I have a "Bingo!" Now all booked events through March are fully and resolutely cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I now declare March a non-work month.

Channeling my inner-Eggleston.
entitled: Red Chair

The process is complete. All six assignment days for corporate events in March have just been officially cancelled. In polite parlance: rescheduled. Except we don't have a future date so I guess that should be: potentially rescheduled. I knew this was coming the minute I heard that the giant SXSW Festival was cancelled. All the clients were very kind. Each asked if there was some sort of cancellation fee they owed me for holding the dates but, of course, it's part of customer service to say, "No" except in egregious circumstances such as a cancellation from an event that is still happening. Especially egregious when that sort of cancellation happens the day before a show...

No, we are kind to our good customers in the hope that they will actually re-book us when the new dates for the events are put on the calendar. I often say, "we'll need their money just as much then..."

While I think I understand, intellectually, what all this means; the social distancing, the fear of contagion, the desire to stay safe, I'm not sure I was processing it in the part of my brain that understands solid, practical stuff. So I went out for a walk through the city today to get a gauge on the emotions and the general vibe in downtown. Would it be a ghost town? Would everyone have on a mask and latex gloves? Would trucks be driving slowly past the residence towers with loudspeakers blaring, broadcasting the call from medieval times, "Bring out yer dead. Bring out yer dead."? 

I took the little, happy and ebullient Sigma fp with its whimsical companion lens, the Sigma 45mm f2.8. After spending the afternoon with that camera and a cheap, big loupe for the rear screen, I can't imagine why I was thinking of getting a Panasonic GX8. The answer of what to buy next was right at the end of the camera strap. The little Sigma fp kept whispering to me: "Wait until the Dow drops under 18,000 and then buy some more Apple stock...." 

Green Table.

As I walked across the pedestrian bridge into downtown everything was quiet. Looking out toward the west of the lake I thought I'd see the usual dense fleet of paddle boards and kayaks but there were only one or two, drifting aimlessly, their pilots glued to their phones, no doubt watching the minute by minute gyrations of the stock market or the else reading about the conflicting, ever changing and self-serving manipulations of our criminal government. Ah. A halt to payroll taxes...that way, after the election we can strip out social security and medicare with the claim that they will inevitably become insolvent... Another in a series of victories for the robber barons of 2020. 

But I digress. While I saw fewer people rushing around today doing commerce I did see more people out walking their dogs. I saw very, very few people in the restaurants lining 2nd St. and Congress Ave. and I noticed that traffic was so light today that one could find not just one or two but dozens of available parking places around the city. 

I trudged on to what should have been the epicenter of SXSW; the convention center. It was empty. Only the maintenance people remained and they were busy hauling unused signage to the dumpsters. 

I crossed the street to the adjacent Hilton Hotel. Normally, it's packed during SXSW and the lobby is overflowing with coffee swilling tech boys and girls. Today you could chase tumbleweeds through the lobby blindfolded and never chance hitting another guest. The taco restaurant was closed, I think, out of sheer despair, and the loading docks were overflowing with cases of unwanted tequila. 

trying to channel my inner Stephen Shore but I couldn't find any scene boring and mundane enough. 
I settled for colorful chairs. 

What made the eery quiet so strange today was the fact that all the clouds had dissipated and the sky was clear and beautiful. The temperature was in the low 80's which is usually a strong lure for Austinites to be out and about, tanning and preening and enjoying outside. 

It was a comfortable walk. Social distancing was not a problem. The sidewalks were nearly empty and the streets were quiet. As I walked along with my camera clutched in my left hand I found myself daydreaming about what to do for the last half of a month with no obligations, no reservations and no schedule. Looks like I'll start with a trip to the coast followed by a trip to the deserts of west Texas.

The Sigma fp is raring to go. But we might bring along a few extra lenses. That 20mm is begging me to accelerate my dicey learning curve. I need to become a bit more comfortable with wide, wide angles. 

Everything else is a caption. 

The last time it hit 80 with bright sun you could have walked across the packed kayaks and paddle boards to the other side of the lake without getting your Birkenstock sandals damp. Today? Not so much.

Channeling W.E. #2

Spring sprang about a month ago and everything is green and blossoming. 

Shadows and highlights with no intervention from the sliders.

Oh. Yay. Another downtown building. I wonder which Austin landmark they tore down this time to make another posh nest for attorneys....?

A mural at the convention center Hilton Hotel. 

A chair at the convention center just longing to be sat upon by a SXSW attendee. 


the next three photos are the empty venue. 

Even the space around the new library is as empty as in one of those movies where everyone is dead and only zombies remain and all of a sudden they rush out of the crevasses of the city and try to eat your brain. But today the library didn't even play host to zombie hordes....

Scooters went unloved. 

Steps untrod. 

And men were reduced to carrying pink bags for girlfriends who had YouTube programming playing on phones, phones clutched behind their backs like secrets. 

The dogs were the happy ones. No competition from bad bands from Poland and Belgium...

And that's the saga of the immediate impact of COVID-19 on the photo scene in CenTex.