I drove out to Pennsylvania this morning and spent the day with Bill Novak and Norman MacArthur, two men who've been together for 50 years. To regain legal protections they'd lost after leaving New York, Bill adopted Norman 15 years ago. A month ago, they were finally allowed to marry legally. I've never felt better about telling a story than this one.
A vigil for Shantel Davis, killed by police three years ago. Part of an upcoming video for Fusion.
Spent a few days in Carroll County, MS, where a local Superintendent was kind enough to show me and msnbc's Seema Iyer around. He wanted to show that Mississippi schools were in bad shape. He wasn't wrong. (Upcoming for msnbc and Shift.)
Spent some time in South Texas with msnbc's Amanda Sakuma for a story on immigrant families kept in detention centers. Upcoming for msnbc.
I spent the afternoon with Austin Wright, who inherited over a million pieces of political memorabilia from his father. Now, Austin is looking for a home for a collection that currently lies stacked in a NYC storage bin. (For msnbc)
I'm from New Orleans (or so I like to say, though the truth is much more complicated than that). I went back for Mardi Gras. I got engaged along the way, and my good friend wrestled two bears. (The truth is only slightly more complicated than that.)
Visited Michigan to meet with a woman who had been fired because she was pregnant. Oh, what's that? That sounds like a gross oversimplification? I suppose you're right. To hear the whole story, check out "msnbc originals" in the coming weeks.
Also, most of these photos are just about how cold Michigan can be. "The coldest day in Michigan so far this year," the newscaster mentioned casually as I drank my coffee at the hotel. Indeed.
What more is there to say? (For SIPA Press.)
My first job for SIPA Press. An appreciation of the french fry. I didn't sell any photos, but I learned a lot. (That's a joke, but it was still a fine way to spend an afternoon.)
My girlfriend, Jessica, works at the MacDowell Colony. At their annual Medal Day, celebrating a luminary in the arts (this time, visual artist Betye Saar), Jessica had work to do. I didn't, so I just wandered around taking photos of the colony. Visitors are invited to wander, checking out artists' cottages and the work inside.
Hired to shoot a recital for Booze Violin + Booze Guitar students at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn.
Ran into my friend Mouse again. He and his friend were kind enough to pose for me so I could test out my new Sigma Art 50mm lens (only for the later, non-van-top photos).
My first assignment (and I'm using "assignment" here in the "homework" sense, not the "job" one) as a journalism student was to cover a stop-and-frisk rally in front of the NYPD headquarters. Cornel West was there, because of course he was. He was joined by 20 or so journalism students hoping to be confused for professionals and a few genuine professionals who had stopped by, because not stopping by would throw the relationship between the press and the press-friendly into complete disarray.
The day started with a press conference, followed by a 15-minute march to a courthouse, because you have to march somewhere. Marching is telegenic, plus it stretches out the time of an event, but this all happened on a Wednesday, and people had work, lunch breaks being only so long, after all.
Other than the speakers at the rally, some people I took to be their close acquaintances, and the press, no one showed up. By the time the march started, Cornel West had disappeared.
I've been to a couple protests since, and they've all followed that model, which is why it was refreshing to report on a rally this past weekend where thousands of people felt compelled to voice their support.
It was an immigration rally in Brooklyn. Trying to get at a story that's a little different than the Latino angle, I was there to cover a group of Middle Easterners whose problems are pretty much the same as those of the the Latino community, except people also call them terrorists.
There was a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, because of course there was.
I spent this morning with "Gunni the dog walker." That's not just me being reductive. That's what he calls himself on his voicemail. It's being Saturday, it was an off-day for Gunni and his wife, Norma, meaning they only had nine dogs between the two of them. Most weekdays, they have as many as 20. On Labor Day, which I take to be a day that New Yorkers like to vacation outside the city limits without their dogs, they were pushing 30.
Gunni was kind enough to let me tag along as he drove around Brooklyn, picking up dogs and hitting the park. His car did not smell great, but it wasn't as bad as you might expect.
He goes by Mouse Money.* He's my best friend in my building, even though he doesn't live there. Mostly, he hangs out in front. His grandmother lives somewhere inside.
For months, the extent of our relationship consisted of my walking my dog by him and his shouting at my dog. It was friendly shouting, but my dog doesn't really differentiate. When talking to me, Mouse tended to be effusive. Sometimes, he seemed antagonistic. Other times, sincere. Usually, it was hard to tell the difference, though this likely says as much about me as him.
Eventually, he noticed that I carried a camera, and he asked me to take his photo. After I sent it (the first photo in the series), he wanted to schedule another shoot. We've tried, but neither one of us is great at committing to a schedule. So far, we've only managed to catch each other one more time, though he's looking forward to the winter. He wants something in the snow.
*Not his real name.
In the interest of keeping this blog populated, here are a few shots I took this afternoon. I was wandering around Prospect Park and Lefferts Gardens, looking for some light. What I found instead were some kids playing sports.
The guys playing basketball wanted to put on a show, but didn't really. The guys playing soccer had only soccer on their minds and ignored me. Also, they called it football.
Watching Justin Timberlake perform with the former members of N'Sync creates a strange psychic disconnect. It's impossible to separate the stage-managed smiles--the apparent unbridled joy in the room--from the rank animus that must fuel it. Despite the pageantry (because of the pageantry!), there are two unspoken but inescapable facets of the production: (1) the other members of N'Sync must hate Justin Timberlake's guts for being so successful without them and (2) they're still so desperate for one more taste of fame or must need the money so badly (or more likely both) that they're willing to share the stage with him anyway. It's a weird show.
What with the recent heatwave on the East Coast (which I hear finally broke yesterday), I've been reading more than a few comments about the smell of urine in subway stations. I think this is something we take as a given. Subway stations smell like urine. A = A. But you know what? They don't. Sure, maybe a little bit, sometimes. And of course there's the empty subway car, which is its own animal entirely. But a lot of the time, even urine doesn't smell all that much like urine.
I bring this up because, having just been confronted by some of the most pungent, ammonia-rich urine that I can remember, there is really no mistaking it. Via some wrong turns and poor decisions, I found myself earlier today wandering around... what exactly? I'm not sure. It was like a parking garage that stretched the length of a few football fields, but there were no cars. It was an elevated underpass, one of three similar levels that made up a highway. The top-most part was a highway. The bottom-most part was a bus depot where down-and-out types caught dilapidated minivans to what I imagine are similar spots all over Lebanon. The middle part was abandoned. Not completely abandoned. People surely live there sometimes. I noticed a mattress. Plenty of trash. I saw excrement on the ground (no smell) and thought, for the first time in my life with complete certainty, "A human produced that." No one was around today though. The lack of life was so complete that one was able to idly think, "If I were to die right here, it would be a long time before anyone knew." I bet places like this exist all over Beirut.