Monthly Archives: October 2011

Friday photo: 10 Years Gone

Afghan school girl by maiaibing2000
Afghan school girl a photo by maiaibing2000 on Flickr.

Those eyes! Like Daniel C. Britt’s Afghanistan photo essay, this one is a reminder that sometimes simple images that evoke a strong, yet fragile beauty are the most powerful.

The Week’s Worthwhile Reads

The United States of Haiti?                                                                    Newly back from Haiti, Pooja Bhatia draws parallels between the beloved “dysfunctional little country” she left behind and the direction her homeland appears to be heading.

“…ensconced back home in the U.S., the Land of Plenty, I see reminders of Haiti everywhere,” Bhatia writes in an article for the Daily Beast. “Our infrastructure is crumbling. The able-bodied and quick-brained can’t find work. The chasm between the super-rich and everyone else has so widened that our elites seem to inhabit a different country.”

Overstated? Perhaps. But she raises some good questions. And I’m always pleased to see pieces that spotlight Haiti–a rarity since the earthquake-induced reporting frenzy died down and the majority of journalists moved on to other crises du jour.

The Amanda Knox Case and Journalistic Neutrality                                Speaking of media frenzies, the wrap-up of the Amanda Knox appeal and subsequent acquittal of the accused had more than 400 reporters descending on poor Perugia, which just wants to go back to being known for its chocolate. More interesting, is the polarization within both the public and the media over Knox’s perceived guilt or innocence. Shades of gray are all but nonexistent in the sensationalized murder case: the Seattle student is either a duplicitous, sexually-charged killer or the the victim of a sexist, arcane legal system.

Oddly, such polarization has crept into some of the media coverage, specifically within the reporting of two high-profile journalists. Rome-based Barbie Nadeau who has covered Italy for Newsweek for a number of years sides with the “guilty” camp, while Nina Burleigh, who moved to Perugia to write a book on the case, believes that Knox was a victim of misogyny at its worst.  

But where is the line between reporter and advocate? asks the New York Times. And to what extent should a journalist allow her opinions to bleed through her reporting?

Snuff, Barf & Amusement Parks: Scenes from the Real Afghanistan 

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Postcard #3: Deliciously Frenetic Weekend in NY

Crowd at Radio City Music Hall. © Erin Zaleski

The blur of people streaming out of Radio City Music Hall perfectly captures all that is mad, frustrating, beautiful, electric, and delicious about a weekend in New York. There were monsoon rains, humidity more fitting for Miami than a Manhattan autumn, champagne at Griffou with a good friend, more drinks in the East Village, ravenous pizza noshing at 3am, a rainy train ride to Long Island’s North Shore, chocolate cake and red gloves in a weathered art studio, Cirque du Soleil, taxi rides with Nordic Lad under a damp, gray sky, a giant, white breast on the wall at Trattoria dell’Arte, a first glimpse of the WTC construction site, the crush of bodies and the blare of sirens, and the sensation of loss and relief as I board the plane to San Francisco.

Literary Pyrotechnics

Long after midnight the towers and spires of Princeton were visible, with here and there a late-burning light – and suddenly out of the clear darkness the sound of bells. As an endless dream it went on; the spirit of the past brooding over a new generation, the chosen youth from the muddled, unchastened world, still fed romantically on the mistakes of half-forgotten dreams of dead statesmen and poets. Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revery of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shakes . . .

Amory, sorry for them, was still not sorry for himself – art politics, religion, whatever his medium should be, he knew he was safe now, free from all hysteria – he could accept what was acceptable, roam, grow, rebel, sleep deep through many nights . . .

There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his lost youth – yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. But – oh, Rosalind! Rosalind! . . .
“It’s all a poor substitute at best, ” he said sadly.
And he could not tell why the struggle was worth while, why he had determined to use to the utmost himself and his heritage from the personalities he had passed…
He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky.
“I know myself,” he cried, “but that is all.”

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise (1920)