This Month's Articles


REVIEWING

It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War

By Lynsey Addario

Reviewed by Fred Beauford

book jacket

An Amazing Story

When I was in my middle twenties, the same age as Lynsey Addario when she started her amazing journey as a conflict photojournalist, I was doing somewhat of the same thing.

I say “somewhat” deliberately.

I was covering the Long Hot Summer race riots and the growing anti-war demonstrations in late 60s America. Though sometimes harrowing, what I was doing was a mere cakewalk compared to Addario’s post 9/11 years of covering conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Darfur and the Congo.

She has dodged bullets, bombs, near starvation and dehydration, and kidnapped twice, both times feeling that she was surely going to die. All the time she was trying to juggle some semblance of a love life as affair after affair ended because her work got in the way, until she finally found a kindred soul.

What I found most interesting in Addario’s book was not the very real drama of covering horrific violence. I might be a jaded reader, but I had already read much of that.

It was her deeply personal insights into the worlds that she covered that most intrigued me.

Here is one insight from the time she was trying to enter Afghanistan during the time of the Taliban rule. She had to apply for a visa to enter the country from Pakistan, and she was given this advice from a fellow journalist before she visited the Embassy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: “Do not look any Afghan man directly in the eye. Keep your head, your face, and your body covered. Don’t laugh, or joke under any circumstance. And most important, sit each day in the visa office and drink tea with the visa clerk, Mohammed, to ensure that your application will actually get sent to Kabul and processed.”

Later, after she was convinced that she would finally receive her visa, she has one last chat with Mohammed:

 Mohammed suddenly leaned forward, glancing through the window to the inside of the main embassy, looking for anyone who might have been listening. There was no one.

“Can I ask you a question?” he whispered.

“Sure, ask me anything, sir,” I said, “as long as my answers do ....Read More



CONVERSATION

A Conversation With author/photographer David Hume Kennerly

By Phillip William Sheppard

David Hume Kennerly

I first met David Hume Kennerly, the photographer and author, shortly after my first season on Survivor CBS. It turned out that he and his children loved the show.

After quizzing me about everything I was willing to share, he allowed me to ask him about his career and I was impressed and fascinated about his real life “survivor” adventures in Vietnam as a journalist on the front lines, and how he has transformed that into photographing every president since Nixon. 

His life and death situation in covering Vietnam War on the front lines is riveting; and his story about President Obama was revealing about our President’s sense of humor. 

First, who is David Hume Kennerly?

Kennerly won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the Vietnam War, and two years later was appointed President Gerald R. Ford's personal photographer. He was named, "One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography," by American Photo magazine.

He was a contributing editor for Newsweek, and a contributing photographer for Time and Life magazines. Kennerly has published several books of his work, Shooter, Photo Op, Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld, Photo du Jour, Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford, and most recently, David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone. He was also a producer and one of the principal photographers of Barack Obama: The Official Inaugural Book.

Kennerly received a Primetime Emmy Best Picture nomination as executive producer of The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story, and another film that he executive produced, Portraits of a Lady, made the short list of documentary films considered for the 2008 Academy Awards.

Kennerly is a Canon Explorer of Light, one of an elite group of photographers sponsored by Canon. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, and the Atlanta Board of Visitors of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). His archive is housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas, Austin.

Phillip: Tell briefly about a moment you ....Read More



REVIEWING

Light Of The Diddicoy (A Novel)

By Eamon Loingsigh

Reviewed by M. J. Moore

book jacket

It’s high time for a new and boldly authentic Irish-American voice in literature, and that voice belongs to Eamon Loingsigh (whose last name is pronounced “Lynch”).

Thanks to the maverick visionaries at Three Rooms Press, who since 1993 have defined themselves as “a fierce New York-based independent publisher inspired by Dada, Punk, and passion”-- this remarkable debut novel has seen the light of day.

The Irish.  It’s their ethnic turf we’re on in this evocative historical novel.  We’re steeped here in the rough, grim, dirty, dangerous, and always tense realm of what was once called “Irishtown.”  The docks of Brooklyn figure heavily here, as do the streets—yes, the mean streets—of New York in the era of the First World War.

