People often ask me about the northern lights. As it happens, Barrow isn’t really the best place to see them. It’s too bright in town, and we are a bit North for the most brilliant displays. I suppose that’s one measure of excessive northitude. …when you are too far north for the northern lights.
Just the same. The sky up here certainly does have its moments.
Many people don’t realize this, but we have palm trees here in Barrow. That’s right. Palm trees. Case in point, these beautiful specimens right here. They can be found in a fish camp just North of the college.
Now you may be wondering how palm trees ended up here in the arctic?
So, I opened the door to head off to work earlier today and this fellow was sitting outside. He stayed long enough for me to get my camera and snap a few pics. Being totally free of superstition and all, I immediately decided this fellow was trying to tell me I have been a jack-ass for letting my blog go like this. One of my students ended up giving me a ride. She figured it was the same owl that’d been scaring her dog and said he was probably in town looking for food.
She’s right of course, but I’m going to commence rebloggination anyway.
I’ve been walking about a bit. I’m tired and I’m sweating. Whether it’s measured in miles or degrees of humidity, Portland is a long way from Barrow. Southitude brings with it many wonderful things, but I always find the transition just a little jarring.
I enter a wine bar and sit down. I soon have a number of glasses in front of me, each filled with a taste of a different red wine. The owner begins to tell me about the first one.
…and quickly loses me.
The features of each sample are quite lost on me, though the friendliness of the people here isn’t. I eventually settle on a glass of something red. I don’t know which it is and I can hardly tell it from the others, but I like it. “It’s good.” That would be the extent of my tasting note. My tongue is a bull in this china shop. This is a good place, but perhaps it’s a bit better for a different kind of customer. Luckily, I think there is one more mural somewhere down the block, something to look forward to after enjoying my glass of something red.
It’s been an odd year here in Barrow, rather warm in fact. Still, a bit of snow did manage to stick to a wall or three, and in due time a few creative individuals took the time to do something clever with it. I don’t have a huge batch of snow-graffiti this time, but a few of these are really cool.
In related news, I actually took the time to tweak a couple of these photos, nothing special. just enhanced the contrast and shifted the color a bit in an effort to make the art come through better. I wouldn’t say that I accomplished anything brilliant, but at least you can read the writing. This is, I think, the first post where I have actually done any post-production on a photo. Sometime, I may have to go back through my old pics and see what I can do to improve a few of them.
Click to embiggen! …come on, all the cool kids are doin’ it!
Snow Shark. He pretends to bring you arctic cotton, then eats your Gilda Radner
Photojournalist Ruben Salvadori started out with the intention of filming riots in East Jerusalem. In time, he came to shift the focus of his own camera to include the photographers around him. The resulting shift in perspective can be quite startling. It’s an ongoing project for Salvadori, and one that certainly seems quite promising.
It isn’t entirely clear to me how Salvadori’s own intervention will play out in the Palestinian crisis. He seems to be suggesting a layer of collusion between the Palestinian protesters and the photographers who cover them, but it isn’t clear that Salvadori means to limit his critique to such a partisan angle. One can as easily address the questions he raises to photojournalists embedded in conventional forces.
The simple inclusion of photographers in the field of vision provides a stark reminder that the images of world conflict do not come to from on high, or even out-of-bounds, but from people who are very much a part of the events they are filming. The stories told in these images are in some sense reflexive, they are also part of the violence itself, but realization of this fact seems to require a little extra work, an effort to shift our attention to this fact. Joshua Oppenheimer’s film, The Act of Killing, helps to reveal that. Salvadori’s project does this as well.
We get a glimpse into the role that media plays on the scene of a conflict every once in awhile. I remember Gerald Vizenor‘s comments about the American Indian Movement helped to break the fourth wall in stories about Wounded Knee and similar events, at least for those who read his works. For many Americans, I suspect the most unexpected (and apparently unwelcome) peek behind the journalistic lens came with the landing of U.S. marines in Mogadishu. The image of combat-ready marines surrounded by photographers caused quite a stir back in the day. I recall quite a few folks lashed out at the photographers for endangering the landing forces with their presence. Few seemed to question the process by which a marine force had come to storm a beach guarded by scores of photographers in the first place.
It’s been some time since that shocking moment when Mogadishu queered the whole subject of war, and it’s good to see someone else tugging at the curtains again. The short clip Salvadori has presently made available (see below) raises more questions than it answers. It will be interesting to see where his project goes.
It was a good New Year here at the top of the world. It began at about Texas-Midnight when Maria Falvey posted one of my old Blackberry pictures to her blog. She cropped the picture perfectly and just generally made it much better. So, I was pretty psyched as I headed out at 11;30 to watch the fireworks. Course I didn’t realize the fireworks actually start before midnight, so I could see them going off as I walked down to the lagoon where the whole event took place. Luckily, there was plenty of bang to be had last night, so I still made it in time to see plenty of cool pyrotechnics.
I tried to get some videos of the fireworks, but my camera kept freezing up. It wasn’t working at all during the grand finale. Still, it was pretty cool standing just about directly under some of the blasts, but I have to admit the Aurora may have pwned the whole display shortly thereafter. Conditions (which include a bad photographer and a camera that wanted to hide in my pocket) were less than ideal, but I finally got some pics of the Northern Lights worth showing.
So, I walked over to the elementary school to watch the last night of the Winter games. This is an annual event here in Barrow, the community spends a week on a variety of odd contests late at night, all of it ending with the New Year. Tonight, the contest was between singles men and married men, and the same for women. The women were neck-a-neck, but the single men were getting their asses kicked. If only I had the courage to go down there and join in, …then I guess I would have to say that WE got our asses kicked.
…and I guess we did anyway.
Suffice to say, I stayed in the stands last night, but I had fun just the same, as did most everyone I could see.
Things got started a little after 1:00am in the morning and they were still going strong when I wimped out at about 4:00am. Anyhow, the photo-gallery is just below, and I’ve included a few videos afterwards. You may click on a picture to embiggen it. I don’t know everyone featured below, so if anyone from Barrow sees themselves and prefers not to be featured here, speak up and I will be happy to take your picture down. In any event, it was a great evening, and I really enjoyed all the activities.
Happy New Year everybody!
The best part about this one is the light from the snow machine on the snow.
A purdy bang!
Crackle and Pop
By the time I got away from the bright lights the Aurora was gone.
But it was cool while it lasted.
I thought so anyway.
That narrow band didn’t last a full minute.
Off to the party!
Almost 1:00am, do you know where your kids are? At school of course!
The Neck Pull
Nuther Neck Pull
This really does look painful
A brief clip of fireworks.
Both the men and the women have moved on to new games.
If you’re curious about the counting in this one, it’s because no-one had stepped up to challenge the singles-guy on the neck-pull. A ten-count is essentially a way of saying step-up or it’s over.
I don’t recall what this men’s game is called, but the women’s challenge in this one looks especially tough.