Empty Tables

There is something about empty tables that always stir the imagination.
There is something about empty tables that always stir the imagination.
Exploring behind restaurants can sometimes result in incredible finds.
Exploring behind restaurants can sometimes result in incredible finds.
Empty tables wait around the fountain in Old Town Alexandria.
Empty tables wait around the fountain in Old Town Alexandria.

I’m fascinated by tables. No, it’s not a clinical condition or anything of the sort, but rather that whenever I see a table with some chairs, it is almost impossible for me not to photograph it. Now, mind you, that I’m not talking about just any table out there. My photographic fascination lies with those unoccupied, lonely, waiting-for-someone kind of tables. Yes, yes, a bit awkward, I’ll grant you that, but I just can’t help it. Every time I see one, I am inevitably transported to an imaginary story of a secret rendezvous, a long wait for a person who never shows up, or the melancholic story of a table that remains unoccupied, night after solitary night. Yes, I can see it now: a long wait, nervous anticipation, an uncomfortable smile, a conversation, a tear. Who knows. All I know is that I’m no writer, but if I were, perhaps it would be at one of those empty tables where I would start my next great story, or end it.

 

Seeing Differently By Adjusting Your Visual Gyroscope

Sometimes all it takes to see things differently is to climb a set of stairs and look down.
Sometimes all it takes to see things differently is to climb a set of stairs and then proceed to look down.
Using a different lens could lead to new and creative ways of seeing in the urban environment.
Using a different lens could lead to new and creative ways of seeing in the urban environment.
Common urban scenes familiar to most folks can prove to be quite interesting if observed from a different perspective.
Common urban scenes familiar to most folks can prove to be quite interesting if observed from a different perspective.
Curved lines will always add a different architectural perspective to the landscape.
Curved lines will always add a different architectural perspective to the landscape.
A lone and otherwise insignificant street lamp acquires a new personality as a result of empty space.
A lone and otherwise insignificant street lamp acquires a new personality as a result of empty space.

There is something to be said for purposefully changing the way we see. Not that there’s anything wrong with the “panning field of view” approach that characterizes the way we see most things on a daily basis.  Rather, the point is that within all those daily panoramas there are endless opportunities to adjust our visual gyroscopes in order to add a little spark to our visual enjoyment of life.  This take on our visual world is nothing new. After all, most people already do this, albeit somewhat unconsciously.  It happens whenever they adjust their positions to “get a better view,” or when they take the elevator to an observation deck in order to see the world around them from a different vantage point. Something deep inside us all gives rise to the desire for visual adjustment, and whether it is the result of simple curiosity or much deeper emotions, it nevertheless represents a transition from a less-fulfilling state to a more fulfilling one. It is positive energy at its best, and we all know that we could use a lot more of that.

Seeing differently, however, does not come without some effort. Just like it is imperative to climb a set of stairs before enjoying a view, there are some stairs to climb when adjusting the way we see in that crazy world around us.  But what really matters in the end is that the rewards of such climbs are incredibly satisfying.  They just take a “change in latitude,” like the common saying says.  The few photographs on this week’s post are the result of some of those changes in latitude–simple attempts to see the familiar differently.  As if out of nowhere, the old became new, and the familiar revealed itself in a brand new light.  I immediately came to the realization that these scenes were there all the time for someone to see them, provided that someone took the time to look.

 

So That’s What A Book Looks Like

While the sale of e-books continues to skyrocket, traditional bookstores continue to fight for customers attention.
While the sale of e-books continues to skyrocket, traditional bookstores continue to fight for customers attention.
The Second Story Books store at Dupont Circle has become somewhat of a rare books landmark in the neighborhood.
The Second Story Books store at Dupont Circle has become somewhat of a rare books landmark in the neighborhood.
At Second Story Books carts full of books are placed outside the store for customer to purchase under an apparent honor system.
At Second Story Books carts full of books are placed outside the store for customer to purchase under an apparent honor system.
The eclectic bookstore offerings and old-fashioned displays add significant character to the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
The eclectic bookstore offerings and old-fashioned displays add significant character to the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
While traditional books continue to appeal to an older generation, today's youth is not so taken with nostalgia.
While traditional books continue to appeal to an older generation, today’s youth is not so taken with nostalgia.

I’m always fascinated by bookstores.  Never mind that long ago I made the transition to e-readers, though, because no matter this surrender to the modern era, I still can’t resist the lingering nostalgia that comes from having been part of the pre-Internet generation.  Not that my memory of simpler times leads to any sale during my visits (carrying a camera all day seems enough for me these days), but rather that in the process of transitioning to the digital age, all sorts of things were admittedly lost in the process.  The physical sensation that comes from walking between rows and rows of books, the orderly lack of uniformity and topics on the shelves, and the childish satisfaction that accompanied the process of purchasing a book.  All great things, but perhaps more relevant to an era when physical access to a whole slew of bookstores was more the norm rather than an exception.  Notwithstanding this reality, bookstores out there are not giving up without a fight and seem to have figured something out by concentrating in neighborhoods that do away with the need for anyone to get into a car to reach them.  This is good news.  But is this a last stand or the wave of the future?  Hard to say.  What I know is that bookstores are still out there, and that just in case, we must all enjoy them while we can.