Nov 02, 2004
Bush ... For a Day
If Bush wins, he'll be his old self again tomorrow.
For today, however, facing the prospect of defeat, Bush is displaying a real humanity. It's a tragedy (for him, but more so, for the country and the world) that he has been unable to access anything close the past four years. The images today show a feeling Bush, as opposed to someone who has awkwardly assumed emotional poses (strength, determination, compassion).
In my entry about the costumed Bush staffers, I concluded that they had "lost it." Rather, what's happened is that the entire Bush team has suddenly dropped it's guard. This morning's NYTimes piece ("From Bush, a Late Call for Support Across Party Lines") revealed as much. Elisabeth Bumiller wrote:
Mr. Bush's aides, after asserting for weeks that they were confident and calm, finally admitted in the last marathon stretch that they were on edge.
Other accounts also reveal a more honest picture.
In this morning's USA Today, Judy Keen and Richard Benedetto wrote:
Bush has said he's working too hard to feel wistful about his last run for office. But he has remarked on passing moments to his advisers: the last week, the last Thursday, the last weekend, the last day. He made sure that aides who have been at his side throughout his political career were with him at the campaign's end.
Mike Allen and Lyndsey Layton in this morning's Washington Post wrote:
But despite the insistence that all was well, the erosion in the moods of Bush's inner circle over the past two weeks was unmistakable. Several of his close advisers said they were concerned because the president had achieved no last-minute momentum, and Democratic turnout was looking as if it might swamp the Bush-Cheney campaign's projections.
Mark McKinnon, Bush's chief ad strategist, flew with him all day and said Bush was "nostalgic" about having so much of his team from 2000 out on the road with him one last time. Asked about the mood on the plane, a subdued McKinnon replied, in a deadpan voice: "Jubilation."
It's enlightening to know that there are actual people behind the steel and bravado. But if Bush wins, no one will every believe there was even a crack in the window.
Nov 01, 2004
The Known Soldier
Larry Holdaway is an artist and photographer who created this haunting, nearly recognizable face by combining the available portraits of every American soldier killed in Iraq from March 2003 to September 2004.
As Larry writes: "This is the face of America's sacrifice, the face of more than a thousand families' pain. Do you recognize it?"
View the full scale image, here.
You can see more of Larry's work at bluestarfolly.com
Oct 25, 2004
Cheap Shot of the Day
Yahoo/AP offers this shot of Bill Clinton "greeting audience members" at a rally for John Kerry at Love Park, Philadelphia--of all places.
The rally, by the way, drew over 100,000 people.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Oct 06, 2004
WWI In Color
Joerg Colberg's blog has a nice entry tracking down some of the few color photographs from WWI.
Given the ahistorical mindset in the country, as well as the tendency to view war as an abstraction, such documentation can only contribute to the undeniability of "real live" conflict. (Link.)
Sep 13, 2004
For a great "all around" look at the RNC protests, go here.
link source: growabrain
Aug 30, 2004
One of the Largest Protests Hardly Anybody Ever Saw
Estimates of NYC march range up to 500k.
(image: matt law)
Aug 27, 2004
RNC: Banner Week
Of all the events and actions (they used to call them "happenings") taking place in New York, I find the banners drops among the most dramatic.
Aug 05, 2004
As the Vote Rocks, the Stiff Wander the White House
In his Arts (and Politics) column in the NYTimes about a half year ago, Frank Rich speculated that the biggest reelection blindspot for Bush had to do with his ignorance of popular culture. This article was written just as the wheels were coming off the Dean wagon, but at the same time people were realizing how much his sudden rise was fueled by the (populist) internet.
Despite the skill and savvy of Rove and Co., the model they operate out of is a generation behind, geared too much toward the tools (direct marketing) and constituencies (Bush Pioneers, fossil fuel industry) of pre-dot com culture and consciousness.
I realize that most of what has been attracting my blogging attention recently (and not just mine) is the backlash to Bush in the popular culture. However you care to slice it (youth culture, art culture, movie culture, music culture), Bush has catalyzed an emotional and expressive response that is building exponentially toward November.
You know what I find the most telling though?
