Steve is from Chicago. When I told him that I was from Venice (FL), he said “Ugh!” and pointed to his hat. “That says “Vienna, not Venice.” He shrugged.
Steve was sitting at an outdoor bar at 10AM, sipping a brew. When I saw the light in his eyes (I always look), I just had to get a portrait. When I asked, Steve said,
“I look like a bum with the beard.”
“A lot of men have beards.”
“Yeah, but it's just not me.”
“Then why didn't you shave?”
“I was with a woman for three days, that's why. And the....”
Let's just say that Steve's expectations were not met. He had been drinking with the woman the previous night, and needed the beer now to clear his head. He does tile and marble work. I said that building was picking up, and that work should be easier to find. Steve said, “I'm 62 now, and getting a Social Security check. I just can't get into looking for work.”
Actually, it's Alexandra. She was sitting in a small garden in St. Petersburg, having a smoke. Alexandra was born and raised in St. Pete, a graduate of St. Petersburg Catholic High School.
Across the street was the newly revamped Sundial St. Pete. Not so many years ago, this was developed as the BayWalk, and was supposed to revamp all shopping and dining in the area. Alex works at one of the tenants, the Locale Market. I like the play on words, Locale. In a month, a Locale restaurant will open.
She was amused by the project and liked her picture. She really liked the photostream, and took my card. Alexandra said that after she saw the image on Flickr, she'd e-mail me for a copy. We'll see...
Walking on 4th St. in St. Petersburg, there were several apparently homeless men in my way. Louis, in a wheelchair, Waved toward me and asked for some help. In purchasing lunch. I struck the usual bargain and handed him a few dollars. He “God blessed” me.
Louis was born in Ohio and relocated to St. Petersburg in 1978. This was at the end of a tour in the Marines that left him an amputee. He gets VA medical benefits and the wheelchair, but no more. He said that there are ~25,000 homeless in St. Pete, and pointed to several locations where he has slept. The police have become more strict recently as a couple of new high end condominiums have been built.
Louis contends that many homeless are junkies or drunks, but that he is neither. When he gets extra money, he buys food for his homeless friends. For $5 he gets an excellent sandwich at Publix Supermarket. Louis was looking forward to using my contribution fro a sandwich, and he knew exactly which one: turkey and Swiss cheese. Sounds good to me.
Having a Coke outdoors, Morgan seemed relaxed and approachable. She was. A native of Sarasota, she graduated from nearby Riverview High School. I commented about how Venice High School dominates Riverview in Football. She was unaware and uninterested.
Now she works at the recently opened, University Town Center Mall. Specifically at Sephora, a store as familiar to me as football is to Morgan. “We sell fragrances and make-up.” That explains why. She agreed with me that the new mall is overhyped – overdone and oversold. But the pay is higher than other stores, so what can you say?
A few minutes later I was driving, and Morgan came flying by on her bicycle. She seems like an individualist.
I liked the hat, and I told him so. I went into my usual talk about meeting strangers, taking portraits and then said, “I haven't met you before. Can I meet you and take your picture. His response was “No.” Silence. Then, “Where do you want me to stand?” I said that I thought the answer was no. Ron said, “I said 'no', you haven't met me before. But you can take my picture (smile).” He had me.
Ron has been a self employed plumber for 35 years. “Self employed is the only way to be.” I said that the economy is picking up, his business should too. He said, “I don't want the recovery to come too fast, I like the vacation.” I said, “Ah, you must not have a wife and kids.” Ron said that he had an ex-wife and kids. That sounds even more expensive, but he was living the good life.
Ron liked the images, but did not want a copy.
While in Tampa, about an hour after photographing Tom (My previous post) Jacqui was sitting on the same wall. Only she was reading. I hated to interrupt her, but not so much that I didn't interrupt her. She was OK with being photographed, although a little reserved. At first.
Jacqui was born in Tampa, and went to a local High School. My guess was that she was a college student, so I asked. “No, I'm a lawyer.” Yikes! I told her that she looked too young to be a lawyer. She rolled her eyes up and said, “I've been a lawyer for a while.” Actually since 2009, when she graduated cum laude, from Law School at the University of Florida. For two years I lived within 100 yards of it.
When I explained 100 Strangers, Jacqui said that she had done photography in the past. Black and white film, to be exact. So when I showed her my Photostream in b&w, she was interested, and gave me her e-mail address to get copies of her images. She preferred the straight on look, but I am partial to the first image.