Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Life Is Alright in Amer-i-ca!

Everyone's heard enough about the heat. And considering the front-page, above-the-fold newsworthiness of it, I decided to give it a go myself photographically, and headed to the Marie E. Mirabella Pool in the North End after work.

There's always excellent people-watching at this pool. It's situated right on the tip of Boston, overlooking the harbor and the tall ships and smaller boats that sail in and out of it. It's also very Boston. There are lawn chairs scrawled on in giant marker, warning, "This chair belongs to the the XXX family, DO NOT TOUCH!" Tons of scrappy local teenage boys flex their muscles and hurl their bodies into the pool, and the girls spread themselves out like starfish for the sun and regard the boys with sidelong mock-disdain. Families are loud and the lifeguards are too busy toting squealing little girls around on their buoys to notice whether anyone is drowning. I've loved it ever since I lived in the neighborhood.

I was trying to be discreet, both to keep the camera mugging to a minimum and also so as not to get my ass kicked. Usually sweetly apologizing and claiming that I'm just a student will get me off the hook, and often earn me permission to keep taking pictures. At some point, though, I noticed a large older guy yelling obscenities at a group of teenagers by the water. I didn't get photos of the actual confrontation, but it turns out the kids were from Charlestown, and had been "making comments" to the North Enders. There was a lot of chest thrusting and walking away and then turning around all puffed up when the other side made an under-the-breath comment. There was a lot of calling the 16-year-old ringleader "you little f***.". After a while things cooled down, but the police showed up anyway and talked to the Charlestown kids (who I later found out weren't from Charlestown at all), and I guess asked them to not piss of angry Italian-Americans.

It was a lot of excitement for one afternoon. I chatted with some people whose pictures I took, and even made a potential business contact for my photography. Being out on your own is good; I recommend it. Interesting things happen when you're absorbed in the world around you. You're more approachable, more serious, more credible.

This guy I've seen many times in the neighborhood. Last summer he was causing trouble at the pool, not getting out when the lifeguard closed the pool for the night, and just being a little punk. Something's changed since then, though. When he came into the pool, a huge gaggle of kids started screaming and running towards him, and followed him around like little ducklings. He hardly blinked an eye.

Here's the police showing up to take care of the street ruffage from Charlestown.

And here they are, the whole crew outside the 7-Eleven. They turned out to be pretty cool kids, although you could see everyone looking at them like they were a threat.

And, back to the pool...

I really needed a tripod for these night shots, but these were the least blurry of the bunch. Boston is really beautiful. I want to do a whole downtown series soon, both early in the morning and late at night.

Thanks for lookin'.


wen said...

cool shots. i loved the commentary, too. :) it'd be fun to see your take on other boston neighborhoods.

Ian said...

I like the "DRUG" picture, and the 7-11 group shot is great. It looks like one of those cheesy class pictures they make you take in school, but set somewhere that'll probably have significance for these kids... at least when they're older. :)

Fred said...

Jess, you start out real tentative, but towards the end of the post the shots get awesome - true documentary feel. I really liked: The kid diving with the blurry background, the one of the little girl sort of in the distance with the ship in the background, the kid looking through the fence, the kid outside 7-11 taken from a low angle - looks like you used some flash and still caught the ambient light in the sky and neon signs (I love mixing light sources), and girly with her thug-tattood boy in the pool. It all has a very "This is what summer is like in Boston, USA in 2006" feel. Good stuff. Oh and I disagree with Ian that your shot of the group of kids looks like a class photo - it's far more real than a school shot.

brad said...

i got a really cheap tripod on amazon - i think $12 - and it's wonderful. not a piece of junk.