Thursday, August 30, 2012

About Those Film Holders....

I have just returned from my 8th Summer Games. It’s not much, perhaps, when you compare it to the venerable Giuliano Belavacqua, who was attending his 23rd Olympics and who says he should get credit for 30+. He’s done 11 Summer, 12 Winters, and feels each Winter Games is worth 2 Summers.

I kind of agree with the “Winter” interpretation.  Photography is tough enough without being cold. 

But there is something addictive about the Olympics that we photographers share with the rest of the world. The collection of the best athletes in one place provides an opportunity for us to try and do our best – the Photographer’s Olympics, too, it seems. The way we cover the games continues to morph.

When I started in 1984, we shot film (E-6), sent it to the Official Fuji lab in downtown LA, and got it back a few hours later. (This year for the first time there was NO wet lab at all.) You then edited the slides and THAT was your coverage. That waiting period between shooting and editing still provided a minor sense of wonder, and of questioning whether or not you GOT the shot. No screens on the backs of cameras yet to inform of the good or bad news, the way we operate now. In fact the wonderment that accompanied your shooting was in many ways the most memorable part of the experience.

In those hours between exposing film, and getting your little green box back, you reconsidered time after time whether or not you’d blown it or saved the day. You wondered what else you could have done to be a little better. To beat the guy standing next to you. The ability to be looking at the screen of the 100 meter start, before they actually finish the race (and there is a sprint amongst the photographers – to see who can flip their cameras from shooting to viewing mode the quickest – as they try and confirm for better or worse what they have just shot) is, I would have to say, a horrible thing.

There is no meditating, no wondering, no imagining, no question marks. The crowds are still cheering as you flick thru the screen to see what made it to your sensor. I kind of marvel at it, and at the same time wonder if we wouldn’t be better off as image makers if there were some little built in time, something to leaven the rush of the need to know. But if you would do that, maybe you’d want to go all the way and put a big piece of gaffers tape over the screen and leave it there. I think your pictures from the first few days would really suck. Like a duck out of water, you would be consumed with what you didn’t get and how you could make it better. But very quickly, I’ll bet, the pictures would start to come. As confidence would build about exposures, angles, what lens to use, I do think the pictures would start to come back. All the skills from five generations of photography that have dissipated the last ten years would start to return. A sense of craft, beyond merely being confident you could “fix it in post” would enrich the level of shooting.

I am not saying that there is no good to be had from the new technologies. Far from it. The new cameras let us make pictures that were never even imaginable a dozen years ago. But in all of that, in the rush to bestow the crown of technical achievement upon the head of digital photography, I think we risk losing a piece of the soul of all our work. And whatever each of us can do as individuals to get beyond the norm, the expected, the predictable, and the obvious that is what photography in the new century demands of us.

This year, with so many photographers filing from their shooting positions, the “life” in the Photo Work Room was vastly diminished. Formerly, there would be anywhere from 200 to 400 photographers, all spread out in a giant work area, each using either wired or Wi-Fi, sending their edited images back to base. There was a wonderful informal tradition that when you went to the restroom, or out for a coffee, you ‘d leave the best thing you’d shot all day sitting big and bold on your laptop screen, so that those around you would see your best, and presumably get psyched out by the fact that they would never be able to match your best work.

Now, most of that kind of editing takes place in the local venues, or even in, say, the moat around the athletics track. Cards are uploaded right after they are shot. Images are molded quickly, and sent out just as snappily. To a sometime film guy like myself, you think you’re living in a different century.

Speed of delivery, like speed on the track, becomes the standard. Expectations for delivery are high. And for someone like myself who keeps thinking that the current Olympics are the “last one,” there is always the sense that maybe the last one isn’t QUITE the last one. There will always be one more to do. Rio, I guess: here we come.   We're just sayin'... David

(published contemporaneously in

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not Cool. Really.

Although they may be successful, I find the new “Barack” fundraising appeals shortsighted and a little disrespectful.  (This comes from the “when I fell off my dinosaur,” part of my personality).

