All text and images © Tom Franklin
It was somewhat late at night and as we were transferring from one train to another in (yet another) Underground station we’d never been in, hoping that the helpful arrows pointing out the way we wanted to go truly were helpful arrows pointing out the way we wanted to go and not mean, mischievous arrows that would get us helplessly lost. As we rounded the corner we were presented with a long, long tunnel passage with curved walls that made the passage look very tube-like. Bonn kept walking but I stopped, set up the tripod and waited for the few people walking down the passage to get out of the shot. Bonn came back (being rather used to my annoying unannounced stopping along the way) and stood to the side while I had about 20 seconds to take pictures before the next round of people came around the bend behind us.
There’s a nice, vaguely unnerving symmetry to the image. The curvature of the walls give a sense of initial distortion while the long row of florescent lights draws the eye towards the center of the image, the vanishing point. There’s a desire with any sense of such instability to want to see something representing something solid, something to ‘ground’ the image. In this case, the light reflecting against the gray cement floor is also bouncing against the curved walls in such a way as to look wavy. The cement almost looks liquid.
The other reason I like this image so much is when I was working with it I realized I had absolutely no idea where it was taken. It had been one of those days when we had made the most of our Oyster card and ridden the Underground going from place to place for most of the day. When I posted it to my (second) flickr account for this trip the image was seen by someone on flickr who goes by the name *version-3-point-1 and identified for me as being part of the Embankment station.
I like that kind of help-from-an-internet-stranger aspect to flickr, LJ and the internets in general -- and this image in particular.
Yeah, so this one is a repeat. Big deal. I like it for several reasons which, really, is reason enough for posting it again. However, the real reason I’m posting it is to contrast it with a similar shot taken during the daytime.
Both shots are of Paddington Station, both shots are of, essentially, the same areas of the same platform (the daytime image was taken slightly to the left of the nighttime image). And yet, the daytime image, for me, lacks the depth and interest of the nighttime image. Sure, the coloration of the nighttime image lends to a somewhat eerie quality, but there’s more to it than just that.
Rob in mind. Rob had either asked about pictures of the Underground or wondered if such pictures were Allowed in this post-September 9/11world. (When I first pulled my camera out on the Underground our first night in London Bonn, panicked, told me to put it away out of fear I’d be arrested)
It was one of the nice things about having a small, silent camera that could sit in my lap, or on my tripod, and be tilted in several directions.
Buskers typically fall into one of several different categories:
* Waiting to Be Discovered
This guy was playing the uillean pipes, one of my favorite instruments, and was, I thought, pretty good.
(And, yes, I realize “Pretty Good” wasn’t one of the above categories. Feel free to make the correction in your own LJ)
Once Upon a Time (also not a category, but merely a story-starting convention) I busked for an evening. It was a Friday night and I had managed to work up the courage to take myself and my guitar to Georgetown (DC) in a spot across the street from where The Kite Site was -- in an open brick courtyard where I knew the acoustics would be good, and started to play. I had invited some friends to come down and join me (mostly to keep me from chickening out [again]) and so two or three of us stood around and sang for a while.
Eventually a guy appeared with a battered fiddle case and asked if he could play with me. We did one song (”One More Cup of Coffee [For the Road]” by Dylan) and he played Scarlet Revera’s part incredibly well. (I’ve always felt I sounded better whenever I’ve played with someone else)
Shortly after the song ended a tourist in his mid-fifties appeared. He explained that he and his wife had heard the music and his wife had asked him to give the musicians some money.
Holding a dollar bill in his hand he asked where the violin player was. When I explained he had left the man turned, dollar bill still in his hand, and started to leave.
“But the guitar player is still here!” my friend Liz said.
The tourist guy, slightly embarrased, turned back around, muttered an, “Oh, yeah...” and begrudgingly handed me the dollar.
I immediately tore the bill in half and said if I ever met the violinist again I’d give him his half of the dollar.
Three or four years later I finally did see the violinist again. We were standing in line at a health food grocery store and he had absolutely no idea who I was. The story of playing in Georgetown that night seemed vaguely familiar to him and when I presented him with a torn half of a dollar bill he looked at me like I was a bit on the crazed side.
“No, no,” he said, waving the torn piece of green paper off. “You should just keep it.”
No way, I explained. I’d been carrying it with me for years, having made a promise to myself. It was his, plain and simple.
Realizing that the only way to get me to go away was to take the ragged piece of green paper, he relented. And then immediately became very interested in some impulse items surrounding the cash registers.
(I fit into the Mediocre-at-Best category)
(And, yes, I realize “Mediocre-at-Best” wasn’t one of the above categories, either. See above)
This woman fit into the Waiting to Be Discovered category. Good guitar playing with a beautiful voice, working to make cover tunes recognizable but also putting her own twists on them.
We saw her twice, on different days, and I would have bought a CD from her if she’d been selling them.
(as long as I could afford it in £s)
Glouchester Road held, what I thought, was an amazing art installation. Along one entire wall of the station was a series of images by the artist Chiho Aoshima called “City Glow, Mountain Whisper.” It was part of the Transport for London art series and was both wonderfully unexpected and beautifully fascinating. Needless to say, these small images don’t do her work justice.
26 December 2006 London, England
Gosh, wouldn’t it be cool to Autostitch all of these images together and create one, long image? Sure would be. (Don’t look at me, though) (Not yet, at least...)
|Previously: Boxing Day & Hyde Park|