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Posts Tagged ‘dream’

Along Grand River Ave

Johnny, my next door neighbor

Eastern Market

Felicia in an urban garden, part of Team 313

Excerpts from my journal while on the road for 3 weeks to the hinterland of the USA, with photos to show and photos to make.

PHOTOS

We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.

—Grace Lee Boggs

June 22, 2011, Wednesday, Detroit, K’s

Warm, low 70s, partly cloudy, turning to overcast, hazy, still—after an evening and night of heavy rains, with electricity. could rain again today.

This morning on my morning walk 3 dogs greeted me as I strolled south on Washburn toward Grand River. They lumbered toward me, I continued toward them on the sidewalk, I hoped they’d diverge. They didn’t. They challenged me, they snarled at me, they came very close to my legs. I thought they might bite. I tried talking sweetly to them. They didn’t listen. They weren’t like the Palestinian dogs who give ground when approached, despite their vicious appearance. I startled, turned away, watched them, prepared for them to bite.

Would I kick them, flee, or—as I ruminated later—whack them with my camera on a strap, really laying into them to hurt them, drive them off? I gave them the sidewalk, took the street, and they lost interest. Were they trying  to protect some turf? Were they simply mean? Perhaps from a background of abuse? I wish I could ask them. The little shits.

Remarking to Anne about my use of McDonald’s I noted to her that McDonalds’s and other large eatery chains can help remake blighted areas. They have financial backing and experience to open a store in a neighborhood that is not friendly to such enterprises. Like the one I live in with its McDonalds’s. My McDonald’s is thriving, its drive-thru service open 24 hours, the main part from 7 am to 10 pm. There is always a large group eating when I’m there working with the internet (my main reason for attendance), and many are also conversing together across tables. Occasionally a large group sits around one table. Good for business and good for the neighborhood? Yes. Good for the world? Not so sure.

Returning from McDonald’s yesterday I stopped at the Grand Price Foodland store for bananas, orange juice, greens. I noticed the produce person looked Arab. I noticed another worker looked Arab. I noticed the man at the customer service booth looked Arab. The cashier was black, she looked to be the only black employee. Does this signify a change of ownership? Are Arabs the new Koreans, taking over local businesses? Part of urban renewal? If so, how are they received by local people? I should ask my neighbors, Johnny and Gloria.

Biking home yesterday on a hot muggy day, not too long before the rains hit, I came upon a movie being made: Have A Little Faith. Perfect title for Detroit. At the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr and Grand River, using an old dilapidated church as a set, well over 100 people were preparing a scene. The scene might have been about roof repair because a truck with a large crane was parked in front of the church, the roof definitely needed repair, and they were rehearsing with a crane-mounted camera. I was amazed at the amount of equipment, people, and preparation for what might be only a few moments of film time—and the cost.

Trying to find a good position for my camera, honoring the restriction of barriers, I set up, only to be confronted by 2 large black security guys who insisted I move off the sidewalk and down the street. Is this not public property? I asked, pointing to the sidewalk and street. It is but we rented it and have full rights to its use. Which may be correct or not. I’d like to check. Initially I resisted, just stood there after my brief conversation, and then relented after I’d made a few photos and thought maybe I could find a better spot. More security men insisted that I move again. With the same rationale. I managed to make a few photos from a distance, unsure what I was photographing. Was the camera merely recording the condition of the church? Or rehearsing for an actor perhaps to repair? I learned that one of the stars from Matrix is in the film.

I compared this operation with our recent movie-making in Gaza. Gaza very simple: small crew, one camera, one boom mike, no tracks or cranes. No security either which seemed to make up a large portion of this crew. One take, virtually no scenario. Will Have A Little Faith be a better movie because of its elaborate infrastructure and financing? Will Eyewitness Gaza be a better movie despite the lack of infrastructure and its slender budget, or partly because of it?

Yesterday’s 4 hour plus bike ride on a miserably hot and sweaty day brought me several gifts: urban art in the form of Mr. Dabls who paints and applies broken glass to abandoned exteriors—and constructs an outdoor museum which rivals Heidelberg, the better known one in Detroit, and even that of Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont. Also Felicia who I met digging thru the soil near Mr. Dabls, planting and weeding a patch about 10 by 10 meters. She told me she is part of Team 313 (after the local area code), serving the people of Detroit, all the people she stressed. She is also widely traveled, living in South Africa for some years and other parts of Africa.

Mr. Dabls accepted my portrait invitation, but smiled as he peered at me while on his ladder. Felicia believes that she is not photogenic so she initially declined my invitation. As I was walking away she said, but an action shot would be OK. I photographed her weeding the onion patch.

Dabls means beads and his Mali ancestors were beaders. He is also and uses them in his constructions.

In photographing the outdoor museum with its many mirrors I noticed myself in one distorted mirror. I wanted to believe that my chubby, varicose-veined legs were a product of the mirror. But I suspect what I saw reflected what others see: chubby, varicose-veined elder legs. Not at all the appealing legs I once had. Years ago biking transformed my legs from sticks into strong and muscled works of art. And now? Deterioration.

Leaving yesterday morning for McDonald’s, Johnny greeted me as he often does, asked where I was headed on my bike. He allowed me a portrait, what I think might be a good start in this neighborhood series. Next, Gloria across the street.

My main goal yesterday was to explore the Detroit Eastern Market, and finally I did, taking once again the wrong path but thereby extending my exploration. Turning left onto Rosa Parks Drive (liking the name) from Grand River Ave, having located MLK Boulevard and might take that east to the market, I thought I was heading east. No, I was traveling north, away from the market. Into a zone of new housing, amidst old abandoned churches.


Belatedly I discovered my mistake, reversed, and finally found the market. What makes navigation tough for me is the Detroit’s skewed layout: often a grid, the streets are usually not oriented north-south and east-west but north is more northwest. The basis is the river, northwest-southeast, not east-west and north-south. In addition some streets like Grand River radiate out from the city center. Grand River is west-northwest, not northwest as I once supposed. Complicating the mess is that some streets are north-south, east-west, like Wyoming St. And then there are the maps. The bus map is absurdly unreadable, the tourist map doesn’t list all the main streets, the AAA map cuts off just when I need it.

The market was not exactly thronged on a Tuesday, that happens only on Saturdays so far. My first stop was an outdoor grocery where I made no photos but bought walnuts and dates. Next a flower shop, outdoors, myriad flowers, and I happened in while a postal worker was choosing her plants. This allowed me to photograph her and the proprietor, a well-tanned fellow (I’m here 24-7, he told me when I remarked about his skin tone.), with curly hair graying slightly and a gray goatee. Noticing the small fridge inside the building I surmised that he might sleep there to protect the plants.

I also surveyed the Gratiot Ave market (pronounced gra-shit) for possibilities, found none, lousy lighting, and I’d have to struggle for good person access. Maybe later. Best on a Saturday, but both my remaining Saturdays might not be good. Next Saturday is the Allied Media Conference, and the following Saturday is the weekend of July 4th. Which might be perfect—or might be a rotten choice. I will check.

My bike is perfect for such perambulations. Around and around the vicinity, stopping and dismounting easily for any possible photo. Much easier than walking surely and even driving. To exit and enter a car many times a day is tiring. Much simpler to jump off the saddle onto the sidewalk. Photo and remount, zoom off.

I used my big SLR camera for the first time on this trip, and the wide-angle lens might have been perfect for the outdoor art photos. For the movie set I missed my telephoto lens.

Where to bike today? River and refinery area maybe too far. It also looks like rain. What might work that is closer?

Dreamt: I had set down my small khaki shoulder bag with many of my valuables as I walked around with a few friends. I was to leave on a long trip the next day. Where had I left the bag? Would I be able to find it? Was it in that wooded spot we just visited?

A young man invited me to speak briefly to a large group of young adults who were making pasta with noodle machines. I was naked except for garden work gloves. The young man noticed and mildly inquired, why naked? I had no answer. I felt deeply troubled by the potential loss of my bag—coming one day before I was to leave. I desperately needed my wallet, notebook, date book, maybe even the camera if it was in the bag. While waiting for the group to take a break to hear me I wandered off to a large lecture hall where I vaguely remembered we’d visited. It held classes about medicine. No bag. What to do?

I woke, thankful that this was dream.

TO BE CONTINUED

LINKS

Detroit Eastern Market

Team 313

Dabls bead museum

“Detroit Arcadia: Exploring the post-American landscape,” by Rebecca Solnit

“Detroit’s Grassroots Economies,” by Jenny Lee and Paul Abowd

Eyewitness Gaza Preview

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Excerpts from my journal during a recent 6 week journey to Gaza—now back home in the United States.

PHOTOS

Have you ever heard of the hour of the wolf? … It’s the time between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. You can’t sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways that your life should’ve gone but didn’t. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart.

(Commander Susan Ivanova in an episode of the science fiction television show Babylon 5 entitled “The Hour of the Wolf” and from Swedish and Finnish folk religion, also the title of a horror film by Ingmar Bergman where I first learned the term and phenomenon.)


