May 22, Thursday afternoon -- Reading John Sandford

On a sunny bench in Portsmouth Square in Chinatown, near the Financial District

Reading Phantom Prey, by John Sandford....contrary to what this picture looks like.

He wouldn't let me take his photo—too many people, he said, already had. And, he wouldn't let me photograph the book he was currently reading. He felt that this one was more representative to what he reads on a daily basis.

He likes Eastern Religion and Conspiracy Theory.

Back when he used to drink, he'd hang out at 540 Clement Street—which he thinks now has been "yuppified"--at a bar where he would bring his conspiracy theory photo collages. (I wish I'd followed up more on this...)

One night, after hanging out at the bar, he returned to his sleeping spot in the Castro and made up a song, singing really good, baritone, through his nose and mouth--the words were what would later become, he said, the chorus of a song that Sheryl Crow sings.

If it makes you happy

It can't be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad

Apparently, someone overheard him and stole it from him and added some more words in around it.

Why does he study conspiracy theory? He wants to make himself heard--to be a weed of dissent. He used to talk on a late-night radio show.

He dropped out of school to study conspiracy theory right after John Lennon died.

This conversation landed me VERY late for work. And, I didn't even get to eat my lunch. But, life is good...I was, like my sister has joked, reading people. Almost as good as a book : )!


A. Reader said...

It's funny, the stigma of what we read. Your photo and commentary remind me of the staged, very early, photo portraits that people would have taken of themselves - complete with accoutrement that would somehow reveal who they really were. Yet in the end, still staged. Phantom Prey does have a very proliterian cover, clearly something your subject does not want ot be associated with. I'm wondering how your enjoying "Hip Hop"?

Sonya said...

A. Reader,
I think that there are many layers of who we are. When we look at people in day-to-day life, I think we might pick up on things that are obvious, that we have in common, or that are social stigmas (like appearing homeless or dirty) and look past things that are, maybe, more important, or what can't be seen, like talents or interests. In a way, every photo of a reader I take is like that, though unstaged--it's like they're wearing their mind in their hands, in the titles of the book: this is what I think about....for now at least, but through the interview, I think we get to more of a composite person, though people hold back...when I find out interestsing things, it's usually at the end of a conversation, after they've let their guard down.
I haven't gotten back to Hip Hop again, but instead was reading the book Grandpa's Fiddle, which was loaned to me by a reader from this blog about two weeks ago--I'm hooked. I'm hoping to read a little bit more of Hip Hop before going to the book release party tonight.

heather said...

fascinating. thanks, as always, for doing this!