How to Avoid Parking Tickets?

  

How to Avoid Parking Tickets?

If you live in San Francisco, I am sure this headline got your attention. However, the solution is not what you had in mind. I am currently writing from Palm Springs; possibly the hottest city in California, where an average temperature in July is 108°. During the dinner with friends who live here, they told me that one of the benefits living in this hot place is the absence of parking meters. Even large parking lots are free. Wow! I am here together with my wife Elfa to attend the Palm Springs Photo Festival. This is an annual event where I have participated in the past as well. This year, I am taking a workshop taught by the renowned photographer-artist Roger Ballen. I will write the details of this experience next week, since this time I wanted to share with you some of the trivia related to the place which was known many years ago by the name given by the native Cahuilla people, who settled in the area about 2000 years ago. They called it “Se-Khi” (boiling water). The United States Government established the Agua Caliete (hot water) reservation in 1876.  Nowadays Cahuilla Indians, of whom about 400 live in the city, are the largest landowners. The city became a fashionable resort in 1905 when health tourists arrived with conditions that require dry heat. But even then, as it is now, many people moved to the cooler places during the summer. Movie stars started to make Palm Springs to be popular in the 1930s.  Since the early 1950s the city had become known as a spring break resort.  By 2017, the population had grown to about 48,000 people. It has one of the highest concentrations of same sex couples of any community in the United States. I was told that this trend exploded during the HIV epidemic, when gay men with AIDS moved there to die. Thanks to medical developments, their death was delayed. Since life here was cheaper than in other cities, like San Francisco or Los Angeles, their friends and parents followed soon after. I found another explanation online, as well.

Today the main source of revenue in the area is tourism with over 1.6 million people coming here every year, who in 2017 spent $5.5 billion. Not far from Palm Springs, other towns have developed with country clubs and high end shopping.

Another place to visit while here is Joshua Tree National Park. We might come back to Palm Springs next year to attend another workshop. For me the results, which you’ll see next week, are worth the effort and the cost.

P.S. The four images are some of the encounters I had in Downtown Palm Springs.

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How Long Are You Planning To Be Around

  

How Long Are You Planning
To Be Around

I received an email recently, informing me that a business acquaintance died from a heart attack at the age of 48. For me, being seventy-two years wise, the news made me think. Since I plan to accomplish many things in the remaining years of my life, I thought about how long that might take; consequently, how long do I plan to be around? When I asked some of my friends how long are they planning to keep me, most responded that it is not up to them to decide, since there are higher powers that usually take care of this business.

There is a saying in Russian, “Chelovek predpolagaet, a Bog raspolagaet”, which means,“Man Proposes, but God Disposes”.  The history of the saying goes back to the 5thcentury BC.  If this is the case, how can we plan anything in our lives?  This reminds me of a story about a student who proposed marriage to his girlfriend.  His family was very excited about the news. Nevertheless, the mother of the bride asked her husband to find out how the young man is planning to support his family. For every question the father asked, the student answered — “God will provide”.  When he returned home, the father reported to his wife that the young man has no plans of how to provide for his family.  “However, the good news is, that he thinks that I am God”, the father said.

There is a saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  Of course, no one can plan how long they are going to live, but they can plan to extend their lives by having a healthier lifestyle, by being conscious of what goes into our body, and by what goes into our brain. I am doing this just by planning one day at a time; while at the same time, having a vision of what I am planning to accomplish for years to come.  For example, when I worked on my first “42 Encounters” book, I decided to produce forty-two books – one per year.  Thus, my last one is going to be published when I’m going to be one hundred and fifteen. Meanwhile, I just finished writing the third photo-story book, “42 Encounters with Pairs in San Francisco”.  What is left – to edit the text and put the book together.  After that, it is going to be printed and by the end of the summer you will be able to hold the book in your hands.  As another saying goes, “If you can perceiveit, you can achieve it.  Meanwhile, while you are reading this story, I am in Palm Springs. We came here for me to attend a photography workshop.  I’ll share the results with you in next week’s story.

P.S. These four images are part of my personal growth as a photographer.  They are from the collection I called “Singularity in Dualty”.  I put them together to show at a workshop.  Now I am considering producing a separate new photobook with those images.  Meanwhile, you can buy my previously published “42 Encounters in San Francisco” and “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” on Amazon.com.

