Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Memoriam

As my friends know, I really always wanted to be a photojournalist.  I pictured myself as Larry Burrows or Robert Capa or Tony Vaccaro, taking pictures for “the folks back home” showing them “what it’s really like to BE there”.  (My Razorback friends will remember, that was always my goal with my football photography; not so much the game itself but to give the folks back home a “flavor” of “what it was like to really BE there.”)

I was always fascinated by the (often gruesome) work of Matthew Brady and his employees, who captured (for the first time) photographs of war as it occurred.  I was fascinated by the reports from the news correspondents, “Live from Beirut” or “Live from Singapore” or “Live from Teheran”.  It’s an important job, a job that is fascinating to me, and one that is often underrated. 

Until the very recent advent of the iPhone, YouTube, and high speed internet, the only way the world ever got to see what was going on as a government was overthrown, as an army marched, as a city was evacuated, as refugees fled, as an entire population starved; or the happy times as a monarch was crowned or a spacecraft was saved or loved ones reunited—the only way the world ever got to SEE any of that was through the lens of the photojournalist.  The photojournalist still plays a very important role in our society, poking, prodding, showing things some people want hidden, revealing to the world just how bad war is, how awful a despot can be, why we should never be complacent about starvation or the environment or the condition of our fellow man.

It’s a dangerous job.  The photojournalist is exposed to all kinds of diseases, weather, and other conditions.  Bullets don’t care whether you’re carrying a high-powered rifle or a high-powered lens, they rip through flesh just the same.

Photojournalists know the dangers.  They choose them, partly because of the thrill of it (it’s true), partly because it’s their job, but mainly to shine the light of truth on whatever story needs telling.  And—there’s always the chance that they might get that one great shot (like Capa’s of the soldier being shot) that will send them into “immortal” status.

We lost a photojournalist this week, in a foul, bloody, nasty and dishonorable way.  He was covering a war zone.  He was abducted two years ago and who knows what tortures he endured before being beheaded on worldwide television by an apparently British Muslim.

I take this moment to mark the passing of James Wright Foley, Photojournalist.

Here’s a link to a few of Mr. Foley’s last photos from the Syrian war:

James Foley's last photos

Thursday, August 7, 2014


For the first time in 57 years, I find myself totally disinterested in sports.  Always, by this time of year, I'm heavily involved with baseball, at least moderately interested in MLS, and of course am ravenously devouring everything I can get my hands on about football.

Not this go round.  I have not been to a single baseball game this year, and only half-heartedly watched a couple of Razorback playoff games.  The Astros could be first or last, I wouldn't even know (I suspect they're near the bottom; the bad thing is, I have no idea who's leading the Leagues--and worse, don't care).

NFL?  The only NFL team I've ever truly loved was the Dallas Cowboys--but even the hottest flame can grow cold.  I didn't watch a single one of their games last year and don't plan to do so this year.  As long as Jerry is being the General Manager, it's never going to be any better than it is right now.

I'm happy for my Baylor friends, who are enjoying success after all these decades.  Unfortunately, my loathing for the University prevents me from any interest in it.  I've been alienated from it for so long now that it has no more meaning for me than, say, Brigham Young or Notre Dame or any other kooky religious college.  There's nothing there.

I never thought I'd say it, but this year I can't muster any enthusiasm for Arkansas either.  Too much losing, too much drama, too much turnover.  Did I mention too much drama?  I'll watch the games but won't hesitate even one minute to turn it off if they fall too far behind--and this year, for the first year since 1991, my fall weekends will in no way be affected by the Arkansas Razorbacks' football schedule.  If there's something else I'd rather do, I'm going to do it instead of planning my life around a college football team.  And, this will make the second year in a row I will attend NO games.

On a broader scale, I suppose this is just life.  We're passionate about things for a while, then move on to the next thing.  I did church music, then symphony, then opera, for years.  Then I did the football thing.

The thing is, the "new" thing has always kind of eased in and supplanted the old thing; there's never been a gap.

This time, there's a gap, and it's weird.  I literally have lost interest in everything.

Travel?  Sure, as long as it's somewhere new.  Don't need New York, New England, even Florida or the West.  Never did need the Midwest and I've done the South to death.  Even London and Paris...maybe someplace like Rome or Buenos Aires or Rio or Hong Kong or Sydney--and as soon as I get the cash I'll go there.  I'm going to Gay Days in Anaheim this year, think that'll be fun.

Otherwise, what to do?  My therapist and friends say, "get involved!"  WITH WHAT?  One must first have interest in something....