(Click here for an enlargement)

November 23, 2010, Tuesday, Gaza city, my apartment in Rimal

I’m nervous this morning, for a variety of reasons. 1. I teach the first session of the photographic workshop tomorrow [November 24, 2010]. Altho I feel very prepared and confident enough I always feel nervous beginning a workshop series. I focus more on past failures than successes, on my problems at Birzeit University and with the Haifa Israeli Arab youth when I taught at both sites, rather than the long string of successes at the Quaker Palestine Youth Program (QPYP), Cambridge Center for Adult Education and Harvard University. 2. My computer problems. 3. My flashlight’s bulb seems to have burned out, not a big deal but precipitating a return of my Hour of the Wolf syndrome, keeping me awake with flooding thoughts, visions, worries. 4. Where in Gaza can I find an ATM for cash? 5. The money transfer question. All of these swamped me last night as I struggled to return to blissful sleep—and eventually did.

I am befuddled by the weekly schedule here. Week begins on Sunday, Friday is a holiday. I have to shift my thinking from Monday begins the week, Saturday and Sunday are holidays.

A dream despite or inspired by the problems of the night: true to my habit (and I’m thankful for this one) I was preparing to teach a photo workshop, not in Gaza but at home. Working around my wife, a stand-in for my former wife, I gathered materials including an old digital camera that I’d dismantled, blank film, cords, and other paraphernalia that if I were actually home and about to teach I’d collect. A bulb had burned out. My wife provided me one. I inserted it and I could see better what I was collecting. Last night I devoted myself mainly to preparing for the workshop tomorrow and I’m certain the dream was an offshoot of that. Unlike at home, I don’t have the materials I dreamt about gathering.

The second dream was about gathering a woman to me—another sort of gathering—inviting her into my intimate circle. She was young, desirable, available. I’d arranged for her to sit with others in a sort of pit. The pit began enclosing her and others. I jumped in. Some in the pit became food. She finally agreed to be with me intimately. I felt mutual love. Patricia Watson, an old dear Quaker friend and mentor, entered the story somehow; maybe it referred to her without her actual presence. How strange this one was. Unlike any dream I can recall having and definitely unlike any known courtship procedure.

November 24, 2010, Wednesday, Gaza city, my apartment in Rimal

What provoked last night’s episode of the Hour of the Wolf was the following extremely vivid dream: I was meeting my workshop group for the first time. It was set in Gaza, large, around 15, the usual mix of people. For some reason a pole or column separated them into 2 smaller groups, which made seeing them at one time difficult. One of the students rudely and demonstratively played the piano loudly in the back of the room. I asked her to stop. Sullenly, she complied.

I was using my seminar approach, asking questions in the Socratic manner, mostly about photographic design. As an illustration I used  the element of repetition. I didn’t have actual pictures to look at, a major omission. At first I thought this was going very well, not plunging directly into the nuts and bolts of making photos but delving into some of the deeper topics—I love doing this. I felt I was doing it expertly. Gradually I noticed some of the students shaking heads at each other, a condemnatory shake, expressing, this sucks. This guy is a total shit. I do not like being in this workshop. I knew I was on the wrong path, not sure how to find the right one. I awoke with a sudden thud. Oh, oh, I said to myself, don’t take that road today when you teach, anything but that road.

On my morning walk a few minutes ago I realized I should begin the workshop by thanking everyone for the opportunity to work with them, for their choosing to enroll, do the work, and share my passion for photography, to give me a chance to learn from them. Yes, be very thankful and humble. To confess my gratitude, dependence on them, willingness to learn. Then to ask them to introduce themselves, with specific reference to photography. Tell us what you’d like to learn and why. The take away, the payoff. This will be challenging because of language barriers. (I’m hoping for good translation, which I had last year, making a huge difference.) Then maybe look at their photos, if they brought them as I asked Islam to invite them to do. At least look at my prints.

Then maybe a how to see deeply exercise, a guided meditation, and run thru the camera settings (how do this without the AV camera cable?). Concentrate on providing them many opportunities to actually photograph and later review their photos. To state this at the outset: make and comment on photos, the spine of the workshop. That usually works in most settings.

The QPYP staff were surprised to see me show up so early yesterday, ready to teach. Then I realized my mistake—I was one day early, one more night to suffer thru, the Hour of the Wolf will come again. I confided to Amal, the director of the program, how nervous I am. She is my mother in absentia. The moon, recently full, is waning. On the next full moon night I may either be preparing to leave Gaza or preparing to leave Yaffa and Israel, homeward bound.

Ibrahem Shatali and Amal Sabawai, program officer and director, respectively

November 25, 2010, Thursday, Gaza city, my apartment in Rimal

~~Electricity just went kaput as I was beginning this entry. Last night in an adjoining neighborhood near the sea, the power was out. Off at 7:20 pm, we’ll see how long before the generator kicks in.~~

The workshop yesterday, in my preliminary and self-interested perspective, went surprisingly well. 10 of the 12 enrolled attended, about half arrived on time, the others within 10 minutes of start time. They seemed engaged for the most part, those without English struggling to keep up. Rana and Hesham shared translation duties. All but one had cameras and that one used his mobile phone camera which apparently is fairly sophisticated. I lectured about a few basic digital principles like the difference between a photograph, a print, a file, and an image. For a later session we’ll discuss bits, bytes, and pix, color space, calibration, etc, rudimentary concepts that I find fascinating and vital to understand. Will they?

Because I lacked my AV cable allowing me to show camera settings, I lectured on the topic and had them follow with their cameras: auto, P for program, A for aperture priority, etc, leaving for later when and why these different settings are useful. All basic stuff. The students are less advanced than I’d assumed after talking with Amal and Islam. I thought they said these would mostly be practicing photographers who wished to upgrade their skills. Not so—some entry level, a few more advanced.

I’d laid out prints I brought of family and the coast, had them observe, comment on what they noticed, discuss how to improve certain photos, much like what I do at home. (No one else brought photos, even tho I’d requested it.) I also showed the slide show of photos from last year’s photo workshop, Starting Point, commending the photos and hoping to raise a standard. So that—and I tried to lay this out provisionally, not a promise or commitment—that if their photos are good enough we can have an exhibition at the Windows from Gaza gallery.

Maybe the hit of the 3-hour session was actually making photos, first in the room we worked in, and then the roof where I’d been several times with other groups. [A sampling of student photos from the entire workshop is at the end of this blog.] On the roof I challenged them to effectively show a vista and to make use of the high roof position. I’m saving my schema for making a good photo—be aware, observe the light, choose a camera position and shutter release moment, etc—for later. Returning down the stairs, I pointed out the viewpoint someone previously had discovered for making an abstract photo: straight down the stairwell. They all tried it, I photographed them trying it.

~~7:30, power returned a mere 10 minutes later, thanks to a local generator I’m certain. Last year the generator was nearly outside my door, loud and smelly, small also. It remains but is not used. I have no idea where the working generator is, probably on the rooftop. I’ve never heard or seen it. [Later I learned the building’s owner has tied into another neighborhood’s power lines so that when that neighborhood has electricity our building is powered.]~~

I introduced myself, very personally—grandpa, divorced, love Gaza, photographing since my dad gave me my first camera at age 7, etc—and they did the same. They are young, perhaps between about 18 and 25, most are college students, a few in business administration, a few in media. Some work for partner agencies. Hesham works with the guy I’ll probably hire as cameraman, Yousef.

So I’m relieved, greatly relieved. From time to time during the session, silently I compared the nightmare vision I’d had the 2 nights before to what was transpiring in front of me: night and day, night and day. I slept very well last night.

At times I’m frightened by the situation here. I read reports from the Gaza NGO Safety Office, GANSO, such as:

At approximately 1550 hrs on 7 October 2010, an IAF [Israeli Air Force]  drone fired a missile targeting a private vehicle carrying Palestinian militants affiliated to Al Nasser Salah Ad Din Brigades on Al Mughraqa Bridge, between Al Nuseirat and Al Zahra, North West of Al Nuseirat. However, the missile failed to hit its intended target, and instead exploded in front of a passing vehicle, injuring 5 civilian passengers, and 1 seriously. Similarly, at 1130 hrs on 3 November 2010, a private vehicle was targeted by the IAF in the vicinity of the de facto security services headquarters in Gaza City, N of Al Azhar University, killing an Army of Islam operative driving the vehicle, with injuries sustained by a passerby. And just last week (17 November) at 1640 hrs, a private vehicle was again targeted by the IAF on Al Wihda Street in Gaza City, resulting in the deaths of 2 Army of Islam operatives.

The central concern with respect to these attacks is that they occurred during daylight hours and, most particularly with respect to the two most recent incidents, in built up areas. In the previous Bi-Weekly Safety Report (17 – 30 October) GANSO highlighted the danger of internal hazards and their unpredictability. Much of the advice imparted on that occasion can also apply in this context, though tempered perhaps by an even greater degree of unpredictability. At this juncture, the most effective mitigation measure that GANSO can suggest is that NGO’s clearly mark their vehicles (particularly from an aerial perspective) when travelling throughout the Gaza Strip, while organisations are also strongly encouraged to keep a First Aid Kit and fire extinguisher within their vehicles at all times (and ensure staff are aware of how to safely and effectively use the equipment).

This bothers me—first aid kit and fire extinguisher, big help, forget it! Reminds me that if I happen to be out walking or with someone driving, at exactly the wrong moment and place, I could be hit, hurt, killed. Damned luck. I’m not sure my muses can do much about this. I’m not sure how cognizant they are about either the Israeli military or the Palestinian militants. The OP’s, Palestinian Operatives, to use the language of GANSO.

