I turn to see a large man—thick New York accent, tight black shirt, dark sunglasses, bluetooth headset, shaved head, gold jewelry adorning his ears, neck and wrists—start to approach me. I had just left my sister’s track meet and walked over to the part across the street to take a few quick shots.
“Just the water?”
“What? Yeah,” I nervously respond, not sure who he is or why he’s asking.
“Nice to meet you, man.”
“Yeah, you too.”
“You taking pictures for a class or just for yourself?”
“These are just for fun,” I say, “But I’m a graphic design major, so I do a lot of this stuff for school too.”
“Cool, man. I’ve been coming down here for 20 years taking photos. But you know what bro, no one respects it anymore. They throw trash everywhere. They don’t care.”
“I hear ya,” I say, still not sure what he wants.
“You should see the cameras I have at home, man. I got a Nikon. I got a Pansonic. I got a bunch of old Russian cameras…they shoot black and white film…you know what I’m talking about? Yeah…you know! They take awesome shots.”
We go on talking for a good ten minutes about cameras and music and B.B. King and anger and forgiveness and beauty and the time Ron protected the Polish people who happened to walk into the wrong bar at the wrong time.
“You know why I like shooting stuff like this? Because it’s good,” he goes on, “and we don’t know how long it will be here. It keeps disappearing, know what I mean, Jarrett. Not to be a pessimist man, but there is a lot of dark in the world these days.”
“I know what you mean. I think that’s why I’m an artist,” our conversation got pretty heavy pretty quickly, “There is so much despair and cynicism and depression in the world and maybe through my art, I can show people that there’s still some good left, you know, everything is amazing.”
“Yes, dude, yes! I love people like you. The world needs people like you,” Ron excitedly responds, “And you know what man, there are others like you. They are starting to come out. Their world has gotten so dark and they are slowly showing that light. They are making shit that’s making a difference and making the world better. We need them. We need you. I’m glad I stopped and talked to you man…Keep doing what you’re doing”
“Yeah, it was nice talking to you.”
So here’s to you, Ron. And everyone else making art that’s bringing light to a dark world. Thanks for reminding me why I do this.