Starting Over

I really wasn’t sure what I’d do when I hit 1000 faces. I knew I wanted to keep going but wasn’t sure about when I’d start or how I would cope with it. More than a few people asked me how I was going to handle being done with my project. Guess what? I am not done – I took an extremely short hiatus but got straight back into it. It’s because I find faces so wonderful. Why should I stop looking at them through my camera? I like sitting down to a big collection of photographs and sorting through them and thinking about processing them and making them look (more or less) how I’d like them to look.

Here are a few samples of the next 1000 faces:

Three recent poems

Wednesday, 8:00AM

I feel about to be obliterated
By the heavy hell inside my heart

Clenching and convulsing,
I need to drain away the burning dose of anxiety

And fill it again with my best spirits
So I can share them full and free

Storm on Sunday

Lighting strikes near
Big drops fall in a frenzy
Ice-as big as the tip of your pinky-clatters down
Then it passes, leaving just a wispy mist

Beautiful Day

it’s a beautiful day in Boston today
The Charles is so blue
the Esplanade so green
the sky so clear

Back to my watch

I stopped wearing my watch years ago. Twenty years ago my wife gave me a Waltham wristwatch as a wedding gift.

It’s lovely – a silver Waltham from the teens with a porcelain face. The hands used to glow but they don’t anymore. I wore it every day for years but eventually, as more and more of the devices I carry came with time I stopped. The watch, like so many, ended up in a drawer.

A few weeks ago I heard a story about the 1000 Watch Project – where people were sending in their old watches to form a collection to eventually be donated to the Smithsonian. It led me to take my watch out again, wind it up and put it on. I liked the way it looked and decided to wear it for a while. (Just for the record, there’s NO WAY I would part with this one.)

After I’d been wearing it for a while I decided that it’s actually *easier* to check the time on it than to pull out my phone of Blackberry. I mean I just have to glance down and there it is – the time. It’s much more convenient and it’s a nifty accessory.

How many people are sans watch these days?

1000 Faces

Yesterday I reached 1000 faces. It put a huge smile on my face. This whole project started inadvertently. For ages I didn’t really photograph people – at least not strangers. But in the Spring of 2008, at a bar in Austin, some strangers approached me and asked if I’d take their pictures. It seemed a little weird since they’d never see them but I did it. That night I took a handful of photographs in a couple of bars and had a good time.

When I got back to Boston I went over to the Chicken Bone and photographed a couple of people there. At that point it was still about having fun taking pictures in bars; I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing in any conscious way. After that every now and then I’d photograph people but it wasn’t a coherent project just yet.

A few months later, in July, I was at PodCamp Boston. I was restless and a little bored. I’d taken a few shots and was just being aimless. I knew many of the people there and thought it might be cool to get all of the attendees pictures. Over the course of the event I probably got 150 people – but it was still just a one off thing.

When I went to post the photos though – and saw this big mosaic of faces – I decided there was more I could do with this idea. The faces were all different – there were men and women, young and old, white, black, Asian, attractive, plain, bearded and bare-faced. Seeing them all together inspired me to try for – what seemed like an impossible number – 1000 faces.

I will say I’ve always been pretty good with faces. Some people can meet a person dozens of times and still not recognize them. I’ve the opposite. There was story on it yesterday (not about me, but about people able to recognize faces) and it reminded me of a story.

Fourteen years ago, in the winter, I was walking through Kendall Square during a blizzard in the late afternoon. Walking down the sidewalk I passed a woman all bundled up. Her face was covered so only her eyes were showing. As we passed, I realized it was my friend Marci – whom I hadn’t seen in six or seven years. We reconnected and spent a few hours over drinks.

After PodCamp, I started looking for more and more opportunities to photograph people – friends, family, colleagues, strangers, whomever. And after more than a year, I’ve finally hit 1000faces. I think every one of them is wonderful:

**I realize that a whole section appears twice – that was a screw up – there are more than 1000 if count them twice 😉 **

I have so many people to thank for this – all the people who have said “yes” when a stranger approached them to ask for their picture. All the people who’ve gotten involved and helped round up more people and explained that I wasn’t sketchy, or a nut or a perv. People like Karyn and Regan and Sarah and Scott; Matt and Sid and Mark and Tabby; Sheila and Johnny and most especially Wendy. And of course to everyone at the Chicken Bone who’ve been cool with me taking pictures there.

Now I spend a lot of time looking at faces. People are surprised when I recall having photographed them at some point in the past – but it shouldn’t be a big surprise. I love the way people look and can’t wait to get started on the next thousand.


I started the day yesterday 40 faces from 1000 and thought I could finish last night at the Chicken Bone. I headed over there and went to work. I got a couple of nice shout outs from Scott Damgaard – the host of Bone-e-oke – letting people know what I was doing.

For three hours I made my way around the place taking pictures. I was doing the math in my head and was getting more and more excited as I counted down to number 1000. Just after midnight I thought I’d hit my goal and ware really walking on air. When I’d set out to do this 15 months ago 1000 seemed like a big and almost unattainable number.

As it got closer I realized it could be reached and that I was going to keep going even after I hit 1000. (It’s just too much fun to give up. I’ve met great people, made friends and have had a terrific time.) Last night was no exception. Not only did I get to hang out with friends I’ve made through 1000faces but I had the chance to try to extract a dead mouse from someone’s dashboard.