From Prof. Abdelwahed, published July 18, 2009:

“Gaza war in child’s memory (True story),”

Raid Fattouh is a Palestinian. He is married to Natasha, a Ukrainian woman. They live in Gaza with their four children: Karma 13, Jabr 10, Diana 6 and Hakeem 1. Two weeks ago, Raid and his Natasha wanted to travel to Ukraine after 13 years stay in Gaza. It was so hard for the parents to convince their children that traveling by airplane is comfortable and safe! Children could not sleep well for long nights before their land trip to Amman. They were scared of the airplane! Their persistent question was on their situation if the airplane bombed somewhere and killed innocent people like what it did in Gaza during the war! The image of the airplane was an image of a machine to kill the people in the streets and at homes! It was enormously difficult for the parents to convince the kids to step up into the airplane at Amman airport. The nightmare remained, and children were really horrified; they cried until they were on board. Their father told me that the most pathetic moments where those when kids were going upstairs the airplane! Once they were in they believed their parents.

—Prof. Abdelwahed, Department of English, Faculty of Arts & Humanities,Al-Azhar University of Gaza, Gaza is phoenix in burning flame

TO BE CONTINUED

STUDENT PHOTOS (click photo for enlargement):

Photos by Samah Ahmad

Photos by Rana Baker

       

Photos by Omar Shala

     

Photos by Meslah Ashram


Photos by Lina Abd Latif

      

Photos by Khaled El Rayyes

     

Photos by Hesham Mhanna

        

Photos by Abd Nassla

LINKS

Quaker Palestine Youth Program in Gaza

My photo workshops in the United States

My teaching philosophy

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

PHOTOS

VIDEO: Feet, Shoes & Boots, Winter Holiday Vacation, 2009

November 24, 2009, Tuesday, Cambridge:

Home at last, god almighty, I’m home at last. The day after. Feeling good.

These dreams to celebrate: watching Y—very clearly Y for a change, not some stand in—walking thru a park, maybe Dana, on her regular morning solo walk. Tempted to join her since we’d not seen each other for some long time, I resisted, knowing she’d rather be alone. I’ll greet her later.

And a 2nd dream, about my home, one room in a 2-room home. A new couple was moving in, I met them, along with the couple moving out. I did not relish the thought of sharing a home—would I have privacy? I noticed the man moving in was in a wheel chair and considered his difficulty getting to his portion of the house. Up a landing and thru my room.

My home is familiar to me, for a short while pleasingly familiar: the paths I use to reach different parts of my small home (700 sq ft), where I store things, my various routines such as the one I used this morning to make an omelet, how the bed feels, where I meditate, when and how I exchange clothes between hot and cold seasons, where I bathe, and endless other paths and routines I use to exist day to day. All familiar to me. Whereas I’ve just returned from daily encounters with novelty.

The train ride yesterday [November 23, 2009] felt long, 24 hours roughly, Atlanta to Boston. The train on time, a private seat so I could spread out during the day, as opposed to the night when I shared my seat with a woman I learned later came from Liberia. She and I were instantly friendly, especially when I announced yesterday morning early as she was stretching awake, you can have both seats now. And there in the café car I sat for most of the morning, until noon and DC. She brought me my reading glasses which I’d left at the seat.

I found an Internet connection at the Corner Café in the DC Amtrak station as I awaited my train to Boston, ate a muffin (banana and not my favored chocolate), sipped strong coffee (my 2nd or 3rd cup), and did some email. I avoided going outside, not wishing to carry my heavy black equipment bag. And the weather was cold and wet, as it was all the way between Atlanta and Boston. E wrote asking when I was returning, which led to a fantasy about her then writing to ask if I needed a ride from the train station, to which I’d reply, sure, and that would eventually and ineluctably lead to an intimate experience.

I made my way home from South Station alone, lugging all my gear thru the wet drizzle, and eventually mounting the stairs, shedding my clothing, firing up my erotic imagination, and settling in.

How would I assess the tour overall? Splendid, a qualified success. Decent shows, reasonably large audiences, warm response, equipment held up, Dave did a passable job, and the tour ended brilliantly at SOA Watch, with the Gaza Steadfast show to a large enthusiastic group. This bodes well not only for my photo work but for the topics I try to illuminate—for this trip, mainly Gaza. I should report this to my friends back home in Gaza. The main problem was finding venues in Louisiana and Mississippi, many open dates. We’ll try again next year, do better.

Tuned to Y: thru our mutual South African friend, SF, who wrote me recently; thru the SOA Watch which she in turn tuned to; thru the Nipponzan Myohoji theology and practice and people we share; thru activism (she wrote recently about joining a demo at University of California Berkeley over tuition increases and brutal treatment by the administration); thru Ella and family generally; on and on. One wonders, aren’t we meant to be couple? Answer: guess not.

Today: slowly unpack, relishing every second of it, slowly check off the various duties I now have ranging from replacing my Boston public transport (T) elder pass (which I lost) to editing more slide shows from last summer’s photos. I might call Katy to see about meeting her and Ella at school today, assuming school is in session (it’s Thanksgiving week).

November 26, 2009, Thursday, Cambridge:

One major dream to start us off: after some event requiring lots of folding chairs, I offered to help fold and store them. This required acrobatics—we had to fling ourselves out into space, grabbing the hand of a new partner, holding on for life itself; crawl thru constricted spaces; climb up and down narrow stairs; while a couple sitting to one side, not participating, asked us inanely, how are you?

I was impressed with my abilities, my agility, strength, perseverance. The older me strode gaily with the youngest and strongest.

Which is what happened on the pilgrimage I attended capping my southern tour, and how I felt in comparison with the young ones who tended to unexpectedly fail from various physical problems. I’d worried about my legs, that they might ache, be weak, not carry me long walking distances. They not only succeeded but seemed to heal. After walking, resting, sitting, sleeping, they felt back to normal—I can live up to my earlier moniker, earned walking the Auschwitz to Hiroshima pilgrimage in 1995, Iron Man.

The weather has been dark, cool, misty. Neither winter nor autumn, an in-between time. And today is Thanksgiving, snow not anticipated, far from it. The leaves have mostly fallen, revealing new patterns of vegetation (the weed growing amidst my rose bush for instance). Garden hoses in the community garden are stashed, which probably also means the city turned off the water. I missed gardening this summer because of my Israel-Palestine journey. And I look forward to the garden for next season, realizing that I might be able to persuade grandkids to help with it and learn.

Next summer I will be 69 yrs old, 4 years my own father’s senior when he died, 6 years my mother’s, assuming I survive past my birthday which is coming in about one week.

Being home and beginning again has been unadulterated joy: no deadline, virtually no schedule, fit in the tasks I love doing, one at a time, like opening mail, while making way for more onerous tasks like cleaning the house that demand doing, all the while relishing truly precious tasks like shifting my computer setup and beginning editing slide shows. This is sheer spontaneity, when the muses are at their best. They have free rein. They are happy.

I’ve begun a report of the tour, sketching out ideas first, and these I based on yesterday’s lunch conversation with Ken when he seemed genuinely interested in hearing from me. Main points, such as audience response, venues, etc (unlike many who say, oh Skip, you’re home, I can’t wait to hear all about your trip, and then either try to listen but slip away to other topics, or never find the time even to try.). As usual, asking him about himself, his response was, oh, about the same, nothing new, same old stuff. Which means lots of reading about the holocaust, plus attending some Israel-Palestine events.

I also updated my itinerary to more accurately reflect what happened. This will be a good public record of my tour, the details.

I nearly didn’t arrive home by train when I’d hoped. In New Haven CT I made the serious mistake of misinterpreting the train-boarding announcement. I was standing on the platform, enjoying the air and the space, when a woman’s voice called, all aboard, last call. I assumed this was meant for folks in the waiting room, not on the platform. A conductor walked by and I asked him a question I’ve now forgotten, when I noticed the train doors closing and the train moving. Holy shit, I yelled, it’s leaving without me! Can you stop the train? He called on his radio, the train slowed, I ran after it, it stopped. The door didn’t open, I pounded on the door, and then I saw a conductor about 4 cars ahead waiting for me. I ran, apologized, found my car, my seat, all my gear. What a disaster that would have been. What if the conductor had not happened by when he did? I’d be stuck in New Haven, most of my luggage on the train—all by itself.

All because I’d misheard—again—and wrongly assumed—again. These 2 factors seem present in most mistakes I make. I concluded that my mischievous tricksters were at it again, playing with me. They are probably my muses with a playful nature. They know how easily misled I am. They play games with me. I never seem to learn.

End with a perplexing thought about love: suppose B and I were to become a couple, suppose she wished to live and work somewhere else, Germany, Oregon, Gaza. What would I decide? Would I be willing to leave my entire life in Cambridge and New England to be with the one I loved?

Or suppose I insisted on staying here while she wished to move elsewhere? What might she decide?

Is this sort of thinking useful, does it accomplish anything? Two answers: it is pure fantasy, compulsion, sickness of the heart, longing, yearning, disgusting, a waste of time. Or it is productive, a thought experiment, useful for engaging the imagination and supposing what if, stretching the mind, preparing for a possibility.

As I imagine another in bed with me, cuddling, or with my family, eating turkey with dressing, or on tour with me in the south or with me in Israel-Palestine, or me with her in let us imagine Bosnia, photographing together. Why not? Such imagination is free and fun. Or even in a photographic workshop I teach, maybe Winter Light to the far reaches of the Blue Hills in the cold and snow, stranded. Why not imagine it?

Free and fun.

