Thursday’s Picture of the Week: Cambodia

Photograph of a boy in Cambodia with an AK-47 gunBehind the Scenes: It’s 1989 and the Khmer Rouge are still fighting in Cambodia. Pol Pot’s official reign of genocidal terror has ended, but the aftermath of the “Killing Fields,” as it was coined in the grizzly 1984 film, still lingers.

Jeffrey is in Cambodia with Harry Rolnick, a foreign correspondent for the Bangkok Post. They are there to tell the story of the restoration quietly taking place at Angkor Wat Temple Complex. A handful of scientists from the Archaeological Survey of India have begun work on Cambodia’s most important archaeological site.

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple complex moon riseAngkor Wat, an ancient city built by King Survyavarman II in the 12th century, has taken a beating from years of neglect and non-stop fighting. Khmer Rouge guerrillas have looted temples, decapitated sculptures, and sold the spoils on the black market to raise cash for the war. The site’s exquisite Khmer architecture, which is often compared to that of ancient Greece and Rome in importance, has also been strangled by the encroaching jungle. Vines and roots have damaged structures, causing many of its sandstone temples, reliefs, and statues to crumble.

The restoration of Cambodia’s most important site (and symbol) is a tiny glimmer of hope for a country that has not dared to hope since the Khmer Rouge murdered approximately two million of its people (one quarter of the population).

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex SoldiersBecause the U.S. still has not established diplomatic relations with Cambodia after Pol Pot’s reign of terror, Jeffrey and Harry must first fly from Bankgok, Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to obtain a visa to enter the country. A few days later they will backtrack to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, then they will catch a puddle-jumper plane to Siem Reap, the province in which Angkor Wat is located.

After a hard and fast landing (to avoid gunfire, they are told), they head to the Grand Hotel, the only hotel operating in the area at the time. Tourism has been at a standstill for more than a decade. When the bellman of this dilapidated establishment leads Jeffrey and Harry to their rooms, Jeffrey notices that his bed is pushed awkwardly into a far corner. When he asks about it, the bellman explains, “That is for your safety—in case there is gunfire. Bullets will not be able to hit you over here if they come through your window.”

Photo of Stone statues at Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaThe next day an interpreter and several Cambodian soldiers meet Harry and Jeffrey on the outskirts of Angkor Wat. The complex is over five hundred acres, and they must walk through the jungle to the temples where the archaeologists are working. The men are told under no uncertain terms may they leave the single narrow path they plying. Live mines litter the landscape everywhere else. Nearby gunfire reminds them that this is no idle warning.

Jeffrey and Harry walk cautiously and stick closely to the Cambodian soldiers who know every inch of the area. The emptiness of Angkor Wat and the heavy air blanketing the jungle creates an eeriness that makes the back of Jeffrey’s neck prickle. Harry continually looks over his shoulder. Even the slightest snap of a twig from a jungle creature or birds taking flight makes them pause. Jeffrey can’t help wonder, How do we know the Khmer Rouge haven’t laid another mine on the path last night and how do we know we won’t be ambushed now?

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaEventually they arrive where the archaeologists are working. The interpreter introduces the men and points out many of the sites wonders, including giant Hindu sandstone faces, exquisite bas-reliefs, and temples covered in roots more massive than each of them. It doesn’t take long before Jeffrey is able to create a powerful visual story about what is taking place here.

After spending the entire day at Angkor Wat, they make their way back out to the other side where a car is expected to be waiting for them. As they reach the outskirts of the site and walk along a road near a small village, they come upon a young boy carrying an AK-47 rifle. This barefoot youngster, who is wearing nothing more than threadbare shorts, is protecting his village against the Khmer Rouge. As he walks under the weight of his gun, his onyx eyes reveal a life that has already witnessed far too much.

Jeffrey can’t help but think back to his own carefree childhood, and tries to swallow the sadness rising in his throat as he gets down on his knees to create this boy’s portrait. He can only hope that peace will come soon to Cambodia, and with it, a return to childhood for this young “man.”

