and on the weekends, I go out on the streets of San Francisco to fill my collection with new images, which I am glad to share with you. Read, enjoy and Share with Friends.

P.S. It was not difficult to find images for this story, since one of the photo collections on my computer is titled “readers”. Book can be a good present to give to a friend. To help you, I produced “42 Encounters in San Francisco”. (It is easy to read with a lot of pictures). You will be able to order the book at the end of September at www.42Encounters.com.

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Cheers,

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

How I Produced 42 Encounters

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How I Produced 42 Encounters

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What does it take to publish a photography book? Where does one start? Today, many photographers use the services of a number of web-based companies, like Blurb. This is how I put together my first photography book, “Soy Cubano” in 2013 after my first trip to Cuba, to honor the Cuban friends I met on this trip. Making the book was a spontaneous decision and it took my assistant at the time, Samantha 10 days to assemble it from beginning to end. People liked the results, but the book was too expensive to buy on Amazon. But the seed was planted. For my next photography project I decided to stay close to home.
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I started to work on it in early 2015. This time, the process took me much longer. In “Soy Cubano”, I used my sayings (which someone coined as “Mannyisms”) to comment on the images. I intended to do the same with this book as well, until a friend asked me if I would write stories instead. I knew that those stories, or reflections, needed to be short. It takes me much longer to write a short story that the longer ones that you receive every Friday (like this one). In March 2015, I participated in a Photography Workshop Seminar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, taught by the renowned National Geographic photographer Sam Abel. He liked my images, but when during his class he mentioned that “less is more”, I decided to cut the number of my images down. But how many? Sam suggested the number 42. When I returned home to San Francisco, I discovered the meaning of this number (which you will learn about in the book’s introduction).

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Thus, the title of the book became “42 Encounters in San Francisco”. This also led me to change the title for my Friday stories to “My Encounters”. I did not realize at that time that the process of producing a series of books with the title “42 Encounters” had just begun. But first I had to select forty-two images and write forty-two stories. On the weekends, I would go out on the streets of San Francisco to encounter and photograph people. During the week, I only had a few hours in the evenings to work on the images, to select the right ones, to replace them with the new ones, do research for the historical notes, to read books about San Francisco’s history, and to write my own stories. All of this while continuing to write stories and finding the right images for the weekly “My Encounters”. While working on the first book, new ideas would come to me. Soon after, I realized that I had enough images for my second book, “42 Encounters with Couples in San Francisco”. Then someone suggested producing forty-two books of “42 Encounters”. I liked the idea. I already have many images for other encounters, for different themes like “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, for example. So I decided to continue this process for the next 21 years. During this time, I am planning to publish two books a year, thus by my 90th birthday you will have a collection of forty-two “42 Encounters” books. You can participate in the project by sticking around. Enjoy and Share.

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P.S. Today’s four images are from the book. It will be available for purchase to you and your friends quite soon. I hope you will read it, share it with others. Please also write your comments at 42comments.com, or @Encounterspublishing.com. All proceeds from the sale of my books will go into forming a foundation, whose mission will be to help the young and the young at heart people see, capture and share the beauty of the world through the lens of a camera.

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Cheers,

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

Valencia Street

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Valencia Street

This story is the first in a series about the streets of San Francisco. After working on my book, “42 Encounters in San Francisco”, and photographing throughout different parts of our beautiful and special city, I decided to use the opportunity to share some of my discoveries with you. On the weekends, whenever possible, I take Muni to visit different streets for my encounters.

This time my destination was to Valencia Street. I left home at about 2 pm and told my wife Elfa that I was planning to be back by 4 pm. I took the #48 Muni Bus at West Portal next to the entrance to the Twin Peaks Tunnel. Its’ route is through 24th Street through Noe Valley, and I got off on the corner of Valencia. My plan was to walk up to Market Street and to take the Muni underground train back home after about two hours. When my phone rang and my wife inquired where I was, I realized that it was almost 6 pm and I did not even reach 18th Street.

