A large number of articles bubbled up in my inbox (and RSS feeds) this morning. Some were just open tabs from the weekend. From the Post:
In other news:
And now, to work, perchance to write...
My team have moved to a new space we've leased on a different floor of Chicago's Aon Center. This morning, this was my view:
And now, one floor lower and facing the opposite direction, this is my view:
I actually prefer the south view, but only marginally. In fact, I'll probably keep taking photos of the south view. But neither view sucks.
Writing for the Washington Post, columnist Monica Hesse examines how our understanding of the famous V-J Day photo of George Mendonsa kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman have changed between then and Mendonsa's death this week:
Within 24 hours of his passing, a Sarasota, Fla., statue that re-created his and Friedman’s famous kiss was defaced. On Friedman’s aluminum leg, in red spray paint, someone had written, “#MeToo.”
As much as any image, the picture of Mendonsa and Friedman has defined American perception of romance. It’s Richard Gere nipping at Julia Roberts’s fingers with a jewelry box; it’s John Cusack with a boombox beneath Ione Skye’s window. Mendonsa’s grip around Friedman’s waist is fervent; her body is limp as if overwhelmed by the passion of his embrace. Behold, the superlative ideal of a perfect kiss.
Maybe it could be wonderful and exciting to be kissed, by surprise, by a stranger, at the end of a long and terrible war. But when you hear Friedman’s description of it, the whole thing starts to sound unpleasant. The whole photo starts to look unpleasant, too: the way her head is locked into the crook of his elbow, unable to move or avoid his lips.
I’d like to think of it more as a statement of fact. Today, this iconic photo might be considered an assault. It doesn’t mean Mendonsa was a monster. It doesn’t mean humans were bad in 1945. It just means that stories don’t always behave as we’d like. Our fantasies can be punctured by the reality of other people’s feelings.
Friedman said she and Mendonsa kept in occasional contact and exchanged holiday cards. When a Life photographer invited the pair to reunite in Times Square in 1980, she went. But she said she didn’t want to reenact the kiss.
A kiss based on one person’s joy and another person’s non-consenting shock isn’t really a perfect kiss. And actually, it never was.
What images from 2019 will look weird in 2094? Someone with a time machine, please let me know.
After an amazing dinner at One Aldwych this evening, I grabbed a book from my room* and headed down to my own hotel's bar. Between the two places I met people from Italy, Spain, Cape Verde (via Portugal), Germany, Russia, Poland, Sardinia (yes, a part of Italy), and Wales (yes, a part of the UK).
London has made itself over the past two decades into this kind of mixed, cosmopolitan, vibrant city. I hope it continues; Brexit could kill it. So I'm glad I'm visiting now while it's at peak international. (The $1.27-to-£1 exchange rate doesn't hurt either.)
More photos. First, it was the best of Thames, it was the worst of Thames (compare with this one):
Second, the other side of St Pauls, along with yours truly and a pint of Beavertown Brewery Neck Oil Session IPA, at Founder's Arms on the Queen's Walk:
Finally, one of the greatest cultural centers in modern Europe, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden:
And now, as my body thinks it's just coming up on 4pm, I will take yet another walk. London is a beautiful city; there's little I like more than just exploring it.
*An excellent and personally-relevant history of urban "renewal" in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago called The Battle for Lincoln Park.
Yesterday was a bit busy. I spent my morning getting this:
I haven't named it yet. Current thoughts are Hinata (一陽), Hana (初夏), and Asahi (旦陽). (The new car was built in Naguro, Japan; thus, a Japanese name.)
The new Prius replaces Magdalena (built in Munich), the BMW 335iX that I got in 2012. Poor Lena, she was so old and decrepit she just couldn't go on much longer. She was burning 13.9 L/100 km, which is just awful. The new car, so far, hasn't burned any gasoline at all—it's only run off batteries.
Then I photographed a wedding. Two of my friends got married in what they called a "rogue ceremony" at a public building in Chicago. It was intimate, fun, and exactly right. Now I just have to process 450 shots...by next week...
This afternoon, I'm flying to my Ancestral Homeland via Atlanta. Tomorrow, St. Paul's. So it'll be a busy week.
Update: We had about 10 minutes of sun this morning, so I got a better photo of the car:
Sometimes it's fun going through some stock shots and giving them another go with Lightroom.
Here's a digital photo from July 2004 that needed minimal tweaking:
This one needed lots of help, and unfortunately it probably needs another scan. I haven't checked the slide in a while; I hope the problems are with the scan (from 2009) and not with the slide (from 1984):
By the way, I took this photo here. Check out what that looks like today.
Finally, a slide that came out OK, though again it seems the scan leaves something to be desired. Middlebury, Vt., 28 July 1992:
Every so often I like to revisit old photos to see if I can improve them. Here's one of my favorites, which I took by the River Arun in Amberley, West Sussex, on 11 June 1992:
The photo above is one of the first direct-slide scans I have, which I originally published here in 2009, right after I took this photo at nearly the same location:
(I'm still kicking myself for not getting the angle right. I'll have to try again next time I'm in the UK.)
Those are the photos as they looked in 2009. Yesterday, during an extended internet outage at my house, I revisited them in Lightroom. Here's the 1992 shot, slightly edited:
And the 2009 shot, with slightly different treatment:
A side note: I did revisit Amberley in 2015, but I took the path up from Arundel instead of going around the northern path back into Amberley as in 2009, so I didn't re-shoot the bridge. Next time.
Photographer Mark Holtzman flew a Cessna 206 over the Rose Bowl on Monday—and captured one of the coolest aerial photos I've ever seen. He explains the shot in The Atlantic:
I’m always talking with them. It’s run under the Pasadena Police, so I get a clearance. They don’t want anybody just flying around during a big event like that, even though you theoretically can. So I was on a discreet frequency, the same frequency as the B-2, talking to them. They know me now.
Unlike film, the way you shoot digital is you shoot wider and crop it in. It’s hard. Things are happening really quick. It’s very fluid. I’m flying at 100 miles per hour. They are flying 200 miles an hour in the other [direction]. So, that’s 300 miles per hour. Things happen really quickly.
For me, my goal was to put the B-2 inside the stadium, preferably in the grass. And I don’t want to block any of the names or other stuff. For this picture, if you block the flag, it takes away from it.
So, first you’re trying to find the B-2 as it is flying toward you. Everything is fluid. I am moving around. They have to be on their target and you have to be on yours. There are no shortcuts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
You have to see this photo.
I've been in frenetic housecleaning mode today, since it's the first work-from-home Wednesday I've had in...let me see...10 weeks. And apparently I last had my housekeeping service here 16 weeks ago. (It wasn't that bad; I do clean up occasionally.)
The activity and actually having to do my job has led me to miss a couple of news stories, which I will now queue up to read:
- Former President Obama spoke at the Economic Club of Chicago last night, and said, at one point, "American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s."
- Citylab outlines how the tax bill now working its way through reconciliation between the House and Senate will be really, really bad for cities. As if we didn't know. As if that wasn't a feature, rather than a bug.
- And it doesn't take a Nobel-winning economist to understand the chutzpah behind the Republican Party's bait-and-switch on taxes and deficits. "Now, to be fair, there are some people in America who get lots of money they didn’t lift a finger to earn — namely, inheritors of large estates." How true.
- In more neutral news, the Atlantic has the the year in photos (part 1), with more on the way later this week. I especially like the Turkish seagull (#22).
- Finally The Daily WTF has an example of life imitating satire, and it's sad and funny all at the same time.
I'm now going to throw out all the empty boxes in my office closet, though it pains me to do so. After all, someday I might need to return this pair of wired headphones from 1998...