However, unlike the bulk of historical fiction that oftentimes makes exclusive use of an omniscient narrator with an all-encompassing point of view, Eamon Loingsigh has done something startling here.  He has begun his novel in the first-person singular, and thus we’re engaged right away by a tone, a perspective, a mood, and a personal voice as compelling as that of Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises or Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye.

Here is Loingsigh’s crucial opening paragraph, in which his command of the material is on full display:

“Down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass there once roamed a gang I fell in with. A long time ago it was, when I was young and running.  It’s all I had, this life.  Just as yours is yours.  Don’t let yourself think mine is anything different, anything better.  I won’t have it that way.  It was just a life, and there you have it.  But like so many born on the isle of Ireland, I am to die far from home.  Though such a grief has since let me alone, as bitterness only cuts into the bone, I am at ease with it in my age.  But to go ‘way with all these memories, well, I rush them out for you to breathe them in.”

And that intoxicating overture then concludes with this: “So here I am to send a story you true and fair.  About blood.  And honor.  About the code of men, and about empathy too.”

It is through the voice of narrator William “Liam” Garrity that much of the tale is told, but various shifts to omniscient narrative are achieved.  It’s a larger-than-life story that evokes the universal mythological cycle that was patented as “The Hero’s Adventure” by scholar Joseph Campbell.

The trans-Atlantic crossing of “Liam” Garrity (who hails from County Clare in Ireland) is ....Read More



PORTFOLIO

Portfolio:

Portfolio: Deborah Lou Turbeville

A Column by Kara Fox

deborah tuberville

Beyond life, family and friends, I love photography.  I fell in love with photography during my early teens. I loved high contrast images, the deepest velvety blacks and the crisp cool whites. That was until I saw the work of Deborah Turbeville.  I had never seen anything like her atmospheric images. They transported me into a uniquely raw emptiness filled with emotional tension. 

Deborah Lou Turbeville constructed images from the depth of her imagination. Her dreamy and poetic photographs were a like a visual language obscured in time unidentified. She built incomplete mysteries shot through misted glass,dreamlike, redolent with melancholy beauty. Her images "exude an almost palpable sense of longing, with questions about the woeful women they depict — Who are they? Why are they so sad?

Born in 1943, alongsideRichardAvedon and Guy Bourdon, she moved beyond the boundaries of fashion photographers who focused on the subjectrather than the clothes they were wearing. Had it not been for Avedon and Marvin Israel, instructors of a six-month workshop in 1962, this former model and fashion editor would never have taken photography so seriously. She learned from them, and as she presented her first images,“so out of focus and terrible,” that the idea and the inspiration were more important than the technique. As she began her work in the 1970’s she changed the face of fashion photography from’sedate’ to’shocking.’ Telling just enough of the story to leave a mystery for the imagination,....Read More



ESSAY

Why Men Opt Out of the (Women’s) Fiction World

An essay by Leonce Gaiter

Leonce  Gaiter

Fewer and fewer men read fiction.  They compose only about 20% of the fiction market according to surveys. Some lay this off to genetics, suggesting that the way men’s minds work discourages them from entering into another’s experience the way fiction demands.

“Boys and men are, in general, more convergent and linear in their thinking; this would naturally draw them towards non-fiction,” wrote author Darragh McManus, pondering the question.

Others, like Jason Pinter, suggest that the overwhelmingly female publishing industry simply overlooks books that appeal to men because they fall outside the female experience.  In other words, men now suffer the same fate women suffered at the hands of a male-dominated publishing industry for so many years—and payback’s a bitch.

Others suggest that boys are discouraged from reading at a young age by children’s books that fail to engage them.  Give them the proper material, the story goes, and young boys will engage with reading.  They point to the fact that young males were principal consumers of the Harry Potter books as proof. 

“More boys than girls have read the Harry Potter novels,” according to U.S. publisher, Scholastic. “What’s more, Harry Potter made more of an impact on boys' reading habits. Sixty-one percent agreed with the statement ‘I didn't read books for fun before reading Harry Potter,’ compared with 41 percent of girls.”

I always balked at these rationales because I read fiction all the time.  However, thinking on it, I had to admit that I avoid modern fiction like the plague.  I have tried the popular plot-thick page-turners and the feel-good tearjerkers and the occasional cause celebre with a literary reputation. 

So many have left me so cold, that I simply won’t shell out the cash for a paperback or e-book version, much less a hardcover. 

