Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Changes

The world Changes
it never stays the same
It remains something we can recognize
but it is like watching the sand wash out from
under your feet at the beach
You wonder if you can stay on your feet as the waves
rush back out into the ocean
So you stagger back up onto the beach sort of smiling
you stayed on your feet
Everything changes but in some ways everything stays the same

I was looking at a picture taken after the 1906 earthquake
all the people well dressed looking down a famous
San Francisco street then in 1906
watching most of the city burn down
in the aftermath of the Earthquake
(picture at Wikipedia under 1906 Earthquake)
and I thought how much people are still the same
as they were then watching the world burn down
and change and change and change again

And yet, there is a sense that no matter how much
the world changes that nothing has really changed at all
except the faces even 106 years later.

File:San Francisco Fire Sacramento Street 1906-04-18.jpg

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English: San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
  • Looking Down Sacramento St., 1906. [verso:] "San Francisco: April 18, 1906." From As I Remember by local photographer Arnold Genthe: This photograph shows "the results of the earth quake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people." It was taken the morning of the first day of the fire. Shows Sacramento St. at Miles Place (now Miller Place) near Powell St.
  • "I found that my hand cameras had been so damaged by the falling plaster as to be rendered useless. I went to Montgomery Street to the shop of George Kahn, my dealer, and asked him to lend me a camera. 'Take anything you want. This place is going to burn up anyway.' I selected the best small camera, a 3A Kodak Special. I stuffed my pockets with films and started out.... Of the pictures I had made during the fire, there are several, I believe, that will be of lasting interest.
There is particularly the one scene that I recorded the morning of the first day of the fire [along Sacramento Street, looking toward the Bay] which shows, in a pictorially effective composition, the results of the earthquake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people. On the right is a house, the front of which had collapsed into the street. The occupants are sitting on chairs calmly watching the approach of the fire. Groups of people are standing in the street, motionless, gazing at the clouds of smoke. When the fire crept up close, they would just move up a block. It is hard to believe that such a scene actually occurred in the way the photograph represents it.
Several people upon seeing it have exclaimed, "Oh, is that a still from a Cecil De Mille picture?" To which the answer has been, "No. the director of this scene was the Lord himself." A few months ago an interview about my work--I had told the story of that fire picture--appeared in a New York paper with the headline, "His pictures posed by the Lord, says photographer.""

-Arnold Genthe, "As I Remember" Reynal & Hitchcock : New York, 1936; Chapter 10: Earthquake and Fire
"On 18 April 1906, the morning of the great San Francisco earthquake, Genthe, with his cameras and studio destroyed, borrowed a hand-held camera and photographed the destruction across the city. Of his over 180 surviving, sharp-focus photographs of San Francisco, probably his most famous image is "San Francisco, April 18th, 1906," which shows a view from Nob Hill, down Sacramento Street. Enormous clouds of smoke ominously approach, buildings' facades have collapsed from the quake, and residents stand and sit in the street, in a stupor, calming watching the approaching fire."
- Mel Byars, N. Elizabeth Schlatter. "Genthe, Arnold"; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
Date April 18 1906
(4 October 2008 (first version); 17 October 2006 (last version))
Source Transferred from en.wikipedia
(Original text : Library of Congress from early 20th Century lantern slide.)
Original uploader was Paul.h at en.wikipedia.
Later version(s) were uploaded by Thisglad at en.wikipedia.
(Reusing this file)
(Original text : The photographs Arnold Genthe made for his own use are considered to be in the public domain)
Other versions File:San_Fransisco_Earthquake.jpg and File:Quake.jpg

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