Thursday, November 27, 2008

Conversation with My Father

My father, Henry Roden, is a great man. I think we may all feel that about our fathers, but mine is especially great. Here are some highlighted quotes from this morning during my annual Thanksgiving Day phone call with him. Thanks Dad, for everything.
  • On Concepts - "People don't sell things, they sell concepts. It's like the guy who sells drills. He doesn't sell drills, he sells holes."
  • On Change - "There are three types of people in this world. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what the hell happened?"
  • On Labor - "It's like when I was in Mexico in '62 and there were hundreds of workers alongside the road swinging pick-axes and I said to the guy I was with, 'wouldn't it be easier to do this with a machine?' And he said, 'but then they would have no jobs.'"
  • On Farming - "Tried that and there's NO WAY I'm going back to it. What we should have grown was palm trees. We would have made a fortune."
  • On Government - "When I was out helping the democrats get into office, what was amazing was the enthusiasm that the young people for Obama showed about what they were doing."
  • On Hillary - "One of the local political cartoonist put it best ' Billary.'"
  • On Juarez (just south of the border where he lives in New Mexico) - "They talk about 200 dead this year in Tijuana, Juaraz has had 1,300! Most if it drug related. Of course the kids still come to school in this country. We just built a new bridge for them to cross over on. You don't hear about those things much in the media."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicago Express Inc.

From Robert Frank's 'The Americans' - Taken at the Art Institute of Chicago with permission.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My New Friends at the Zebra Lounge

Home Again at Nikki's

I'm so lucky is right. Here's Nikki in all of her shining glory the night Obama became our 44th president. I've checked in to her 3 flat in the northern neighborhood of Edgewater / Andersonville for my final four days here in town. Nikki and I met when we shared a communal living space - piso compartido - in Buenos Aires a few years back along with her twin sister Jessica as well as a bunch of other foreign travellers.

Now she's teaches social studies in one of Chicago's many charter schools and is the most gracious hostess ever - thanks for the note and coffee this morning and for putting me up and for putting up with me.

Here's Nikki with her roommate Carrie, parading down Michigan Avenue on election night, November 4, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Even MORE Random Pics from Shooting Chicago

Veteran painted hummer in Oak Park

Stuffed Dogs, Chicago-style

Bikes locked up outside everywhere

Keith Herring sculpture, downtown Chicago

"Going up?" Good times as a tourist in Chicago headed to the 101st floor of the Sears Tower.

Monday, November 10, 2008

America's Top Drinking Neighborhood

A giant chiuaua-sized rat scurries up the gutter sniffing for scraps, northbound on Damon Avenue as I pass by in the sub-freezing cold early Chicago morning, headed back t0 home on Evergreen St - Hotel Ryan in Wicker Park. Sunday night at the Map Room, a travel-oriented Belgium-style pub with many authentic Belgium-style beers on tap is host to tonight's Sunday night neighborhood locals, a wicked cross section of folk from the neighborhood and life at large, I suppose. There's the jar head-looking crew cut marines across the way, the hipsters in back playing pool and the beer drinkers scattered across the bar, as are we.
Two friendly and slightly buzzed gals saddle up next to us as Thin Lizzy continuously plays in the background. They judiciously study the beer menu and then order up some fancy Belgium beer from a bottle with a cork. "Don't mind us, we've been drinking for six hours straight," the tall mischievous one says. I grab the camera and start snapping away as the curly haired shorter one talks of her past year off with another year to go when I ask her about having to be at work tomorrow, Monday. "I used to own a Mediterranean sea food joint in the neighborhood but I sold it, time to move on." Shortly there after she picks up her garb, dons her winter wear and heads for home in the howling hard Chicago wind-swept night.

"That's Stephanie," says the new guy, a friend of Sarah. "You know, from America's Top Chef? I have a picture of her in my phone."

Both Sarah and I shrug, neither of us owns a TV.

