Galleria de Gunther

Or: Photos from D.C. that have nothing to do with all the other photos from D.C. you're currently seeing.

Hi Sternal Journalists,

Rough couple weeks for the D.C. Metro area and the country. We are being bombarded with images of the District that are terrifying, spooky, and everything in between*.

(*In case you were wondering, the two things that comprise everything between terrifying and spooky are “scary” and “heebiejeebalous”)

Last week, my dad (Gunther aka Gunster aka GunDaOne)—a recent retiree after a few decades of running the Georgetown Ministry Center, a homeless outreach center that works with unhoused folks in Georgetown—announced that he was printing out and framing some photos he had taken over the years that he liked.

This sounds whimsical and nice and it is, so if you don’t know him, I think it’s important to know that he is also a self-described “Grinch” and “asshole” and other things I won’t print here. But he also also does a lot of ceramic pottery (Need a mug? We have mugs!) and will just decide randomly to create a small photo exhibit. Basically, he contains multitudes and all multitudes he contains are pretty cool.

So as a respite from the photos of the other D.C. stuff that has happened and hopefully will not happen again (but we have to brace for potentially other stuff while hoping for the best), here is a selection of photos from… The Galleria de Gunther accompanied by a few micro-interviews.

(Note: Many of these pictures include people my dad worked with in his homeless outreach. Homelessness is not a fun distraction from fascism, but it is technically different from the main existential threat people are worried about right now. Also apparent in some of the pictures is the joy that can come from outreach efforts. Look for outreach orgs in your community and find out how to support them.)

Gunther: So this picture, there's like this guy up front, but then there's these girls* in the back and this family here, and the White House behind. (*over the silver man’s right shoulder. **to the left of the girls)

Julian: [Laughs]

But I think this guy in front of these women is just really great. I kinda wish that I could have had better detail because I just love her glasses. It's kinda like a Where's Waldo kinda thing, there's always other stuff you're finding in it. 

Mm-hm.

But the sky was just this incredible grey. So much going on. 

Do you know that person, the Silver...

Him? Yeah. 

You do? Really?!

Yeah. He used to come in [to homeless outreach center Georgetown Ministry Center] all the time. 

He's homeless?

He's yeah, he's homeless, but he's sort of higher functioning homeless. He's probably manic and he has all these things going on. Um, everything is... nothing is gonna succeed, but he's trying everything.

So you mean like other things, not just the Silver?

He's got all these little endeavors going on, yeah. He's got a van that he just barely keeps legal.

That's cool.

Gunther: You know, actually this guy here [confused man in blue on left] kinda makes the picture honestly. I mean the picture... wouldn't be as interesting without him there.

Julian: Who's the person in the foreground?

Um, what is his name? Interesting guy, he's smart and articulate and very friendly and he has... what is it? Mawpans?

Alexis (mom) from the next room: Marfans?

Marfans. 

That Lincoln had?

Yeah, he's--exactly. But that's not the only thing he had, there's all kinds of things. 

Gunther: That's Billy. This picture would have been a lot better if it had--I don't know why it's faded out at the bottom. Maybe the lens was dirty. But I could fix that.

Julian: Is it possible that we met him in a Starbucks one time?

Gunther: Possible.

Talking about books.

Coulda been. What kinda books?

Some like big book he was reading.

Hm. Was he throwing German into his um...

I don't think so.

Gunther: This is a great picture. 

Julian: Who's he? 

John. He's from Trinidad. He's in his... he's quite a bit older than me. He's probably 75 in this picture. 

Did you pose him like that or--

Nonono.

Did he not want his picture taken?

No, I said "Can I take your picture?" And he said, "Yeah, sure." That was the way he looked.

Julian: Who's kit is that?

Gunther: Nathan's. When I first met him, he had this giant cart with a big American flag over it. Now he has this huge American flag over three carts.

Did he get a bigger American flag for it?

I don't know where he got that American flag. Somebody called the police on him because he wasn't taking good care of it.

Really?!

Yeah.

Jesus Christ.

The police came and apologized to him. 

Did the person like get into a fight with him?

No. They were just offended that he was um, that's it.

Gunther: And this is a great picture too.

Julian: Is that in Georgetown?

Mmhm.

Looking at Watergate?

That's Watergate over there [on the right]. Yeah.

Do you know when that's from?

It was about five years ago. I was just there when that thing was there.

///

There are more pics I liked, but these were the ones I got him to talk about tonight! Again, take a look in your community for organizations serving the homeless and creating sustainable housing. Support them. Don’t be a NIMBY. If you’re in LA, I’ll once again plug Six for Six by Shower of Hope. They’re raising money for housing to go to six currently homeless community college students.

Recommendations:

TV: Pretend It’s a City (Netflix). I found out who Fran Liebowitz is! Thought she was the photographer, she’s not. It’s fun watching her complain.

Stand-up: Dave Chappelle’s Killin’ Them Softly (HBOMax), which I watched and then listened to

Podcasts: The Specials. Jesse David Fox of Vulture comedy fame started this podcast where they break down classic comedy specials. I really enjoyed rewatching KTS and forgot how many jokes that now feel like memes were born there. They also talk a lot about the paradox of Dave Chappelle being someone who gets so many important, big things right, and then doubles and triples down on being wrong (his recent transphobic jokes) later in his career, so it’s certainly not all reverence.

Music: Rollin’ 20s by Flo Milli. Fiddler on the Roof sample. Game over.

And Sternal Journal over. Miss you, love you, (hope to) see you soon!

Julian