LINKS:

Video: Viva Palestina Convoy Arrives in Gaza

On the Road: a report of the southern photographic tour, October 17 – November 23, 2009

Detailed itinerary of southern tour

Seeking venues: Upcoming New England tour with recent photos from Palestine & Israel

Slide show Gaza Steadfast screens February 7, 2010 in Cambridge MA

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

PHOTOS

VIDEO: Free Gaza: First Night Parade in Boston, 2009

(Please see links at the end of this post for more information about the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina)

November 22, 2009, Sunday, Columbus Georgia, home of N and J, bed of my bedroom:

A grand finale to my southern tour yesterday: march to the gates of Fort Benning with Nipponzan Myohoji [the Japanese Buddhist order building peace pagodas and conducting pilgrimages, socially engaged Buddhism] drumming, along a big highway, many honks in support; a rally at the gates, enclosed by multiple fences, some with razor wire, numerous security personnel (what does all this cost the various governments? How useful or useless is it?); the rally attended by 1000s, many of them very young, nearly all white, same as and different from the US Social Forum in 2007 when I first met my tour coordinator Dave; literature, clothing, crafts, books, videos, and people from a wide variety of organizations, many of them for indigenous rights (including Guatemalans), many of them with religious bases (saw nothing Quaker); loud music (Charlie King, Emma’s Revolution, etc) and frenetic speakers blasting from many loudspeakers to the point of me wearing my ear plugs; a brief meeting with Kathy Kelly who told me some group in upper New York state has been following my work; tabling with Dave, trying to sell my photos (1, of Bethlehem, for $5, not exactly a killing); wandering around trying to photograph some of this activity; and suffering a minor migraine that twice had me dizzy and experiencing partial loss of vision. All in a day’s work.

Then my Gaza Steadfast show to a packed room of about 80 people. I’d wondered how many would show up since the regional focus of SOA Watch is on Latin America. One of the best shows I’ve given—most stayed for a rich discussion, entered in at the last minute (coming late) by Medea Benjamin and (former colonel) Ann Wright (friend of my family in Juneau Alaska when she stayed with them). Several people offered venues, Dave had magically appeared and seemed enthused (important to keep him happy), and I felt gratified.

Housing on these last 2 days has been more than expected. N and J hosted “the boys,” Jim, Jules, John, (the 3 J’s), Dave, Bob, Skip. In my own room, a comfortable bed, some privacy, near the toilet, with fast Internet, I could not be much happier—unless in my own home.

Y wrote and I phoned back while walking to the rally, giving the phone to Jim so they could say hi. She was rushing out for a meeting. She writes that her housing quest is going well.

November 23, 2009, Monday, nearing DC, on the train, in the café car:

Yes, on the train, the long awaited train ride home after 5 weeks on the road with my photos from Palestine/Israel. Not the most restful night on a train but good enough. These dreams then:

The first, now disappeared into oblivion, at least proved to me that I was sleeping. And then one in which I was playing catch with a man by throwing tomatoes back and forth. When he tried to catch mine, they splattered, shattered. A large bird, perhaps a duck, either flew between us or one of us caught it and threw it to the other. It hit a tree, seemed dead. When a child attempted to touch it, it opened its eyes.

Now my purported reality: on the train I slept beside a middle aged Black woman, in a car full of mostly Black people, the larger share of them overweight and old, some feeble. My companion spoke what sounded like an African language on the phone, plus fluent English. She seemed worried about her belongings and kept her 3 large bags under her seat, squishing her in. She slept under a blanket, a very clever way to produce privacy. I coughed repeatedly, maybe an allergy, maybe my postnasal drip exacerbated by my upright position. I told her as I left the seat this morning, I’m going to the café car, you can spread out.

The car attendant assigned seats, she wanted a window, and altho I usually prefer windows, for this night, thinking I might have to pee many times, I offered her my seat. Later during the night (on my only pee break, unusual), in an exploratory mood, I went into the next car and found it empty. Why not, thought I, bed down here? Within minutes an attendant asked me to leave—Why? Car out of service. Doesn’t make much sense to have an empty car when most of us are squeezed together.

I sit now in the chilly café car, a stream of hungry morning risers buying food. It is raining outside, cloudy, foggy, typical late November weather, early winter, even here, south of DC. And from the water in the car linkages, I assume rain has been falling on this entire trip. It rained at the School of the Americas event, it rained driving to Atlanta. And it was cold, sometimes windy.

I am inordinately happy—mubsut!—about completing this journey. On a very personal level, it ended well, the finale at SOA Watch with my Gaza Steadfast show, and then yesterday, the funeral procession with the puppetistas, placing the crosses at the gate (which I missed, as I did placing the Palestinian flags at the gate, an initiative by Dave, missing this because I’d forgotten about it and was cold, tired and hungry—therefore distracted, I forgot the lesson from Dorothea Lange that I often convey to my students: never assume you’re too fatigued to do more; diligence pays off.)

However I did photograph the procession, the lifting of crosses at each name and presente, the puppets, some speeches (especially by Kathy Kelly framed against a huge image of a fallen Central American woman), many individuals, and assorted other images. I continue to find myself oscillating between still and motion, wondering if this is a leading in the bud: do I return to video-film making?

And do I kick myself for missing the gate scenes? Or think, others were there (a multitude of media, mostly not the commercial media, as far as I could determine), they’ll show it, and I’ll borrow if needed. Plus my aim was not complete coverage, but seat of the pants spontaneous photography, as spirit leads. Spirit did not lead me to the gate. On this particular day—it had the day before.

2 processions on the train that leap out, if I could video them: in the middle of the night, me walking by the sleepers in their various postures, some of them with heads hanging into the aisle, others—the lucky ones with no seat partners—splayed across 2 seats, one elderly obese woman with her cane jutting half way into the aisle, and some sitting upright as if corpses. Perhaps one or 2 open their eyes and notice an apparition of the night passing them.

The 2nd procession is occurring now, on the way into the café car: lining up for food. Most look dazed, sad, depressed, some sick. Often with blank expressions. In sharp contrast with our pilgrimage group processional to the food table: smiling, happy, greeting all.

~~The train races north. Just now thru Orange Virginia. Two hours to DC~~

Some catch-up items:

There were 3 newly formed couples on the pilgrimage, all devoting one year to the service program run by Anton in LaGrange. Zack and Margarita, always holding hands, she relatively quiet, both loving; Ben and Monica, both with foot problems; and another whose names I don’t remember. How sweet, thought I, how will they be 3 decades down the road?

Years ago Y and I might once have resembled them, an older version, especially on the first walk we made together, the 1992 Columbian Quincentennary, or before that, the Bigfoot Ride to Wounded Knee. How did we appear to others?

Or P and me, when we met in 1960 during a YMCA-YWCA conference in Cedar Rapids Iowa, holding hands while strolling thru the night.

M wrote, with another of her cryptic but attentive messages, some concerning the Namu Myoho Renge Kyo chant:

A poignant video (yours). [referring to the Miami settlement video] The only thing I could hear, above the breeze (or was it the sound of the ocean) was your question, Who are the workers? Great video!

Love,

And:

Whether one says na’mu myoho renge kyo or the informal “nam…” the benefits are the same. I’m delighted and over joyed that you spend “hours” chanting the wonderful sound!

XXOO

M.

IAF, the Black Muslim from Birmingham also wrote, to me directly and on his blog about me. A new friend, thanks to the Birmingham Alabama mosque appearance and the blog:

I spoke to you briefly in Birmingham Alabama a couple of nights ago. I was the tall black guy (crude description I know, but how else am I going make sure you remember me?)

I wrote up a little post on my blog about your visit.

You gave a very good presentation the other day. You’ve taught me a lot, and that’s good ’cause I usually think I know it all.

Please keep up the good work. You are doing something very important that not many people have the opportunity to do.

Peace (and I mean that in every sense of the word),

I

And from his blog:

Gaza Photos

I had the chance to see something not too many people see: astonishing Gaza photos of the destruction caused by the Israeli siege earlier this year.

At the Birmingham Islamic Center in Hoover, Alabama, photographer Skip Schiel showcased his photos of the aftermath of Israel’s war against Hamas. He gave a pretty balanced presentation as he also displayed photos of the damage caused by Hamas rockets into Israel.

But there was no comparison. The damage caused by Israel’s barrage made the difficult situation in Gaza even worse. I can’t even begin to explain or describe everything he talked about. All I can say is, whatever I thought I knew about the situation was only just a glimmer of how life really is.

I’ve heard people call Gaza the world’s largest refugee camp. Gaza is roughly the size of Manhattan, and has roughly the same population (about 1 million). But Gaza doesn’t have high rises, skyscrapers, Central Park, Madison Square Garden, or a subway system.

Actually, Gaza has little of anything. An economic blockade prevents medicine and construction materials (but not guns). The infrastructure has been destroyed so the modern necessity of electricity is rare. And Israel destroyed many hospitals and schools in Gaza during the war.

There is a little hope. Skip’s photos showed Gazan (is that a real word) residents engaging in learning activities, leadership classes, and he himself gave them a photography class.

But as optimistic as I am (I’m a Mets and Knicks fan. Now that’s optimism) even I must admit that hope seems to be diminishing for the Gaza as well.

Please visit Skip’s blog, and like I  had to do…deepen your understanding.

Also visit Skip’s photojournal for more pictures of Gaza.

One regret: no contact with J and S of Birmingham. I realize they are busy, her with her illness and her mother, him with his radio interviews and Dallas speaking engagement, but the end result disturbs me: didn’t attend my show, didn’t meet, and didn’t follow up with a phone call or email. How would I have responded if he or she came to town for a performance? Do I now cross them off my list of friends? Or am I being precipitous, as is my pattern?

