Archive for March, 2009

The Eagles

Posted in J7560 on March 31, 2009 by Jakob Michael Berr

Every time my friends and I went to spend the summer holidays on Elba, a small island in northern Italy, we would listen to the Eagles’ Hotel California when we drove our car off the ferry and onto that little paradise. This song embodies summer for me, and it is loaded to the brink with fond and melancholic memories. Whenever I hear that piece it takes me away to someplace completely else, more so than any other song. I guess I won’t exaggerate if I call it my absolute, all-time favorite.

So when I learned that the Eagles were coming to play in Columbia, it was clear that I had to get to that concert somehow. I just wanted to hear that song live once in my lifetime. However, with ticket prices starting at $90.00, the Eagles aren’t really meeting my budget. So what to do?

That’s where my current staff photography course at the Columbia Missourian comes in. A call from the editors and the little plastic ID card that we got with the three magic words on it (“working press corps”) can work miracles. And so, after I was officially admitted as a photographer for the Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian, I really did get to go to that concert.

Together with Clare, a fellow shooter at the Missourian, I went to the Mizzou Arena one and a half hours ahead of time. There was a huge crowd waiting at the gates, and most of the people were old enough to be my parents (or even grand-parents).

When the media personnel of the Arena finally picked us up to equip us with our press credentials, they told us that we were only allowed to be in the concert hall for the first three songs. After that, we would have to pack our gear and leave immediately. I asked them if they knew where Hotel California was on the set list, and they said that it would be the fifth song. However, if we walked really, really slow on our way out, we might get to hear the beginning of it. Then they escorted us to our stands on the floor.

Well, coming to think of it, “stands” might be an exaggeration. Rather, we were perched between the fence enclosing the sound booth and the back row of the floor seats in a small alley that was continuously frequented by latecomers making their way to their seats. In order to get above people’s heads and get a clear shot of the band, I had to climb on the fence and sit up there, holding as still as possible while balancing my camera with the heavy 300 mm lens on it.

During the three songs we were allowed to shoot, I spread out every single piece of equipment that I had as far as I could around me. The strobe, the cord, every lens and even the lens caps were placed strategically, so that it would take me a long, long time to gather my stuff together once the third song was finished.

The concert was mind blowing, and they had put together an incredible light show. After they started off with How Long, Don Henley welcomed the crowd and introduced the tour as “the Eagles’ assisted living tour,” harvesting cheers and laughter. They continued with I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore and Guilty Of The Crime, and then Bill Armstrong played his trumpet solo that lead up to Hotel California.

We had to get ready to leave now, and I clumsily started to scramble my stuff together, taking as much time as I could without making it look too obvious. I “accidentally” got tangled up in my flash cord and of course I had to rearrange my lenses a few times before I could close the camera bag. I successfully managed to kill enough time that the trumpet solo was finished, and when we turned around to make our (escorted) way out, they started playing it. Hotel California. I couldn’t believe that I was finally getting to hear that song live, from the hands and the mouths of the very geniuses who wrote it. The crowd went frantic, and the first riffs of the guitar sent a shudder down my back. I walked as slowly as possible behind our escort, all the while absorbing every tiny little bit of this bitter-sweet acoustic miracle.

Finally we reached the exit, and then there was no way of delaying it any longer. After letting a few more latecomers pass through the narrow stair case into the hall, we had to leave the arena. I didn’t get to hear the guitar solo at the end of the song anymore, at least not from inside the hall. But that didn’t really matter to me anymore. Hearing Hotel California live at last had shot me to cloud nine within seconds, and there was nothing that could bring me down from there.

San Francisco

Posted in Main on March 23, 2009 by Jakob Michael Berr

Finally, I found a little time to post some of my San Francisco photographs. Having been there for only a few days, I don’t know if they do justice to the city’s incredible character and diversity, but I like some of them quite a lot.

