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Monday, December 30, 2013

From the Kress Building to the corner, 30 feet separates the haves and the have nots

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 8:14 AM

The historic Kress Building in downtown Durham epitomizes luxury and elegance: The condos, the largest of which, at more than 1,800 square feet runs nearly $500,000, feature bamboo wood floors, penthouse views, private terraces, 10-to-12-foot ceilings, and, as a real estate website detailed,  "handsome quartz counters in the kitchen and bath." Directly across Main Street where it intersects with Mangum is a pocket park with benches. Less than five steps from the street corner, grows a patch of brush that provides a bulwark against the wind and cold. It can also serve as camouflage, because unless you part the grass...

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Angels wanna wear his red shoes

Posted By on Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 7:57 AM

The streets of downtown Durham were nearly empty on Thursday morning, the day after Christmas, and I felt sure there would be no people to photograph. Then this man sauntered down the street, burdened with two bulging backpacks. That's what caught my eye, the backpacks. I shot just one picture and moved on. Only after I downloaded the photo did I notice the preponderance of red—in the shoes, scarf, fire hydrant and bows—that carries your eye through the frame.  That's the beauty of street photography: If you put in the time and the miles, an automatic part of your brain...

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Salvation Army's holiday tree about human trafficking

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 3:01 PM

The day after Christmas, the streets of Durham were nearly vacant (except, apparently, the parking attendants who tagged me with a ticket). A friend and I wandered down to the American Tobacco Campus lawn to see the 20 or so holiday trees decorated by local charities including the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, Eno River Association, the Therapeutic Riding Center.  Initially, I was offended by the tree adorned by The Salvation Army of Wake County. What are ultra-feminized dolls with anorexic figures surrounded by fake money doing on a holiday tree? Did a pimp decorate this tannenbaum? And then I figured...

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Away in a manger, it's both sentimental and surreal

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM

For the past week I've walked by this Nativity scene, which is part of an elaborate tableau at a house in Durham's Morehead Hill neighborhood. The sentimentalist in me was struck by the earnestness of the lights and decorations; the cynic in me found it surreal. I had seen the Nativity only during the day. But on Christmas Eve night, I worked up the courage to ask the homeowner, whose name is Jane, if I could take a picture of her creation. She told me her husband is a landscaper; he built the word "L O V E" from sticks,...

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Sunday, December 22, 2013


Posted By on Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM

It was 72 degrees this morning—not April 22, but Dec. 22, if you awoke thinking you must have hibernated all winter. Winds were brisk. The atmosphere felt unstable, soupy, and the light filtered through the clouds in narrow shafts.  At City Hall Plaza in downtown Durham, the U.S. and North Carolina flags had descended their mast until they touched the ground. Since it's Sunday, no one is around City Hall to raise them, so I watched the flags contort themselves in the stiff breeze and graze the ground between gusts. I lay on the ground on the...

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Man vs. nature. Tree vs. parking deck. Who wins?

Posted By on Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 5:58 PM

The spiral ramp of the 658-space Corcoran Street parking garage is something to behold. Enter through the back off Ramseur Street, and the weight of all that concrete—buttressed by a few seemingly spindly poles—makes you feel like the garage could collapse at any moment. Since I rarely drive to work, I walk by here almost every day but never park inside. I spotted this tree, which bisects the ramp, and marveled at the rigidity of the manmade structure (and I say manmade because this is an old parking deck and it's unlikely any women worked on it) and how...

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cardboard guitar blues

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Down the street, I heard a man singing. Not particularly well, but that seemed beside the point. It sounded earnest. Besides, he was singing a cappella, and that's difficult. This is Zack and his dog, Lela (pronounced LEE-la).  Zack lives in Durham and he was playing air guitar, strumming invisible strings, listening to music only he could hear.  He loves the theater, and studied it in college. But he made some bad choices in his life, he says, and he served time in jail on failure to appear and domestic violence charges.It was in jail that he...

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Monday, December 16, 2013

A story of a man, his dog and his dog's dog

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 8:00 AM

I was driving up Buchanan Street near Duke’s East Campus earlier this fall when I saw a dog carrying what I thought was a puppy in her mouth. A man on wrist crutches followed about 10 feet behind. I had only an iPhone but I was so taken by the scene, I whipped my car into a parking spot on a side street and sprinted after the man and dog. It turns out there is a touching story behind this couple: Randolph, a Bernese Mountain Dog, 5 1/2, and Bruce, his companion. Bruce told me that several years...

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Turning back time on Roney Street

Posted By on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

The machinery near Durham Brazing & Welding Works on Roney Street has long captivated photographers, metal-lovers and passersby. Roney is a peaceful, short street (see Open Durham's history of what used to be a bustling thoroughfare) and I often cut through here to and from the Durham Farmers' Market. Among the icons of the welding shop is the General Motors Truck—I'm guessing it's from the 1940s—with the Pittsburgh Steelers logo emblazoned on the side. One afternoon I walked by and the truck door was open, so I climbed inside, then hopped in the bed and peered through the back....

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Safe sex in the Museum Hotel?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

The INDY has been its new offices for a week, and the space has lived up to, exceeded, even, expectations. The people watching is rivaled only by sitting in the front windows of Joule in Raleigh. For example, I've seen a man who looks like a black Jesus—not to say that Jesus wasn't black—an Indian woman in a lovely red head scarf.  Today I've become fixated by these condom-like structures jutting from two windows in the SunTrust building, soon (?) to be christened the Museum Hotel. I tried asking the construction workers about the function of this apparatus,...

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Friday, December 6, 2013

I am the goatman. Goo goo g'joob

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 3:47 PM

It's 77 degrees this afternoon, so businesses have swung their doors open on what is likely the last warm day of 2013. Geer Street and Cocoa Cinnamon raised their garage doors and outdoor patios were packed. About a half block away on Foster Street, near Nomadic Trading Company, this wooden goat grazed my peripheral vision. It demanded to be photographed. It's that kind of day....

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

With flowers, two views of Raleigh

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 7:18 AM

Street photography in Raleigh is a gift. Since it's the state capital, class and race often collide within the same block. Downtown, people wearing expensive suits and dresses, headed for the Legislative Building or one of the many law offices, pass people strolling toward Moore Square wearing sweatpants and carrying sleeping bags. As I walked down Morgan Street yesterday, I saw a man in a suit and bow tie carrying a vibrant bouquet of flowers. I decided to try to photograph him without looking through the viewfinder, just shooting, literally, from the hip. I stood still; he hurried past...

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Smell this photo

Posted on Sun, Dec 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Chapel Hill Street between Market Street and the Five Points intersection is not the most pedestrian-friendly stretch of downtown Durham. The former Herald-Sun building, with its old printing press and historic photos, reminds me of the relics many daily newspapers have become. The monolithic Marriott hotel eclipses the sun; if a garden were planted on this block, the growing season would probably be more hospitable to Swiss chard than tomatoes. What this street lacks in view, it compensates for in smells. Most mornings, Ninth Street Bakery, which is at Five Points, emits a fragrance of dough. Two or three...

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