Later, much later, I finally head out into the dark cold street myself, alone and distracted, making it down to the end of the block and around the corner before I realize I've left my all-important gloves and wool cap back at the bar. Trudging back to the Map Room I round up my stuff and head out once again into the biting cold, crisp, cool and clear Chicago night. Passing by the Blue Line station headed south, the digital clock-thermometer above reads 29 degrees. I shove my gloved hands deeper into my coat pockets and continue on. Home is closer than I think.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Top Dog - Chicago Style

- photo by Carrie, Chicago actor extraordinaire

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Man... today got bigger and bigger, every waking moment. Here are a few brief highlights from this historic event in American politics and world history. Now the real work starts.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Ironically, my official free Obama 08 campaign button just arrived in the mail from MoveOn after more than 8 weeks. (They did say it'd take awhile and it was free). It came in a huge, padded somewhat faded drab manila envelope and is so tiny - about the size of a slightly over-sized quarter - that I almost missed it inside the giant envelope. But just in time indeed. Although I'm not a big button wearer, now I can proudly wear this historic button on the plane Tuesday, November 4, 2008 as I make my way towards ground zero in Chicago - Grant Park for the big celebration on Tuesday night.
My latest photo assignment - shoot 44 locations in Chicago at the beginning of winter in 12 days - lands me smack in the middle of American history X - REAL HISTORY! Hope and change have been the central tenants throughout the Obama campaign and I for one am super excited, especially after twenty years of apathy and disillusionment. To have BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA just two or three days away from the presidency, a BLACK man headed to the WHITE house... wow! So awesome! Stay tuned for updates from Chicago, and then some pretty travel photos of that great city.

- Goyo

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Next Stop: Chicago

View Larger Map
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Mapping out the shot list for a quick trip out to windy and cold Chicago. I arrive on historic, November 4, 2008, when everything changes. GO BARACK GO!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sleepless List of Random Thoughts

  • Talked to Marina last night who is now relocated to Azerbijan in the middle of nowhere in what sounds like a giant mud pit. "I've never seen or had to deal with so much mud before in my life,"she tells me as I catch her on her cell phone during breakfast, calling from my computer, just after finishing my dinner of bacon fried rice. We are now 12 hours apart in time but might as well be on different planets. She wants news on the election...
  • I finally added Fairlights "Daily Polaroid' blog to my peeps who blog section.
  • Reading Tim Cahill's 'Pecked to Death By Ducks' book of adventure short stories, first hand account of burning oil fires in the first Gulf War and sneaking up on Grizzlies in Yosemite, wondering what the hell I'm doing hunkered down in this urban wasteland, watching the economy go down the drain... worrying if I'll be able to make rent next month.
  • "Oh yeah, not having a car is probably going to rule out most of my girlfriends," says Dave's friend when trying to figure out who she could possibly set me up with, not that I'm looking to be set up with anyone, seriously. "Really, hmm... never thought about that," I responded. "Actually, most girls are probably looking for guys like us to probably own a house by now too," Dave adds.
  • Went to the horse track for the first time in years with Dave and aforementioned girl and picked 1st or 2nd in the first four races. Not bad for an ex-handicapper, even though I was only betting $2WP. It was free hat day, couldn't miss that.
  • Cafe Biere across the street now has 12 taps with some really good beers on tap. They have a happy hour special now on weekdays btw. 5-7pm where these yummy pints are only $3. And Jenga is FREE!
  • Yeah... stuff like that is what I've been thinking of. Don't spend money, times are tough, hunker down, it's almost winter, winter in America. Stock up on raw meat, just like that grizzly up in Yellowstone did. Then go bury yourself in dirt and take a long, long nap.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


WAKE UP AMERICA and say JUST SAY NO to John McCain and his dirty, nasty and FRAUDULENT lies! Shame on him, shame on them and shame you, you Patriotic Americans that voted for this current fascist regime, letting FEAR rule your lives, choosing to stay IGNORANT TO THE FACTS! We are living in scary times, because of YOU! HELL NO to this Made-By-McCain 'economic crisis' bail out bullshit and JUST SAY NO JOHN McFRAUD!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Road Trippin' in the Deep South

Cutting through one of Georgia's many Nature Reserves, this one right outside of Savannah.

Dripping Spanish moss that the Carolinas are known for.

"Gords For Sale" - Local resident drums up some extra cash on roadside weekend sales.

Just in time for Halloween - SCARY!

En route from Savannah, GA over to Hilton Head, NC.

Local fisherman on the side of the road.

"What are you fishing for out here in the swamp?" I asked, probably like a typical tourist, if a tourist ever actually stopped and talked to a local fisherman tucked down behind a deep bank on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

"Whatever," he replied.

"What are you using for bait?"

"Crickets," he said after a short pause.

"Pretty beautiful country you got here... all this swampland," I stammered, realizing that he had become a bit weary of me and my camera.


"Cept you get caught out there loafin' and you best be standing next to a tree," is what came out of his mouth next.

"Excuse me?"

"You get caught out there loafin' and you best be standing next to a tree," he repeated, almost exactly as he'd said before.

