Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

About the Audience

One of the drawbacks of spending most of my time with a camera close at hand is that I end up in way fewer photographs than the friends and family who oblige my documentary impulse. It was thus a great treat for me to see that my friend Joel Schalit had posted a shot of the early arrivals for the first reading on his tour for Israel vs. Utopia.

Sitting with friends in the audience for Joel Schalit's reading at the Elliott Bay Book Compnay in Seattle, 11/7/09

I'm blurry, fittingly, because I had just been taking shots of him standing at the podium and didn't realize until it was too late that what he was doing. That may sound odd, but I often hold the camera at chest level and make a point of not looking directly at either the view screen or my subject, because I've found that I can circumvent the pressure to pose that way.

I should also mention that the setting for this photograph makes it especially poignant for me. Elliott Bay Book Company, longtime anchor of Seattle's Pioneer Square district, is going to have to vacate the neighborhood. I first explored the store in 1992 on vacation with my then-partner and then happily returned, with Joel and Annalee Newitz, to read from the first Bad Subjects collection in January of 1998. Because the reading area in the basement adjoins the café that was recreated for the television show Frasier, one of many examples of 1990s culture that sold the city's virtues, I felt a touch of celebrity performing there. While the bookstore may live on at a new site, purportedly in Capitol Hill, the special feel of the classic building -- discernible in the brickwork in the back of the room here -- will not survive the transfer.
Tags: friends, travel

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