Planetary denizens captured in natural habitat

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Portland, West Coast, North America

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Camera and Production by Rich Alcott
in Portland, Oregon, Winter-Spring 2012

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Kapa‘a Beach, Kaua‘i

Kauai is a 20-minute flight from Honolulu to Lihue Airport. There’s a sleepy town 8 miles north of Lihue called Kapaa. The town has one bar, some cafes, terrific coffee and a burger shack.

Return to a lost Paradise

What is it about the European/American mentality that is inexorably attracted to the paradisical, the exotic, but once having found it, cannot help irreparably destroying the environment. Honolulu, as you might expect, is heavily militarized, as much or more than any American-occupied city. Waikiki Beach, once the exclusive province of Hawaiian royalty, now more closely resembles downtown Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Miami Beach. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

On the road

All the way from northern New York to Cleveland, 8:30 in the a.m. until 5:30 in the afternoon, the bus was like this, rolling through still green countryside, mostly empty, spacious, comfortable. The bus carrier changed from Trailways to Greyhound in Cleveland, then on to Cincinnati and overnight to Louisville, Nashville and (below) Jackson, Tennessee, on the last day in October. The next day, Monday, arriving in Memphis around noontime, heard that local SWATs had been called out when a despondent guy pulled a gun on workers at the Cincinnati terminal, then locked himself inside a parked Greyhound there and shot himself to death.

Passengers queue up in Jackson, Tennessee, for the ride into Memphis, Little Rock, Texarkana and Dallas.

Sakurajima at sunset

Sakurajima is a composite volcano in Kagoshima, directly across Kinko Bay from the city’s downtown, late November 2011. In an almost constant state of eruption, this year — because of unfortunate shifts in prevailing winds — residents have been troubled by more than usual ashfall. Westerlies mostly push ash eastward across Osumi peninsula and out over the Pacific. Above photo made from the hills of Saigo Danchi. Below, taken from the same view, toned in Adobe LightRoom.

Downtown Kagoshima with Sakurajima across Kinko Bay on infra-red film, summer 1991, from Shiroyama hill, developed, printed in Tagami, in Komaki Building apartment kitchen darkroom. Below, sunrise same vintage, 20 years ago.

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Photography and Page Production by Rich Alcott
Copyright © 2011, 1991 by Rich Alcott

Overnight to Oita

Took overnight bus to Oita (not this one) on business. Stayed over at business hotel, very reasonable, with onsen downstairs and free internet in room after a three-week drought. Caught up on mail and news, and in morning made pictures from the hotel roof and around downtown before ride back through Aso mountainside.

Ichiban-gai backdrops

Ichiban-gai is an older shopping center built next to the old Nishi-Kagoshima train station. To accommodate the shinkansen bullet train, Nish-Eki was rebuilt, rededicated and renamed Chuo Station. Inside the station is an ultra-modern consumerist paradise, many upscale shops and cafes, including KFC, McDonald’s and Starbucks from America, but also local successes such as the UniQlo clothing emporium. Ichiban-gai soldiers on, despite its not flattering comparison. The place serves a different demographic, containing and preserving pleasures of its own. The interior view above and the exterior below were conceived as backdrops for a fashion layout. Have known this place for more than 20 years and have often shopped here for many things, shoes, bags for travel, long silk thermal-ware for winter, even groceries at the Yamakataya store that used to be here, but is now closed. For years, have wanted to shoot pictures here for the tension between fashion’s presumed cutting edge and the Ichiban-gai scrappy survivalist ethic.

Another older traditional building, on the open street adjacent to Ichiban-gai. Despite years of recession, Kagoshima seems to be exploding with new construction of all kinds. The new Chuo Station just down this narrow street has siphoned off whatever foot traffic this little coffee house might have previously drawn, but for now, apparently, there are still enough loyal customers to keep the place going.