This photograph was created with a Nikon F4, a Nikor 24mm lens and Fuji Velvia film.

Postscript: Jeffrey has returned to Angkor Wat on assignment two more times since his first trip in 1989, and each time he has witnessed it coming back to life more and more. Restoration is now nearly complete and Angkor Wat has been listed as a World Heritage Site, along with Cambodia’s largest tourist attraction. The best part is that Jeffrey has never come across another child carrying an AK-47 rifle in Cambodia.

If you want to learn more about Angkor Wat, click HERE.

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaPhoto of Angkor Bayon at Angkor Wat in CambodiaPhoto of Angkor Wat Temple Complex restored reliefPhoto of a young monk at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

The Answer to Name That Photographer

Clearly I made yesterday’s photography quiz WAY too easy. As many of you guessed, the answer is ALFRED EISENSTAEDT, a legend affectionately known as “Eisie.”

Portrait of Alfred EisenstaedtFor those of you who don’t know about Eisenstaedt, you will make your life better if you take a moment to discover his work. He was a master in every sense of the word.

Here are a few links to check out his way of seeing the world:

This beautiful YouTube video-Masters of Photography (click on link to see it) is well-worth watching.

Or you can simply click on this Google search of his images. and marvel at the breadth of his portraiture–from Marilyn to Einstein to Kennedy. Or take a peek at this  Wikipedia page and learn a bit about his background.

Here is my favorite Eisenstaedt photograph: Children at Puppet Theatre, Paris, France, 1963. It sits next to my desk so I look at it every day. I will never cease to be amazed at the diverse range of emotions expressed by these children while they are all experiencing the same moment.

Photo of Alfred Eisenstaedt's Children at Puppet Theatre

I will leave you with one of Eisie’s quotes, which I think not only relates to photography, but to writing and many other aspects of life as well.

“Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

– Alfred Eisenstaedt

PS: If you missed yesterday’s quiz, take a peek here to read the clues and learn a few more fun facts. The next quiz won’t be nearly as easy!

Name That Photographer

Put on your thinking caps, photography fans! I’m starting a fun new quiz. See if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER by reading the following five clues:

1) He was a Jewish German-American photographer born in 1898.

2) In 1936 he became one of the four original photographers at LIFE magazine, where he produced 2,500 assignments and 92 covers.

Photo of V-J Day in Times Square, 19453) He was best known for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day in Times Square.

4) He once famously said, “It’s more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

5) He lived to the age of 96 and photographed President Clinton and his family on Martha’s Vineyard when he was 94 (the last photos of his life).

Bonus clue: He created one of my all-time favorite images ever in Paris called, “Children at Puppet Theatre.” It sits right next to my desk and makes me smile every day.

Write your guess in the comment box, then check back tomorrow morning (March 20th) for the answer.

AND NO CHEATING!

The Luck of the Irish

Photo of shamrocksOn St. Patrick’s Day it’s often said that everybody is Irish. I’m no exception—even if I am only half Irish.

With my fair skin and freckles, and a maiden name honoring the color of shamrocks and leprechaun duds, you can bet I’ll be celebrating all things Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.

Mostly I’ll be celebrating the luck of the Irish, which I’ve often felt I’ve been blessed with much of my life.

Don’t get me wrong or think I’m bragging when I say this because, believe me, I’ve had my share of heart-shattering moments just like everybody else–where I’ve practically had to duct tape my aorta and ventricles back together to keep functioning. Still I’ve always felt ridiculously lucky (all you have to do is read my posts about why I ended up in Aspen (part one and part two), or my post about how I met my husband to understand why).

Here’s another perfect example: several years ago I decided that I was finally going to write a novel that had been kicking around in my head for years. It was time to stop thinking about it, and just do it, as the famous Nike advertisement once espoused.

So I began.

Scene after scene poured out of me and onto my computer. The characters consumed me, the words swirled through me; I even began hearing the soundtrack for my book playing in my head as I wrote it. It was magic.

