“He was in Guanajuato, Mexico, he was a writer, and tonight was the Day of the Dead ceremony. He was in a little room on the second floor of a hotel, a room with wide windows and a balcony that overlooked the plaza where the children ran and yelled each morning. He heard them shouting now. And this was Mexico’s Death Day. There was a smell of death all through Mexico you never got away from, no matter how far you went. No matter what you said or did, not even if you laughed or drank, did you ever get away from death in Mexico. No car went fast enough. No drink was strong enough.”
—- Ray Bradbury, The Candy Skull
There is the umbrella. The umbrella lives under the passenger bucket seat and you pull it out at dawn in the spitting rain and roaring cold wind. Your only hope is that it opens and stays more or less together while you trudge your way across the vast tarmac parking lot at your work. If it does its job, you can arrive breathless and plop down in your soulless cubicle with a few square inches of almost dry clothing.
A parasol, on the other hand, is a completely different thing. Darts of flimsy tissue paper and delicate bamboo ribs – it was not made to stand the power of a howling gale. The gentle rays of the sun are all it can deal with – and barely that. It’s a translucent bumbershoot, a portable shade canopy, standing against the day. Its name tells you that it’s for (para) the sun (sol).
But it’s not only for protection. It’s for twirling.
What better attention grabber than a pretty parasol with hand drawn artistic designs carefully chosen to compliment your tattoos? Ink and ink.
I think of the sweaty hut in some faraway land with workers carefully, quickly, hopelessly putting the things together – cutting the paper, stapling the ribs, or brushing out long-practiced patterns across the delicate field – all the same yet each one different.
And here it comes, spinning down the middle of the street.
And all eyes turn.
I had plans this afternoon to meet a friend at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and shoot some photographs. For days I watched the weather and despaired that the cold and rain seemed to reign over North Texas. Sunday morning was cold, gray, and the water still fell. Looking at the forecast, though, they predicted that the precipitation would end precipitously at about two in the afternoon – so I decided to hold out hope and drove down there.
Sure enough, right at two the sun broke out. Within two hours there was not a cloud in the sky.
In a continuation of good omens, as I was driving down there, coming off of Good Latimer Freeway, I cut through a new urban condominium development and spotted someone doing a photo shoot on the sidewalk – either a fashion shoot or a set of senior pictures. There was a photographer, a model, a couple assistants off to the side, and a small collection of lights, diffusers, and reflectors.
I love taking pictures of other people’s photoshoots – like the one I stumbled across in Pirate Alley in the French Quarter. I guess it’s because I don’t have any models I can use – so I like to steal images from other people.