Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vonnegut In The Park

When I am traveling, I like to get up early in the morning and go wandering the streets taking pictures. The light at that time of the day is magical and the streets are never too crowded. On a Sunday morning, downtown Pittsburgh is populated by a few homeless early risers and the random jogger. I meandered my way down to Point Park at the tip of the city. The park itself had seen better days and much of it was trapped behind chainlink construction fences which I hope means renovations are imminent.

The one landmark that was still accessible and in operation was the fountain at the end of the park right where the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers merge to form the Ohio. Marring my pristine view was a woman laying on the fountain reading a book at eight in the morning on a weekend. Making lemonade out of lemons, I put on the telephoto lens and took some shots with one of Pittsburgh’s great steel bridges as a backdrop.

I eventually wandered down to the edge of the water and took some panorama style shots of the river and the city back drop. Walking back inland, my unwitting photo subject had sat up and was staring into the distance. That’s when I noticed that the book she was reading was Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut, which is not even one of his better known novels.

Out of some sense of karmic connection, I told her out of nowhere that I loved Kurt Vonnegut. And then as an afterthought, I asked if I could take her picture with the fountain in the background. She was flustered and confused but said “yes.”

I have no idea who she is and we surely will never see each other again. I bet she is worrying her friends with her story about how some creepy guy with a camera wanted her picture and they are telling her not to hang around public parks alone. But I can’t help but think of the cosmic coincidence that brings two fans of Vonnegut to the same fountain on a random Sunday morning. Some chrono-synclastic infundibulum came unstuck in time to put us both there at the same moment and then spun us back into a separate lives. Hi ho.

For my pictures of Pittsburgh that don't feature random strangers, check out my Flickr set.


A Free Man said...

That long distance shot is a great one. It's also somehow reassuring to know that there are people out there that aren't overburdened with suspicion of their fellow man. And that read Vonnegut.

VE said...

You should see all the stalker photos she has of you now up on her blog...

Bob Braughler said...

Point State Park is in the middle of a 2-year renovation. It is currently a mess, but should be quite nice when it's finished. The fountain is undergoing repairs as well. Currently only the side "peacock" sprays work -- the central geyser, which is massive, won't be back on until next summer.