Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Most Surprising Thing

One of the most frequently asked questions about my trip to Vietnam is "What was the most surprising thing you saw there?"

It was this:

I never got a photo but I remember it well enough to draw it in a recognizable form, not exactly to scale but close.

Anyone care to take a guess what it is? The entire apparatus is 6 to 6.5 feet tall.

I am also writing about the most surprising thing. When the piece is finished, I'll post it. That will explain all.


Friday, February 04, 2011

Delusions of a Dictator, Dreams of the People

Mohamed Al Baradei has it right. From the BBC:

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei took issue with the president's remarks, saying: "We as a people are fed up as well, it is not only him.

"The idea that there would be chaos is symptomatic of a dictatorship. He thinks if he leaves power the whole country will fall apart."

However high his opinion of himself may be, Mubarak is not indispensable. Egypt has a number of strong national institutions, such as the army and the state bureaucracies that can add a certain level of stability to post-Mubarak Egypt. Two national leaders are willing to work toward a transitional government. The Muslim Brotherhood supports a consensus secular government. Add in the hopes of the masses and the possibility for genuine change is real, if not always certain.

The only people who can make that change are the Egyptians themselves. What they are saying is, "Hosni,it is time to go."

After 30 years Mubarak cannot imagine an Egypt without him but millions of Egyptians are doing just that.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

More Vietnam B&W

The utility poles and lines in Vietnam caught my B&W photographer's eye in a big way. Lots of dark lines converging against an open sky--just the thing for B&W film. I have a series of shots like these and they all look like the linemen were on acid when they strung these lines: gaggles of wires going everywhere, sometimes anchored to balconies in between the utility poles. Many of the poles had public address speakers. On our last morning in Hanoi Maggie and I heard announcements but didn't have a clue what they were about.

These images are scanned from 8x10 proof prints. The previous ones were scanned from my contact sheet. I don't see much difference in the blog images

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Change is Gonna Come

The dramatic events in Tunisia and Egypt are perfect examples of what Ted Rall describes as the real turning point: when things get bad enough you won't care that the post-change may not turn out better or that you may die in the process of making that change. You just know that change must come and take the risk. Tunisians and Egyptians have come to that point and seized an opportunity for change. I wish them well. Their task will be as difficult and uncertain as it is courageous and bold.

Regarding Egypt, a link to this very fine photo blog came my way this morning. The photographs of Friday's demonstration and clashes with the riot police capture the chaos, the human cost and determination of the protesters. Looking at the riot police I wonder what it must feel like to attack your own citizens. As of this writing, it looks like the Army is unwilling to do that.

Appropriately, the link came with this comment:
This last picture of the woman kissing the cop tells the deep truth. When the police realize that they are the defenders of the people, not of the government or propertied interests, and the people welcome the police to their side as brothers, the tyrants are through. Same with the military. Don't be violent with the people and they won't be violent with you. The human impulse is always toward freedom. Be on the right side of history, soldiers and cops, in Egypt and around the world. Join the popular will to freedom. Anything else makes you a puppet instead of a human being. It makes you a bully, and possibly a murderer. What will you tell your children and grandchildren then? What will you tell God?

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