I just got word that the governor of New York State has signed Senate Bill S840A. Here is the summary of the bill; “(Senate Bill S840A ) relates to patients interred at state mental health hospital cemeteries; directs the release of the name, birthdate and date of death of certain patients 50 years after the date of death”. I am not totally clear about what “certain patients” means, and to whom this information may be released, but this is certainly good news. Here is a link to two earlier posts I did about the cemetery and the whole issue of names. Click on Coleen Spellecy’s and Lin Stuhler’s links to read about the two people who did the most to get this bill through the legislature. And thanks to Joe Robach for being persistent in getting the bill passed and signed into law.
The issue of not being allowed to name the owners of the suitcases has always bothered me. I have been expressly told by both the New York State Museum and the New York Office of Mental Health that due to state law, I am forbidden to use the surnames of the patients when I publish the photographs, even though some of those names have already been mentioned in local newspapers and in other sources. I feel that not using surnames continues to dehumanize the folks who were already stigmatized just by being patients at Willard. Due to this new law, it might be possible, in some instances, to begin using full names. All in all, this is a pretty exciting development.
Thanks for following and check out the suitcases site to see the latest.
…is a phrase my dear friend Alex Ross coined many years ago. I think I have mentioned it here before. We use it as a general catch-all to cover anything from mild creative block to what the Germans call Weltschmerz. I have been somewhere in it for a while now. I haven’t been posting much, but I have been shooting quite a bit and I wanted to put up a few shots here. / I was chastised by a Kathmandu policeman just after I shot this ↑. The white kiosk in the middle of the intersection was put there this very day. The old one was lying on its side on the corner beside me (and is quite possibly still there).
I’ve been in and out of the New Haven train station a lot lately and have always liked these tunnels.
Our friends Scott and Lisa very generously invite us to visit them on Block Island for a few days in July. This was the view from their rental. We had a lovely time.
Olive is now just over 2 years old and is the most wonderful dog. My pal Peter Carroll took this picture.
These two big stones are in the empty lot next to the house on Ensenada Drive in Woodland Hills, CA where Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band recorded “Trout Mask Replica”. I was going to take a photo of the house, but it is a private residence now and I didn’t want to bother the current occupants. I had a friend in college by the name of Greg Trout whose granny gave him a copy of the album for his birthday. The only reason she bought it for him was that his surname was in the title. When I first heard it, it seemed beyond unlistenable. Now it is one of my most favorite records. Beefheart was a genius. Click on this only if you are open to weirdness.
My brother-in law John is also a huge Beefheart fan. He was up for the excursion to Woodland Hills especially if it involved a stop at Musso and Frank is Hollywood. John is totally amazing and so much fun to be with. He was raised in Southern California and his knowledge of the area is staggering.
He grew up in Palos Verdes and gave us a tour on a lovely Sunday morning. This is a detail of a fountain that is in the center of town.
Here is John and Lynne’s dog Scooter. He is a mischievous sweetie.
Cris and I always go to Huntington Beach when we are in California. The summer program for future lifeguards was happening as we were there. There was a wide range of ages of the kids, and it was way cool to see all of the participants in their red suits and colorful caps.
The older kids paddled out beyone the end of the pier and back. It looked exhausting.
The US Open of Surfing was happening the same day and the pier was jammed with people.
We also usually make it out to the Huntington Library in Pasadena,
mostly just for the chance to see Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. It never gets old.
Peter was visiting from DC last week, and we made our annual trip to Essex to eat fried clams at Farnham’s. It was a beautiful day and the view from the picnic tables can not be beat.
Thanks for following and for giving me the opportunity to unclog some of that karma congestion. I think it worked. Cheers.
UPDATE. This is indicative of how spaced out I am, but the picture of Olive was taken by Peter Carroll. It is the best photograph of her ever, and he totally deserves the credit. Sorry Pete!
Even though my summer has been scattered location-wise, I have been able to work regularly on editing the suitcases, and have been able to upload a good number of them to the Willard Suitcases site. Click on “The Cases” to see the latest. Theresa F was admitted to Willard on 3 April 1935.
It might be a good time to mention a couple of upcoming events where I will be talking about the project. In early October I will be traveling to Galveston to speak at NAMIFEST 2016. NAMI is a national organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families dealing with issues of mental illness. I’ll be speaking at the dinner event on Friday (the 7th). If you have been following the project and live in the Gulf Coast area, please think about attending.
The following week, I will be speaking at a very interesting event in Raleigh, NC. The “Lives on the Hill” project is being organized by the North Carolina Health News folks, and will be highlighting the shuttered Dix Hospital property in downtown Raleigh. I will be speaking at the Sunday (the 16th) event taking place at the Student Center on the NC State Campus. There will also be an exhibit of the photographs up for the entire month of October. I’ll update about the location once those details are finalized.
It is very exciting to be involved in both of these events, and I am really looking forward to being a part of them.