LINKS:

Gaza Freedom March

Gaza Freedom March Demonstration at French Embassy in Cairo

French woman dead in Cairo part of Gaza Freedom March (Marie-Renée Le Grand)

Marie-Renée Le Grand, a French woman associated with the March died on Wednesday of a heart attack. She was not present at any of the demonstrations, according to an organizer of the French delegation, Yasser Hassan.

Décès de Marie Renée Le Grand
publié le jeudi 31 décembre 2009

Gaza Freedom Marchers issue ‘Cairo Declaration’: End Israeli Apartheid

Viva Palestina: Gaza aid convoy leaves Syria

In Memory of Marie Renee, by Alice Kast (posted on gazafreedommarch-boston and used with permission)

Marie visited me this morning.  She didn’t tell me her own story of why she had come all the way to Gaza.  I don’t know her statistics–how old, what city, whether she had a family, or if she came alone.  In fact, she did not speak at all.  She was a presence.  It was obvious to me that her heart was breaking.

The whole city of Cairo was a prison but she came anyway.  A woman willing to witness to love and solidarity.  They  were not allowed on busses or in taxis to get to the border where they wanted to let the people of Gaza know that they were not alone. Their representatives at the Embassy would not speak with them.   Some were barricaded in their hotels.  Some were followed around the city and made unwelcome even in stores.  It made no difference to Marie that she wasn’t literally enclosed in the pen with the other French witnesses when she died.  The whole city was throbbing with the tension which could explode at any minute.  The riot police, the red water cannons were all reminders to her of what could happen at any moment.

She died because she knew that to bring into being a world where everyone has a place to live, she would have to place herself in danger.  Thank you, Marie.  You knew there was the possibility of beatings or arrest and you were willing to pay the ultimate price for the children and families living in the concentration camp that is Gaza.  And thank you for visiting me this morning.  I will never forget you and welcome your presence in my life.

It was a mixed blessing for anyone to be there in Gaza at all and those who had come from all over the world received mixed greetings.  People witnessing to the inhumanity of what is being done in our name are not always welcomed.  I just say thank you that  there are still some in the world whose sense of humanity includes all people.  Genocide is not something “good” people should do.

Thank you to all of you who went because it was the right thing to do.  Can’t wait to have you back.

Love in solidarity with the one family of humankind.

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

On the first anniversary of the Massacre of Gaza

PHOTOS

VIDEO: a buddhist led pilgrimage: justice for immigrants

November 15, 2009, Sunday, Atlanta, Nipponzan dojo/Buddhist temple:

The train delivered me on time to Atlanta, and thanks to a kindly Denise and generous and patient Jean C, I made it to the dojo, dinner, a bed, sleep, and now this morning we drive some 3.5 miles to meet the walkers. The theme is immigrant rights, along with close the School of the Americas, SOA.

This is my final week of the 5-week tour, with only 2 gigs remaining, one in Birmingham Alabama, one in Columbus. The train stopped in Birmingham for about 15 minutes. I reached Jim Douglas who reported sales of his book, JFK and the Unspeakable, Why He died and Why It Matters, thanks in part to a recommendation by Oliver Stone the filmmaker, have topped 20,000. He has 15 radio interviews pending in one week, and will soon leave for Dallas for a talk. I joked with him, Jim, my friend, you have become a marked man. He replied, isn’t that the point, getting in the way?

On the train, as usual one of my favorite work sites, I completed the Miami settlement video, another installment of my blog, a new subsite, along with finishing my journal entry of yesterday. The train ran ahead of schedule, was about 1/2 full, a large percentage black (and fat), service was excellent, my power went out for awhile, then reappeared, and I worked mostly at my seat.

Passing thru the flat lands of Mississippi and Alabama, then Georgia, I noticed much water on the ground, learned later from Jean that tropical storm Ida had rained heavily further north, maybe here as well. What may have been cotton fields were now uncultivated. Mostly forests, with some timbering evident. Very few people in the fields. Of course this is early winter.

I missed sunset, emerging from my nap of more than one hour (unusual for me), and so I made only one sunset photo—a grain elevator brilliant in the slanting sun rays. I also tried making a video as we crossed the gaping Lake Pontchartrain. Weather has been cool.

Jean is a lively soul. About my age, with connections to the Atlanta dojo, she seems jolly, unflappable, patient, and loving. Waiting for me at the train station she had to circle in traffic for nearly one hour. She seems without a strong mission, other than to struggle for peace and justice.

November 16, 2009, Monday, Americus Georgia, on the SOA/immigrant rights walk:

Another unusual dream (2 mornings in a row): I noticed the light on a friend’s face that lit him so his eye sockets and mouth were totally in the dark. This was thru a window in the early morning. I knocked on the door, showed him my camera to ask his permission to photograph, he let me in but was busy with something like a mobile phone call. I made one photo and thought this might be the one.

This may be the first long walk (relatively long walk) I’ve made since the Middle Passage Pilgrimage in 1998-99. Very relaxed and well led, the group yesterday on the first full day of walking traveled some 15 miles, me joining at lunch riding with Jean, about 8 or 9 miles. We are residing at the Koinonia Community in Americus Georgia, a mythical site because of its history during the civil rights movement when it pushed for integration by integrating itself, black and whites living together. I learned that it is also the seedbed of Habitat for Humanity, organized by one of the early partners. If time allows I hope to scout the area, it seems extensive.

Last night at the potluck about 40 people showed up, from inside and outside the Koinonia Farm. It felt decidedly Christian, with a song about Jesus, some prayers, and an interdenominational Eucharist. Not exactly my path. So I ducked out of the after meal program, partly to dodge it but mainly to try to exploit my new found slow sketchy Internet connection.

I’d left a phone message for Y during the walking, recording the drumming sound for her before announcing where I was. Later I found an email from her asking me to phone that night, and informing me that she’d reached Napa after being frightened by a storm alert. She drove non-stop from the east side of the Sierra Mountains to Napa. Talking with her later she asked about my hips during sleeping—the only person on the planet that would be concerned about this—and about Sister Denise and Brother Utsumi—one of the few people sharing this interest with me. So the walk brings us close together.

Jim Harney is also much in my heart since one theme of the walk is immigrant rights. Y also told me that Nancy S had sent an email which included some of Jim’s last journal entries, and that she might continue doing this. A true gift. I intend to add Jim to the morning prayers—Jim Harney presente!

X wrote with

hello Skip, from Guatemala!

i loved your film through the golf course in florida – made me laugh out loud

i am not sure why but it made me think of this small video of Leonard Cohen’s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFOjTVCPBjY

i hope you enjoy it

happy travels down south

Well, at least one person seems to have appreciated that video. The Cohen video did not strike me deeply, on first viewing. I’ll try again.

November 18, 2009, Wednesday, Birmingham Alabama, in the Days’ Inn motel, sitting on my bed:

Dreamt about saying goodbye to a sweet heart, forever, but she was not one of my actual friends. I was extremely sad, expecting never to see her again, or even remain in touch. Dreamt also about a very young grandson who walked perilously close to a precipice, almost fell over, caught himself at the last minute.

November 19, 2009, Thursday, Buena Vista Georgia, St Mary Magdalene church, in the back pew:

About the most torturous sleeping conditions of this journey—on the floor, on a thin pad, narrow space between pews, cold, no sleeping bag or blanket, rising a few times to pee (partly because of the cold, me not sleeping well), stepping over bodies, some slight snoring (mostly Sister Ichikawa). But hey, adapting what they might say in Gaza, that’s life on a pilgrimage.

So what? It’s fun. Talking with M after a delicious dinner of spicy potatoes and black beans cooked by our local host, the voluble Patrick, we agreed, this life is fun (for awhile). A slumber party.

~~Morning prayer begins, I take a break from journaling.~~

Once again I seem to be in the mentor role. M, young, blond, shapely, beautiful, in her early 20s, wishes to write, to perform in plays, to photograph, all about her dying and dead father, about the funeral. What to do in my life? The big question of those in their 20s. Why do some seem to find me useful?

What do you suggest, she asked, for becoming a good writer (or photographer)?

Write, desire to be a writer, join a writing group, circulate your writings, read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, read good writers (she’d not heard of Proust or Gertrude Stein).

An easy day walking since Dave and I, driving 4 hours from Birmingham, joined at lunch, and walked for the afternoon about 7 miles into Buena Vista. For the first time on this trip that I’ve experienced, people came out of their homes to greet us, ask us where we were from (all over the country), where we were going (to Fort Benning to close the School of the Americas), what we were walking for (peace). Lots of good will, especially among black people who were the preponderance of greeters. Occasionally we passed men who looked Latino. They seemed dazed by us, not fully registering that one of our 2 themes was immigrant rights. An older woman greeted us as we entered downtown Buena Vista with the words, welcome to Buena Vista even if you’re coming for the wrong reasons. She gave us an article about the value of the military, why they should be honored rather than opposed.

I’m making more videos on this trip than usual. Yesterday feet and shadows, plus lunchtime snoozing. Then this morning at prayer. I feel I’m understanding better the differences between motion and still, sound and silent. I play with the differences, oscillating between video and still. My Canon camera encourages this since it has both functions and can switch readily between the 2.

D is like a wandering ghost, rarely fully present, eternally hovering. He stands to one side, gazes, rarely interacting with others. A blank personality. For his intended occupation this is a handicap. As R wisely surmised after sharing a room with him, D has a self-esteem problem.