The ads invite you to “Meet, Barack and Michelle.”  Some of the ads offer you the opportunity to buy lunch or dinner with the happy couple.  While they claim you don’t have to donate to win – that is not really true.  You can donate as little as $3, or as much as $40,000. (What happened to campaign finance?) But whether or not you have to donate to enter to be intimate with the First Couple, is not the point.  (My personal favorite  is the lottery that flies you to the Democratic convention, covers your expenses and provides front row seats, not sure what front row is available) but this is not what I wanted to blob about. 

If you were given a chance to meet Dave and Iris or the President of the United States and the First Lady, which would you choose?  Don’t try to be kind, I know we’re far more entertaining.  But the President of the United States of America, is truly special.  Why would you diminish the importance of the Presidency, by calling him Barack, instead of Mr. President. He is not just a regular guy.  He is the Commander in Chief and someone who is supposed to find ways to make your life better.  He is the leader of the Western world.  He has access to every mode of transportation available.  He could even take a space ship if he made friends with Branson – which he could also do.  As much fun as Dave and Iris are, they are not going to change your life in any important way. 

Jimmy Carter, was just  plain folks, one of the people, like you or even me. He won the election in 1976.  It was thrilling when Jimmy and Rosalyn got out of their limo to walk down Pennsylvania Ave during the inauguration.  It didn’t take long before people all over the nation started to rethink the “ordinary” people tag.  This was best exampled in 1980 when Ronald Reagan defeated him.  Most people loved the Reagan glamour, and spending, and rhetoric.  They want their leaders to be exceptional and that includes, not just one of the great unwashed, (and I mean that in the nicest possible way).   I’ve said this before:  most people aspire to be rich, or famous, or even terrific parents.  The notion of aspiring to be middle class, requires a person to think of themselves as less than that.  Even people who have to choose between medication, food, and fuel, like to think that the decisions their extraordinary  (nothing to do with party politics), leaders make will guide them down a path to “more than they ever imagined was possible.”  Not all of want to take on that kind of responsibility.  We want the benefits of accomplishment,  without doing the work.

It is not cool for the President to agree to settle for less than all the titles and the pomp of this office.   People love to think that however they help the President will help the country, not just Barack and Michelle as individuals.   Allowing him to be called by anything less, diminishes his stature.  Romney is wealthy beyond most of our dreams, but generally that doesn’t make people angry.  Romney saved the Olympics.  He built a successful business.  He put people to work.  Any other information is peripheral. It would make more sense for the President and other elected Democrats to repeatedly say, “I am the President, and I know how to get things done.  But the Republicans and Tea Party people don’t care about you, or your life.  Their sole agenda has been to make sure this President couldn’t get anything done.  And in that they have done a brilliant job.”   We’re just sayin’.... Iris

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Tyranny of Ones

The modern world, far from singularly benefiting from the advances in technology seems to find itself trying to figure out the state which it inhabits.  From my earliest days in school, in the 1950s, I can remember being told that not only would advances in technology and knowledge benefit mankind, but they would do so on a scale which previously had been unknown since people first began huddling together by fires, thousands of years ago.  In fact, when you think of the jump from no fire to fire,  you would have to go pretty far to find something quite as change rendering in the last few hundred years.  Most of the things which we take for granted, and reflect the ‘modern’ world we know are barely considered by the majority of us.  We just imagine that they have always existed.  Yet between electrification and the expansion of water & sewer lines, I can’t imagine a world any darker than what existed prior.  Our modern world is in many ways devoid of , above, the smells of what went before.  Open sewers,  carriages drawn in the main by horses and oxen, must have produced a stench that the early days of even Park Avenue would have found to be unrecognizable.  When you think about it, the vision which humanity brought to the problems of the day was a thing of beauty.  What must a young aspiring engineer have thought, that his life’s work would be the movement of sewage from one part of a city to a lesser inhabited section, and eventually that it be ‘treated’ so as to become almost unrecognizable.  To me, that is the kind of advanced thinking which was the true sign of genius.  Building a system (system meaning it covered thousands of blocks, all interlaced, rather than just a stretch of perhaps chic dwellings whose owners could afford it) was just the kind of thing which would have unleashed further innovation. 