I have been all over the place this summer and posting here has been irregular. Nepal was a while ago and I still have photos to share, but it is difficult for me to play “catch-up”. I like being able to post immediately and when I put it off, I often lose interest. But I do want to share some of this.
Our second full day in the Western Hills started in Sanphebagar. We visited two different schools and it was amazing.
There are two types of education in Nepal; public and private. Kids who go to the public schools wear blue uniforms.
This young fellow is at the Khaparmandu Primary School (Sanphe municipality-2, Goyal Pani, Achham).
I often had to quietly enter the classrooms because the kids were very interested in my presence. I didn’t want to disrupt the lessons, but there was always at least one kid who wanted to see what I was up to.
They eventually got used to me though. This little girl was especially connected to what was going on in the classroom. She was really paying attention to the teacher and seemed to have an answer to any question that was posed.
Males in Nepal often have a comfortable physical association with each other. It is really nice to see this kind of connection.
I like this photo of the bus. It doesn’t really fit into the narrative, but here it is anyway.
The second school we visited was the Saraswoti Lower Secondary School (Sanphe Municipality-2 Loli, Achham).
The classrooms are only illuminated by window and door light, and it is amazing what digital cameras can record in such low light. This is a pretty typical room with fabric covering a dirt floor.
Everyone leaves their shoes outside.
The classes featured a bit of participation by the kids. Often, one child would come up to the front of the room and be asked to recite a lesson.
The kids were so sweet. As I noted earlier, they were very interested in us, and quite open. It is likely that they haven’t seen any Westerners at their school before. Sanphebagar isn’t particularly on any trekking route, and especially during the recent Maoist uprising there wasn’t much contact with outsiders.
The monsoon began in earnest as we were heading back to Dhangadhi. Driving is always interesting in Nepal, and in these conditions was quite thrilling.
There will be one last post on the trip, which I hope to get up soon. I spent a day in Sindhupalchowk, which was devastated in last year’s earthquake. There are some very interesting projects there that World Education Nepal is supporting and I am eager to share them here.
Thanks for following.
Several months ago I was contacted by the Brazilian publisher Compania Das Letras about the suitcases project being included in a book by Dorrit Harazim. They have been really great to deal with, but I wasn’t entirely clear about the nature of the project. When I got back from Nepal, a copy was waiting for me in my post office box. It seems to be a collection of essays about photographs (it is in Portuguese so I am not sure), and I was amazed to see the other photographers that were included. Several Magnum photographers are involved along with Gordon Parks and Vivian Maier and some other illustrious names. I am thrilled an honored to be a part of it. “O instante certo” translated roughly to “the right moment”. It is available through Amazon, so if you read Portuguese it might be nice to get a copy.
The article on the suitcases translates to “travel without return”. I would be happy if the book was translated into English at some point, but in the meantime, I’ll ask for a pdf and plug it into google translate.
One of the things I like best about this site is the immediacy of being able to share images. It is always a bit difficult for me to put up a post if more than a few days have passed since I took the photographs.
But I have been very busy editing the photos that I took for World Education, and I have had a bit of a hard time getting back into a routine since we returned. Fortunately I made fairly good notes while we were in the Western Hills. / Before we left Kathmandu, I looked up Achham on the internet and came across this Wikipedia entry. I was a bit baffled by the phrase “sporting a non-functional domestic airport”. That is it in the photo above. Apparently it is non-functional because the Maoists blew up the control tower during the recent conflict.
Here is a view of the Seti River. At that point of the trip, the monsoon hadn’t really kicked in so the rivers were still a bit dry.
I spent a lot of time shooting out the front window of the car since we had a lot of ground to cover to get to the first school.
I felt guilty asking the driver to stop, but the scenery was so exotic that I couldn’t resist shooting as we drove.
It had started to rain as we got closer to Achham and the roads became interesting.
There was a lot of water running down the hillsides which made driving a bit hazardous.
At one point we ended up in a line of cars and busses that were stopped by this slide. But a front-end loader was just finishing up clearing up the debris and we didn’t have to wait long.
That’s Nanda Ram, the driver, holding the umbrella with Jagdish on his right and Sukha Ratna on his left. Jagdish is the early grade maths guy and Sukha Ratna works on reading and did an amazing job organizing the trip. Cris and I first met Nanda Ram when we were in Nepal in 1992 just after he had started driving for World Education. He is amazing behind the wheel and such a lovely fellow.
It was really interesting how quickly the rains started. We would be climbing up one side of a hill with blue skies and as we would start our descent into a valley it would be foggy and rainy.
Here is a footbridge over the Budhi Ganga.
We stopped in this town for a bite to eat (I think it might be Doti). More dal bhat if I recall correctly.
Since we had had such a long drive to get to the first school, the students had left for the day, but the World Ed staff met with a large group of teachers and administrators to talk about the Early Grade Reading / Maths project. Every school we visited gave us flowers and put tikas on our foreheads. It is such a nice way to be welcomed.
Here’s Cris with some of the teachers from the Saraswoti Higher Secondary School in Bardadevi V.D.C. (Village Development Committee).