Last evening was free. I’d accidentally chosen an ideal spot for my home, the backbench, the last pew, relatively private, adjacent to a power outlet. So after the delectable dinner and the equally delectable conversation with B, I retired to my home away from home and finished sketching another blog, No. 5. Also a new subsite, mostly Baton Rouge. Looking at what I’d photographed, with the crucial assistance of my host there, M who graciously drove me around on tour, I realize how dependent on others I am for my photos. Without him I’d have been severely limited.

November 20, 2009, Friday, Buena Vista Georgia, st Mary Magdalene church, in the back pew:

A long day walking, some 17 miles, thru heavily forested and harvested rolling hills with a fair among of truck traffic. All this made the walking boring, dangerous, arduous, having to dart off the road to dodge traffic. Yet I am so pleased I can walk. Earlier, anticipating problems from my arthritic hips and sore legs, I said to Brother Utsumi when we met, I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk much. In fact, the walking seems to heal me. I feel as strong as ever.

Our destination yesterday was Culetta which we learned from a plaque outside the municipal building had been a major Creek Indian site. Some migrations, and then a disappearance, presumably but not noted—the infamous Trail of Tears. Another plaque admitted that an early courthouse had been built with slave labor.

Long chat with Z, again about favorite books, sharing lists, with him also, like M, comparing me favorably to one of their art profs. He asked, are you Dutch? The resemblance. Their prof is senile, however, and Z believes I’m not. He nurses a sore knee, perhaps from so much early sports playing.

No photos to speak of, a dry day photographically. I find I wish not to repeat myself, feel I’ve sufficiently shown key aspects of pilgrimage, either on this trip or on others—the long line, individual walkers, the circle, prayer, etc. Only if I can find some distinctive way to show the event and people do I even try. Is this laziness or conciseness?

Talking with Laura, swapping stories of Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli who disclosed that Israel had nuclear weapons.

Hard to write this with so many distractions, upcoming events, uncertainties.

Winding down, winding down from this tour. Thinking of home, privacy, predictability, boredom. Love, love, love.

November 21, 2009, Saturday, Columbus Georgia, home of N and J, bed of my bedroom:

An ideal housing arrangement, producing dreams, and a few extra minutes for my morning routine, including journaling. My own room, soft bed, up early enough to write, quiet. In 2 groups, me and 4 other men separate from the monk and nuns. No prayer. Fast Internet connection. And so these 3 dreams, amazingly vivid:

Observing and analyzing a photo of Jimmy Carter taken thru a keyhole. He’d almost been assassinated, shot. The photo showed him smiling, and I noted to others that had something been slightly different (angle, light, I’ve forgotten the detail), he’d be dead.

Watching a parade in which I’d have my last chance for marriage. If the last puppet figure was somehow not my wife to be I’d not have much chance of ever marrying. The last figure was not even a puppet—but a dog.

Teaching a painting workshop to about 4 adults. We each were to choose something in a small room or hallway to paint, and then my plan was to look at all the paintings and comment. I chose an inch-long section of chipped wood, labored over it, fairly proud of what I’d achieved, even tho in the dream I was not an accomplished painter. Then—we might have been on a walk—it was time to begin walking and we never were able to analyze the paintings. Upon awakening I thought, however, this might be a good way to teach photography—by having my students actually paint small sections of a surface.

Altho I thought yesterday was to be a short walking day in Lumpkin, the site of the Steward Detention Center run by the private security company, Corrections Corporation America— the nation’s industry leader of privately-managed corrections solutions for federal, state and local government, quoting their website—I was mistaken. We walked (my face sunburned, forgetting to carry my sunscreen) for about 6 miles, 3miles a sort of warm up on a highway coming into Lumpkin and then another 1.7 to and from Lumpkin center and the detention center. We were told that some 1000 men were held there, most of them non-criminal immigrants, most about to be deported. We carried the photo of a young man who’d died from a heart condition complication, Mr. Roberto Medina, in his early 30s.

We were a funeral procession, marching slowly, with the Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji prayer drums serving as the signalers of grief. About 100 participants, all ages, after a rally at the old courthouse and another at the gates of Stewart. I photographed extensively, especially at the gates, trying to show the stern scowling officials holding the gates, one with a brush cut (a style I’d not seen in ages), nor responding in any way to the procession, even tho invited to sing Amazing Grace with us.

Anton did a fine job leading this event, and I assume designing it. It is the 2nd or 3rd year. He also gave a rousing speech to conclude the various remarks delivered by others, all brief, including a young woman whose father had been deported, breaking up the family. Apparently, despite promises from Immigration and Customs  Enforcement, ICE, not much has changed under the new administration, a pattern and not a surprise.

We could ask, who profits from the system? Why does it continue? Greed is a key answer, the privatized “security” industry, plus fear. Greed motivates the leaders of the companies and the municipal officials, and fear allows the populace to accept this dirty rotten system. And this is probably a pattern for understanding societal injustice generally.

I found myself switching back and forth between still and video, thinking, what can I show here, and how can I best show it? For instance, approaching the gates. Show the gates and the personnel and then in one take swing the camera along the road to show the approaching procession. To portray the juxtaposition of sign announcing Stewart and the procession, use a still from behind the sign and include the back of the line stretching out.

Having both functions in one instrument helps. I observed a media man with 2 still cameras, one long lens, 1 video camera, and a notebook and tripod trying to manage all the gear, running from spot to spot, and trying to keep up with the slow moving march. To his credit, he came fairly early and stayed to the end.

A few days earlier we’d noticed another photographer on the road, stopping to photograph us, a short man with a beard, not smiling, with a Fort Benning parking permit and a license plate that said media. He showed up behind the detention center gates, and we suspected that he is employed by Stewart. He had privilege, for sure.

D noticed—at times he may be a klutzy organizer and poorly organized himself, but he can be astute—that buses may have been rented in case of a mass arrest, and they were parked to block the view of the prison. I tried to show what I could thru the openings between buses.

Some of the events forming the School of the Americas Watch itself are housed in several places in Columbus Georgia, including a converted industrial building that now serves as a convention center. Huge, wooden in parts, large beams exposed, much space, gorgeous. Nearby is the Howard Johnson’s Inn where I attended a program about Guatemala. I did this in solidarity with my new friend who has focused recently on Guatemala, is there currently, and might find her path more and more entwined with that region. Odd that I’d come to a possible emerging involvement in Central and South Americans affairs thru a new friend. I’m so pleased I attended, not only for the information and stimulation provided by 3 speakers about the region, including a torture survivor, American widow of someone disappeared there (Jennifer Harbury), and another woman, plus a very well made video, Do Not Forget, but to build a friendship.

I noticed some parallels with Gaza: a peace accord in 1993 (same year as the Oslo Accords), the use of a fact-finding commission, ignoring or neglecting the results, a call for bringing the case to the International Criminal Court, the continuing presence of criminals in government, etc. I also realized I could end my new slide show Gaza Steadfast better by concluding with a plea for justice, as Do Not Forget does. So I might revise my show.

In a nutshell the situation in Guatemala: in 1954 a democratically elected regime fairly responsive to the needs of Guatemalans. Then overthrow from corporate-driven interests, like United Fruit, supported by the United States. Responding to egregious oppression, the formation of an armed resistance group. Brutal retaliation by the government and militias in the 1980s—more than 300 massacres, many disappeared, a wave of emigration. Both sides committing atrocities, but something like 90% of them from the government and terror groups. In 1993 a peace accord but little change, the oppression continues.

So not only do I possibly connect more directly with X but I learn about a parallel case. And I can be more in solidarity with my colleagues at Cambridge Center for Adult Education from Guatemala.

LINKS:

Noam Chomsky: “Gaza: One Year Later”

Koinonia Farm

Corrections Corporation of America

School of the Americas

School of the Americas Watch

History of Guatemala

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

PHOTOS

VIDEO: Crossing Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans North

November 14, 2009, Saturday, New Orleans, University of New Orleans, Training, Rehabilitation, and Assistance Center, guest room (where I began this entry), and the train bound for Atlanta (where I completed the entry)

Many dreams last night, recallable, probably because I needed to arise early this morning to meet the taxi, to meet the Amtrak station, to meet the train to Atlanta, to meet Jean Chapman who will meet me at the Atlanta station, to meet the Buddhist dojo, to meet my bed for tonight, to meet the pilgrims tomorrow, eventually to meet the School of the Americas and close it, then to meet my train home. And to meet my home and all will be bliss.

All that might be considered a dream.

I’m writing now since the night is fresh, but I won’t have time to finish—in a few moments I’ll have to walk across campus to meet my taxi.

To the dreams: sharing a home with Fran, my dad, him wanting to have all of us prepare lunch together, me resisting, raiding the fridge to make something for myself, trying to clean it, complaining about how messy the fridge and kitchen were, partly because of a very young Katy [my daughter] who’d made herself toast with butter sprinkled with brown sugar.

Preparing to make a huge print, talking with someone, a Japanese man, about how to prepare the printer, clean it of dust, run a test print which will require much ink.

While talking with someone about selling his bike—a slim yellow cone with tiny wheels and foldable pedals—I suggested the Bike Workshop in Cambridge. Then I was there, a sort of worker, but not getting my hands greasy. In walked a large delegation from Friends Meeting at Cambridge on some sort of procession; they were all dressed up, men in suits, women in dresses. Would they recognize me? A few did, far fewer than I’d hoped. I’d learned earlier by stumbling into the meetinghouse early that this was a special day for men, honoring men. Andy told me that. I’d have to miss it.