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Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow

  

Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow

This phrase was tattooed on the chest of Lyle Tuttle, who was once called “the granddaddy of modern tattooing.”  Mr. Tuttle died on Monday, March 25th, at the age of 87. I learned about this in an article published on March 30, 2019, in the San Francisco Chronicle. During a 2002 interview for the Chronicle, Mr. Tuttle said, “show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past” (he was quoting Jack London). I do not think that a person with “an interesting past” needs a tattoo.  I do not have one.  For me, the reason is very simple – Why to have any markings on my body, which cannot be seen or changed? Judaism prohibits tattooing for a number of reasons mentioned in an interesting article online titled “Tattooing in Jewish Law”.  Nevertheless, it was Lew the Jew from New York who at the beginning of the 20thcentury became one of the most influential tattoo artists in the United States. I recently checked out a current exhibit about him and other Jewish tattoo artists in the early 20thcentury at the San Francisco Jewish Museum.  Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least the Neolithic times, which began about 12,000 years ago.  Despite the fact that I would not get a tattoo on my body, it is very popular, especially among young people, and I have a story (titled Tattoo) in my next photo-story book “42 Encounters with the Pairs in San Francisco”.

The text in my upcoming book is based on one word, which corresponds with the image. One of them is of a man and woman who are both tattooed.  I will leave the suspense of seeing the image, but will share the story:

TATTOO

It was Captain James Cook’s voyages to the South Pacific that imported the Polynesian word tatau, which was later changed to tattoo. Tattooing existed in many parts of the world, dating back to approximately 6000 BC.

Different countries had different purposes or reasons for the painful adornments of their countrymen’s bodies. In ancient China, bandits and folk heroes were known to sport tattoos. In Egypt, women displayed the majority of tattoos, and the markings often indicated status. In the Philippines, native groups also used tattoos as a sign of rank or power. During the Christianization of Europe, tattoos were considered elements of paganism and were prohibited. In Japan, they served for spiritual and decorative purposes but also were used for criminals as punishment. The Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, who are the descendants of the Samurai, used tattoos as a sign of belonging to a specific group.  The native people from the Ohlomes and Miwoks tribes, who settled in the San Francisco Bay around 4500 to 5000 years ago, tattooed both men and women. In the modern Western world, tattoos have become very popular for a variety of reasons: memories, art, love and passion or just as a fashion trend.

P.S. These four images attest to how tattooing has become popular among some women. I encountered a dog owner in Fort Funston with a dog tattoo on her arm, of her deceased best friend. One of the images in the book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” came from our trips here with Max. You can buy the book on Amazon.com.

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What Freedom Means to You

  

What Freedom Means to You

Last Friday night, our family, like millions of other Jews around the world, celebrated Passover. This holiday commemorates the liberation of Israelites from slavery and their Exodus from Egypt almost 3,000 years ago.

Two thousand years ago, among other Jews, Jesus and his twelve disciples celebrated the Seder (the Passover meal), in Jerusalem, as depicted in Leonardo da Vinci’s mural painting, The Last Supper.

At our table, there were only eight people, which included both of our daughters with their significant others and our dear friends, Alla and Boris.  During the delicious meal, prepared by my wife Elfa (she made a gefilte fish from scratch and her matzo ball soup is beyond this world) and Alla who made her famous salad and delicious chicken, I retold the story of Hebrew slaves’ Exodus from the Egyptian bondage. The Torah’s Book of Exodus describes events which happened in the 13th century BCE.  After 215 years in Egypt, Moses followed God’s commandment and took about 3 million of the former Jewish slaves to their freedom, by migrating into the desert, after crossing the Red Sea; a scene that has been depicted in many Hollywood films. Once they arrived there, after receiving the Ten Commandments, the Jewish people journeyed for forty years, during which the generation of those who still remembered their life in Egypt, and retained their slave mentality, died. Only the new generation was able to cross over the Jordan River to end up at their final destination – “a Land flowing with milk and honey”, known today as Israel.

Before we enjoyed the delicious flourless chocolate cake prepared by our daughter Tamar, I asked everyone to reflect on what freedom means to each of them.