But then I re-read the pile of chapters I had quickly amassed and realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

After writing into the wee hours one night, on a whim, I decided to go online and take a look at an adult education course catalog for our local community college. The school listed several writing classes, but only one fit my schedule: it was called “Write from the Start,” taught by an instructor named Cork Millner. The catalog merely listed the course title, but no description. I wasn’t sure if this would help me with my novel, but I liked the sound of it, and thought the instructor’s name was charming and quirky (or at least impossible for him to be mean).

This is the lucky part: the class started the very next morning. It was like a sign sent from the Lucky Irish Heavens. Clearly, it was meant to be, so without another thought I jumped off my safe, cozy “do it later” cliff and pushed the SIGN UP button.

____________

The next morning as I got ready for class, I was buzzing with the challenge of a new adventure, but also feeling like an awkward sixth grader on her first day of school. The reality of what I had signed up for suddenly hit me. Nerves made my coffee taste like dirt and my hands turn to ice. I hadn’t been in college in years…okay, make that two decades. I’d been busy running our photo agency.

Between the butterflies in my stomach and the rain dumping outside my window, I could barely force myself out the door. To top it off, when I arrived at school the parking lot was full, offering an easy excuse to bail on the whole absurd idea and go have coffee instead.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I tried to bolster myself as I circled the surrounding blocks multiple times looking for parking.

“The best things in life have always happened when you’ve taken a risk,” I continued until I finally found a spot. “Just do it,” I mentally blasted myself as I pushed the door open and stepped out into the pouring rain.

By the time I finally made it to class I was not only late, but drenched and worn out from the effort. The instructor looked at me with raised eyebrows, and a half smirk-smile as I slinked to the back of the room trying to find an empty seat.

Then he wrote his name, Cork Millner, on the chalkboard, followed by the word CREATIVE NONFICTION.

WHAT? Nonfiction? Crap. My Irish luck suddenly felt like anything but.

I guess this wasn’t meant to be after all, I moaned to myself. I want to learn how to write a novel, not magazine articles or memoirs.

I thought about creeping back out the door right then, but sat paralyzed in indecision and pride. I’d already made a pathetic entrance into the class. I couldn’t bring myself to make a humiliating exit too.

So I stayed. And I listened. And I looked around. In no time I realized that the witty and seasoned instructor standing at the front of the class, who also happened to be a former Navy fighter pilot and the author of numerous books and hundreds of magazine articles, could teach me a thing or two about the art of writing, no matter what type it was.

Thus began one of the luckiest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken. Not only did Cork Millner teach me the most important things I’ve learned about structure, imagery, and the business of being a writer, he also taught me dozens of things I didn’t even know I wanted, or needed to know: particularly that creative nonfiction is my passion.

Blogging, sharing Jeffrey’s photography adventures from around the world and creating an ecclectic mix of health, fitness, food and feature profiles has filled my creative cereal bowl with a pile of sweet, colorful Lucky Charms.

It was lucky that I discovered Cork’s class. It was lucky that I did not bail on it when it was easier to go have coffee, and it was lucky that I stayed open to possibility.

Because of that, an extraordinary mentor was dropped into my life–one who offered me the perfect amount of encouragement, criticism, and wisdom, all at the right time.

Not only that, but Cork’s class also offered a place to meet and learn from dozens of other writers far more talented than me–all kindred spirits who cannot not write, and who feel compelled to share their ideas with the world. Many of these people are doing extraordinary things in addition to writing—like helping people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to eliminate plastic bags in Africa, helping families grappling with cancer,  or showing people with dyslexia that it’s possible to become a professional writer.

Photo of author, Cork Millner

Cork and his class will always remind me that luck rarely comes without taking risks, and even more important, the harder I work, the luckier I become.

So here’s to celebrating the luck of the Irish, and a man named Cork for whom I will always be grateful for making a staggering difference in my life (and no, that’s not because I’ve been nipping on Irish whiskey).