And here’s Mamta Joshi who teaches at the school.
Here’s a group shot of the World Ed staff with teachers and administrators after the meeting. That’s a goat in the background.
Darrell Earnest is UMASS faculty member who is working on the early grade math part of the project. He was a fantastic travel partner and he and Cris really had a ton of fun working together.
Thanks for following along. More soon.
On our way to visit schools in Achham, we flew from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi on Buddha Air. It is only about an hour and fifteen minutes by air. It was quite warm when we landed, and the monsoon hadn’t quite started yet, but was very sticky and humid.
Our first stop was for breakfast at the Hotel Redsun Plaza. Most meals in rural Nepal are dal bhat although this place made us some nice omelets.
After breakfast, we immediately started climbing out of the valley towards our first night’s lodgings in Dadeldhura.
I did a lot of shooting out of the front window. The World Education driver, Nanda Ram, had driven out from Kathmandu and met us at the airport. It took him two days of driving to get there, a distance of about 670 kilometers (415 miles).
The scenery is beyond breathtaking. For us, calling this area “The Western Hills” is a bit of a misnomer as these are the biggest hills I have ever seen. But compared to the Himalayas, they are small.
Again, this was just pre-monsoon, but the rice terraces were a beautiful green.
Goats are everywhere on the roads in Nepal, as are dogs and cows. This is for my friend Tania Werbizky who loves goats.
This is a major crossroads near to our hotel in Dadeldhura. Helen Sherpa mentioned that these plinths used to hold statues of the King, but after the monarchy ended, local politician’s likenesses began to appear.
I like the graphic on this sign that was stuck to the wall of our room at the Raino Hotel (amazing, they have a Facebook page!)
Cris and I usually travel with my grandfather’s cribbage set. I especially like the Michigan Abrasive Company playing cards.
It was a beautiful evening with a full moon. The bazar was hopping.
Tomorrow, off to our first school visit.
The first few days I was in Nepal I had time in the mornings to edit some suitcase photographs. Upload speeds were really slow, so I didn’t get to add them to the site until today. You might want to check willardsuitcases.com to see some new ones. Scroll down to the bottom of the “Cases” page to see the latest additions.
Ida’s suitcase was mostly empty except for a comb, some wrapping paper, and a label. I really like this photograph.
Before heading out to the Achham, we had a day to wander around Kathmandu. It is always exotic to see monkeys in an urban area. This little family hangs out at Pashupatinath.
This fellow was standing at Boudinath the whole time we were there. He never moved from this spot.
These little shrines are everywhere in Kathmandu.
We are back home, but I will continue to post about the trip. Thanks for following.
Last week I went to another temporary housing site in Kathmandu. This one though is very likely to be temporary. It is supported by the Dwarika Foundation and I was told that by autumn the residents should be moving back to their village.
I was again accompanied by Shanti Thapa Magar who works for World Education Nepal. She is amazing and helped me so much on all the visits to the Pourakhi projects that I photographed.
Here is another SEEP class sponsored by Pourakhi. The fellow on the lower left is Kundun Gurung who is the facilitator of the class. He is a great guy who studied for a time in London, and is now back in Nepal teaching.
These pups and their mother kept wandering into the class. The students would shoo them away and they would quickly walk around to the other side of the tent and come back in through a different opening.
I have come to really like the dogs around Kathmandu. You definitely don’t want to approach them, but sometimes they come up to you to say hi. This little guy kept smelling my legs. I’m pretty sure these trousers still had Olive’s scent on them.
Tea is almost always offered in Nepal. It is very sweet and always welcome. I like this little cup.
This is Kundun on the right with Manju Gurung who is Chairperson of Pourakhi and another facilitator, Sanjin on the left (sorry, I can’t seem to find his surname in my notes).
After the classes, Shanti took me around to some of the tents and introduced me to a few of the residents.
Bivi Sherpa is a knitter who is making hats to sell. She gets 100 Rupees per hat and sells them to a dealer who picks them up for resale. I offered to buy one, but she politely declined, as the buyer has a deal with her to get everything she produces.
After photographing various Pourakhi projects, I have been really thinking about a way to raise some funds for the organization. They do phenominal work, and are really unique in the services that they provide. I will speak to the folks at World Education to see if there is any way that they can be a conduit for them, and since I will be coming back here later this year, it is always possible that I can just collect cash, which in many ways is the easiest way to support this type of organization. I will post an update sometime soon with details.
In the taxi on the way back from the camp I was pleased to see that the driver had some of my favorite Hindu gods on the dashboard. Looks like Krishna, Hanuman, and Ganesh (who is my absolute favorite as he is the remover of obstacles).
As we were heading back to the World Ed office, Shanti stopped by her house to introduce me to her son.
Huge thanks to Helen Sherpa at World Ed for connecting me with Shanti, and for making arrangements to get me into the camps.
We are flying back to the US late tonight, and I will begin editing the photographs from our trip to Achham. I hope to get a post up about that trip very soon. Thanks for following.