From some online research, I learned that according to historian Louis K. Loewenstein, Valencia Street takes its name from either Jose Manuel Valencia or his son, Candelario Valencia. Since its establishment, Valencia Street featured an ethnically diverse population. Soon after we arrived in San Francisco in 1980, we learned that the Castro district is considered to be a center for gay men, while Valencia Street, according to an article in the Chronicle, was called “The Women’s’ District.” It gained notice as an “emerging bohemia”. At the same time, according to the same article, “it (Valencia Street) served a mix that included Mexican, Central American, South American, Native American, Caucasian, Black and other ethnic groups, as well gay of both genders.” The historical essay I was quoting from was written in 1997, almost twenty years ago. In our fast moving city, especially in the last few years, that is a long time. Valencia Street could not avoid gentrification and today it is a young dynamic, fun place to spend time and live in. According to old photographs taken at the beginning of the 20th century, Valencia Street had already established itself as an area that had a mix of residences and businesses, as it has today. This was why I was barely able to walk six blocks in four hours. I jaywalked, crossing each block to visit the businesses and stores on both sides of the street. I explored two used books stores, and two vintage record stores. One just opened the day before, across from the other one. A young woman was selling her own ceramic cups literally in the space between two stores. There were stores that sold beautiful jewelry, one that sold exquisite perfume, there were stores that sold cards, gifts and hats, antiques and teas. I discovered an art gallery, restaurants and coffee shops. One of them sells delicious Xanath Ice Cream. The last place I visited before my wife reminded me of the time, was Dandelion Chocolate. Unfortunately, I did not have time to indulge in its delicacies. But I am planning to return; this time together with Elfa. Hope you’ll follow my steps. Enjoy and Share.

P.S. Four images are only a few I brought back from my short trip. Some of them will end up in my next photo-book “42 Encounters with Couples in San Francisco”. The first one “42 Encounters in San Francisco” is being printed and is going to be ready before the end of September. It will cost $24.00. Start saving. I guarantee you will buy more than one book.

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Cheers,

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

The Lesson I Learned In Los Angeles

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The Lesson I Learned In Los Angeles

We started spending more time in Los Angeles twelve years ago after our daughter Tamar moved there from New York. We usually drive there, which takes us about six hours. The last two visits we flew in, and our daughter chauffeured us around, which is nice, since in spite of going there so many times, I still do not know my way around. Tamar lives in the West Hollywood area, specifically in the square between La Brea, Melrose, Fairfax and Santa Monica Blvd. I like to go for my hour-long walks around the neighborhood in the morning. In the area, there are single-family homes with some three-story apartment buildings and condominiums like the one where Tamar lives. The area is changing. Developers have been buying small houses on big lofts, to be demolished and replaced by huge square boxes (which I don’t particularly find attractive), and are sold for millions. On the surrounding streets, there are new condo projects that have replaced vacant lots. Slowly the old charm is diminishing. Over our weekend visit we did not do as much as we normally do, like see a show or visit museums. We did go meet with one of Tamar’s clients (Tamar is a real estate agent) and the rest of the time we spent shopping, eating, resting and of course photographing. I brought photo prints of my next book “42 Encounters with Couples in San Francisco” with me, and we went through a selection process, witling down the images for the book. I also printed some black and white images for my future book.

While showing the prints to my family, Elfa, instead of just saying whether she liked an image or not, tried to make a comment. I interpreted her comment as her telling me how I should photograph, and even before she could finish her sentence, I got angry and I snapped at her. She got upset and the showing was over. A minute later I cooled down, but it was too late. In our 49 years of marriage we have rarely fought with each other, but I can be forceful in defending my position (though not necessarily right). Elfa usually patiently waits for my rambling to end, and then most of the time I find her suggestion to be right anyway, which I then acknowledge. But this small incident lead me to think about my previous week’s writing. In that story, I wrote that pets as children need to be trained/educated, if we want them to behave a certain way. And in the most cases, the education starts with the animals’ owners. As a part of this training, instead of telling those in our charge what they should do, just evaluate whether the result of their action is satisfactory, and then encourage the positive or discourage the negative actions.

What do you think about this suggestion? Please let me know. Enjoy and Share.

P.S. Through the years, I’ve had many interesting encounters in Los Angeles. Perhaps, sometime in the future, I will make a photography book titled “42 Encounters in Los Angeles.” Meanwhile, please enjoy the four images from this recent trip.

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Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

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