Sunday, September 23, 2012


September 23, 2012

(Eliminating special-interest influence)

    When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

     We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humanity is created equal, that all living persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter it,  laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. 

     When a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to reduce them under a perversion of power, it is their right, it is their duty to provide new guards for their future security.
     Such has been the patient and growing sufferance of these American people for at least 40 years; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to require change. The recent history of the United States, its Congress, its presidencies, is one of repeated injuries and usurpations, all owing to special interests and other lobbies that have perverted individual and especially middle-class opportunity, dashed hopes for a renewed economy and set aside the promise that each succeeding generation will improve upon the last. 

     We, therefore, We the People of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled not in one place but existing as free humanity in every state of the great union, do solemnly publish and declare, that we are, and of right ought to be free and independent of all Special Interest, that such lobbies have no right to demand slavery from us, to be beholden to their thirst for greed, to give up our liberty and the pursuit of happiness, to forego any reasonable and secure future for our young, to abandon the glue of the nation, that is, its middle class. 

We therefore declare that from this date forth, We the People are absolved from special-interest allegiance in favor of publicly funded election of all in Congress and the president him(her)self, with no special-interest money allowed as influence of any sort. 

     And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our sacred honor.

(With apologies to the Founders.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Progress and mold

By Arthur H. Gunther III

Once in my parts, a section of the Northeast where even today not all the woods have been bulldozed by Progress, we measured fall’s coming by morning humidity on the side of a white clapboard garage. The glisten was subtle, almost like a fine spray of matte lacquer, not the obvious, invasive, sweating droplets of August dog days. Accompanied by brisk air and the first whiff of turning leaves, those who enjoy changes in season were pleased.
Today, such dew still hits “Novelty-style” siding on the fewer white garages standing, but more often the glisten must endure co-ownership with a recent summer ravage: green and black mold.

Summers in the Northeast seem much more humid (whether that be a condition of Progress or not), and the moist air particularly likes vinyl siding, which is Progress’ answer to repainting garages. Even the embossed woodgrain look provides shelter for water to tarry and invites mold to come stay a spell. Most of this mold is green, though it has gone to dangerous black on some really humid sites. And while the north side is favored, mold creeps around buildings, cheered on by tree and shrub overgrowth that come to the Progress celebration.

Now if all this seems a metaphor for what comes in the swath of growth, of Progress, it surely is. The building lot, the raw material for Progress, includes centuries of trees and other vegetation, lowlands and highlands that the bulldozer often does not respect as to intended contour for good water runoff and proper land use. A house built on it may eventually be overgrown by poorly trimmed trees and close-foundation shrubs, and mold visits. Or storms arrive and basement flooding or downed power lines result,  the collateral of the march of Progress.

Of course, Progress can go in for annual check-ups, for maintenance, so that the quality of living in a nice home can be protected for both homeowners and the neighbors affected downstream. And not every property -- in suburbia, in Gotham, in rural scape -- is visited by mold, this metaphor for the general house cleaning required as homeowner responsibility. But, still, there’s more mold out there these days, it seems.    

Monday, September 10, 2012


By Arthur H. Gunther III

     Anywhere, USA -- Last week in Upper Nyack, N.Y., it was the first day of school, and three new kindergarteners were posed by a mom in front of the building sign, a posterity shot, but also mom’s wish upon a star. Behind them was the door that would open to their future. Elsewhere in Anywhere, USA, you could substitute color, ethnicity, religion, place, yes, but everywhere there were kids beginning the climb to adulthood. Will passage through all the doors of the elementary, middle school and high school years be as accessible? And when the youngsters of kindergarten America 2012 graduate in 2030, what will their futures be?

If there could be one campaign poster for the Republican and Democratic presidential runs, for Congress, state legislature, the local dogcatcher, it should be that mom’s photo from Anywhere USA. All the talk about tax rates, Social Security, greed, special interests, wars of choice, political ideology, health care, college expenses and immigration are in words these new kindergarteners do not understand. The fortunate among them can write their names, and they use the words of playtime -- super heroes, “Hello Kitty,” Disneyland. Other youngsters hear harsh words of threat and fear in circumstances that should not be tolerated.