Despite the intense level of creativity energy circulating now, it's not that Bush and Co. are failing to push back on it, it's that they don't even seem to register it!
(Pulitzer Prize winning photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko. Yeltsin Rocks In Rostov. 1996. Associated Press.)
(Newseum.org Pulitzer Prize "Capture the Moment" interactive exhibition here)
Jul 14, 2004
Leading Photos: This Guy's a Real Vacuum Case
The more of these front page photos I study, the more I come to admire the editorial ingenuity of the NYTimes. Even if they run with the day's leading shot, they hardly ever use the most stage-managed version. Instead, if they have the choice, they tend to go with something that suggests other political interpretations.
Yesterday's edition has a shot of President Bush looking at centrifuge parts at the Oak Ridge Labs. Here are a few associations I came up with:
a.) Like Paul O'Neill said, Bush is not a "hands-on" kind of guy
b. ) Didn't Poppa Bush make the same face when they showed him the supermarket scanner?
c.) When it comes to confronting the issue of nukes, this guy comes off awfully small
d.) Still not listening to the folks who know
Jul 12, 2004
If the Truth be Told
As part of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a photographic exhibition has been created to document the violence, murder and forced disappearance of approximately 60,000 Peruvians in the '80s and '90s.
Temporarily housed in a crumbling mansion in the town of Chorrillos, the exhibition, titled Yuyanapaq ("To Remember"), has drawn a large stream of visitors. Although the installation, modeled after Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, has been lauded for its impact, it's future is uncertain. The Catholic University in Lima, which lent the use of the house, is strapped for cash and wants the space back. The commission, curators and photographers are currently pressuring the government to provide funding.
Regarding the photo above, the Shining Path rebel group marked its formation by hanging dead dogs from lampposts in Lima. Around the dogs’ necks were signs reading “son of a bitch.”
A sampling of the photographs can be found here on the Open Society Foundation website.
(photo: Carlos Bendezú, Caretas magazine)
Jul 03, 2004
May Day! May Day!
While I'm on the subject of collected images, there is a wonderful photo gallery of May Day 2004 protests at the Design Action Collective website. Located in Oakland, California, Design Action provides graphic design services to many grassroots and activist groups including Greenpeace, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Global Exchange. Ranging from whimsical to severe, these photographs couldn't be more expressive. (An article from Agence France-Presse accompanies the photos.)
Besides a powerful reminder of the deadly gap between the haves/have mores and the have nots, what the gallery highlights to me is the extent to which popular expression, particularly political protest, has lost the attention of the popular press.
Jun 27, 2004
Israeli Soldiers: There's Shooting and There's Shooting
One of the themes I've been tracking for the past few months is the "unofficial" circulation of wartime images. Although there have been many unofficial photos and video journals posted by and from soldiers over the past couple years, Abu Ghraib has brought the practice into sharper focus. The latest installment on the subject comes from Israel.
An exhibition titled "Breaking the Silence" is comprised of photos taken by Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank city of Hebron. The members of the IDF unit (above) who created the exhibit said that they wanted the Israeli public to see for itself "what's really gone on."
Despite the controversy generated by the exhibition, it is scheduled to move next to the Israeli parliament building.
(image of the Israeli IDF unit: cnn.com)
Jun 16, 2004
Report From New York
Above, you’ll find an image of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in 1968. As you can see, things got out of hand. Apparently, a lot of people were upset about a war at that time.
Here in NYC, we’re gearing up for a Republican National Convention at the end of August – timed, through a surprising coincidence, to serve as an intro to the third anniversary of September 11th. Preparations for protest are brewing, but our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, isn’t playing ball. He has shut down the possibility of using Central Park completely, and has offered – as a perfectly reasonable substitute – Flushing Meadow Park. In Queens. A bit like the G-8 protesters being banished to Savannah.
The original deadline for protest permit applications was yesterday, with none yet granted. Today, the NYPD announced that they would extend the deadline another month. But the front-page headline of the free paper AM New York reads, “NO PROTESTS.”
New Yorkers are angry that the people who promised aid money and then didn’t deliver it are coming to our town to exploit our tragedy for political gain. I’m angry, too. But I don’t want to see my city turned into Chicago in 1968.