I reached San Francisco on the night of Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Before my arrival, I booked a night in the Hostel in Fort Mason. It turned out to be one of the most amazing places. The next morning, I had a few hours to spare before the Fulbright Enrichment Seminar started, so I strolled down the beach along Marina Boulevard to the Golden Gate Bridge. John, a guy that I met in the hostel, joined me, and we had a hell of a time.

 

The old footbridge is just a few hundred yards away from the Bridge and there are dozens of starfish on its pillars. I’ve never seen so many at a time.

 

On the bridge head is an observation deck with telescopes, and it’s amazing how many people feed them with their hard-earned money when they could just walk on the bridge and see it “live”.

 

Just below the Bridge, at Fort Point, dozens of surfers wait for their wave in the ice cold water.

 

We later saw that woman riding her bike back down the hill to Marine Drive. Her skirt was ballooning in the fair wind like a brake parachute…

 

That fence just next to Redwood Highway secures the steep flank that drops from the bike path down to the sea.

 

The seminar was amazing. I met a lot of incredible people from all over the world, and we had a ton of fun. There was a lot of sitting around and listening to presentations, but it was pretty interesting. The guy in the picture is Damiano from Italy. He studies Journalism in New York. After the seminar was finished, we hung around in San Francisco for another day and explored China Town together with some other really amazing people.

 

Khurshid is a Fulbrighter from Bangladesh. Meeting him and the other Bangladeshis at the seminar kind of made me feel home sick… Shoshur bari zindabad!!!

 

I had a lot of fun with the hills in San Francisco…

 

 

Really. A lot of fun.

 

I didn’t get to ride the famous cable cars, but I rode the F Line. I just love the cars. They remind me of the Tram in Munich. Talking about home sickness…

 

The Hornblower Yacht in front of the Bay Bridge at Pier 3. On the last night of the seminar, Fulbright sponsored a boat cruise with dinner on the Bay. What an experience…

 

The skyline at night from the Bay. I know, it really is a touristy shot, but I just couldn’t resist…

 

And yes, we DID have a party…

 

That was really a magical moment, when the yacht turned around under the Bridge. Somehow, I felt like in a movie from the 1930s.

 

Friendships were made, birthdays were celebrated, plans were concocted, and then we had to get off the beautiful Hornblower Yacht and out into the San Francisco night…

 

photo by John Bowman

 

The next day, Ali from Turkey, Evisa from Latvia, Damiano (still from Italy), John (the guy I met in the hostel) and I strolled through China Town had lunch outside on the deck of a nice little restaurant. We paid $15.95 each for a five-course menu and got more food than we could have ever dreamed of. The taste was ok, but not really different from the standard Chinese food in the standard Chinese restaurant. Maybe we should have invested a little more and gone for authentic Chinese, but we were hungry and broke…

Although it looks like it, Damiano is not flashing his middle finger at me in the photo above. But he sure plays his beer bottle like a trumpet…

 

In some ways, China Town reminded me of Italy. The laundry hanging from the balconies, that is something you might as well see in some back alley in Florence or Verona.

 

And here it is: the world famous Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company in Ross Alley!!! Here’s an excerpt from their web site:

“A tiny old-world factory situated in Chinatown has produced thousands of Chinese Fortune Cookies a day since 1962.

In the dim light, watching three women deftly turn dough into fortune cookies you could be forgiven for thinking you had traveled back in time.”

Who wouldn’t agree?

 

Some little details…

 

This one’s on Broadway and Columbus. I don’t think it needs any explanation. I just love that cutline at the bottom…

 

After lunch, Evisa’s friend Magda, another Fulbrighter from Slovakia, joined us and while Damiano stayed back in China Town, we went up to Twin Peaks to enjoy the view over the city. That is, those of us with short hair enjoyed the view…

 

Finally Magda and Evisa found a way to enjoy it, too…

 

The moon lit our way back down from Twin Peaks…

 

…to the parking lot, where a group of Buddhist monks also fell for the beauty of the scenery.

 

Before having our last supper (in San Francisco) in an awesome Thai restaurant, we went to Dolores Park to have a last look at the skyline by night…