Two Chairs


Doctor’s Office, Santa Monica. April 2013

This is one of my personal favorites. Something about the minimalist decor and the expectant angle of the chairs. Taken during the first month of the project. Another doctor’s office, this time my cardiologist for a regular check-up. I have been coming here since before my bypass surgery nearly 15 years ago. That adventure is a story unto itself, suffice to say the operation was a success. Dr. Fallon is one of the best in town, and has referred us to many extraordinary doctors over the years. Both my wife and I literally owe our lives to her.

Hsien Ma

Acupuncturist’s Office, Marina Del Rey. April 2013

Over the years I have sought acupuncture treatment for a variety of ailments. While not a waiting room per se, this chair in the doctor’s office is specifically for a patient to wait in while the doctor is with another patient. The office has a tranquil atmosphere, each treatment always started with a cup of tea, and Dr. Hsien has a very calming and reassuring air. You can see the doctor’s desk in the corner with another chair for the patient to sit in while talking to the doctor. This chair is only for waiting. To the left of the chair is a doorway with a beaded curtain that leads to the treatment area. I was getting treated for hip and back issues. At the time Jake was living at home and we both saw the doctor once or twice a week for many of the same things. Like father, like son. Jake primarily for his back pain and to help with anxiety. In addition to the traditional needles and hot cupping, Dr. Hsien would attach electric wires to the needles for deep muscle stimulation. I had never experienced anything like it before. Overall, his treatments were very effective, we always emerged calmer and more relaxed. While I no longer see Dr. Hsien, he is still there in his small two-room office in the Marina.

Lincoln Barbers

Lincoln Barbers, Santa Monica. April 2013

Everybody needs to get their hair cut. By April, I was well into the waiting room project, and began to look for these spaces, and the best photograph, rather than having the image come upon me. I took several shots of these chairs from different angles before deciding on this one. Lincoln Barbers is a no-frills place with cinder block walls and a concrete floor. Most of the barbers are young Latino men, many with tattooed necks and close-shaven heads. Three years ago, the haircuts were cheap, and you could get an old-fashioned hot towel shave for 15 bucks. My guy, Steven, was a polite 24-year old who gave me a great haircut. You can see him in the mirror with his back turned. I began going to Lincoln when I worked down the street the year before, and liked the experience so I continued to patronize them. I took Jake there a couple of times, and he hit it off with Steven, who was the same age. Jake wasn’t with me this day, it was just another haircut. I got to know Steven a little, he had overcome some adversity to get to where he was, and his dream was to open his own shop. He had plans to do so, and told me about them right after I took this shot. I have more to say about Steven in a later post, so stay tuned.

Empress Pavilion

Empress Pavilion, Downtown. April 3, 2013

This is the waiting area next to the bar at the Empress Pavilion, what was once our go-to Dim Sum restaurant. We would often go there with Jake on a Sunday for lunch. It is a huge place with a cavernous dining room that was packed with noisy diners nearly every day. On a busy Sunday, you might wait an hour for your table. Red-jacketed ladies pushed steaming carts, laden with towers of gleaming silver steamers filled with translucent dumplings, to and fro between the tables. Har Gow, Chicken with Pine Nuts, Gai Bao, Rice Noodle with Fish, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, Chicken Pies, Fun Quor, these were some of our favorites. Many of our best times with Jake revolved around food and eating.

In our family, food is more than just something to eat. It is a creative expression, an act of love. We cooked with Jake from the earliest age, and there are some wonderful stories that involve Jake and the kitchen. He ended up going to culinary school and worked in some of the best restaurants in Venice for a while. Sadly, the Empress closed a couple of years ago due to rising overhead. It has re-opened recently but is only a shadow of its former glory. Its closing propelled us on a quest to find a replacement. We traversed the LA area from Redondo Beach to the San Gabriel Valley, and finally found our new favorite, Ocean Seafood right down the street from the Empress in downtown L.A.

12 Chairs

UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica. March 2013

Waiting with Jake again. He had been complaining about back pain for some time, and had received a diagnosis of a herniated disc. We were at the UCLA medical office in Santa Monica seeking a second opinion at the suggestion of a dear family friend. The idea was to create an integrated care plan through the UCLA system to address the damage to his spine, create an intelligent pain management program, and help with strengthening his core muscles and overall physical condition. As it turned out, he would seek treatment elsewhere, but we visited this waiting room more than once. There are a few photos of this place, it was at the very beginning of what would become the Waiting Room Project, and had a variety of different looks. On other occasions the room would be filled with people, but today, we were the only ones there for our early appointment.

The First Photograph

UCLA Medical Center, Westwood Village. March 2013

This is the very first photo I took for what would develop into a mild obsession and a multi-year endeavor. I was at the UCLA medical center on Thursday, March 28, 2013, waiting for Jake to finish with a doctor’s appointment, when this chair caught my eye. There was something about the symmetry, the late afternoon light streaming in the window, the angle of the magazine on the table that screamed, “Photograph me!” I had my iPhone  and was exploring the Hipstamatic app I had recently installed. This was in native black and white, as would be all of the succeeding photographs. I didn’t think anything of it when I snapped the picture, had no idea of what it would lead to. I just liked the image. It seemed tranquil in an odd way, like a place in which you wouldn’t mind waiting.