Thank you Cork, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!

Drop me a comment! I’d love to know who or what in your life has made you feel lucky!

Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs Now on Kindle

Steve and i book coverJeffrey and I are excited to announce the launch of our ebook, Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs. 

It is now available for Kindle devices at Amazon.com and will be available for the NOOK, Sony Reader and iPad soon.

We hope you will be one of the first to download Steve & i, and if you feel inspired by what you read, please leave a review on Amazon.

Of course, we’d be thrilled (and eternally grateful) if you would tell others about it too.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon now has a free app you can download for both your Mac and PC. Here are the links: Kindle for Mac. Kindle for PC. If you have an Amazon account you can purchase the book and read it on your computer. You can also download a free Kindle app for your iPhone. Just go to the app store and batta boom, batta bang, you’re all set.

Our book is priced at $2.99 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to several leading cancer research institutes because…well, as you know, cancer sucks, and it took Steve Jobs’ life far too soon.

Book description: When photographer Jeffrey Aaronson received a call from Newsweek in 1984 to photograph Steve Jobs, he had no idea who Steve Jobs was or what impact Jobs was about to have on his life or the world.

Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs tells the captivating story of a young photographer and a young entrepreneur, and the friendship they forge when they are both twenty-nine years old—just as Aaronson is beginning to offer the world a new view through his lens and Jobs is beginning his mission to change it by introducing the most user-friendly personal computer ever conceived.

This 38-page little powerhouse of a book is packed with personal anecdotes and rarely seen photographs, which not only chronicle the launch of the first Macintosh personal computer, but also capture the essence of Steve Jobs the man before he became the icon.

It’s a must read for those who want to experience and be inspired by a side of Steve Jobs that few people have glimpsed.

Early reviews of the book read…

“A critical moment of shared inspiration is captured in this short but sweet profile of an intimate friendship between two highly motivated young men, forged immediately in trust and professional integrity. A rare, honest glimpse into the ensuing creative sparks that fly in the early blossoming careers and bonding of two visionaries who decide to be inspired by others AND courageously follow their callings and dreams. Bravo!”
-Bill Black, Director of Photography, Reader’s Digest

This is not just a story about how friendships evolve from humble or chance beginnings.  Rather, it’s an object lesson about mutual respect, curiosity, and a passion for excellence as the ingredients that propel true visionaries. Bravo, Jeffrey Aaronson, for enlightening us with the quieter, gentler side of the genius Steve Jobs. ”
-Larry C. Price, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

“This is a sweet little book about a hugely talented and creative photographer’s relationship with a hugely talented and creative entrepreneur. With warmth, insight, and keen appreciation, Jeffrey brings back to life a man who for all his reputed prickliness and short temper was capable of simple, deep friendship.”
-Bob Morton, Former Editor-in-Chief of Abrams and the Aperture Foundation

“Photographers and Apple fans alike won’t want to miss this moving portrait of a private but profoundly influential man.”

-Russell Hart, Former Executive Editor American Photo

Artists with a Sense of Humor

If humor is one of the highest forms of intelligence, then clearly these street artists are brilliant. I hope you are as bowled over as I was by these creative minds.

Photo of street art wall with straw

Photo of street art cheerleader

Photo of street art cigarette sewer

Photo of street art face and branches

Photo of street art shoe crosswalk

 

Photo of street art wall face

Photo of street art chalk tiger

Photo of street art kids chalk walk

Photo of street art eyes wall

Photo of street art more people climbing steps

Photo of street art scissors cutting street

Photo of street art sink hole with bicylist

Photo of street art steam roller

Photo of street art face on bombed building

Photo of street art love shadow

Photo of street art afro tree face

Photo of street art blue waterfall

Photo of street art guns and pencils

Photo of street art face skyscrapers

Photo of street art pastel steps

Photo of street art titanic building

Photo of street art treehouse building

Photo of street art zipper tree

Photo of street art subway steps

Photo of street art three friends

Unfortunately, I do not have the original source to properly credit the photographers or the curator of this delightful collection of images, but here’s a big shout out to Hensley Peterson for forwarding this piece to me via email. If anybody knows the original source, please let me know.