For our son-in-law David, freedom is having access to the opportunity to pursue one’s dreams. In his specific case, it is time and energy (and access to money to live) so he can write focus on his writing.. For Tamar, it was being free from the emotional and physical pain in her body. For our older daughter Alona, it was freedom to be the best of what she can be.  Her boyfriend Jeff pointed out that as his full name Jeffrey indicates he felt free all of his life to do whatever he could and wanted to do.  Elfa reflected on how after leaving Riga, Latvia, which used to be part of the former Soviet Union, she discovered that she can think freely, without being afraid that the government can “hear” her thoughts.  Our friend Alla, who also came from the Soviet Union, talked about being free to travel anywhere in the world.  For her husband Boris, freedom was to do what he wants without dependents. My view was that we are free to choose with whom we would like to share our lives together. Which also means that we are deliberately limiting our freedom by associating with other people and even pets. When we adopted Max our lives and our freedom was depending on making sure that he has a good life and thus we have chosen the freedom of having joy in our lives together with our best friend.

P.S. Some of my readers wrote that they wish to see more images of Max.  I freely share four of them with you.  Max – the gardener, the hugger, the shredder, the employee (he comes to our office once a week).

You can see more of my photography on www.mannykagan.smugmug.com

“42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” is available on Amazon.com.

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Why Flowers Bloom

  

Why Flowers Bloom

Every morning when we go for a walk with Max in our neighborhood, we encounter all of the changes in nature, which, unlike the East Coast’s climate, is not so noticeable. But spring is different, because of the colors of all of the blooming flowers. Photographing them and then processing the images on my computer, gave me the opportunity to see flowers up close in their various shapes and colors. We see flowers all the time, and perhaps some of us take them for granted. Turns out that scientists have difficulty answering the question: How do flowersbloom? All the same, the question I actually have is — “Why do flowers bloom and why are they so colorful?” Years ago when our family traveled to the New-York state area in the Fall and saw the changing colors of the leaves, I asked myself why there is so much beauty in nature? Are humans the only ones who could see and appreciate it? Do wild animals benefit from this colorful gamut?

The idea which I shared with my family was that it was part of God’s plan to give people something to enjoy and to look forward to returning every year, and that we do not have to do anything to have this experience, other than just to notice and to appreciate.  My family did not buy the idea that God interferes in our appreciation of nature; thus, my question remained unanswered. The same question continues regarding flowers – why are they so attractive? Only for the bees and other insects to see where they collect pollen?  Regardless of the answer to that question, flowers keep blooming, and not only in our neighborhood. When we travelled to Israel last fall, a friend suggested coming back in early spring and travelling to the Sinai to experience the blooming desert. We do not have to travel so far. We have our own desert – Death Valley. Though it is located in over 500 miles from San Francisco, and it can take 8 hours to get there. Fortunately there is another alternative – the blooming trees, and you can find them in many places (like in our backyard). But the place to really see those beautiful trees is in Golden Gate Park. There are quite a few of them around Stow Lake where we go for a walk with Max on the weekends. One morning while I was driving Max to his doggy sitter through the park, I encountered a woman photographing a blooming tree. And as it often happens, seeing her, the answer came to me. Most of the trees looked alike, however her red coat actually made the image.

Flowers bloom from spring to autumn, which is replaced by the colors of fall. Appreciating the beauty is part of our being. We need it as we need air to breathe and water to drink. As co-creators, we learn from nature and manifest it in the colors of our clothing and the flowers we use to decorate our lives. We plant blooming flowers and trees by emulating wild nature, because we are part of the nature and follow its circles and rhythms.

Part of the circle is prescribed by the Jewish “moadim lesimcha” or “celebration of joy”. This weekend there are number of them. Friday night is the first night of Passover” – the holiday of the liberation of the Jews from slavery.  It is also Good Friday, a Christian religious holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which led to the creation of Christianity.  It is followed by Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday.  Regardless which holiday you are celebrating, most people decorate their homes with flowers, which my wife primarily buys at Costco.

P.S. The four images of the blooming trees are for your enjoyment.  I also added three groups of flowers on my website mannykagan.com. To see them – click on www.mannykagan.smugmug.com.

Happy Holidays!

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