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California’s Bloodless Bullfighting

Earlier this month, I traveled to a small Central Valley town for my first bloodless bullfight. The weekend was part of a series of Portuguese American events that occur throughout “the valley.” The bullfight was also sponsored by the Carlos Vieiera Foundation to raise money for autism.

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Portuguese California Bloodless Bullfighting Photo Gallery

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I attended the bloodless bullfight, the same weekend that two American towns experienced deadly mass shootings. The crowd acknowledged those lost in El Paso with a minute of silence. Our crowd had not yet learned about Dayton when the evening started. I wouldn’t learn until much later that evening.

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California allows bullfighting, as long as the contest is “bloodless.” As I understand the law, the animals are not allowed to shed blood. From what I learned, the people who attend these bullfights support the law.

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The humans may still poke the bull, but humans use velcro sticks.

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The bulls horns are covered with leather to protect the horses. Portuguese bullfighting emphasizes the horse rider’s skill more than the Spanish version of bullfighting that emphasizes the matador. In older Spanish bullfights, horses were often killed by bulls.

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I was impressed how the community promoted the culture, tradition and heritage of bullfighting, and yet changed the future by creating a bloodless bullfight. I am especially impressed this month. I had already decided to write this post today, before I learned about yet another mass shooting in America. Our country is struggling to learn how to keep our traditions and move towards a bloodless society… and yet it can be done.

Maybe we need to learn from Small Town, USA.

 

Overnight Walk San Francisco

I have been thinking about this post for weeks, and I have wanted to write something organized and transformative about suicide, but sometimes life and stories don’t work that way.

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Earlier this month I attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in San Francisco. I volunteered to photograph the event this time. Three years ago I walked with my two children.

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I don’t know if the camera helps me connect or if it keeps me isolated.

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There are two national walks each year. This year the walks were in San Francisco and Boston. Father’s Day was on the weekend between the two walks. I lost my father to suicide the year I became a father. The last several weeks, I thought about him often, and I thought about what it means to be a father..

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I was surprised this year that I struggled. I struggled to write. I struggled to be grateful on Father’s Day. I probably started struggling in May. Because I did not know why I struggled, I struggled more… but I am not sure if that is the real reason.

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I have met many friends through this journey. I can often connect quickly with people who have experienced this type of loss. I am more comfortable when I am in the company of fellow travelers, even though it reminds me that I often live in a culture that does not deal well with all of the stages of grief.

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I took some good photos, but the connections were more important… as much for me for the other people.

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Ten years after my father died, I spent the day mindful of the anniversary. When I wrote about the experience, I became grateful. I wanted to write something similar this time.

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On May 10th, I wanted to attend a concert in San Francisco, but I was afraid. I was afraid to walk the same streets that I walked when I wrote this post in 2013. I wasn’t afraid of the streets. More recently, I became afraid to express myself. I thought that I would be reminded of being too vulnerable.

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A few years ago, I had been more brave, but I also had more to say.

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One of these days, I will have more to say again. Maybe it will be something profound. Until then, I will keep showing up. I will find safe people and be a safe person for others.

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… and leave some things unfinished.

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and here is the photo gallery from the overnight.

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NOTE: I edited this post in July. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it wasn’t that good either.

2019 MLA Kindergarten Portraits

I photographed the Melrose Leadership Academy kindergarten classes again. This year, I asked principal Moyra Contreras to join our portrait session. This is Moyra’s last year as the MLA principal.

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If not for Ms. Contreras, I would not have had access the last ten years to document the school’s growth. As a photographer, I am continually grateful to Ms. Contreras and the rest of the school community for allowing me to work on this project. I would probably thank everyone more, but I don’t want to draw too much attention to my good fortune.

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If not for Ms. Contreras, the dual immersion district school may not have become a reality. Navigating OUSD and the community requires emotional intelligence that I will never develop.

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The first class of kindergarteners that I photographed are now in high school. This year’s kindergarten students have just begun their journey. In education, we don’t measure much of what is learned in school… we don’t measure what I can see in the photos, and how the young students have learned to represent themselves.

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For more photos from this year, see the 2019 gallery

For more photos from previous years, type kindergarten in the search box

For a bonus photo of Moyra during the 2012 kinder project