Thursday, June 4, 2009
Untitled, San Francisco, June 2009.
This man prostrates himself regularly for alms in the city's finance district, a Starbucks paper cup lifted like a chalice above his bowed head against a space that resembles a cathedral. I've put many a coin in this man's cup before, but have restrained myself time and again from taking his picture. Until now.
Two years ago, writer and photographer idyllopus wrote about a picture I took of a man reading the newspaper in a downtown park (right). The picture reminded her of Saint Paul's miraculous release from jail as told in the Acts of the Apostles, a story whose pre-Christian origins she traced to Euripedes' The Bacchae.
Idyllopus' biblical analogy resurfaced from memory when again I saw the man with the paper cup; at that instance, I thought of the story of Job and his unremitting anguish, and took two quick shots with my Leica. A co-worker dismissed all this as performance, a theater of mendicancy. Maybe so; yet I cannot deny that something unpleasant stirred in my soul that morning and I can still taste its bile.