ROAD TRIP : ALCATRAZ

In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is a series of posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.

Alcatraz, oil on board, 9 x 6 inches (approx.)

4. 29th April 2006

I did quite a lot with my friends. On the 28th we went to Alcatraz and to a Baseball game that evening, which I found fascinating. Baseball always mystified me as well as seeming quite boring. It seems the fans are of the same mind as no-one watched the game, which was miles away anyway, but just sat around drinking beer and eating hot dogs. A guy next to me was eating pistachios and spitting their shells on the ground, creating an ever growing, glutinous pile. The whole game seems to be an excuse to have a really grotty, uncomfortable picnic. I was delighted to experience it…from an anthropological point of view. Go Giants!

Alacatraz was interesting, particularly the history of the Native American occupation of it in the 1970s. It led me into reading more native American history and literature over the years since. Mostly I remember that the cells were particularly striking. They are so small and despite the barred wall, very claustrophobic in a way that’s never conveyed in the movies. It is hard to imagine living in one. There was the story of the Bird Man of course but I was more taken with the story of…

…Whitey Thompson-an ex-con made good-who only died six months ago…

…though not interested enough to write down anything about it. I suppose even them Google was taking up the slack for that concludes that diary entry. Tomorrow I visit SFMOMA and my diary begins to take off a little. The jet lag is starting to wear off and I am “sitting up and ‘ating a bit’ as they say in these parts…

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