The space programs of the 50s and 60s carried with them dozens of innovative break throughs which brought both product and form to us, things which before that were only pipe-dreams.  The arrival of the transistor enabling miniaturization on a scale previously unknown, launched the digital age we live in today. Hundreds, then thousands, and eventually millions of switches whose glory was found in their ability to say  Yes/No,  On/Off,  One/Zero.  What does any of this have to do with my own chosen field  - photography – in the period of time I have practiced it?  Well, I started taking photographs for real about 50 years ago.  I was on the Olympus High School year book staff, and in an effort to advance my C.V., at the urging of my mother, a Journalism major from Stanford (‘38) I’d applied in order to seem perhaps more than I was.  Not only  an engaged student (advanced Math and Chemistry) but someone who was a nearly “compleat student,” in the words of Issak Walton.  Yet that first day in the “Titan” darkroom – a wet lab about 8x8’ on the second floor of the school, under the tutelage of our very corpulent but dedicated math teacher (the “advisor” for the photo program), I had that singular moment when I saw my first photograph appear.  It must have been a picture of something as mundane as the French Club, two rows of earnest looking students, the back row of which was standing on a stair so as to be visible over the heads of the front row. Shot with either a 4x5 or 6x6 camera, the shot was ingloriously lit (one bounced  potato-masher strobe) but so full of detail that you could see the lint on dresses and shirts.  Yet it wasn’t so much the picture itself, as it was the alchemicaic wonder which was unleashed in that red-tinted room when the sheet of photo paper, after a few seconds exposure under the enlarger, was slid into the tray of developer.   Very slowly an image started to appear out of nothing.  The shiny white of the paper was replaced by a hundred shades of gray (yes, twice as many as Fifty) as that paper became a photographic print.  In my very informal poll of a few dozens of photographers over the age of 40, all of whom started their photographic lives in a similar way, each of them has spoken with an almost breathless wonder of the that moment when they first saw a photographic image develop in a tray.  Later, there would be the smells of dektol, stop bath, and fixer, each with its pungent  and unforgettable personality, and stains on fingers when both gloves and tongs were traded for the more tactile approach of grabbing the print in your fingers,  blowing on it, rubbing it like aladdin’s lamp, in order to bring out some small extra bit of contrast or density.  It was extremely hands-on, and very personal.  You touched your print from the moment it started to exist, and carried it through the process till it sat dry, and perhaps curling, on your kitchen table.   Nikki Kahn,  a very talented  photographer with the Washington Post, who was kind enough to give me a late night ride back from the outlands of Andrews Air Force Base, following a Presidential trip, spoke almost glowingly on our short ride of her memories of those first prints.  How it was magic, indeed, to see an image come out of the nothingness of white paper.  And more importantly, how sad it is in the modern world where virtually no photographers under the age of 25 have even been in a darkroom.  The whole of their photo-lives has existed in the world of digital – the last 12 years or so, and they have seen it marked by the existence of screens on the back of cameras, tiny monitors whose job it is to show the artist/image maker just what they created seconds before.  The first time we saw an image appear on the back of a camera it was, well, kind of exciting.  But can that, or the disgorging of a print on a large format Epson printer slowly, mechanically, methodically  -- can it compare to the sorcerer like vision of a Kodabromide paper reacting to Dektol in the developing tray?  One is interesting, yes. But the other is transformative.  An almost complete rendering of one of THE cardinal rules of the first 160 years of photography.  Big is small, bright is dark, less is more, thin is heavy.   The understanding of the photographic negative, where greater density of the film inhibits the passage of light while thinner, less intense blockages permit more light to pass through, have become in many ways a holistic concept of how to view life, to view the world itself.   The “negative” becomes a rather useful metaphor to see how events in the world transpire, as much as it is for understanding how projected images treat light. 

