Ron Greene's Blog

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Rica will Hold my Hand in Paris

with 10 comments

Marin County | California

Rica and I are about to leave for a Peter Turnley photography workshop in Paris, and she promises not to let me get lost.

It’s one of my little phobias, and I spent last night dreaming about the possibilities in various disguises and degrees of difficulty. None of the dreams were about Paris, but when I woke up this morning the message was clear. I’ve printed out twenty copies of the map showing the way from our apartment to the workshop location. One is now stuffed in every conceivable pocket of my travel wardrobe.

Peter Turnley in Paris

Peter Turnley is a great photojournalist and street photographer, and I’m hoping he’ll help me improve my efforts at saving little moments of interest as I wonder around the Bay Area and beyond. Paris is not too shabby a place to practice under the master’s eye.

These are a few of my favorites taken near the Golden Gate Bridge.

pre Turnley-1

pre Turnley-2

pre Turnley-3

pre Turnley-4

pre Turnley-6

pre Turnley-7

pre Turnley-8

pre Turnley-9

Walker takes a break at Crissy Field in San Francisco

pre Turnley-10

pre Turnley-11

pre Turnley-12

pre Turnley-14


Written by Ron Greene

May 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Dear Ron & Rica,Have a great time!!! I’m sure you’ll find your way back home, and I’m eager to see the next chapter of your photography. What you sent today looks pretty darn impressive!

    Thanks a hundred hugs and kisses for the Symphony tickets. Gi and I will enjoy celebrating her birthday and thinking of you. xoxoxSusan

    Date: Mon, 13 May 2013 21:21:59 +0000 To:

    Susan Kirsch

    May 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

  2. Have a fabulous time, although I don’t see how you could get any better as a street photographer – those pictures are great!


    Lee Ann


    May 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm

  3. These are great photos. They are yours, not Peter’s?

    Gayle Donsky

    May 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm

  4. Bon voyage! Look forward to your photographs from Paris!
    Helga K


    May 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  5. Hey Greene…..don’t you know the best way to travel—AND get some good photos— is….to get lost?? Throw the map away…:-)) I know Turnley’s work, have his book, used to see him at the local Brasserie de L’Ile St Louis (which is 2 min from your apt). And, sorry, i won’t be around….just back from spending the winter in Italy….Q: how did you find the apt?


    May 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

  6. I am a blogger and activist in Palo Alto and have been observing, and sometimes commenting on, the tug-of-war between “downtown” interests and “residentialists” here for a while, I ran for City Council in 2009 and 2012 for example. I somehow didn’t think too hard about our Downtown Streets Team per se, however, until just recently, when it was announced that Joan Baez was doing a July 27 benefit concert for the program. And my sussing lead me to your blog and the fact that San Rafael is contracting for our model.

    I am curious to compare notes with Dr. Ron Greene — I think his skepticism is most likely quite warranted, about what this actually is — “make-work”, for instance — and what it means to be franchising the concept from Palo Alto to San Rafael and other places.

    It turns out that the brain trust behind DST here is a small group of very wealthy landlords who in numerous other cases reveal themselves to be very self-serving and ingenious and basically completely callous towards the disenfranchised, who they label “undesirables” and “sketchy people”. So for this program to grow now to $1.8 million in fees and donations — while they pay, at least locally, the workers in scrip — is pretty remarkable. It seems to succeed in keeping downtown streets cleaner and making “the homeless problem” less noticeable — those are the dual stated goals of the program. I am not sure what the benefit the 100 or so participants receive; the people who run the program, the executives, are corporate marketing types not social workers. And meanwhile, since the inception in 2006, what I would call heartless policies pile on: sit-lie bans, no sleeping in cars, a ban on amplified music at Lytton Plaza — a lot of these can be seen as efforts to privatize the public commons, especially at Lytton Plaza, which is like our People’s Park.

    Of the world’s 2 billion disenfranchised, and maybe 10,000 or so of Palo Alto, merely finding a couple hundred to wear the t-shirt, shake a broom and smile for the camera, not sure this is social progress. And part of the program also includes, apparently, ratting out the less-compliant: the cleanliness program includes rousting homeless from sleeping in the sacred grounds of our downtown parking garages.

    I think more people may have died after affiliating with DST than have graduated on to, or returned to, what most of us would call a normal life. I was tracking one case — a man who either suicided, accidentally od’ed or was murdered, at Lytton Plaza — and now it appears that there may be four or more such demises.

    The press here is totally pro-Developer and would never cover this in an investigative manner.

    And I am not sure how to filter the pros and cons of the related programs, the connection between DST, our Opportunity Center (a $25 million facility for this population, generally) and The Clinic. Or the effect of the merger of the parent companies of these supposed NGOs.

    And I think, in a related matter, than we New Residentialists may want to go after the Downtown Business Improvement District per se — which is intermingled in leadership and agenda with the DST, to get back City Hall, and or as part of a social agenda that, in addition to our needs, might include bona fide help for the homeless and disenfranchised.

    Another topic here is saving a mobile home park and its residents rather than letting a big developer — who our current mayor used to work for — from gentrifying.

    Not to go too far off topic but to contextualize: what Palo Alto needs is union jobs, universal health, a rent board, support for the nurses in their near-strike, homes locally for teachers and public safety employees, a teen center, a public hall — the Joan Baez event for DST is being held in San Jose.

    In terms of downtown streets, I would think the public sector per se could do this, or at the very least a $1.8 million agency could create a couple union jobs paid in cash — at a living wage perhaps — and with benefits. But as it stands it is at best less than meets the eye and at worst — if my most cynical concerns turn out to be verifiable — this is something out of a Ken Kesey novel or Hubert Selby even.

    I wonder how the Palo Alto model for “solving” the homeless compares with Delancy Street in SF, founded by Mimi Silbert.

    I work in the music biz and am tempted to contact Joan Baez and see if she has done any diligence on this or actually thinks she’s helping. Maybe at the very least she can dedicate a song to the person I was researching, the musician and Veteran who was found dead at Lytton Plaza but the papers won’t print his name. I think someone can write a song about him. (P.R., ironically enough, are his initials).

    But it’s possible I am just hugely jaded and this is, on whole, good and I should follow the dictum “accept the good”, “don’t make the ‘good’ the enemy of the ‘great'” et cetera. So I’d appreciate another set of eyes and heart to look at this with me. And I am still learning both to choose my battles and how to couch my criticism.

    Mark Weiss
    (650) 305-0701
    i’d appreciate hearing from you when you get back from Paris, svp
    please edit out my phone number when you get the chance, or pass it on as you see fit off-line
    my wordpress blog is called “Plastic Alto” and ranges from these topics to the arts and more


    May 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm

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