Let me start by saying what’s obvious: Waikiki is the worst place on Oahu. It’s a total tourist trap, wall-to-wall people, cars, tacky souvenir shops, sterile overpriced hotels, and bars that play bad dance music.

Morning in Waikiki

That said, there’s a lot to like about it.

I like that I could walk into a Lawson convenience store any time of day and walk out with a mochi ice cream, a can of sweet iced coffee, and a fried something-or-other.

I like the little Korean place across from our condo, where I waited in line with the construction workers and police officers for a quick, cheap, and filling breakfast of spam, corned beef, or Portuguese sausage with eggs and rice.

I like the basement food mall court where all the signs were in Japanese and where I had the best bowl of ramen of my entire life, the bowl by which all others are now judged.

God help me, I even like the damn ABC stores. Sure, they’re touristy as hell, and yes, they all have the same things, but sometimes you need bottle of water, a pack of aspirin, and an aloha shirt at 11:30 at night.

Early in the morning, before the traffic reaches Office Space proportions, before the river of humanity starts to flow up and down Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki is kind of… peaceful. My second morning in Oahu, I got up very early to take a walk and a few pictures.

Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, Waikiki Beach
Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the famous Hawaiian surfer, on Waikiki Beach
Stalking Chickens in Waikiki
Feral chickens are everywhere in Hawaii. This early, a lot of them were still sleeping, and the ones that are awake don’t take kindly to being stalked with a long camera lens.
Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach
Diamond Head looms over the south end of Waikiki. A few days later we would climb it and I saw this scene in reverse.

My employer, Hanson Inc, challenged the photographers on staff to get out and shoot locally for National Photography Month. The brief was to take a photo that celebrates Toledo and showcases our preferred photography style.

My first idea was to take a picture at the Toledo Zoo, but while driving home from work, something else caught my eye. Specifically, the wonderful fountain and historic church just a few hundred feet from my house, something that I drive past every day and rarely even notice.

Harvard Circle, Toledo

Last week, I got up before sunrise, put on a pot of coffee, and grabbed my tripod to play tourist in my own neighborhood. I walked down to the corner, took a left, and started shooting.

My neighborhood, Harvard Terrace, dates back to the early 20th century. Park Church, visible on the right, was opened in 1921.

"Clouds" and Park Church

The fountain in the middle of Harvard Circle is much newer. It’s a work by the Dutch-American sculptor Hans van de Bovenkamp entitled Clouds, commissioned by the city of Toledo and installed in 2000.

I really enjoyed working on these pictures and taking a photo walk in my own backyard. Thanks to Hanson for the assignment and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!

There’s no real story here, just a fun moment from Louisville Zoo in July of 2018. It’s a new year and since winter shows no signs of ending soon, it’s back into the piles and piles of unprocessed photos for me.

Boy and Bear, Louisville Zoo

 

In west-central Morocco, where the Souss River meets the sea and discharges the dust of desert and mountains into the blue Atlantic, sits the port of Agadir.

Its roots are ancient, its earliest origins lost to time. The Romans traded and fished in the area, known to them as Portus Risadir. The Berbers were here before them, and they’re still here.

Agadir is a Berber name. It means “walled enclosure, citadel”. It’s an equally ancient word, possibly borrowed from Punic, the language of the ancient Semites that sailed from Lebanon and wrestled Rome for control of the Mediterranean.

Camel Parking

And yet, most of the Agadir you see is very young. In the 20th century, the sleepy old fishing village, home to Berbers and Romans and Portuguese and Arabs, grew into a major city, only to be completely obliterated.

On February 29, 1960, the third day of Ramadan, an earthquake shook the town to its foundations. The tremor wasn’t particularly strong, at 5.8 on the moment-magnitude scale, but Agadir was unprepared.

Morocco is not prone to tremors and earthquake-resistant construction was barely a consideration. The city was full of flimsy brick and rammed-earth structures, and when the quake hit, they toppled or simply disintegrated.

In minutes, three-quarters of the city was destroyed. The medieval Kasbah, perched on a hill at the north end of town, crumbled and slid down the slope. As many as 15,000 people died, and 35,000 more were left homeless as fires raged through the rubble.

WIthin hours, King Mohammed V broadcast a call for help and flew in to supervise the relief. French soldiers and American sailors came in to assist the Moroccans, but rescue efforts were slowed by oppressive heat and the near-complete scale of the destruction.

Corpses baked in the sun, spreading disease, and victims refused medical treatment, not wanting to break their Ramadan fast. In the end, large areas of the city were simply bulldozed under. In the photo below, the area left of the highway is a part of town that has been abandoned since the earthquake.

Agadir has recovered since 1960. The city is bigger now than ever, and it’s a major tourist center. People come from all over Morocco and Europe to enjoy the warm weather and stroll the wide beach, complete with theme park and marina shopping district. It goes without saying that reinforced construction is now required, and Agadir withstood quakes in 2014 and 2017 with minimal damage.

The road to Essaouira

You can see the ruined Kasbah from anywhere in town. There’s not much left, just a crumbling foundation and part of the old wall. I was almost the only visitor. Agadir has moved on and most folks seemed more interested in shopping at Zara and having an ice cream on the beach than reminiscing about antique destruction. Looking down at the sea of stones that were once a mosque and an entire district of homes, I thought about how quickly the most permanent of things can change.