I was rather slow to fully adopt the ‘digital’ model in my photographic work.  From about 1998 onwards, it was clear that to a large segment of those working in journalism, the speed of digital turn around was the single most important factor in trying to deliver a product to market.  The Associated Press has for decades adopted the motto “a deadline every minute..” referring to the fact that around the world, amidst the thousands of newspapers who relied on their production, there would always be a paper on final deadline, be it Columbo, Cali or Khartoum.  And whatever could be done to shorten the time between a photographer witnessing an event, and the delivery of that picture to a client, should be done.  There was a desire to try and cut that time from what was once days and weeks (before telegraphy) to mere seconds.  Speed  of delivery was the single biggest factor in determining whether or not  a newspaper or wire service shooter had done a good job.   For someone like me, who shot for weekly magazines, it was a different story.  I could still use the traditional film I knew well, have the luxury of those few days to use a pro lab to bring those images to market.  Yet, more and more, the creeping  of deadlines was to alter even the magazine model greatly. Even weekly or monthly magazines felt some vague need to be “online” and show their works on the internet, and once that happened, even people like myself were obliged to consider getting pictures to market much, much quicker. 

On breaking stories, the paper & wire guys would have their laptops set up to be able to just pop in a memory card, immediately load the images into PhotoMechanic or another of the very efficient editing and “ingesting” programs, do a quick choose, and equally quick “treatment” in Photoshop (managing color balance, contrast, sizing, and of course captions) and send the picture on some available wifi network or a small cell-network enabler.  The latest incarnation of this chasing of the second hand was to be seen at the London Olympic games.  Teams of editors, often as numerous as the photogs they were working with, would man large screens on the receiving end of a feed.  The sending end – the photographers, would be set up to be able to send virtually every picture they made to the editor, sometimes in the same building, but often across town at the Press Center.  The speed of networks is such that large scale files can be sent quickly.  I first saw this in the winter of 2010, when I was in Boston to help judge the Boston Press Photographers association annual contest.  One of the members of the local group, a Reuters photographer, was moonlighting as a Winter Olympics editor.  His laptop would receive a flow of images from Vancouver, as they were shot, and he would be the one who would decide what would actually go out on the network.  It was an amazing example of how the speeding up of networks has created our own domestic version of outsourcing.  An editor no longer be located right were the pictures are being taken, in order to get the job done. 

But if you are someone like myself, who shoots RAW format (wherein all the information the camera sees is stored in the file) instead of JPEG (a much smaller, more nimble file which is created by the brain of the camera FROM the RAW file, then stored on the memory card) the speed of turn around isn’t quite as deliriously snappy.  The files are four to five times bigger, and require a lot more computing power to deal with.  You can do all kinds of more subtle altering of the files in RAW, and it remains the format of choice for ultimately coming up with the highest quality image.  So in the real world, there are essentially two tiers of digital photographer.  The ones for whom Speed is king, and the others who give up Speed, for more Quality.  Which isn’t to say the JPEG images are garbage. I have seen 40x60” prints from a JPEG file which look fabulous.  But in the end, there is that dividing line.  There are surely times when I wish I had been able to speed up the turn around on some of my digital files. And I know any number of wire shooters who freely admit that in a perfect world, they would prefer to shoot RAW and have the additional control and  utility of those files.  For the wire and paper photographers, all of whom are constantly trying to eek out just one more picture before the plane takes off or the bus departs, their world is governed by that speed of turnaround. Yet, because of that necessity, when the end of the day comes, they are essentially done.  Their pictures have been catalogued, named, captioned, put into folders (or at least the Selects have been), and they can freely drop their gear in their hotel room and head to the bar for a beer.  Richly deserved, and, more importantly, enabling them to talk to the folks who know what tomorrow is about – staff people,  writers, and other photogs.  They are already, essentially trying to figure out what is next for them. 

