When a sibling is gone, we must live on with the absence

The Pretty One. That’s who she was amid the gang of sisters.

She was also the quiet one, the creative one, the sweetest one of all — if we admit to the truth.

She is also, now, the first to go. Too soon, of course, but also at the right time for the journey she traveled.

You all know the smile, broad and given easily. You all know the eyes, large, lit with curiosity and whimsy. …


Mexico, Tengo unas preguntas para ti

México, México, lindo México, ¿por qué me castigas tanto, por qué sigues rompiéndome el corazón?

There is nothing easy in Mexico. There is nothing that once fixed or settled or mended stays that way. The country drifts toward the broken. ¿México, por qué se descompone tanto?

Tell me, mi amigo Mexico, why do you make education so hard? Why do you take the dreams of smart little girls, the one’s with the highest grades in their classes, and toss them like sacks of plastic soda bottles alongside your pot-holed roads? Why do you make teenage boys drop of out of…


I ran around the world looking for something, but thanks to Covid I finally find it — at home

I have friends who have recently gone to: Hawaii, Nicaragua, Italy, Idaho, Iceland, Spain, New York, Florida, Mexico City, Belize and Morocco.

I have gone to: Nowhere (well, once to Texas, but that was for a death).

What gives? Covid, of course, because even double-dosed with Pfizer I get trepidatious when I read about breakthroughs and waning immunity and vulnerable people who are the same age I am. But it’s more than just being bugged by the bug.

What’s happened is…


A family in Mexico, a Venezuelan refugee in Peru show that arguing Americans don’t know how privileged they are

A pretty young woman from a small country town in southern Mexico finds her way to the United States. There amid the ocean of immigrants in Los Angeles she meets, improbably, a young man from her hometown who had arrived a couple of years earlier. He is short, but muscled, and appraises others with an unabashed directness. He is handsome, rugged looking even, a country boy working hard in the big city. …


For those of us of a certain age, we will live the rest of our lives with these realities

It’s all smoke and Covid, smoke and Covid, a friend said yesterday. And it does seem that way.

Another friend said, while we walked through the neighborhood under ashen — quite literally — skies, “This is never going to end.” And so that seems, too.

I have enough years to say with without exaggeration that these fires and this disease will be with me for the rest of my life. The surety of this reality is comforting in a way because…


California is dying in the future it built

The morning sky is the color of well-weathered cement. The sun, what there is of it, burns deep red, tinging orange whatever it touches.

The news is bad. A new fire is loose in the foothills, burning so fast that a fire chief says he can’t put together an accurate map of its reach. Photographs show massive pyrocumulonimbus clouds roiling their way into the troposphere, their muscular beauty belying the burning hell beneath them.

California. I ran here in flight from my roots, as did millions. I arrived late, after the gold…


American arrogance meets a barefoot man with a rifle

The scene is a familiar one. A line of people outside an airport. A father holding a child in his arms. Another man opening his backpack for a security guard. The guard rummaging through the bag. It could be occurring in any U.S. airport. But it’s not.

The scene is Kabul, the line of people is leaving the airport — not trying to enter — and the security guard is barefoot.

Barefoot.

This photograph tells me all I need to know about the tragic, but inevitable, events taking place in Afghanistan…


America writhes in the grip of the knucklehead culture

Deep summer north of the Golden Gate means two things: fire and fog.

To the northeast, a couple of hours by car from my home, a monster blaze is devouring hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and grassland. Two days ago it reduced to charcoal a small town that had stood since the Gold Rush.

Here near the coast, the morning fog is so thick that from my hillside roost I cannot see the city-bound commuters on the freeway below. We dwellers of the cooler climes awake with gratitude if…


Cities and societies, just like individuals, are the sum of their choices

As there is nearly every day in San Francisco, there is a sad story today in the local paper about homelessness. This one reports that the city “has never been so flush with cash” and plans to spend “more than $1.1 billion over the next two years” to confront the problem.

Anyone who lives in or near San Francisco knows this is a never-ending story. Some time back, when I had the good fortune to oversee local reporting for San Francisco’s afternoon newspaper, I assigned and edited hundreds…


After a year of standing still, what do you do when you find that the world has moved on?

All last year, through the masks and the Zooms and the under-cut hair and the over-thought solitude and sheet-pan recipes and the books that were read and the so much that was unsaid, I told anyone who asked that I was fine. I’m good, I’d say. I’m reading books, I’m writing, I getting some work done. Then I’d apologize for my being so well while so many others were suffering.

Now, a half year gone in the second year of the…

Tim Porter

I'm a photographer and a writer.

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