I am now officially in love with the main branch of the San Leandro Public Library. Not only is it spacious and comfortable and wonderfully quiet, you can also share space fellow bibliophiles like the gentleman in this drawing.
Ever since I completed my Black Santa ‘zine, I’ve been hyper aware of those older brothers who have Black Santa potential. This man was shopping at the Berkeley Bowl on one of those warm pre-Christmas shopping days that blew through the Bay Area last week. He was wearing a dark v-neck T-shirt that showed off his impressively muscular upper-body. If Black Santa was a body builder, he’d probably look like this guy.
Here’s another image from my What Do Brothas Do All Day ‘zine. The sun and the flower/star shapes in the background are versions of Ananse Ntontan, the spider’s web. This West African Adinkra symbolizes wisdom and the complicated nature of life.
This is the face of a not-so-happy older guy who apparently agreed to accompany his wife on a trip to the craft store. I remain quite amused by the fact that craft stores are so very gendered. Like their male-associated counterpart, the hardware store, the products that craft stores sell are essentially gender neutral; and yet their clientele is anything but. And, to be perfectly honest, hardware stores are not the bastions of maleness and masculinity that they used to be. Take a trip to Home Depot or Ace some time. If you’re there on a weekday, you’ll probably notice that, while most of the contractors who shop at the hardware store are men, the amateurs–the shoppers who are preparing for a do-it-yourself home improvement project or repair–are pretty much all over the gender spectrum. The gender of craft store shoppers, on the other hand, seems to have changed very little since the mid-70s, when craft mega-stores like Michael’s first appeared. No matter where I go, from the Bible belt to the Bay Area, the craft stores are filled with women and girls; but men (and even masculine women) are conspicuously absent. One hypothesis is, of course, that femininity is less fragile than masculinity and, thus, women feel freer to cross gender lines into traditionally male activities like carpentry and plumbing than men feel about crossing into traditionally female activities like quilting and scrapbooking.
Whether or not this is the entirely true, I can say that the man in this drawing, seemed almost comically uncomfortable in his craft store surroundings. While his wife browsed rather leisurely through the Halloween-themed fabric squares, he stood frowning, with his hands awkwardly hanging at his sides, seemingly afraid to even touch anything in the store.
I ran into this gentleman at the Piedmont Grocery, on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. He moved slowly and tentatively up and down the aisles in a way that suggested both a lifetime of wear and tear and the grace and serenity of old age.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
Posted by Ajuan Mance