Wild Art Week becomes Wild Art Weekend
We're taking some time off; hope you get a chance to do the same. Tomorrow, the dramatic conclusion of Wild Art Week. (Does the guy in the pizzeria window look like Bob Dole, or what?)
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @2:15 PM
Lawrence, who wasn't actually "of Arabia"
We seemed to have stumped the panel with yesterday's mystery quote, but I'll wait a bit longer before revealing the answer, in case anybody wants to do some research or take a wild guess. Hint: there was a fairly obvious hint in yesterday's post.
Today's quote isn't a mystery; it's from T.E. Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia." It's about a place that was then (1920) known as Mesopotamia; its capital city, Baghdad:
<<The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.>>
I'm reading Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom for the second time now, rationing it to no more than a chapter a night, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the problems of the Middle East. But if you don't have time or inclination to read it, AND if you have cable or satellite access to Turner Classic Movies, you can watch the 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia tomorrow (Saturday) on TV at 4 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time. If you miss it, look for it in your local video store. The movie weighs in at a hefty 222 minutes, so there's definitely an advantage to watching a video or DVD version.
Lawrence was a resourceful go-getter, a blue-eyed blond Brit who got so close to the tribespeople he referred to as "the Arabs" that he not only learned to ride a camel, he traded his military uniform for Arab garb. There was no Star Trek in those days, but if there had been, Lawrence would have been in clear violation of the Federation's Prime Directive, also known as Star Fleet General Order One, which prohibits Star Fleet personnel from interfering in the development of a less technologically advanced civilization. (Long before either Lawrence or Star Trek, Hippocrates said it in a slightly different and more broadly applicable way: "First, do no harm.") Lawrence was a close adviser to Feisal, who became king of Saudi Arabia, having adopted Lawrence's concept of "the Arabs" to unify the peoples of the Arabian peninsula to fight not only for themselves but, coincidentally, the British. And coincidentally, Feisal's descendants rule that land to this day. Lawrence came to regret getting so involved in other people's business, but he had to admit he enjoyed it and even had a natural talent for it, and in any case there was no going back. As you can see from this picture, Peter O'Toole looks a lot like the real Lawrence.
Though the BBC just reported that "many phones are still working" in Baghdad even after yesterday's bunker-busting bombing of the main telecommunications exchange, it seems less and less likely that we'll see any new posts from Salam Pax, citizen blogger in Baghdad, anytime soon.
Meanwhile, we've found another alleged Baghdad blog, this one called "Saddam's Cyber Palace".
Wild Art Week forges on
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @1:46 PM
Peace, what is your name?
Our thanks to DDD European Bureau Chief Jesse Lynch, who points out that the blogger I've been calling Raed is actually not Raed. Raed is his friend, who is now in Jordan. The Baghdad Blogger goes by the name Salam Pax, which is what you might call a pen name, a nom de plume, a moniker changed to protect the innocent, an alias, a pseudonym, like Mark Twain or Ellery Queen or John Wayne. The name he chose also has something in common with "Dagley Dagley", as it's the same word twice, though his is in two different languages. That word is a hope we all share, and we need to speak it more than twice: peace. There's been no word from Salam Pax since Monday, but we're still hoping, as are a lot of other people according to this Philadelphia Inquirer article, "A blog goes silent, and world holds its breath". Fair use excerpt: "While bombs rained on his beloved Baghdad and fierce battles roiled the sands of Iraq, people around the world spent last weekend seeking a man called Peace." Thanks again, Jesse, for spotting that one.
By the way, did you know that Ellery Queen is actually two cousins who write together? Or that John Wayne is an airport? (That fact led to one of my all-time favorite headlines in the Orange County Register: "Plans Under Way to Expand John Wayne".) And do you know who wrote this?
<<For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the Country"? Is it the newspaper? is it the pulpit? Is it the school superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in a thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.>>
If you do, send the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org or click on my name anywhere on this blog to e-mail me.
Wild Art Week goes on...
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @2:17 PM
A worm's-eye view
As we continue our worried wait for another dispatch from Raed in Baghdad, today we turn our attention away, for a moment, from this instant-access, always-on war, and tune in to a signal from a distant time and place, long before anybody ever came up with the idea of "embedding" war correspondents, before anyone heard the term "weapons of mass destruction", back to another war and a 110-pound middle-aged man who carried not a rifle but a typewriter into battle: Ernest T. Pyle, the reporter who made the ordinary soldier his beat.