Some poor slob like me, unable to do the quick turnaround of my large-scale files while on the press bus to hockey, or a taxi to gymnastics, is in another boat altogether. And I do mean canoe, and I don’t mean paddle.  In London (or on the road with the President) I would finish shooting an evening event at some unseemly hour,  and make my way back to the hotel via, usually, the press shuttle bus.  That alone was about ¾ hour ride, and in a perfect world, where I wasn’t carrying 40 pounds of gear, I’d be able to use that time to my own profit.  But things don’t always bend your way. I would get to the hotel often at midnight or 1 in the morning, skip that right turn into the bar, and head straight to my room.  There I would assemble the memory cards in a small stack. It often came to 40, or sometimes even 60 gigabytes of data.  I would set up the “caption” field in Photo Mechanic with all the information I could remember from that day (Men’s Decathalon, Women’s Syncho Swimming, etc etc), create a folder and file names  which would later be searchable on a purely time basis  (BUR_YYMMDD_LondonOlympics_Day2_1723.CR2) and start flogging the images off the memory cards and onto a purchased-just-for-the-occasion  Hard drive.  It would take sometimes ten or fifteen minutes for a single card, and I often had six, 8, even ten cards to do.  It seemed I never got to bed before 3 a.m., only to have to rise again the next morning at 7 or 8 and head out to do it all over again.  Each morning I would awaken with the feeling I had somehow been cheated out of a proper restful night.  Tyranny? It surely felt like it. No doubt there were better 'work flows' I could adopt, but it all seemed aimed at making me sleep deprived when I needed rest most.   There just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day that I could manage so that the work load of both shooting and file management was done with confidence  and competence.  In addition,  I was exhibiting signs of retrograde camera envy.  Besides the digital cameras at hand, I wanted to shoot with my 1940s Speed Graphic, a beautiful old beast of a press camera, with a 1943 aerial recon camera lens on it.  I have shot with this camera for a decade, and find that when I look into its amazing viewfinder, I see things I just miss with my digi cams.  The old lens, long and fast, sees the world in a very different way than the Canons, and in many ways IS a perfect foil for the smaller more agile counterparts.  First, it uses Film.  There is no practical affordable digital back for a 4x5” camera at least not yet, and frankly I kind of hope no one develops one anytime soon.  There is, in the use of film, film holders, and a semi ancient camera, something very satisfying, very “I have to get this in ONE shot,” something very, shall we say, Romantic.

It’s as if I have joined the colleagues of my chosen field from prior generations, the ones who didn’t have much of  a choice.  For them there was no 5 frames-per-second, instant-return mirror, auto focusing & auto advance & auto metering. There was just a big-ass box of camera, one that required looking onto a ground glass to focus, a shutter which needed cocking by hand, a requiste series of events which had to happen in a very specific order, or the picture just couldn’t be taken.  And yet when something good happened with that camera, it was really, really good.  Was there some way to imitate that look?  In some ways there were elements of ‘the big camera look” which might be copied to a digi cam, but for the most part, there was something in the hideously slow way of shooting which led you to a different outcome.  That said, the percentage success rate was miniscule.  If, in my 300+ frames of black-and-white film I find twenty images I really like, that will be an overwhelming success.  The film is currently at the lab in New York, where, on a good day, one of the lab techs might inspect a single sheet of film in the ruby red atmosphere of a dimmed darkroom light, and see another form of that alchemy we so loved in the youth of our photographic apprenticeship.  He might just see something which represents a moment seen weeks ago on TV, whether it be a young spritely gymnast, a take-no-prisoners handball player, or a trained horse whose idea of a good time is to walk with great precision and elegance in dressage. 