During family camping, I was counting quarters donated to my wife and me, separately. I was confused, partly because the counting platform was wet and dirty, and some boxes supposedly of money had other materials not money. Fireworks were part of the dream.

I note that one theme of these dreams was family: my father and Katy, my wife and our kids, Quaker family. Absent from my recurrent themes: women (except for P), sex, and love.

I devoted yesterday to exploring New Orleans, post Katrina, and with memories of my 2-week visit here in 1998 fairly fresh. I’d ended my romp with the Middle Passage Pilgrimage, I’d formulated my plan to return to the south for 4 months to volunteer my photography, I’d arranged with Sister Clare and Brother Kato to drive the dojo car back to Leverett, and with Y to reside with her for one month to get ready for the next leg (as a couple our worst month ever). I was free to stay at the church the pilgrims had used. I believe they had left for the Caribbean so the church was relatively empty.

(This all reminds me of Kato’s devotion to Clare. He’d planned on leaving the pilgrimage to return to temple building. He understood she needed his support so he decided to go the entire way. What a difference between Y and me, my devotion to her so embarrassingly slim.)

Yesterday, under conditions different from the pilgrimage, I bussed in to the center of the city. The route took me thru the St Bernard area. Only African Americans rode the bus, many of them looking destitute, and the neighborhoods were a mix of new construction, boarded up homes, and vacant lots. This was the No. 52 bus; I could later check its route.

Part of my mission was reconnoitering the route from my room on campus to the train station, planning to catch the Atlanta train at 7 am while the first bus ran at 6. A chore. Doing this, realizing how long it was and how difficult with my luggage, how much I’d worry, and that if I missed the train I might miss the pilgrimage to close the School of the Americas, I decided to book a cab for about $20 and ease my anxiety, assure my timely passage.

First stop: library and Internet. This is the same facility I used 10 years ago, upgraded. Didn’t learn much thru my email.

I rode the St Charles street trolley thru the Garden District, as I’d done 10 years earlier, this time finally—but too late—remembering I could video from the trolley. So I tried, with mixed results. As memory infests much of what I do and who I am, New Orleans notably from my one and only visit here in 1998, the trolley brought back many childhood experiences riding a trolley much like this one, similar vintage, along Stony Island Avenue on Chicago’s South Side. Same grinding sound as the motors increased their rotational speed, a sound I could simulate by turning my dad’s grinding wheel faster and faster. Same squealing brakes like pigs being slaughtered. Same thundering sound of metal wheel against metal rail. And same bobbing motion—a land voyage on a tour boat.

In the French Quarter, wandering like a lost ghost alone and eager for excitement, to return to life—resurrection thru sex—two black prostitutes welcomed me. Ah, thought I, had I only the guts and the gonads and the bucks I might try this. Yet, for one fleeting effervescent moment of pleasure I might be saddled with deadly poisons. So: ladies, no thanks. From other buildings frenetic music roared. I ducked into one of these places to pee and felt repelled by the singing of what looked like a mad man, belting out fuck you’s and shit’s.

On the street people sipped from brightly colored tubes that turned out to be grenade drinks, rumored to be powerful, each Grenade and its sipper a walking testimonial to the buzz of the drink and the buzz of the marketing campaign.

Jazz from 2 outdoor bands contrasted with the boisterousness of this first bar music. One of them all black except for the tuba player, the other all white and this band included dancers, one couple reminding me of M and her man friend, how they might dance together. Standing by a railing in Jackson Park behind the first band, which was playing outside the park, I tried for an unusual vantage point, showing their backs and the listeners. Moving to be in front of them, I concentrated on the trombone player, his one puffed cheek, and the washboard player, his silvery washboard gleaming in the sun, his face equally gleaming. I also thought of a Robert Frank photo—I think it was his—showing a man hidden behind his tuba. Tried the same arrangement of player and instrument.

Photographing the other band, all young, vibrant—why haven’t I fallen in love with a musician, maybe the blond clarinetist in the band? Is this the next episode in my love life?—the dancers appealed, how they darted about in perfect synchrony (do they have sex together, is it good, as the sex between M and her friend, she says, is good?). The sunlight glanced off them, adding to their appeal.

The casino was a hit. Slot machines that emit an otherworldly hum (music of the gambling spheres?), electronic versions of all games, like poker, blackjack, craps (I assume) and roulette, “gaming” tables filled with not so jolly “gamers,” each table serviced by a bored looking “player,” windows where patrons can order more money, various food lines depending on one’s membership type, all in a darkened womb-like huge room or series of rooms, the outside world effectively blotted out now for the fantasy of hitting the big time. Few do. Posted around the casino: if you’re having a gambling problem, call…

I gambled on making photos, surreptitiously pushing my shutter button while the camera was draped casually over my shoulder. I’d preset it in the bathroom to not be noticed. I’m sure plain clothes security prowled the joint, some may have noticed me gliding back and forth looking very suspicious, but no one interfered. I assumed the worst that could happen was ejection, and I’m used to rejection, my close cousin.

A few photos might later be useable, most I soon jettisoned because of blur.

Incidentally, reading the October 2009 issue of the Sun Magazine, an essay by Jim Ralston called “Confessions from a Conversion Van,” he says while encouraging a young student he’s about to fail to write one essay in his own language: and include one detail about your girlfriend dumping you. How’s that supposed to fit in?, says the student. That will be the part that makes the piece worth reading.

And this may be one of the main reasons I include similar material in my blogs, and why I find writing about failed and successful loves so appealing in my journal.

This also from Jim Ralston: I’m not ready yet to look at the smiling pictures of us [Jim and his former girl friend, Raven] vacationing in Guanajuanto. Her letter is emotionally detached compared to the way we talked to each other fairly recently. She says she never meant to hurt me, that she’s learned so much from our time together. (The ultimate kiss off: “I have learned so much from you.”) Fuck you, Raven…

Sounds familiar.

As I was about to enter the river front area I reached for my sunglasses—gone. Where’d I leave them? The retired surfers restaurant where I’d eaten the delicious fish tacos? Fallen off my head when I placed them there and forgot about them. Somewhere else? Should I return to the restaurant? Ditch that idea and simply assume I’d not find them and would soon replace them. After all, didn’t they need replacement anyway, scratched and perhaps not filtering out UV?

So I squinted my way along the waterfront, noticing for the first time how many did and didn’t wear sunglasses. I’d say the ratio of did to didn’t is about 4 out of 5.

Another discovery and new since I’d last visited the river was the holocaust memorial. I tried to figure it out. It consisted of a series of tall colorful panels, vertically oriented, that seemed to compose new figures depending on one’s vantage point. Exactly what these futures were partially cleared up when I found the obligatory artist’s explanation. Essentially a Star of David symbolizing the Jews massacred during the holocaust turned into 2 radiating spheres, symbolizing humanity recovering. Or some such. Thanks to god for the explanation; otherwise this would remain in mystery.

~~On the train we are now zipping past what looks like a suburb; a housing development, flat fields, low sun illuminating all. We’ve just passed a graveyard, all graves hovering over the wet earth.~~

On my 1998 visit I’d noticed for the first time living statues, people earning money by pretending to be frozen. Very clever and perhaps hard to do. This time I only noticed 2: a perfectly still black man caught in mid movement, and later, at a trolley stop, a woman in silver—silver makeup and a silver costume sliding from her body. She sat on the tub she used to collect money. She appeared dazed as she inhaled her cigarette. She looked drunk. She looked sorrowful, like I feel sometimes when considering my misguided love life. So, to show myself, I show her. I snuck the photos by holding the camera low, viewing the scene on my flip out screen, and snapping without anyone noticing.

~~On the train we are now racing along a huge water body, one of the lakes near New Orleans, Lake Pontchartrain, between the water and a levee, homes and fields on the other side. The levee has thickened from about one meter to about 3 meters, reminding me of the separation barrier in the West Bank. What happens to the tracks when the water rises?~~

Finally, finding my way back to the campus in the early evening (dark descends here at about 5:30 this time of year), thanks to friendly Black men who knew where the No. 52 bus would stop, proud of myself, I discovered the campus student center was not only open (Friday evening early) but its dining hall features all you could eat take out for a mere $7. Can’t pass this up. I’ll eat in my room, reading mail and news on the computer. And go to bed early to rise early, 4:15 am, to meet the cab, to meet the station, to meet the train, etc.

But first, tomorrow: who’d meet me at the Atlanta station and when would I join the pilgrimage? I checked the pilgrimage schedule, discovered to my horror that tomorrow evening the walkers would have driven to Koinonia after walking to the Martin Luther King Center in the morning. There might be no one home? Now what?

Call Dave. He’s not coming until Monday.

Call Denise, and hope she’s not grouchy as she can be. Reach Denise who turns out to be sweet and loving and patient. You’re lucky, she chimed, we had a slight change in plans, someone sick whose partner is driving down to retrieve her. So someone will be here on Saturday evening and can pick you up. You’ll drive on Sunday morning to meet us.

Oh, thank god for that, but not for the illness. I hope she does not have the H1N1 flu. I read that it is striking the world hard, in the US some 500 children already dead (is this accurate?), with something like 3,000 adults dead. God in heaven if this is so, and when will it end? Should I be more careful with hygiene? I’ve had shots, I carry flu remedy.

So far, the only illness I’ve suffered on this tour is a slight flu-like symptom already reported here. It passed. I feel good, currently.

