Sunday, April 10, 2011

beholden


breakfast this morning was a pretty low key effort. after taking a usual perusal of the inside of my fridge, i decided to grab some leftover roasted carrots (star route) and braised kale (dirty girl) and then add that to some soba.


aren't the carrots and kale just beautiful? i love the colors.

making the soba was extremely quick as i just boiled the noodles with water this time (instead of a broth of bonito, rice wine vinegar, soy, fish sauce, and chili....which i do quite often). once the noodles were done, i added some sesame oil, soy, freshly ground dried red chilies, and rice wine vinegar.


then added it to the carrots and kale (reheated a bit in the microwave).....


and then topped it with furikake.


then i dug in as i read through the new york times online. i was scanning through, i decided to visit a couple of bill cunningham's on the street videos. it seemed appropriate as i have been thinking about him and his work since i saw a documentary covering him and his work at the embarcadero yesterday.


i pretty much decided to see the documentary after i did my morning rounds at the ferry building market. i stopped by 4505 meats and had their breakfast yum yum sandwich (fried chicken, over easy egg, pepper cress, and a coriander aioli).




it is a deceptively small sandwich. there is a lot going on in that sandwich. i remember thinking that i really needed to grab an iced coffee from blue bottle.....


and just chill outside for a bit while i was digesting that sandwich. i found a perfect spot to chill, leaning up against a pillar,


taking in the subtle smell of the beans i bought for a certain front of the house lady for monday night's dinner (it is only fair that if i bring whiskey for the back of the house folks like i usually do, i should bring something for her too) and sipping on my iced coffee.

i rarely chill on a bright sunny day at the market. rarely. i'm usually zipping around, side-stepping tourists, avoiding being hit by bags, or haggard chefs steering the CUESA carts with purpose. i'm usually completely focused on the veggies and the food offerings of the market. i usually don't pay attention to the people. well, sometimes i notice certain industry people but in general, i don't pay attention to people.

but yesterday was different.

as i was leaning against the pillar, i took a moment to just look and think about the people. the tourists, the regular shoppers, the folks that come to the market to be entertained, and the chefs. btw, this is not the photo/video modified psuedo glamorous images of the food network. when you are at the market and wanna do some chef spotting....look for the scruffy people wearing beaten up hoodies/sweaters, caps, worn jeans, whom have very tired expressions behind the carts piled high with flats of produce.

well, there are exceptions at the farmers markets of course.

while i didn't see these folks yesterday (and don't know them personally), if you go to the market regularly, you know who the exceptions are to the scruffy norm.....like CC with his spikey blond hair is usually very well groomed as both he and his laughter seem to bounce with high energy when he is at the market. then there is RK and his wife who get one of my top awards for cutest couple.....although i've never had his food. i've had BE's food though and i love his spanish/catalan food and think he and his wife are top among the adorable couple category as well. then there is WW, who seems to always look as good as his pastries. even in the rain. even in a worn hoodie. how the heck does he do that?

i wish i had that freakin skill or maybe, that kind of effortless je ne sais quoi DNA.

anyway, it was my looking at all of the various people at the market that made me think about bill cunningham, the photographer, and his work....specifically his work that focuses on street fashion. while his work has a wide breadth and depth, i'm a fan of his work on street fashion....because...from my perspective... it isn't just about fashion....it is also about people...how they communicate and express themselves. there is also an honesty, exuberance, and egalitarian attitude about his work on the street that comes through in his shots.

folks have asked who influences my photography, and they are often surprised when i say fashion photography....and not food photographers. i follow the work of the sartorialist (the details! the color accents!), garance dore (i wish that i could photograph women the way she does....she makes them look beautiful, comfortable, and sensual....the way i think loved ones and family look when no one is around), and international fashion magazines (for the pure theatrical aspects)....specifically the publications from japan, uk, and france

surprised? i bet you are. it is possible to be an uber analytical product of uc berkeley who studied feminism, post-colonialism, many other "isms" and still like fashion. as human beings, contradictions are abound. go figure.

anyway, as i was watching the people, i was thinking about street photography....and thinking about how one day....maybe i'll do some"on the street" shots....maybe not of food but of people at the various markets in the bay area. the folks you see at the ferry building are not the same you see at the heart of the city market, the berkeley farmers markets, the oakland markets, etc. yet, the connection to food is there. it may be a differing complicated interwoven connection to food....but the connection itself is there.

after pondering this a while longer, i decided to go see the documentary on bill cunningham that is playing at the embarcadero.


and i'm still thinking about it now.....the day after.....as i make my way through my breakfast of soba noodles.



there were many things about the movie that i'm still thinking about. yet, one of the things mr. cunningham mentioned quite matter-o-factly....was how by not accepting money for certain work....he was able to maintain freedom of his work....and that once you accept money....certain folks think they own you. i remember feeling like i was hit in the stomach when i heard that pipe through the movie theatre speakers. it, obviously, resonated quite a bit with me. i have a feeling that statement would also resonate with many other folks as well.

because it is true. the moment you accept money for work, others feel entitled because they are entitled....to influence your work. they have bought you and paid for you. by they...i mean your boss, your team, the client, the company, whatever. i have no pretensions about this. since i started my "corporate" career(s), people are buying access to my brain, my work ethic, and my outputs that support and enable their success. it doesn't matter if i believe in them. it doesn't matter if i even like them. what matters, to me, is doing my best to produce the best work that meets the multi-layered requirements.

yet, for me, it is a rather souless way to live....which is why, things like this blog have become an important outlet.

because here, i am beholden to no one.....and no one "owns" my words, pictures, and ideas.

while at work, i may be to do something like build consensus diplomatically across multiple teams no matter how difficult or political the stakeholders are......but here, in this blog, i can just give the finger with a sweet sincere and evil smile and then proceed to ignore bitter difficult people or politics. there is so much freedom i have here that i don't have in my work.

so when well intentioned loved ones suggest my pursuing my passions for writing, photography, and food on a professional level....i immediately recoil. i don't want to end up hating the things that i love so much. i like them being separate from my work life. i realize that this is a privileged position to have.....you know...having the means to keep them separate....and not being beholden to anyone.

yet, my position doesn't keep me from having a deep respect for those who have figured out how to integrate their passions and work....like mr. cunningham for example.....or certain food industry folks that put their passions out on a plate. being beholden to others to support your passion is loaded with challenges....politics.... disappointments.....and disillusionment. so when i see certain folks in any industry or art form....keep going....and still being passionate......day after day...and night after night....making it work for them... i gotta give them props for it. you are braver than i am.

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