"What do you mean," I asked, hair rising ever so slightly on the back of my neck as I look out to where he was looking.

"Pigs... WILD PIGS!"

Tom and I laughed about it as we drove off down the deserted highway, passing one run down trailer house after another but deep down inside I really was afraid.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Broke Beyond Belief

How much money is $700 billion dollars? 7,000,000,000. Didn't Obama just say we've already spent a trillion in Iraq the other night when he squared off with McSame down in Mississippi? $1,000,000,000,000.

That's only three-hundred billion more than this current emergency bail out plan is asking for as a temporary stop gap measure to the 'mortgage crisis'. Hard to know what to watch these days, who to listen to or what to read as none of it seems to make any sense.

Naomi Klein's scholarly and passionate recap of the last half of the 20th century's geo-economic and political reality - 'The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism' - is a pretty damn good place to start.

Paul B. Farrell of the Dow Jones Business News sums up Namoi's monumental work best. "To more fully grasp this new economy, you must read what may be the most important book on economics in the twenty-first century... because it reveals in one place the confluence of cultural forces, the restructuring of a world economy as growing populations fight over depleting natural resources, and the drifting away of America from representative democracy to a government controlled by multiple, competing, well-financed, and shadowy special interests."

Without going into a full-blown, late-night diatribe on her analysis of Milton Friedman and his Chicago School of economics, starting in Chile in 1973 and leading up to Iraq in 2003, the most 'shocking' and shamelessly appalling aspect of her book this far, is the role that the United Sates has played in its perverted quest for 'global freedom and democracy' [read, expanding markets and increased profits] over the past 30 years.

"The brutal regimes that implemented Chicago School ideas in the seventies understood that, for their idealized new nations to be born in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, whole categories of people and their cultures would need to be pulled up 'from the root.'... But the Latin American juntas did not act alone: they were propped up before and after their coups by Washington, as has been amply documented. For instance, in 1976, the year of Argentina's coup, when thousands of young activists were snatched from their homes, the junta had full financial support from Washington. That year, Gerald Ford was president, Dick Cheney was his chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld was his sectary of defense, and Kissinger's executive assistant [Kissinger was Secretary of State] was an ambitious young man named Paul Bremer." [Bremer was Washington's 'top envoy' to Iraq in 2003].

Hey wait a minute... didn't McCain mention that he's been friends with Kissinger for some thirty-five years?! Talk about Crony Capitalism!!!

Argentina's economy still suffers to this day, but now is our turn for some major shock therapy, just like the doctor has been ordering for the rest of the world for the last thirty years. But who is actually gonna bare the brunt of this behemoth bailout? And who is really gonna pay for it? Stay tuned... Part Two coming on April 15, 2009.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chacahua & The Oaks

Ironically, I find myself at The Oaks playing in the late-night 2-4 stud game across the way from my pad in Emeryville and I see this guy up on the rail who I've seen before, recently, who eventually introduces himself as Eddie, wearing this dark blue t-shirt and baby blue Hawaiian style truckers hat. I'd first spotted him a few days before playing in the new $100 spread limit Hold 'Em game. I broke from my table and saddled up next to him and asked about the dark blue shirt. Clearly printed across the back was 'Laguanas de Chacahua' and the image of a large Caymen or Crocodile, the fund-raising souvenir shirt for the small National Park and the crocodile preserve.

"You know Chacahua?" he answered, a bit surprised, slurring his words. "You'll have to excuse me, I'm a little drunk." he mumbled, swilling on his pint-sized cocktail.

You see, I had been watching this atypical Oaks card player (if one can actually define a 'typical' player in the house) from a far for a few days now. I saw him getting heckled out of the $100 spread limit game earlier in the week by two redneck 'radio talk show hosts' from some SF State on-line radio show. He had been purposely playing bad and reeling them into his world. "Show me your cards [just folded] and I'll give you $80, right now." he'd taunt, his over-bite showing with his giddy smile/laugh combination. "I'll buy those glasses you're wearing right now for $20 bucks," he clamored as the potato-head mirror-shade-wearing good 'ole boy immediately obliged. "That's a fine pair of shades you just bought there boy," he laughed. "I think I'll go down to AM/PM and get another pair for $5.99!" They both chortled at each other and gave a slammin' crank-fueled hi-five to each other across the table.

Eddie was also drunk that night and a bit disheveled, making him an even easier target. "Yo bro, that jacket you're wearin' ain't even official 'members only' and it's got the stuffing coming out of the neck. Time to retire it, bro!" The fat rednecks laughed and high-fived each other over the table again. The Hong Kong poker ninja with the black Independent skate hat watched in calm silence as he continued to grow his chip stack.