If Life (and eBook Publishing) is Mount Everest, Then Attitude is Everything

Last month Nancy Mixon, an awesome mom at our daughter’s elementary school, organized a Family Night in which a woman named Petit Pinson was invited to speak to our children about her experiences climbing Mt. Everest.

Photo of Petit Pinson at Mt. EverestPetit Pinson couldn’t be a more fitting name for this wiry, fiery, spunky outdoorsy woman. She epitomizes the notion of what it means to chase after life, and lights up a room like the 4th of July.

Petit showered the kids with stories and images from her trip, and even let them try on her climbing gear—suit, boots and all.

But it wasn’t Petit’s Everest climb that impressed me most, or that fact that she had been on an extreme adventure reality TV show, or that she and her team had given up their opportunity to summit Everest, just one camp away from the top, because they were busy saving the lives of a Japanese climbing team that had gotten into trouble and run out of oxygen.

What impressed me most was what she taught our kids about attitude.

Her approach was so simple, yet so profound, it has popped into my head numerous times over the past month.

What did she say? She simply used a Sharpie marker and wrote two words on the palms of her hands, holding them up for the audience to read.

One hand said GET and the other hand said YET.

Photo of hands with the words GET and YET

To paraphrase this portion of her talk (in the extreme), she suggested that instead of grumbling about all the things you “have to” do in life (homework, chores, exercise, etc.), think about how lucky you are that you GET to do these things. You may dread taking out the trash or doing the final edit on your manuscript, but if you think about it, you’re darn lucky to live in a place that has trash service, and you’re uber fortunate to have a manuscript that’s in its final phases.

By changing your wording, you change your mindset so you no longer feel like you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do. Instead, you feel like you’re being given an opportunity, which makes you feel lucky.

Her other point touches on perspective. When you’re feeling frustrated that you’re not good at something, remind yourself about the word YET. You may not be good at writing query letters or playing tennis YET, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be later—after you’ve practiced hard trying to master it.

Few people are great at things they try for the first time, whether it’s writing, painting, taking pictures, climbing, learning a language, or conquering a new computer program. We all stumble, and even fall multiple times before we become proficient.

It’s all about attitude and perseverance, and remembering the word YET.

The reason Petit Pinson has popped into my head numerous times over the past few weeks is because Jeffrey and I have been working hard trying to master the art of ebook publishing.

Nothing about it has been easy, especially since our book is filled with photographs and captions, and ebook publishing is still in its infancy. Navigating through all the inconsistencies in information and formatting feels a bit like climbing Mt. Everest.

Steve and i book coverMany times I’ve wanted to head back to Base Camp and call it a day with a cold Negra Modelo, but then I’ve thought of Petit Pinson, and reminded myself that I’m the one who chose this path. I’m the one who wanted to figure it out on our own instead of handing it over to a third party publisher.

Because I chose this more difficult route, I GET to learn how it’s all done, and I GET to publish a book exactly how I want it—in all its various formats—for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and iPad. I also GET to learn several cool new computer and design programs and master things my non-technical soul usually sucks at (for lack of a better term).

Right now, it’s a slow grind up the mountain, but I keep reminding myself about the word YET. We’re not there YET, but we will be. It’s not perfect YET, but it’s close. We will get from Camp IV to the summit because Jeffrey and I are nothing but determined. Best of all, once we finally master this new challenge we’ll GET to add these new tools of knowledge to our creative backpacks for our next publishing adventures.

So here’s a shout out to you, Petit Pinson, for not only inspiring our kids to reach to new heights, but for reminding me that attitude is everything in life (and ebook publishing).