Trying to assess what I found lacking in most of the current novels I attempt, I find their utter reliance on the world around them (and me) supremely dull.  So many work so hard to place characters in a world I will recognize.  Too many work hard to create characters with which I (or their prime demographic audience) will ‘identify,’ and recognize as ....Read More



ABOUT TOWN

A Man About Town

A Column by Phillip William Sheppard

Amy Adams and Darren Le Gallo

I love art and when the call came from our Editor Fred Beauford for me to cover the LA Art Show I was only too happy to attend.

The 20th Anniversary of the LA Art Show kicked off with a star-studded benefit for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The opening night premiere party, which welcomed more than 7, 000 celebrities, philanthropists, collectors, and art patrons, was hosted by Amy Adams and Darren Le Gallo.

The high-profile celebrities and political officials included James Franco, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Melanie Griffith, Nixx Sixx, Seth Green, Olivia Holt, Yara Shahidi, Dania Ramirez, Josh Bowman, Joanna Cassidy, AFI’s Davey Havok, U.A.E. Consul General Alsabusi, among others.

St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Thanks to support from events like this one, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

“We are excited to partner with St. Jude at the 20th Anniversary LA Art Show,” said Kim Martindale, general manager and producer of the LA Art Show. “By sharing their knowledge freely and exchanging ideas openly, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital inspires more collaboration between doctors and researchers worldwide, and as a result, more lifesaving treatments for children everywhere.”

When Amy spoke of her commitment to Saint Jude and the Arts it was very moving and she got a standing ovation. I have attended many Art shows over the years but this one was special. You could see it in the attendees and artists who were present.

There were works by John Anderson, “Abandoned Beginnings,” and Justin Y, who works with his fingers, and it is quite remarkable what he achieves on oil.   The work of Jeff Robb frankly is beyond words. I was captured by the visual images and the process he used in “Unnatural Causes.”  His images make you think you got the whole picture and yet with closer examination you realize that the three dimensional film and photographic process enhances the relationship between light, magnetism and ....Read More



REVIEWING

Unbroken—A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

Reviewed (Book & Movie) by Jane M McCabe

book jacket

When a good friend told me that I should read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I didn’t hesitate downloading it onto my Kindle and begin reading it. I had been curious as to its longevity on the best seller’s lists.

Though I appreciated the fortitude Louis Zamperini displayed when he was yet a young man, winning the 1939 Olympics in track, I wasn’t drawn into the story UNTIL it told of the United States entering World War II in 1941 when Louie enlisted and became a bombardier in the Pacific theater.

Laura Hillenbrand’s writing style is like that of a reporter, in that she states the facts, one after another with little embellishment.   Louie Zamperini  had a remarkable memory as he told her his story. I was impressed by the immediacy of the writing, especially in the scenes where his plane was being bombarded and riddled with bullet holes.

I didn’t know who Laura Hillenbrand was as I had not read her other best seller, Seabiscuit.

Returning on the Megabus from the Bay Area to Los Angeles after Christmas, to make up for having spilled coffee on me, the gentlemen next to me gave me two issues of The New York Times magazine. I was pleased to find in the December 21, 2014 issue an article on Ms. Hillenbrand titled “Unbreakable.”

Reading it, I learned that Ms. Hillenbrand is 47 and has what is sometimes called “chronic fatigue syndrome,” but which is more accurately known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. Because of the debilitating illness, she rarely leaves her home in Washington, D.C.—she is as secluded as the great hermetic novelists; her seclusion brings to mind that of the great poet Emily Dickenson.

By the time Ms. Hillenbrand embarked on writing Unbroken in 2003, Louis Zamperini was 86 (he died just last summer at the age of 97.) Since he lived in California and no longer traveled, they couldn’t easily meet. “Over the next seven years, as she researched and wrote ‘Unbroken,’ they would speak by phone hundreds of times but never meet in person…”

On May 27, 1943, the Green Hornet, the plane Louie and his comrades were commandeering, crashed in the Pacific. Louie and two other air force officers, Phil and Mac, survived the crash. For the next 47 days they were adrift on two rubber life rafts, often surrounding by cunning sharks, who would have liked nothing better than to make lunch of them…