"Yeah, I been to Chacahua," I replied. I briefly explained I had been down there years ago to shoot some photos for a story that ran in the SF Chron and that I really loved the place. "Yeah, its a pretty hippy-friendly spot," he adds. "I was just down there in July. I'm trying to set up some type of 'Eco Lodge' and studies show that when you put it next to a National Park [Lagunas de Chacahua] you have better luck." He continued to sip his drink as he got called over the the $200 spread limit game, sliding back on his mirror-shades in true post-modern fashion.

"I like those shades,"
I mentioned as he started to wobble away.

"Oh... I bought them in a game the other night," he said, smiling that toothy grin.

"Where's the powder blue jacket?" I continued.

"Oh yeah... it's, um... retired."


Monday, September 15, 2008

RIP - David Foster Wallace

In the middle of blogging the post below on Chuck Thompson's 'Smile When You're Lying' that I had started sometime on Friday evening, The Social Worker sends me this link in the SF Chronicle letting me know that David Foster Wallace was found by his wife hanging in his garage on Friday evening in an apparent suicide. Sigh...

DFW has been one of those writers, the ONE writer that has spoken to me in ways that no other recent writer has ever come close. It's hard to explain right now, or ever. You and your words, at times, have meant the absolute world to me. Thank you.

Thanks for your mind-bending wit, overly intelligent-at-times insight, literally laugh-out-loud words and all of those tiny footnotes. You were able to understand and
write things (Truths) that I've only scratched the surface of experiencing and then begin to understand but never knowing actually how to describe those feelings and observations.

For anyone that is not familiar with DFW's work, he has written the BEST travel piece on the Caribbean and cruising in the Caribbean ever. This from the LA Times travel section:

"For example, here’s the intro paragraph: “I have now seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels. I have smelled suntan lotion spread over 2,100 pounds of hot flesh. I have been addressed as “Mon” in three different nations. I have seen 500 upscale Americans dance the Electric Slide. I have seen sunsets that looked computer-enhanced. I have (very briefly) joined a conga line.”

This same essay was also re-published in one of my favorites by him, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." But then I just came across this text, a commencement address to Kenyon College on May 5, 2005 which gives some real insight, not only into his mind and his own Truths of late by about all of us, our beliefs and our daily lives and the choices that we can make on an individual and daily basis. RIP DFW.

Travel - How It Itches, Burns, Stings and even KILLS

Barely appeased (at ease) with becoming a cube-bound, computer-staring, office chair-wearing traveler at best (for now), I hopped onto my local 57 westbound bus over to the conveniently located neighborhood Barnes & Noble bookstore and picked up Chuck Thompson's road weary words 'Smile When You're Lying - confessions of a rouge travel writer,' trying to quench my delirious thirst for that next curious adventure just beyond todays reach. (*)

I'd briefly read about the recent 'scandal' with (ex) Lonely Plant author Thomas Kohnstamm which then led me to Robert Reid's review and comments of Kohnstamm's new book, 'Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?' There, Reid touts Thompson as the true author of the book (Smile While You're Lying) that Kohnstamm was ultimately trying to write - an insiders scathing attack of the travel industry at large and of travel writing itself. LP insider TravelBurro says that while Thompson's book is a bit long at times, its 'pretty fucking funny' and that Kohnstamm is a great guy but it seems like his book was 'a little rushed'.

On the back flap, the SF Chronicle calls Thompson 'reminiscent of' my main man David Foster Wallace (or at least that writer that I love to praise but secretly might not like as much as I preach). (see post above)

Like this passage about when Thompson is teaching English in Japan - living large as an expat. "The school's star Ping-Pong player and I could barely communicate, but we battled after school on an ongoing basis. Despite forcing her into dozens of overtime thrillers, I never managed to beat her. She was a mystery to the Japanese as well as to me, a gawky, five-foot-ten, one-hundred-pound girl with a mouth that could go weeks without opening, limbs like a grasshopper's, hair as limp as boiled noodles, slightly bulging eyes (which I mean in a good way - I've never minded a touch of Grave's disease in my women), and the filthiest backspin serve east of Beijing." Besides our noon-time running club (killed it today with a monster 5-miler) the other saving grace in my current life-as-an-office-worker is the grand ping-pong table next to my office and the daily death matches with Foley and Fletcher.