What words will these next-year first graders hear and see and write? And in the eight grade? In 12th? Will they be those of the Horatio Algers of a nation that once had an endless frontier and much opportunity to succeed? Will they be the words of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who so deeply shared the soul of citizen soldiers gone to battle but eager to return to home and hearth becaue that was the true democracy? Will they be the words of inspiring, articulate leaders who also led? Will they be the words of national allegiance and unity but with respect for differences of opinion? Most of all, will their words be of aspiration and trust, of caring, of growing confidence that when they work hard, they will do good for nation, family, self, that their faith will not be misused, abused even, by any business or government action without ethics?

We adults see a kindergartener as simple, uncomplicated, yet it may be the most complex time in life for any. When they walk through the school door, the nurturing is more greatly assumed by the trust parents have put in the system -- school, government, society, all managed by adults who some day will step aside for these now kindergarteners.

Will the smiles on that first-day school photo in Everywhere, Anywhere, USA, remain and be reflective of national trust that assures our young they will be well-tucked-in each night? That is job one in any election, and now more so that ever.

Monday, September 3, 2012


By Arthur H. Gunther III

When I was a young newspaper photographer in the mid-1960s, on-the-job training was mostly accomplished by watching, listening, stealing ideas, experimenting and overhearing criticism of your work in a smoke-filled, newsroom already rumbling with the din of teletype machines, air tubes that carried copy to the composing room and a city editor who bellowed. It was a hectic environment and the best immersion one can have for a career that proved mutually suitable. 

I stole from fellow photog Andy Dickerman on the use of natural light and the value of tight composition; from Al Witt on shooting sports; from Ken Muise on working with the fickle public; and from the late Warren Inglese on quality, especially printing.

In my time, Warren was a god, a gifted artist who could have worked for Like Magazine, so revealing were his shots of people and so well-composed his feature pictures. He was a master printer in black and white and quite exacting in his set-up lighting so that the subsequent darkroom result would show careful planning.

That Warren could adapt to technological change over his 43-year career with Westchester County Publishers, then Gannett Suburban, including The Journal-News in Rockland County, N.Y., was another mark of his artistry. In 1948, when the then 23-year-old started in photography after distinguished and harrowing World War II service as a forward observer/scout, newspaper photos were either “spot news” -- accidents, fires, police action, etc. -- or set-up publicity shots. Cameras were large-format Speed Graphic with sheet film that measured 4 inches by five inches. Lighting was by large flashbulb. You had to have your wits about you, carrying heavy equipment like extra film in their holders and bulbs, to grab a spot-news shot. And there was little room for error, unlike today when a photog uses a digital camera with automatic focusing, multiple-shot action and exposure control. And he or she can instantly see the shot. Back in Warren's initial time, you did not know what you had until hours later, after you had developed your film. By the time Warren retired in 1991, as chief photographer for The Journal-News, he was carrying 35mm automated cameras with sophisticated lenses and motor drive. He used the improved technology well.

Yet despite the equipment revolution, one of Warren’s best published feature photographs was taken with a sheet of film in a cardboard box and a pinhole made in its cover. What counted most in that shot, as in every Inglese picture, was the right composition and lighting. Someone with $40,000 in Nikkon cameras could not have done better. And that was his point in making the shot -- that the "eye" counts most. He had an eye.

Warren W. Inglese, who passed away recently at 87, was born with the possibility of artistic talent, the son of an inventive father and later the longtime husband of Pat, an accomplished artist. That Warren was surrounded by creativity for much of his life, and that he was given the chance to express artistry as a newspaper photographer and in retirement applying images on handmade paper, reveals that he took his gift and ran with it. When someone can do that -- use natural talent well -- not only does he or she grow, but so does the universe. I can only begin to imagine what he’s photographing now.

In the mentoring that was watching, borrowing technique and listening in my own early photography career, I have Andy, Al and Ken to thank. And particularly Warren, who set a high standard as a classy artist.