May 31, 2004
Because it's Memorial Day (and, perhaps, because the Administration has tried intensely for weeks to suppress attention to American losses) there couldn't be a higher awareness today about the human cost of war.
What brought some of the reality to me was a photo piece in yesterday's NYT Week In Review profiling a few people who had lost someone in Iraq. For example, this young guy inherited his buddy's car.
Here's the link for the article. What's better, though, is the slide show. (The slide show link can also be found with the article, just to the right.) Of course, it would have been more thoughtful -- at least this one time -- if The Times had left off the advertisement.
May 26, 2004
And Porcupines Shall Overrun Her Houses
This photo, shot in 1956, is of the ruins of Babylon. It's from a series of vintage photographs of Iraq from the University of California Riverside's Museum of Photography.
Looking at the ruins of mighty Babylon, I found myself ruminating on the nature of empire. They rise, they fall, they inspire new iterations and then those fall. Babylon lies in ruins, as does Rome. Rome packed a lot of resonance, though -- Charlemagne in the 9th century, the Ottonians in the 10th and 11th centuries, Fascists in the 20th century...they looked back to Rome and tried to evoke that glory. And where are they now? Empires cannot sustain themselves. Not even in this modern day. Maybe even especially in this modern day.
America is going through its own imperial flirtation now, albeit without the eagle-topped standards, and sure we might be able to keep it going for a while, despite the cost to our reputation. But for how long?
It's difficult not to think about the poem "Ozymandias" (for those of you without a copy of Shelley in your back pocket, I provide this link), and to hope that our Administration asks themselves the question: "Which makes more sense -- to have had the statue, even if it crumbles, or never to have had the statue at all?"
May 24, 2004
Bush, The "War" On Terror, And The Black Panthers: It 'Aint Just Black And White
In the bubble of the White House, Bush and Co. seem convinced they can aggressively and unilaterally pursue war in Iraq one day, then suddenly back-off and "finesse" the whole thing with a "Mission Accomplished" gesture the next. If it had been six months ago, the spin probably would have taken. But the mental environment has been shifting. I believe Bush's "credibility bar" has been raised substantially in the past couple weeks. To what extent the White House Bubble Boys actually realize this is another matter. Having regained some sight after blind faith, however, I don't see even the general population going back.
To that end, Bush must now contend with a press, a Congress and, increasingly, a Republican party with partially restored vision. In Congress, the John Warner's, John McCain's and Richard Lugar's are no longer looking away. In the press, stories that wouldn't have lasted a day (or wouldn't have appeared) are not just gaining legs, but adding to an understanding that President Bush and this so-called "war" require real scrutiny.
In the midst of this growing resistance to the terror "story line," I think it's interesting there has been such interest in the mainstream press recently in a photography exhibition about the Black Panthers.
An important part of the Panther legacy involves the photographs by Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones, a pair of photographers who were given full access to the party in it's prime. (A traveling exhibition of these photographs is currently showing in Los Angeles.)
What's interesting is that, if you were to put the case of the Panthers in front of the Bubble Boys, I'm sure they would simply stuff them into their "one-size-fits-all" category of terrorists. When you look at the images, however, it's not that simple. Just as the country today is (finally) beginning to bring some nuance to Bush, Iraq and terrorism, so do these pictures reflect the complexity of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam experience. With the aid of history, these images speak as much about commitment as about confrontation, and as much about about idealism and creativity as about anger.
As is happening already, I'm sure we will look back on this period and be shocked at the extent to which Bush steered even the thoughtful into a basic mindset of good and evil, black and white.
There are a couple images from Pirkle Jones in this photo exhibition (click the Gallery link) held at the University of California Museum of Photography in 1991. (Although these images tend to evoke more nostalgia than anything else, the image with Arafat brings the intensity of the times into a more contemporary light.)
Another site with Panther images is Greybull Press. Offering books dealing with either creative subjects (R. Crumb, Ron Galella) or creative presentation, they offer a short video montage for each. Here is the short clip based on their book "Black Panthers 1968."
May 21, 2004
Beyond The Weeds
These days, it's easy to become so immersed in the political wars that one forgets all else.
(road trip photo. Tucumcari N.M. cardhouse.com.)