Thompson's living abroad experiences mixed with his paid travel abroad writing gigs provide a compelling background for any aspiring traveler, writer, travel writer, photographer, travel photographer and the other 25% of US Citizens that even have a passport. But mainly the US passport owners that actually use them. He's also from Juneau, Alaska and has some heavy-hitting commentary that is most relevant today considering a woman who is trying to be one heartbeat away from the big red button in Washington. Mainly that Alaskans sold out to big business and oil back in the 1980's with government 'pay back' checks to each Alaskan starting at $1,000 per person for their part in the oil boom. Still happening to this day even.

Moments of brilliant clarity and insight, sometimes more about things here at home than abroad abound. To the teachers of America:

"American public school teachers have the world's best PR operation going. Whining every chance they get about how demanding their jobs are, how many "extra hours" they put in, how little they make, how much of their own money they have to spend just to do their jobs, how noble they are working this job that nobody ever asked them to do - welcome to the fucking world."

On that note, I'll end as I'm only half way through it...

* I'd really gone over to Barnes & Noble to get a copy of 'The Places In Between' by Rory Stewart which is one of my all-time favorite travel books for Marina as she prepares to head over to Azerbaijan to do her 2.4 year tour-de-peace in the Peace Corps. More on our beloved Corps, including a lovely little diddy by Chuck Thompson later. Thank y'all for reading.

** Overly reveling in Chuck Thompson's cute and at times 'funny enough' little smirk-at-the-travel-writing-world as I prepare to sleep before the 9-5 kicks in bright and early tomorrow morning, I am jolted upright after reading page 174 sub-titled - No Cabbie Quotes. By the end of the next page I damn Chuck to hell and find myself thinking out loud, "you're a fucking dead man." (Not dead as in really dead, but dead like he uses real in his own book.) He wraps up his little sub-section, "my list of directives for writers and editors" on why cabbies are the bane of society and why any respectable travel writer would NEVER quote a cabbie goes like this, "The only reason a writer quotes cabdrivers or other service-industry minions is to disguise the fact that he or she didn't want to deal with the hassle of drumming up any authoritative local sources (emphasis added). Think of all the cab-drivers you know. You don't know any. That's because in every major city in the world-London excepted- taxis are driven by impoverished foreigners who don't know SukhumvitRoad frojm Euclid Avenue, work insane hours, talk to their buddies on their cell phone all day, and fall asleep as soon as the off-duty sign lights up. Cabbies having their fingers on the pulse of a city is the biggest travel myth since 'Hey, we can stop and get reliable directions at the gas station.'"

Having been a former cabbie in San Francisco where MANY of my brother and sisters are excellent resources and ambassadors to the millions of travelers AND tourists that visit our beautiful city (yes, many of them are from foreign lands, still one of those melting-pot facts that make us unique around the world) AND knowing a handful of EXCELLENT cabbies in Buenos Aires, many of whom I consider deal friends, great family members, impassioned locals and EXCELLENT 'authoritative local sources', you are now on my official shit list and you and your publisher and your publicist and agent and yourself will be hearing from me soon, Mr. former founding editor of 'Travelocity Magazine'... sheesh (funny how a quick Google search of this aforementioned magazine shows a few brief mentions about its launch from 2000. Maybe it should have been called TRAVELOFFITY)! Cabbies of the world that usher your sorry-ass around unite - you will have a change of heart, when you're not out slumming it on some limo-driven press junket at the latest 5 star resort in the Dominican Republic.

*** Now I'm pissed at myself for flying off the handle at Mr. Thompson. I choose to buy his book and I'm choosing to read it. And sure, I've had my share of un-knowing and infuriating taxi cab drivers around the world. I think really though, I'm saddened and frightened by DWF and his recent suicide. With all his talent, accolades and brilliance and he still choose to check out at the not-so-tender age of 46. Farewell.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shooting San Francisco

"Not much Dog, what's up wid you?!"

More blur in Chinatown

Toilet seat paper dispenser - Wild Side West, Bernal Heights

Wolf Parade @ The Fillmore

Joseph Arthur solo acoustic at the Great American Music Hall

Christo Columbus looking out over North Beach above the Filbert steps.

Two girls on wall - Lower Height

Two girls walk by wall - 24th and Harrison - The Mission District

Lookie Lou Laundry - Chinatown

Fish-eyein' in downtown SF

Recent scenes from our fair city by the Bay. Finally gallery from this past 3 weeks of shooting for RG coming next week. Here's some add'l images from late last fall.

* thanks Senatra and Spears for the companionship to which these pics were made.