For me perhaps the strongest feeling of kinship which took place at the Olympics surrounded the way in which my camera was welcomed by so many photographers.  People I didn’t know would see me carrying this kludgy beast, in addition to far too many cameras & lenses, and wish me (or the camera itself) good luck. There was always a faint glimmer in their smiles, as if seeing the old film camera in the middle of all the digital gear was like running into a long lost great-uncle, one who you’d lost track of, who you thought might have died barely noticed a decade ago.  Some part of your family which for all those reasons we know so well, just didn’t stay connected, and who you assumed had lived his life, and passed on.  Yes, there was a kind of affirmation, that even though we have entered this world of a digital presence (and not just photography but in every other aspect of our lives) that there still remained some role, some kind of leavening effect, something that couldn’t be ascribed to merely Zeroes and Ones on a piece of silicon, which would give us satisfaction and pleasure by its mere existence.    At least a dozen people asked me if it were still possible to get film “in that size,” and though each week it becomes more difficult, I think there are enough die-hards – particularly in Eastern Europe, that for some years to come we ‘ll be able to find black and white film in several styles and speeds.  Color?  Who knows, as that market slowly whittles away. But B/W is the founding force of photography, its singular beauty and strength  carrying a visual message which is hard to equal.  And while I often succumb, like so many in our trade to the ease, and speed, and yes, quality, of digital photography,  I’d like to think that there is a place which my Speed Graphic will have for years to come, unfettered by the Tyranny of the Ones and Zeroes.  It has become a part of my life, my family, my being.  The metallic rap it makes when you ram a film holder into the back is one I never tire of.  The finger-snapping sound the shutter makes (different sounds at different speeds ) is more satisfying than a Beethoven concerto.  The simple and innovative beauty of its construction, a prized example of industrial engineering in the mid twentieth century makes me wonder if the hand of man can truly be equaled by machines.  And of course the most intimidating question of all: am I up to the task of taking it places, showing it things in a way that is good enough to let it shine.  Everytime I open it up, put a lens on, and attach to my tripod, I wonder if I am up to the job.  But seldom in life are the tools which fight tyranny so easily mastered, and when I’m done shooting, and slowly re-bed it in my old worn but perfectly fitting backpack, I know I have done some small work in keeping alive the creative hands of the past.   We’re just sayin’… David

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Enough is Enough

It seems I have written about this before, but given how entertaining I can be, does it really matter?  For new readers, let me quickly catch you up on what’s been going on.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time whining.  When is enough enough.  Today.
This blob will not be about me, enough about me, let’s talk about something else.  Don’t get excited, this is not a happy talk blob, it about politics.

It is hard to believe that 42 year old Paul Ryan, (fiscal conservative doesn’t begin), might be the next Vice President of the United States.  For those of us who have our roots in Presidential politics, we know it doesn’t matter because no one listens to the Vice President, however, it certainly sends a message—which is always the best reason to select someone who might be considered controversial.  If you consider wanting to get rid of “medicare as we know it” , or lowering taxes on the rich, controversial.  This might be a place where we can say enough is enough. But that would be too predictable.  Medicare seems to work OK.  It is probably one government program that does.  And the rich do not really need a tax break, because when they get one, (as exampled by the Bush cuts) they are always willing to share it with those less fortunate.  The old trickle down,  turned the economy around last time (360 degrees), and there is no reason to believe it won’t work again—except it won’t.  Trust me, I’m an expert, I know almost everything – especially when enough is enough.

This all feels too familiar.  When Gore ran against Bush, we all said that the Republicans made a big mistake selecting him. As it happens, they didn’t and Bush got to be President, not once, but twice.  People can say that Bush cheated or the chads didn’t work, but the fact is, it doesn’t matter. Bush was in the White House long enough to do real damage to the economy, and the nation’s mental health – war after war will do that. So when we look at the two, rather four opposing candidates, we see a picture painted by colorful rhetoric.  In the case of Paul Ryan, his speech was filled with pictures of a beautiful future.  The words and questions;  opportunity, leadership, courage, truth.  What kind of people do we want to be?  I know! I know! We all want to be rich and secure. And we all want to be cute and have cute children and grandchildren,

When Gore ran he insisted that people aspired to be in the middle class. No one aspires to be ordinary (which in effect was how people interpreted that). Kerry let the opposition make mincemeat of his war record. No one wants a Commander in Chief, who’s resume reads like chopped liver.  And the democrats  still don’t get it.  Candidates are defined by what people hear.  It doesn’t matter what they say, because what they say is meaningless once they get elected. 

