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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BetterKnowanSFBlog:What I'm Seeing

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Every Tuesday, SF Weekly's news blog The Snitch profiles one of the Bay's many cool blogs in segment we call BetterKnowanSFBlog. This week, we fuck you in the eye with photos.

By Tyler Callister

This is one of my favorite pictures on the photo blog What I'm Seeing:

mooey_bueno2.jpg

"Every once in a while, when the inner-city pressure is getting to be a bit much, you see something like this and have to crack a smile," they write on the blog. It kind of makes you happy that Clo the Cow roams the streets of San Francisco. Then they drop a picture like this:

got_beef.jpg

Got beef? No mooey bueno for this sucker.

What I'm Seeing bills itself as, "A San Francisco foto blog focusing on history, current events, and day-to-day life thru the lens of our cameras." They publish anonymously, using the screen names Plug1 and Plug2, and they only agreed to speak to me if it was through e-mail rather than phone. "This is a blog about the people and places that make This City tick, not about us," Plug1 explained.

Scroll through the archives of What I'm Seeing and you'll find a mix of intoxicatingly funny and soberingly stark images. It's almost always a strikingly different view of the city than the one you'll get through local newspapers. But at a very modest average of 300 hits a day, this is one Bay Area publication that's seriously overlooked.

What I'm Seeing posts are usually simple and often capture Haiku-ish moments. Peep these words and photos from Plug1: "Sometimes when Im having a stressful day -- sitting at the bus stop -- waiting for MUNI to take me home -- I look up. And I see these little birds just chillin. These birds dont worry about such things as money, girlfriends, bosses, having the freshest shoes, etc. They only worry about not falling off the wire. I envy them."

bird1.gif

bird2.gif

What I'm Seeing also has a way of capturing the bizarre things that make human civilization what it is.

dead_baby.jpg

golden_gate_bridge_6.jpg

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Plug1 and Plug2 are 9-5ers "in the corporate cubicle land." All they'd tell me about the company they work for is that it's, "one of the world's biggest companies."

But they're lower-middle class folks and they're equipment is not fancy. They shoot with a couple point-and-click digital cameras you could probably get at Target -- a Fuji FinePix F50 SE and a Canon PowerShot SD630:

canon_sd630.jpg

"We are attempting to capture the old, at the same time acknowledging the new and yet to come," Plug said. "On one hand, I am fascinated by the city of yesterday and the stories lurking behind the walls of its abandonments. On the other hand, I cant walk thru the Fi-Di without looking up and finding myself in awe of those towering modern structures."

mark_hopkins_1.jpg

They also uncover only-in-San Francisco anecdotes, like this: "The guy who owns this Caddy has been a MUNI driver for 20+ years. Those guys make really good money due to excessive overtime. I asked him about his car and he said he loved it more than his wife.

Check out his plate:"

og4reel.jpg

What I'm Seeing captures poverty and homelessness. But they eschew boring liberal whining, grandstanding and political "statements."

"Unfortunately, these overlooked and ignored parts of our society make their way into our pictures whether we like it or not," Plug1 said.

homeless_man_1.jpg

clarion_alley_6.jpg

Plug1 quotes one of his heroes, Herb Caen, when describing the goal of What I'm Seeing: "Our assignment: To write about and photograph San Francisco and all San Franciscans. Our deadline: Tomorrow and all the tomorrows. Our problem: To find The City and all of its people."

Plug1 says he's written Mayor Newsom several times in hopes that he might acknowledge their documentation of this great city, but Newsom has yet to respond.

Yo Mr. Mayor, where you at?

click to enlarge banner6.jpg

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Ty Callister

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