NOTES ON SCAVENGERS

I am always amused, when strolling Waikiki, to think of all the tourist photos snapped by momentary visitors to Rome, to Paris, to Vienna, who over the years have documented the tawdriest of purpose-made delights, concessions stands, book stalls, Sacher tortes, beach scenes, and in whose now-faded but dependably blurry slideshows lurk the accidental images of ghosts: Stephen Spender catching a cab, the back of Nabokov on a bench, the top of Truffaut's head, J.D. Salinger eating a peach, Proust leaning out of a carriage, unseen coups and chance salvages, passing Polaroids, never uncovered but priceless finds, not to mention all those dearly treasured mementoes featuring featureless private portraitists and deposed monarchs, their faces forever averted from magazines, but brazenly on display to clueless hordes of photographic coin hunters, those lonely figures with their metal detectors and disposable cameras who scour beaches endlessly for treasure too trivial to bear, a telephone pole, their feet, a pizza.