Urban Life

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Fifth Ave

U is for an homage to urban life.

The following images are an homage to the urban environment and street life. The original people populating the “life” part of my urban pictorial ranged from affluent to dirt poor.

While the circumstances of some street people may be unfortunate, I see their presence as a natural — if devastating — part of the urban habitat. Still, my concern over a potential callous description of struggling individuals led me to include the majority of their images in a different type of post.

At the same time, I’ve preserved the diversity of people populating the various streets of this pictorial, be they in Los Angeles, New York, San Jose or Colombo.

Street Bikes

Having been born in Tehran, in certain parts, we would drive by an entire town of shanties made of corrugated tin. The tin city is a dominant image from my childhood, along with curious faces staring back at my own curiosity. I experienced the same while visiting Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, which resides by the sea.

Sri Lanka Kids

Sri Lanka Sunset

Sri Lanka Houses

The Sri Lanka images are from a couple of years ago when I booked the lead in a film bringing me there. The shoot caused me to miss three weeks of film classes, which I had to make up with an extra credit assignment. So I scraped together the shaky, lo-res footage and pictures of Sri Lanka I found on my phone. I added words and music to it, and ironically, the phone film survives, but the movie I was starring in never got completed. But I did get Sri Lanka out of it.

Note that I slapped on the label “Have a Heart Productions,” not referring to the content of the footage, but as a buttering-up joke for the film teacher to accept my bid for extra credit. (He did not.)

Here’s a bit of that pixelated journey.

Not all that’s beautiful is unmarred. I’ve caught my breath at many a ruin I’ve discovered by surprise, whether on a hiking trail in the Santa Monica mountains, or across the street from the Indian Ocean.


Having grown up in Tehran and New York, city life — from poverty in exotic capitals, to bullet holes and “tagged” ATMs in urban America — holds the same familiarity for me as my right and left hands.

The bullet hole below is of a Hollywood storefront. It happened between the time I walked to a concert venue to watch the Exceptionally Tall Man play the keyboard, and afterward when the two of us walked home together. The picture was taken by the Formerly Perfect Man, who left the gig before us, and jokingly claims he can’t come to my neighborhood without getting shot.

Bullet and ATM

I refer to the inexplicable allure of alleys, construction sites, abandoned shacks and ruins as a welcome haunting in me.

Certain barely-standing structures are breathtaking, tragically sublime — there are just too many untold stories in a beautiful ruin.

(This has been a companion piece to City Girl Hauntings.)

City Elements

Cab and Subway

Street Life

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~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Events always real, names always changed.

Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.

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  1. Cities are such fascinating places – maybe events is a better word, ongoing collective events, always in flux, not mere places. Thank you for this collection of impressions.

    1. Thanks for your visit. “Ongoing collective events” — that’s a nice way of putting it.

  2. You have such an eye for beauty, Gigi – for the cycle of humanity within civilisation and civilisation within humanity. Your images are beautiful but like the poet you quoted, there is as much and maybe more beauty in your mind and through the windows of your own self, as there is in the vistas around you. Thanks for letting us stand outside and peep in šŸ™‚ ā¤

    1. And you’re so lovely to see me that way — it seems like a much better version than I see myself.

      1. I think many would prefer to see themselves through other people’s eyes.

      2. I don’t necessarily prefer it. I do like it through your eyes, though. šŸ˜‰

      3. Well that’s alright then ā¤


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