Photo of the North Face of Mount Everest in Tibet

The North Face of Mt. Everest in Tibet, taken at Base Camp in 2000, when I was fortunate enough to venture to the Roof of the World with my dear friend, Janet Cook. This image is my perfect reminder about attitude. ©Becky Green Aaronson.

Why Airlines are Struggling

A little while ago the doorbell rang. When I opened the door to see who it was, Mr. Fedex stood there in his neat purplish-blue uniform, smiling his friendly Mr. Fedex smile. Then he handed me a thin blue box addressed to Jeffrey. “Million Miler” was printed on top.

The package was from United Airlines.

Photo of a box for Million Mile Flyers from United AirlinesJeffrey has flown well over a million miles gallivanting around the world on United so every once in a while they mail him a “Thank you loyal customer” letter.

This time they decided to Fedex it.

What could it be? I wondered as I handed Jeffrey the box and joked about all the possibilities. Round-the-world tickets? First-class upgrades? Yeah, right.

Clearly it had to be something of substance though since it was shipped via Fedex 2-Day service (ca-chiiing) instead of 3-Day, Ground, UPS or snail mail.

Photo of a luggage tag for Million Mile Flyers from United AirlinesThis is what United Airlines felt compelled to spend its precious resources Fedexing to Jeffrey: a leather luggage tag with his name printed on the insert. The packaging alone probably cost five bucks, not to mention the shipping. And don’t even get me started on the packaging waste.

Sorry mom, I know you always taught me to be grateful when I received a gift. “It’s the thought that counts,” you’d always say.

Technically this is not my gift though, since Jeffrey is the million-mile flyer and his name is printed on the luggage tag, so I don’t feel bad sharing the absurdity of this with you.

Here’s a crazy idea, United Airlines: perhaps instead of Fedex’ing tchotchkes to your best customers, spend your moolah figuring out innovative ways not to go bankrupt, or spend it on providing more than a bag of pretzels to everyone when they fly all the way across the country. Or spend it on lowering your fares so more people can afford to travel.

Just a thought.

PS: Jeffrey, ever more gracious than me, sends his thanks for the luggage tag. He’s still trying to figure out how his bags managed to make it all the way around the world multiple times without it.


Leaping Lizards! An Extra 24-Hours? What’s a Girl to Do?

Woohoo! The gift of an extra day? There is no better present, as far as I’m concerned.

Julius Caesar GraphicThank you Leap Year! Or more accurately, thank you, Julius Caesar. I know your brilliant idea of adding an extra day to the calendar every four years had absolutely nothing to do with my foot-long To Do List, but whatever the case, I’ll take it, and send you a heart-felt high-five and “Hail Caesar.”

What do I plan to do with my extra twenty-four hours? Brace yourself, this chick is on a mission–a mission to max out her day.

You might be envisioning an Academy Award-Winning Tasmanian Devil impersonation where I tear through my house, cleaning out the refrigerator or the fish tank, paying bills, doing laundry, trying to write my next chapter, organize the launch of our ebook, and bust out 30 miles on my bike–all before I pick my daughter up from school. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Nope.

Not. Even. Close.

I plan to pack my extra twenty-four hours with nothing but slothful bliss. I am officially jumping off the To Do List bandwagon today and taking a day to refuel.

Aahhh, I feel lighter already just typing those words.

As a mom, a wife, a writer, and a person who occasionally wears a few too many hats, I find myself perpetually racing the clock, trying to get stuff done, and admittedly feeling frustrated when I’m interrupted or when I don’t get it done in the amount of time I think it should take.

Can anybody else relate to this or is this just my genetic defect?

Okay, maybe don’t answer that.

Whatever the case, in the process of continually trying to tackle my To Do List, my effervescent personality…well, let’s just say…may not be as effervescent as it could or should be.

What? I know, impossible.

My darling eight-year old would definitely say, “POSSIBLE,” as would my extremely patient husband. Yep, they’ve put up with my wound-too-tight-ness a bit too long.

Soooo…for the next 24-hours, on this gift of an extra day, I am slowing it down and taking life at a snail’s pace.

