I moved to Berlin in January of 1986. I really needed to get away from Ithaca, and I had some issues which needed attention. I spent mornings at the Goethe Institute studying German and the rest of the day photographing. I was drawn to the city because of the division; one could see the extremes of Capitalism on the West side, then go through a checkpoint on the same day and see what the Commies were up to. It was like stepping back forty years.
I like the phrase “wer mauert hat’s nötig” which I always took to mean “whoever builds walls needs them”. Which is relevant here as the East Germans built the thing and then called it an “anti-facist barrier”.
In looking over my contact sheets this morning I realized that there are very few people in any of my wall photographs. It always amazed me that even on the West side, people stayed away from it (except the graffiti folks who must have worked at odd hours, as I never saw anyone writing on the thing).
I used to like to take the bus to Steinstücken and wander around. It was an odd little Western enclave almost totally surrounded by the East. You can read about it here. There was a rail line running straight through it and you could stick your head around a corner and be face to face with a guard tower. It always seemed a likely place for a crossing, but I never heard of one. / I met a lot of Berliners and was always interested to hear stories of unique situations with the wall. I was once told that at some locations there were gates where Westerners could use a key to access their gardens in the East. Probably not true, but interesting to think about.
Here is Checkpoint Charlie at night.
The wall has been down for 25 years now. I seriously doubt it was Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, bring down this wall” plea that had anything to do with it opening up. More like the East Germans made some really stupid mistakes, which is not surprising as they were running a completely effed up and vile organization.
I have been back from England for several days, but had some images from there I wanted to post, so this will be a bit transitional.
Cris and I had a nice walk in the Green Park and in St James’s Park on Saturday before heading back up to Stratford upon Avon.
There was an amazing exhibit at the entrance of St James’s called “Fields of Battle – Lands of Peace“. Photographer Michael St. Maur Sheil went to major sites of the first world war and documented what remains from 100 years ago. It is a brilliant idea, and executed really well. It is wild to see huge photographs mounted outside.
Whenever I drive from London to Stratford upon Avon I stop at the Oxford Services on the M40. Just above the carpark is a hillock where you get a great view of the countryside. I think I might have posted a similar photograph from a previous trip.
We basically did the same walk on Sunday that we had done the week before.
This time it was very misty. I am happy to say that the horse with the red coat had his friend back.
The nice thing about doing walks in different weather conditions is that you see the landscape in an entirely different way.
Although the beer looked pretty much the same.
As did the outdoor gents. (Gentlemen is such a nice word; it should be used more.)
After the Sunday roast at the pub, we went next door to Snowshill Manor. The whole place is really bizarre, and very interesting. The gardens are really nice and I was really pleased to see this Green Man water spigot. I have become somewhat obsessed with the idea of the Green Man; it is very pagan but you can still find him in some early churches in England. I think there are 4 in Shakespeare’s church in Stratford upon Avon. (There is also a great XTC song about him.)
It is nice to be home, although for some reason England is always the place I feel the most comfortable. But I live here, and it is a beautiful part of the world. The Olive was really glad to see us, and after the recent rains she has been able to find water (and mud) everywhere.
Cristine and I are visiting Peter in DC for the weekend. Pete is working as a “fan ambassador” for the Nationals. His job is to welcome people into the park and help them with any questions that they might have. So if you go to a game, chances are good that he will be around the center field entrance just inside the main gate. Look him up! He is a great guy and would love to chat. / The Nats are having a rough season this year and last night was emblematic of how things are going for them. A difficult loss in 10 innings. Everyone was moving very slowly on a hot summer’s night and the game lasted over 4 hours. It was a sell out and the only tickets Cris and I could get were standing room. But at $15.00 a real deal. Peter got us comp tickets for Monday’s game vs the Pirates and we are looking forward to having actual seats.
We went to see the Sox last night and it was a very interesting evening. A make-up day game was scheduled for 1 pm. It started raining in the bottom of the 5th so it was delayed for three hours. Out tickets were for 7 pm but due to the delay, the Sox allowed anyone with a ticket for the night game to watch the end of the first game which restarted at around 6.00. Kind of confusing, I know, but we went in, watched them win the early one, cleared out of the park, came back in and watched ours start at 8.00. The Sox led 1-0 until the top of the ninth when the Rays tied it up on a solo home run. Jonny Gomes hit a walk off in the bottom of the ninth to win it. It was a beautiful evening and the rain held off until the drive home.
