December 18, 2006
In small towns, like the one in which I grew up, you can often go weeks without running into a stranger. You know people's stories and they know yours. You find mystery by picking up on dissonance between the facades people present and the realities underneath... But in big cities virtually everyone you encounter in a day is a stranger. You pick up little snippets of conversation, see bits of urban drama, but you always catch the stories in the middle. And the beginnings and endings are left to the imagination. Why was there a man in a black overcoat and black sunglasses standing alone on the promenade holding a child's pinwheel? What happened to the young couple fighting on Cranberry street? Did he mean it when he said he would change? Change what? Did she believe him or was she going back to her mother's house in Connecticut as she had threatened? Did the young thief being chased down Atlantic Avenue by cops escape with his loot from the pharmacy? And what of the very old man who wanders the neighborhood with a little camera around his neck? What does he do with those pictures he takes so unobtrusively, unnoticed except by other photographers? Does anyone ever get to see them?