One of my most valued possessions is a tattered old paperback whose front cover had long since fallen off when I found it in a stack of romance novels at the Athens flea market in Greece. Except for that, it's intact, and the back cover identifies it as a "pocket book edition" and urges, "Share this book with someone in uniform." Here is Your War is one of two (Brave Men is the other) compilations of Ernie Pyle's dispatches from the World War II battlefront. Both books are out of print now, though Amazon.com claims you can pick up a used copy for as little as $4. But Here is Your War is also available free online here. And you can find an old radio dramatization, complete with hokey music and overdone sound effects, available for online listening here.
You can also read what many consider Pyle's best dispatch, The Death of Captain Waskow, online, and find a picture of Ernie at work, as well as tribute after tribute. His coverage of the D-Day invasion was also especially moving; here's an excerpt.
Each and every one of the correspondents, embedded or not, covering the invasion of Iraq pays tribute to Pyle with every report they send, whether live or taped, print, radio, or Internet. But the U.S. Defense Department, which in Pyle's day was known as the War Department, obviously felt that the rules Pyle and his colleagues operated under weren't appropriate for this war. What were those rules? Pyle explains:
"In the beginning no restrictions were put on us; we could go anywhere we pleased at any time. But things gradually changed, as the established machinery of war caught up with us. Then there was a rule that correspondents couldn’t go into the front lines unless accompanied by an officer. Maybe that was a good rule. I don’t know. But there were about two dozen of us who felt ourselves in an odd position, as if we were being conducted through our own house. The rule died in a few weeks and we were again free to wander alone at random."
Pyle irritate some of the higher-ups when he wrote about shell shock. They didn't want the folks back home to know about that unpleasantness. But Pyle insisted his readers needed to know.
He never took notes, they say, except to write down the names and addresses of the soldiers he wrote about. It was such a different world then, even in wartime, that people were happy to see their home addresses in the newspaper.
Pyle covered the war in Africa and Europe for 29 months, then took some time off before joining U.S. forces in the Pacific. He was killed by an enemy sniper while traveling with the U.S. Army's 77th Infantry Division on an island off the coast of Okinawa in April, 1944.
Probably Pyle's most-quoted passage is this, from the very end of Here is Your War:
<<On the day of final peace, the last stroke of what we call the “Big Picture” will be drawn. I haven’t written anything about the “Big Picture,” because I don’t know anything about it. I only know what we see from our worm’s-eye view, and our segment of the picture consists only of tired and dirty soldiers who are alive and don’t want to die; of long darkened convoys in the middle of the night; of shocked silent men wandering back down the hill from battle; of chow lines and atabrine tablets and foxholes and burning tanks and Arabs holding up eggs and the rustle of high-flown shells; of jeeps and petrol dumps and smelly bedding rolls and C rations and cactus patches and blown bridges and dead mules and hospital tents and shirt collars greasy-black from months of wearing; and of laughter too, and anger and wine and lovely flowers and constant cussing. All these it is composed of; and of graves and graves and graves.
That is our war, and we will carry it with us as we go on from one battleground to another until it is all over, leaving some of us behind on every beach, in every field. We are just beginning with the ones who lie back of us here in Tunisia. I don’t know whether it was their good fortune or their misfortune to get out of it so early in the game. I guess it doesn’t make any difference, once a man has gone. Medals and speeches and victories are nothing to them any more. They died and others lived and nobody knows why it is so. They died and thereby the rest of us can go on and on. When we leave here for the next shore, there is nothing we can do for the ones beneath the wooden crosses, except perhaps to pause and murmur, “Thanks, pal.”>>
Wild Art Week continues...
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @3:44 PM
Sand delays, rain delays
As a monster sandstorm immobilizes all sides in the battle for Baghdad, we're still waiting and hoping for another post from Raed. While we wait, let's check in with a different correspondent, one who got his start more than 50 years ago during a baseball rain delay, when deejay Bob Elliott and newscaster Ray Goulding had to use their imaginations to fill time on WHDH radio in Boston. Wally Ballou, can you hear me?
"—ly Ballou here live at the Radio Foundation in New York City, where Larry Josephson, Bob & Ray's producer, is live collecting e-mailed birthday greetings for Bob Elliott, who turns 80 today, live.