~~We are now perilously streaming past two large water bodies, Pontchartrain on the left, another lake on the right, with numerous bridges spanning the water. What happens to the tracks if the water rises? What happened during Katrina? Isn’t this precarious?

I’m about finished with this writing for now, might break for coffee and food from my larder, a breakfast while gliding over treacherous waters. Later to spell and grammar check.~~

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Excerpts from my journal while touring the southern United States with new photographs and stories. The main shows are Gaza Steadfast, Bethlehem the Holy, The Hydropolitics of Palestine/Israel, and Quakers in Palestine/Israel. (I’ve completed the tour and I’m now happily at home in Cambridge Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.)

PHOTOS

November 12, 2009, Thursday, Baton Rouge LA, home of J & M, in their living room:

Several breakthrough dreams last night, in the sense of being vivid, memorable, and possibly important. In the least dramatic but most intriguing—and hard to recall, describe and interpret—either I or someone else was explaining that we’d recently discovered or uncovered a remnant of an earlier people, foot prints encased in resin. These footprints were somehow connected with our early loves.  If only we could detect presence in the footprints we’d have access to these earlier loves. Vague, I know, but when dreaming it I felt deeply moved.

The second was an intense sexual encounter with someone I didn’t know. Then the scene suddenly shifted to outside, a group of people lining a walkway saying, give them room, let them breathe.

So much for my dream life, what about my real life?

Well, photographically speaking much is happening. Last night, showing Gaza at the local Islamic center to about 20 tired-looking folks after evening prayer, one man from Gaza came to me later to complain about me showing Sderot [the small Israeli town 1 mile from Gaza that has suffered many of the rocket attacks] as if the suffering was equivalent, Sderot and Gaza. This felt to me like the same argument some Jews might use when someone places an experience of deep suffering beside the Nazi holocaust of the Jews: can’t compare them, the Jew might say, completely different. Has the Gaza massacre, for Palestinians, become the New Holocaust, Palestinian style? Sacred, inviolable, incomparable? And eventually used to justify subsequent acts of injustice and brutality?

The man was angry, tho polite, thanking me for my efforts, but clearly feeling wronged, slighted, misunderstood. What could I answer? I offered at least 2 reasons for including Sderot, maybe 3: it’s a strategic method to build an audience; I’m curious about life there, especially trauma; and to show the boomeranging effects of the rockets, how they’ve increased the oppression rather than decreased it. To do this I should be clearer that many in Sderot have become radicalized, more extreme against the Gazan. And world attention suddenly focused on the plight of Sderot, deflecting attention from what happened to the Gazan. His remarks confirm to me the correctness of my choice—ending the slide show with Sderot. Or so I pray.

Otherwise the show and audience seemed lacking something, not with my usual energy. Partly reacting to the poor turnout and my host, M’s, disappointment. Many more were at prayer, choosing not to remain. M takes this seriously, this lack of awareness and action among his fellow Muslims. His wife, J, also seemed to feel it. Compared with the only other mosque appearance I’ve made, this one clearly failed. But the photos looked good, the audio sounded good, and I didn’t miss many of my lines.

Other than the evening show, followed by dinner at their favorite Mid East restaurant, Almazar (the diamond), not much to narrate. I accompanied M as he did some chores. We discussed prostate problems and remedies. He suggested Flomax and Finasteride, both prescription drugs, and J added saw palmetto. I believe it’s time for me to do something about my noxious little problem.

I worked at home—this was Vet’s Day—to finish the next entry for my blog, about M and S, S especially because of the day. This entry has been one of the trickiest to edit: how much to disclose about both, especially him? I removed major portions of my story about him and his wife, trying hard to conceal their identity, protecting them: fewer weapons, virtually nothing about their free-flowing love lives. I chose not to send the initial blog version to him for checking, mainly because of the deadline, also the supposition that he’ll never see it and that I’ve done a sufficient job concealing him.

M was easier, not too much to hide. And since I do not link the photos directly with the writing, tracing who’s who will be harder. I linked to the latest photo set, and the video about McDonalds, hoping they both show something vital about my experiences in Florida.

Calling Dave yesterday to sort out the remaining schedule was helpful. Our plan now is for me to train from New Orleans to Atlanta in the next few days, depending on how much hospitalility I can find in New Orleans. Then join the School of the Americas Watch pilgrimage organized by Sister Denise and Brother Utsumi, drive with Dave back to Birmingham for that gig, and end at the SOA. The last weeks are coming together, slowly, but unless magic happens with New Orleans housing—an ironic twist on the Katrina story: Skip without housing in the Crescent City—I’ll not have much free time to explore.

My walk this morning was glorious—sunny and cool, clear sky, flat terrain, much to watch, especially the live oaks, many paths to take, no rush, and inspiring my hosts to begin a walking regimen. I miss such walking.

November 13, 2009, Friday, New Orleans, University of New Orleans, Training, Rehabilitation, and Assistance Center, guest room:

On a sunny cool morning, living alone for a change, with an open day for New Orleans exploration. The Gaza show last night, sponsored by a newly formed chapter of Amnesty International and the General Union of Palestinian Students, to about 20 students and one off campus man, Joe.

M graciously drove me all the way into New Orleans, with our usual animated conversation about political events, plus news about his precarious economic position requiring him to continue working in his civil engineering business. I experienced a big loss recently, he said, not giving details, which keeps me working. Altho he is generous and compassionate, I detect a note of deep suffering, frustration, impatience. He is often highly critical of others, using the word disaster frequently. Yet he and his wife are exemplary hosts, inviting me back for further shows. I wonder if he’d prefer being in S’s position, free from the need for paying work, able to devote full time to organizing.

On long bridges we soared over swamps,. This is a water rich area, one that if I ever finish my Palestine/Israel project I might concentrate on for its water theme. The title might be, Water in New Orleans.

The group heartened me last night, many of them young activists, attentive to my show, with many questions later. I found myself disclosing personal information to an extent unusual even for me, in particular about consequences of my secondary trauma—weeping, love, love, love, and sex. I told the story of photographing the burning mother in Nepal, occasionally glancing at Jason who is Nepali, how I noticed cattle fucking near the cremation ghats. I regarded this as a sign of the intimate connection between death and sex, or between suffering and love. That was in response to a question about how I dealt with witnessing suffering.

A related question—and I worry at times that I’m too much about me, not about others—was about how children respond to suffering: attending programs like Popular Achievement in Gaza, university enrollment, graduate education, sports, religion, sometimes extreme forms of religion as with Hamas and even more radical Islamic groups, and of course despair, caving. Which may be more prevalent than I observed because I was with a select group of Gazans.

At the show at Louisiana State University I’d seen a display about hidden people and decided to use this theme in my intro. Forgot. Forgot also at the mosque show but last night I remembered and opened with that. I asked, after explaining how I came to this idea, what are some hidden populations of humans that you know about? Only a few responses. (Of course, being hidden they might not be apparent.) I listed the Katrina population, especially people of color. Paradoxically there was great attention to Katrina itself, as a catastrophe, and some attention to the victims, of all types. But because of how blacks living in poverty were portrayed—criminals, rioters, killers, monsters in short—they were rendered invisible: their true selves were hidden. They were not rendered as human beings. Ditto for American Indians. And for the Vietnamese during the war, the gooks, and the Iraqis, and the same for the Gazans—who we are taught are all terrorists. This proved a useful frame for the show.

Also I now use the 2 images from Newsweek, Vice President Joe Biden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, contrasting them: man in suit with American flag lapel pin, smiling vs. a scowling bearded Arab. This to the point of why I do my work: to balance the big picture by portraying Palestinians as human beings.

I encouraged questions about photography, so from what equipment do you use to how are you regarded when photographing in Gaza were tossed at me. I’d said earlier to a young man who had professed interest in photography, please don’t hesitate to ask me about photography, few do, and I love those questions.

In the few hours I had between drop off and show time, I searched for internet access, found none, concluding this is one of the tightest campuses yet for internet security; walked to Lake Pontchartrain and made a panoramic photograph from a levee; bought and snagged food for later consumption (some of it I’m afraid is from the stash of the resident assistants); and pondered what to do about New Orleans, how long and where stay?

I feel cut off  without Internet access. I’ve had it fairly reliably on this trip, especially during the last days in Baton Rouge, and at home since I signed up for Verizon. Without internet I am blind to new developments about trip planning, can’t get local info, can’t book my Amtrak ride (I could over the phone), won’t know if any personal messages arrived, and can’t add web material to the slide shows. Perhaps I’ll find temporary access today in my travels. A library perhaps.

Jason, my host, is from Nepal. He informed me that the campus suffered greatly during Katrina, under 18 feet, yes FEET, of water, but suffered more from the vandalism and looting inflicted by evacuees who’d been temporarily housed here. I’m not sure how true this is, perhaps a projection upon others?

He also cleared up for me the use and meaning of the term teeksa. Not pronounced teek-sa, but thik cha, 2 syllables, the Nepali pronounciation of th not available in English. And Nepali has a word for thank you, contradicting what I’d learned when in Napal in 1979, but at least I was correct in guessing that thik cha means ok, fine, why not, etc. So I’ve mauled the word, yet correctly interpreted it. End result: I’ll make no change. I’ll continue to use it for my photography passion, but not explain it as the Nepali equivalent of thanks because the language lacks that word.

LINKS:

Gaza Freedom March

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Stolen Beauty, a selective boycott campaign against an Israeli product, Ahava, promising “Beauty Secrets from the Dead Sea”

Israeli Apartheid Video Contest

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