Category Archives: Interviews


Nuala Walters interviewed me for Hoodline last week, and you can read the results right here.

Hoodline recently teamed up with the Central City Extra to cover midtown San Francisco. Expect good things to come of this collaboration.

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Filed under Interviews, Mid-Market, Sixth Street, Tenderloin

Untwisting the Truth

New City for the Upper Class

“New City for the Upper Class” (2012)

Goo-goo goo-goo goo-goo goo
Goo-goo goo-goo goo-goo
Googly, googly, googly goo:
That’s how we fill a column.

— GK Chesterton

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article, authored by CW Nevius, that begins with Mercy Housing’s acquisition of some of my early photography, recently installed at the Arlington Hotel. What follows is a muddled retelling of my life story, refashioned by Nevius with cherry-picked facts to fit his doctrinaire point of view. In his eyes, success is synonymous with wealth and prosperity and is therefore quantifiable and attainable by upward striving. Misconstruing my perseverance in recovery with upward striving, he assumes that success is a corollary of self-redemption.

The truth is that I often must choose between necessities to survive, and that any recognition my work has received has in the long run made life no less difficult. Due to ongoing health problems, a lack of print sales and commissions has recently forced me to pawn all of my gear just to pay the bills. I simply cannot keep afloat on Social Security benefits alone. For now, until I recover my cameras, I am no longer a photographer. I cannot say where life goes from here. What I do know is that there are no easy answers. There never are.

If Nevius’ journalism is reviled and ridiculed (as indeed it often is), it is because his preconceptions so often preclude veracity. Accordingly, he compartmentalized and re-contextualized my personal history as a “success” story, using the template of a materialist ideology that interprets life as a race to the top and classifies people as winners or losers. Embracing change as the only certainty in life (even death can be regarded as a kind of change) allows me to view my existence as an ongoing process of unfolding and transformation. Insofar as my journey through life is a reflection of my boiling psyche, the highs and lows have been extreme, but this is not how I measure either failure or success. As a perennial student in the classroom of experience, success for me is a lesson well-learned.

By the way, if you would like to read a really well-written article about me and my work, “Histories Intertwined” by Maria La Ganga of the Los Angeles Times is superb.


Filed under Interviews, Messages

Mid-Market in Wall Street Journal

Hale Building

“Hale Building” (2012)

I was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about tech firms moving into the mid-Market corridor thanks to payroll tax breaks given by the Lee Administration at City Hall. Although volumes of information were omitted, what was published is accurate. Neither the mayor’s office nor District Six Supervisor Jane Kim have thus far responded. “Mid-Market Street, as Seen by One of Its Own”

Hale Building_1905
Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

Hale Building, 1905. The Hale Building, rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire, opened in 1902 as the second of several Hale Brothers Department Stores and is currently home to help-desk software firm Zendesk, Inc.

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Filed under Interviews, Mid-Market

“Tenderloin” Resonates

Tenderloin Set

“‘Tenderloin’ Set”

Critics and audiences alike love “Tenderloin”, Cutting Ball Theater‘s new production about San Francisco’s inner city neighborhood. The play has been given an extended run through 24 June due to sold-out houses, so I strongly advise you to get tickets in advance. A visually engaging set, luscious sound design, and brilliant acting all combine to create a memorable evening of intimate theater that for many people will reveal the Tenderloin in ways they’ve never before seen it. For more about the play and my personal involvement with it, there’s a terrific article in the Los Angeles Times and an interview on KQED Forum with writer/director Annie Elias, actors David Sinaiko and Tristan Cunningham, and me.

Production Meeting_26apr12

“Production Meeting, 26 April 2012” (left to right) actors Leigh Shaw, Michael Kelly, Rebecca Frank, Siobhan Doherty, Tristan Cunningham, David Sinaiko (foreground) scenic designer Michael Locher


Filed under Events, Interviews, Tenderloin