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Chasing the Lit Mag Photo Essay, 14

Working with NYC street photographer Donato DiCamillo, San Antonio, Texas, January 2018.

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March 15, 2018
 
 

Listen, I’d want to keep us out too. Three thugs loosely associated with a regional state uni in southwest Louisiana, one of them calling himself a perfesser, and some guy from NYC with a bag full of expensive cameras? Forget about it.

We drove in the front entrance of Dominion and past the driving range distorted in the mists of sprinklers. (The sheepish comedian in our car stayed quiet this time.) I wanted to pull in the visitors’ lane, next to the manned guard building, but my colleagues shouted at me to get in the residents’ lane instead, in the belief the gate would lift automatically. After the Bimmers, Hummers, Bentleys, and authorized service trucks ahead of us passed, one-by-one, through the gate, we had arrived.

The smiling guard came out to see us after an embarrassingly long wait. She did us the honor of pretending to look for the transponder on my front bumper that didn’t exist. She listened patiently as I explained that my commissioned photographer hoped to get a diverse view of San Antonio, and she said smoothly that, of course, all we had to do was make a left at the end of her building, and a left back the way we came, and another left, through the chain link fence, into the Homeowners Association offices, where the General Manager would be more than happy to speak with us. She pushed a button that lifted the gate. I pulled forward and my colleagues shouted at me to floor it and race up where the houses were.

Instead Donato and I walked into the HOA office. One of the receptionists heard me out and called Greg, who shook our hands and told us he’d “heard most of it” from his office. He escorted Donato and me to a conference room, asked us to please have seats in the executive chairs at the seminar table, offered us water or coffee, had me repeat all I’d said, then very professionally and summarily reached his managerial judgment: Absolutely not.

Exclusivity was The Dominion’s entire goal, watchword, reason for being, he said, and letting us take photos or talk to residents “goes against everything we stand for.” Donato and I looked at him. That view was “controversial,” he mumbled, a little uncomfortable now and evidently recalling prior conversations.

But Greg brightened. He said that if we had more time than we had, we could possibly contact some people who did a newsletter for The Dominion, with socialite photos in it from their country club events. Maybe they’d let us go with them to one of those events. He could try to find the name of the editor for us—he thought he had it somewhere—though the newsletter was, he remembered sadly, defunct.

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