This morning, Musubi, a small Singapore-based notebook maker, published a note informing its customers about the end of the road for Cosmo Air, a type of paper popular with aficionados of fountain pens.

I am one of those, who revels in the sound, feel, and sensation of a beautiful nib laying ink as it scratches (or dances) on the paper. In this note, one paragraph stood out and summed up what makes paper so special.

Paper is an analog product, made by analog processes, and everything, from the composition of the pulp, to the water that runs through it, to the machinery that is used, has an impact on how that paper feels and writes. It’s the joy inherent to something physical, and simultaneously its Achilles heel.

Technology has taught me – change is unavoidable. Embrace it. I might miss the Cosmo Air paper, but I won’t be despondent. Something else will come along as long as I have the strength to hold a pen and the ability to write.

If you have never indulged in writing with fountain pens, or have never experienced inky fingers, then it is not too late. It will cost you less than $100, and you will experience a joy that is hard to describe.

September 26, 2022. San Francisco

Labor Day Weekend is here! And it also means the end of what the locals call, Fogust. This is the official start of our version of summer, and it is called Indian Summer, though it is nothing like an “Indian summer.”

This weekend and the coming week, the temperatures across the Bay Area (and in California at large) will be reaching record levels. There has even been a heat advisory. San Francisco, a city, usually cool because of the winds of the Pacific Ocean, is expecting temperatures in the eighties.

Perhaps, that is why I thought it would make sense to share a few more from my “Cool Gray City” series of photos. It is unlikely that we will see any fog for a while, so this is probably the last set for a few weeks.

Have a great long weekend, everyone! #coolgraycity! 

September 3, 2022. San Francisco

The winds of the Future wait
At the iron walls of her Gate,
And the western ocean breaks in thunder,
And the western stars go slowly under,
And her gaze is ever West
In the dream of her young unrest.
Her sea is a voice that calls,
And her star a voice above,
And her wind a voice on her walls—
My cool, grey city of love.

George Sterling.

“San Francisco,” Gary Kamiya writes in his book,  Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, “is all about the collision between man and the universe.” What a wonderful description of the city on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. As someone who wants to avoid people, urban blights, and grand vistas in his photos, San Francisco is a challenge and chalice from a visual standpoint. As a photographer, I struggle to decide: Should I ignore the manmade and instead look to gifts of the gods? Or should I embrace the outcomes of human ingenuity? There is an abundance of both in the city of seven hills. 

A poem by George Sterling inspired Kamiya’s book title, so I am taking a cue from both of them — I have come up with a new project: cool gray views of the city, and it is my way of telling its visual story. 

It will combine what I love most in my photography — silence, fog, abstraction, and an opportunity to wander. One of my new photo friends on Glass, after seeing my shared photos, called them “dreamy grays.” It never really occurred to me, but that comment and Kamiya’s book helped coalesce everything for me. 

Ironically, I have been on the journey for a while; I didn’t realize it. I am sharing some photos that tell you what I have in mind. It is an unending creative effort, and I hope they will one day become part of a larger body of work.

I will tag this series #coolgraycity! 

August 21, 2022. San Francisco

Every so often, when I read what passes as news on the internet, I find myself triggered. Whether it is the choice of what to write about, or the news itself, I am gobsmacked by the sheer stupidity that envelopes us.

To be fair, stupidity and poor news judgment have always been with us. In the past, that steamy pile of nonsense stayed confined to tabloids and rags sold at the grocery counters. Social media sadly pushes it all right up our noses. And since gods of engagment reward publications with gifts of attention, even respectable publications don’t hesitate to promote and push the vapid and the hollow.

Such material triggers me. And I often find myself wanting to scream out loud. There is a platform for that — Twitter. And all too often, I draft a tweet and then discard it. It is an old habit carried over to this new world: write a blog post, wait for a few minutes, take a little walk, and think before hitting publish.

Lately, the number of tweets drafted and discarded has been going up. It reflects that I am spending too much time online, and the amount of stupidity in the world has increased. The reality is that this act of self-censoring is a realization that the most challenging part of our post-social reality is to shut up. By not saying anything, perhaps we are thumbing the nose to the gods of engagement!

PS: If you were wondering, that writer and that publication are no longer on my daily must-reads, and they lost the trust that rewarded them with my attention.