Now my attention was riveted. The life rafts were poorly provisioned. They had neither food nor containers with which to catch rain water. To survive, they caught and ate raw the occasional albatrosses that lit on the rafts. They battled the sharks, Phil and Mac smacking their noses when Louie was overboard. They kept their sanity by playing memory games and by recounting in minute detail dishes their mothers had prepared. I vowed never again to complain about whatever minor physical deprivation I might be subjected to…

All told they drifted nearly 3000 miles to the west across the Pacific before they were finally rescued, only I use the word “rescued” lightly because they were found by Japanese sailors. Their rescue was a case of “out-of-the pot and into-the-fire.” For the next two years they were held in various Japanese camps, where their treatment was deplorable. They were nearly starved to death, subjected to ....Read More



NOVELLA

A History of The 21st Century

A Memoir by Major Alexander Pushkin Litvinova, U.S. Army, ret.

A Novella by Fred Beauford

Prologue

Dec. 12, 2093

Dear Father:

I have wanted to write to you for years. I kept putting it off, pushing away the pen, the precious, hard to find paper, promising myself that I would soon sit down and do so, telling myself over and over again that I was really not the great writer as you, telling myself over and over again that I was wasting a key resource thinking I had something important to say.

However, just yesterday, the day after my 90th birthday, the day before the 80th year since your death, it was on that day that the light came, and I knew it was time to write you.

You have cast a long shadow over my life, Father; yet I never felt that I fully understood you, or your century, or your grand obsessions, or even your deep love for my mother.   

How could it have happened? She, a poor immigrant from the grand heart of Russia, a former Communist.

“Ah, yes!” Mother said to me shortly before she died, now not the beautiful, 39 year old woman you fell in love with, but a tiny, wizen, frail, drawn old lady, with less then a year to live, and only three years before the Big Bang.

“Ah, yes!” she croaked again, now with a slight, subtle touch of theatrical flair. It was on that last ‘ah, yes’ that I knew she was still an actress, as old as she was. She wasn’t fooling me.

Her worn, cracked face suddenly came alive, and filled with delight at the old, pleasant memory. Her Russian accent, through now shaky, was still as heavy as always. “He asked ‘what was it like to be a Communist?”

“Yes, mother,” I replied as gently as possible, glad to see her smiling again, and not wanting to tire her by her telling me this story yet again.

“I remember reading one of his stories,” I said to her in Russian, the words I had read years ago coming back to me. “I knew it was you and him he was writing about. You just shook your lovely blond head and laughed a small laugh, revealing even, child-like teeth, and you said to him, ‘oh, Communist’.

“You laughed once again, eyeing him nervously, as if seeing him for the very first time, although you two worked closely together in a large department store selling ties. Yes, mother, I remember reading that.”

***

Dear Father, it is only through your writing that I really know you. You were an old dude when I was born. I know you tried ....Read More



REVIEWING

The Fortune Hunter

By Daisy Goodwin

Read by: Clare Corbett

Reviewed by Michael Carey

book jacket

A well-known TV producer in England, a collector of poetry, creatively brilliant, novelist Daisy Goodwin seems a woman at the top of her game. Using a history degree from Cambrige and a study of film, Goodwin successfully weaves a compelling and touching tale of historical fiction in The Fortune Hunter.

England during the Victorian Era is a romanticized time when, at least among the upper echelons, certain behavior was expected of both well-bred women and gentlemen and gossip was the favorite pastime, with the gentleman’s sport of fox hunting a close second.

This is the setting where The Fortune Hunter feeds fiction into the much talked about relationship between the beautiful Empress Elizabeth of Austria and her guide during the fox hunts, Captain Bay Middleton. Middleton was respected and rumored to be a ladies’ man even though his station in high society was rather low.

Before the Empress comes to England with her charms and influence, Middleton meets the obscure Charlotte Baird. She is a young girl with a large inheritance. (So as not to blur lines between the fiction and history I will refer to the fiction from here on.)

Charlotte is not the belle of the ball; she is plain-looking and devotes her time to photography (an up and coming hobby for women with money but not at all popular at the time). She meets Bay Middleton and is lost to his charisma, looks, and surprising vulnerability.

The relationship might have been straightforward and appropriate, but Middleton, although sincere, was weak to the charms of beautiful, strong women and people will always talk when a young lady’s money, not to mention her virtue, are ....Read More