This morning we drove Peter to New Haven to catch the train back to DC. We had a great week with him. The underground walkway to the platforms at the station is a bit outer spacey.
After his train left Cris and I drove to West Haven to walk along the sound and enjoy the beautiful day. There is a lovely park with a walking/bike path along the beach. We saw some old guys playing bocce ball and trash talking. It was very sweet and familiar. The above view made me a bit sad, as Dave’s Arcade-Carousel must have been very cool when it was still here. You can tell the original sign just said “Arcade-Carousel” but someone got some stick-on letters to memorialize Dave. He probably deserves the kind thought.
Yesterday I went to see the Nationals play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It was an interesting game. Very few hits and not much scoring. The Nationals won in 10, 2 to 1. As you can see it was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball. I was at the mercy of the guy selling the tickets, and just asked for a very cheap seat. Ended up in section 302, which by my estimation is the nicest place to sit in the whole park. The only problem was that for the first time in all my years of going to baseball games, it was difficult to concentrate on the action with this amazing view of the bay always pulling me away from the game. Even if you HATE baseball, it is totally worth $24.00 to sit up here for an afternoon drinking a few beers and being part of a crowd of very friendly people. / After the game I blasted over to the offices of Collector’s Weekly and met with Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote this article about the suitcases that really opened a lot of doors for me. We were joined by two other editors and had a great chat about this and that. I was totally blown away when they told me that the story had generated roughly 600,000 views on their site. I really owe a lot to Hunter for his great interview and interest in the project. / Made it out to the airport in time to catch the redeye back to Boston. Got home at about 9.30 this morning and was happy to see the Pearl, who after a bit of a scare this weekend seems to be back on her feet.
Cris made it back from Bangladesh safely in spite of some bad weather in the UK which could have slowed her down. Before she left Dhaka, she told me about this headline in “The Daily Star”. I asked her to bring it home and here it is. Something about the word stinky in a daily paper that struck me as funny. The photo of the monkeys huddled together was to illustrate a recent cold snap in South Asia.
When I am not away from home I drive past this field almost every day. It is on the East end of the Town of Amherst and is one of my favorite views in the valley. It is lovely to have farm fields right in the middle of things. A few days ago I noticed some white fencing and as I looked closely I saw that there were goats inside the enclosure. I had known that there was a business in the area that rented them out to eat brush but this was the first time I have seen them in action.
They are really small, but have been at it in this field for about a week and are making great progress.
On Monday I shot the last of the Willard suitcases for a while. I hope to use the rest of this month to begin editing the images for the Exploratorium exhibit, and knowing how my brain works I knew I couldn’t attempt to edit while I was still shooting. I was surprisingly emotional about the whole thing; an important part of the project ended and I am not sure when it might resume. It is also significant to me that it marks the end of the Kickstarter phase of this work. So some thank you’s are in order. I could NEVER have gotten this far without Kickstarter and the incredible support of the almost 700 people who backed me. Thanks to Alex Ross for the long term “loan” of his lights and soft boxes. He is a true friend. Craig Williams and the New York State Museum gave me access to the cases and Craig’s support was instrumental in keeping it all moving along. And Peggy Ross kept me organized. Without her help in unwrapping, setting up the shots, helping me see things I would have missed, and putting the objects back where they belong I would never have made it through as many of the cases as I did.
I will work on a post later today showing the last case in the queue, as it were. It was a great one to end on.
Peter, Cris, and I went to a Red Sox game last night. It was an absolutely perfect night for baseball; temperature in the mid-70s and a constant light breeze from the south. In the bottom of the first, Carl Crawford hit a double off the monster and was then picked off second when he wandered a bit too far from the base. That pretty much sums up the season. It has been a tough year for the club. But still, baseball on a beautiful summer’s evening. Can’t be beat (unlike the Sox who lost 6-3).