What’s ahead for this snail, you ask?

A whole lot of snail-i-ness.

Okay, so maybe snails don’t set their alarms for 5:00 am, but that’s what I plan do again tomorrow because it is an exquisite time of day; a time when silence wraps its savory soul around my creativity. Mother Nature is usually at her best at this hour too. When you have this view out your window, and a colossal cup of rich, dark roast coffee, and two uninterrupted hours of writing time, what more could you want–especially when you’re kicking off a “bonus” day?

View out my window when writing at dawn

After I write, then drop Twinkle Toes off at school, I’ll probably go on a leisurely bike ride; one with no mileage or pace goals–just a fabulous spin, riding wherever I want, for as long (or short) as I want, at whatever speed I want.

After that, if I’m able to steal my husband away from his art project, I’ll take him out for coffee or lunch and ply him with sweet nothings–especially for putting up with me for so long.

Next? Perhaps a beach walk or a pedicure, and chocolate consumption. Yes, definitely some dark chocolate caramel consumption. Then…

Oh no, my snail’s list is suddenly starting to take on the familiar sound of a To Do List.

Clearly, this could take some time.

Happy Leap Day everybody. What are your plans for this extra day?

Page One–A Movie Review

Page One PhotoFor those of you who love the smell of newsprint with your morning coffee, I have a movie for you: Page One: Inside The New York Times.

This film was nominated for the 2012 Critics’ Choice Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature, and was also listed as one of the 50 Best Movies of 2011 by Paste Magazine.

The gist of the film? It’s essentially a fly-on-the-wall look at The New York Times and the people who put it together. Through four memorable journalists who work on the Media Desk, the film examines how this prestigious newspaper, and others like it, are struggling to survive in the age of digital information. With the Internet surpassing print as the main source of news, and newspapers going bankrupt all over the country, Page One chronicles this grande dame and the media industry in the midst of its greatest turmoil.

Page One delivers the perfect mix of journalism, politics, publishing and all the people who work with or depend on it. You might call this film a love letter to a dying art form, the American newspaper, and a celebration of the traditional values of journalism in a time when our need for free, immediate information is chiseling away at that honored discipline.

David Carr at the New York TimesThis film is worth seeing for David Carr alone. An irascible media columnist, single parent, former crack addict and welfare recipient, Carr pumps this film full of verve with his intelligence, wit and his “No BS” approach to reporting. I say move over Brad Pitt and George Clooney–it’s David Carr who really deserves an Oscar, even if he is just portraying himself.

The other unlikely star of the film is the imposing Times headquarters designed by Renzo Piano. Even though the newspaper sold the building in 2009 and leased part of it back because it was on shaky financial ground, it’s hard not to be impressed by this gleaming monument. In many ways the building represents all that is right and wrong with the industry in the midst of rising new media.

New York Times Headquarters

If I had any criticism of Page One, it would be that it’s a bit scattered, following many intriguing threads, yet never tying them all up into one cohesive bow. Still, news junkies, writers, photographers, and anybody who cares about the future of media will appreciate this smart film.

My other criticism is less a criticism and more a personal wish: I wish the movie had focused on other sections of the newspaper as well–partly because we’ve worked with so many of them over the years. I wish we could have glimpsed our colleagues in the Travel, Business, Week in Review, or Arts & Leisure sections, or even the Magazine, who have all hired Jeffrey over the  years and licensed his photography and our agency’s photography. I would have loved to have heard their thoughts about the state of the industry and where they think it’s heading in the digital age.

My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Film details: Directed by Andrew Rossi, Written by Kate Novak and Andrew Rossi. Released by Magnolia Pictures. Running time 1 hour 28 minutes. Out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Get your hands on it via Netflix, iTunes or any of the usual video outlets. Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

If any of you have seen the movie, I’d love to hear what you think. If not, I’m curious to know what you think the future of media brings for newspapers. Is it possible for them to stay vital and solvent? Drop me a comment and share your two cents.