Sounds like a very exciting scene, there, Wally. Where should our readers send their birthday greetings to Bob?
"Well, they can just click here to go to the Bob and Ray home page, and follow the instructions there. Or they can just click here to send the e-mail, without visiting the Bob and Ray page. But if they do that, they may never know that in honor of Bob's birthday, and in memory of Ray, who died in 1990, the Radio Foundation will be reissuing 16 CDs with more than 84 hours of classic Bob and Ray."
Wally, if any of our readers want to buy any of those Bob and Ray CDs or cassettes, what should they do?
"They can visit the Bob and Ray web site, or call 1-800-LAUGH24 (1-800-528-4424).
Some of our younger readers may never have heard Bob and Ray, Wally. Can you give us a brief excerpt?
Sure, here are a couple of paragraphs, quoted under the doctrine of fair use, from the book The New! Improved! Bob and Ray Book:
<<Bob: ...Now with today's next Hard Luck Story, here is Mrs. Bessie Wilmerding of Rolla, Missouri. And—
Wilmerding: Excuse me, but that's not Mrs. Wilmerding. It's Doctor Wilmerding. I'm an anthropologist.
Bob: Oh, I'm sorry, Doctor. I should have guessed you were a Ph.D. from your card here. It says you're leading an expedition to search for a primitive tribe that's still living in the Stone Age.
Wilmerding: Yes. Hunting for lost tribes like that is all the rage with anthropologists now. But there don't seem to be any left in New Guinea or the Philippines that haven't been discovered yet. So I'm using my own savings to hunt for one in New York.
Bob: You expect to find a tribe here that still has a Stone Age culture?
Wilmerding: Yes. My brother-in-law was here about a year ago. And he said he ran into some people out in Oueens who seemed awfully crude to him. But I haven't found any trace of them yet.
Bob: Well, it must be heartbreaking to get this close to a great discovery—and then have all the natives go into hiding. But our generous Bob and Ray organization wants to reward you for your efforts with this lovely pair of oversize foam rubber dice. See how they're tied together so they can be hung conveniently from the rearview mirror of your car?
Wilmerding: Well, I don't want anything like that to be seen in my car. I have a doctoral degree in anthropology.
Bob: You're entirely welcome...>>
Thank you, Wally Ballou. Hang by your thumbs, and write if you get work.
Wild Art Week
As Easter approaches, one neighbor family used their front yard to illustrate not only the connection between the Christian and pagan traditions surrounding the vernal equinox, but a possible miracle: why hasn't that bunny melted?
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @1:54 PM
More from the Baghdad Blogger
Whew! After a two-day silence that had readers worldwide worried about his safety, Raed, also known as Salam Pax, has checked in again with an update from his home in Baghdad. So many people are now following his personal account of civilian life in the city under siege that Blogger and its parent company, Google, have set up mirror sites and allotted extra bandwidth to handle the demand. So just as Fox always checks in with its local affiliates whenever and wherever there's a pointless car chase being broadcast live — though in this case it's not only news, but some of the best reporting of the war — we're going to pick up the signal from our local affiliate on the scene: click here to read Raed's latest bulletin.
Wild Art Week
It's one of the most important responsibilities in journalism; it requires not only eternal vigilance, but quick reflexes. And it's a task that never ends: the search for Wild Art. Much like his highway-sign counterpart Falling Rock, Wild Art is not a character and can take many forms. While Falling Rock is pretty explanatory as something to watch out for, Wild Art isn't nearly as likely to fall on your head. Technically speaking, the people who lay out the pages for newspapers and magazines refer to all images, whether photos, drawings, maps or other illustrations, as "art." If the "art" has something to do with the article it's near, then it's not wild. If it shows up there all by itself, out of context, it's Wild Art. All photographers must be on the lookout for Wild Art, wherever they go and whatever they went there to photograph. It's handy for filling odd holes on a page, especially when there are no other photos available. So this week, we're saluting Wild Art and those who search for him with a five-day tribute* of Wild Art from right here in Hoboken:
*subject to possible interruption by world events
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @2:48 PM
Another underreported story: Spring has arrived, even in New Jersey
Attention City of Hoboken: It's way past time to replace the flag in Church Square Park. For information on how to respectfully dispose of a flag, contact the American Legion.
posted by Janet Dagley Dagley @5:16 PM