President Obama is a good guy, who killed Ben Laden, he almost ended all our wars, and has been trying to jump start a devastated economy.  But what do we hear?  He has failed as a leader.  He has discouraged entrepreneurship, he has not made any progress in any area including putting people back to work, and (the last punch), he is not really an American. 

You would think that some genius in the White House would say enough is enough, and understand that circumstances (especially in the Congress), made it impossible to make any progress.  But, they still don’t know what  the Mayor of Chicago knew.  You cannot approach an enemy (and that’s what the Republican Congress has become), with an outstretched arm and an expectation of someone taking your hand.  You need to kick ass—which they had the opportunity to do before  the republicans drank the cool aid, (sorry tea),  and democrats were still in the majority.  The republican candidates are already saying, enough is enough, and it might just work.  The democrats, well if they don’t understand how to do that, and they can no longer ask my mother, then who knows. We're just sayin.... Iris

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Just When the Whining was About to Stop

Geez, it hasn’t been an easy week.  David is in London -- that’s never easy, another squamous cell removal (everyone should have a body check), and some thief decided to avail himself of my ipad, and all our (jordan, mom, me), jewelery.  Out of those three, too bad for Iris sagas, the robbery was the most invasive. Although my arm isn’t that pretty....

When we lived in Virgina, our cars were broken into a number of times.  OK, so even after the first break in you would think we would lock them. We didn’t.  The thief was smart enough to know we were idiots and even though we left nothing in the car,  he kept coming back.  After the third robbery, we remembered not to leave them open.  That was not as horrible because he didn’t get into the house.  Outside seemed like a pain in the ass, but it was, outside.

As I cam in the front door (which was locked) and saw the paperwork from the fireplace on the floor, I knew there was trouble “a brewin” at the Burnett homestead.   Then I noticed the rock and glass on the floor-- also not a good sign.  “Hello”, I yelled, hoping no one would answer.  The walk to my bedroom was painful, and yet somewhat hopeful.  Nothing was touched in  Seth’s room. Unfortunately, that was not the case in Jordan’s room.  The jewelry box was on the floor, the contents of five or six dresser drawers were scattered about, and the shelves in the closet were emptied on to the bed.  Goodbye hope.  I went into our bedroom.  The first thing I saw was a treasured box of Jordan’s baby clothes ripped apart.  (Guess he didn’t have a baby or bronchitis because both the clothes and medication remained untouched).  Then the jewelry hanging bag and, my mother’s well hidden jewelry box -- with the junk contents scattered,  but the good stuff gone.  The guy had no sense of humor because he didn’t take the gold boxer shorts we bought for David a few years ago --tags still attached.

He went through the night tables, hoping for money or drugs.  Most of my medication is generic so he didn’t know what it was.  There was no money --we don’t have any lying around.  First I called my cousins.  They came running.  Then I called 911.  There was no answer. I thought that was hilarious.  So we called the direct police number, but they had to transfer us to the correct police department.  They eventually got to the house and couldn’t have been nicer or more sympathetic.  They apologized for any delay and explained, there were simply not enough police to handle the rash of robberies in the area. 

The detectives took pictures. The police gave me questions to think about, and we started to clean up.  Admittedly, the thought of someone touching my t-shirts was unpleasant, but not a disconcerting as drinking soured expired cream.  I don’t mean to make light of this. It was terrifying, but luckily the missing items, were only things.  Stuff that mostly had sentimental value -- but not like the pictures, or someone’s life.  Listen up all you thieves, and drug addicts-- you took my peace of mind, and all the golden crap, with which my mother adorned herself and refused to part.  There is nothing left in the house to steal.  

The other day we were talking about the possibility of class warfare in this country.  Someone asked me if I wanted a gun.  What would I do with it -- shoot my foot. Given the things he took, our thief was probably a drug addict. But maybe not.  The economy sucks, there are millions of people out of work who  can’t feed their families, buy medication, or afford gas for their cars.  It is a desperate time for too many friends and neighbors.  This kind of experience highlights the reality of the world in which we live.  We better do something soon, because I don’t want to be afraid in my own home and I really want to live happily ever after. We're Just Sayin.... Iris