When I got home and started looking at and processing pictures I realized there was a problem. I was sure I’d counted right but no matter how hard I counted I kept coming up with the same number: 992. Eight away from my target. I’ll get there – and beyond . . .

Here though are a few of yesterday’s fantastic faces:

I think all these people are great. They were cool to let me take their pictures and for helping get *almost* to 1000 faces.

PR and the future of news

There’s been a lot of talk lately of the future of the news.  In the past two days there have been two stories on how PR and corporate communications might play a role.  Today’s story was “Pepsi sees a chance to fill newspaper’s void“.

This – and another story yesterday on PR people becoming investigative journalists – are both interesting.  But they’re also both a little inane.  I am a big advocate for companies to create content and to go straight to the consumer – but that doesn’t equal filling the void of newspapers or being journalists.  Corporate communication organizations aren’t objective news sources – and nor are PR people disinterested observers.  (Not that the traditional media is always objective of course.)

The other problem with this idea is that there are some important stories that either a) are not terribly interesting or sexy (but which still need to see the light of day or b) organizations don’t want out there and so they will stonewall eager PR people looking to expose their dark secrets.

While ink on paper might be going away, reporting isn’t and there are plenty of people doing totally great work telling stories that need to be told in new ways.  Global Voices is an example of blog aggregation used to share news from around the world, Global Post combines professional journalists and bloggers to present news from around the world; there’s also Now Public which is crowd sourced news and finally sources like Breaking News Online which seemingly have reporters providing real-time updates.

These all stand a chance of become the future of reporting – and I hope that will be the case.

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Contempt of Citizen

Almost a year ago my moped was stolen. A week later I got it back. I wasn’t interesting in pressing charges or anything, I was just happy to have my little bike back. Months later (months and months to be honest – maybe six of seven) I received a summons to appear as a witness. It turns out the Commonwealth had decided to pursue charges.

Like a dutiful citizen (who always votes, never shirks jury duty, etc.) I showed up at the courthouse on the appointed date. After waiting for a few interesting hours, we learned that the needed sign-language interpreter was a no-show (the defendant is deaf). A new date was arranged and I went on my merry way.

That new date was today – perhaps three months after the original trial date. Again I went to the courthouse and again I waited for hours. When the case was called the defendant wasn’t there – but I was asked to wait. So I waited. More time passed and the assistant district attorney came to let me know that once again they didn’t have a sign language interpreter and that they’d have to reschedule once again.


How hard is it to find an interpreter? Give me a couple of months and I can probably learn ASL and just do it myself. I felt totally misused and feel my time was treated with contempt. If I treated the court as they treated me I suspect there would be a consequence. For me the only consequence is that I’ll have to go back again – and hope the court isn’t once again wasting my time.

Classic T Moment

Yesterday I was racing down the stairs at South Station against the flow of exiting Red Line passengers. I ran across the the then empty platform only to have the door literally close in my face.

The driver, as blank and impassive as a fish, watched me pull up short as she closed the doors. The train sat for several seconds more. She just stared at me – with no acknowledgment whatsoever – as the train pulled away.

Way to go MBTA, your drivers are really awesome!

Goodbye to Genji (for now)

I’m crying uncle for the second time with the Tale of Genji. I love so many things about the book but it just doesn’t grab me enough to keep reading. There are days and times when I can sit down and plow through 50 pages but there are too many other times when I read only a few pages in a day; and when you’re looking at a 1000+ page behemoth that isn’t going to cut it.

I may continue to read it in a few pages a day and just accept the fact that it’s going to take me forever to get through the book. . .

Instead I’ve decided to shift a little both in time and space – the Russia in the 19th century. Reading the Idiot in a translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I’ve read their translations of several Dostoevsky novels and they’re really great.

Trying Flock again

I started using Flock almost three years ago and really loved it.  But somewhere along the line I noticed it was absolutely *killing* the performance of my MacBook Pro (using huge CPU cycles, heating the thing up like a damn oven and running my fans non-stop) so I stopped using it.  I saw a few people posting about version 2.5 earlier today and read Rafe Needleman’s review this morning.

It’s back on my system, running and seems not to be hogging every available resource.  I hope it’s more stable this time because I really do think it’s the slickest browser out there.  Here are the things that rule:

Media Bar – I use Flickr all the time and I love being able to see my friends’ photos.  With Flock I can see their photos across the top of the browser.  I really missed not having that since it meant I didn’t have an easy way to view them.  You can view all kinds of services in the media bar: Bibo, Digg, Facebook, Photobucket, YouTube, etc.  It’s a great way to see what people are producing and posting.

Social Networks – On the left side of my browser I keep the People tab open.  I can see Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.  I can post straight from there to Twitter and Facebook and while it’s not as good as some of the stand-alone clients like Tweetie or Tweetdeck it’s still pretty nice.

Persistent Facebook Chat – Since I’m logged into Facebook in the People tab my Facebook chat is available even if I’m not on  Maybe not a big deal but still pretty sweet.

Integrated Blogging – I don’t mind going to to post, but it’s also pretty nice to be able to post to any of my sites from a single editor – or to post to multiple sites if that’s what I want to do.  And if I see something post-worthy on a site I can just highlight it, right click and select “blog this” to launch my editor. 

It may still happen that Flock continues to give me performance headaches and if it does so be it.  I use and really like Firefox and Safari as well but for the moment I’m going to keep my fingers crossed fro Flock.

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