October 16, 2006

a flock of knives cut the sky

Stephen Wilkes, Ellis Island Psychiatric Hospital, "electric chair", Island 2

"In the southern shadows of Ellis Island’s Great Hall, forgotten by history and ill-equipped in its battle with nature, I came upon the ruins of a vast hospital: the contagious-disease wards and isolation rooms for the people whose spirits carried them across oceans but whose bodies failed them, just inches from Paradise. What I was obsessed to do, almost as if I was chosen to do it, was document the light and the energy and living spirit of this place. I added no light of my own, nor any artifice of the photographic craft. I wasn’t simply interested in graphics born from the patina of ruin. I just wanted to record the place as I found it." — Stephen Wilkes, for additional shots from the collection, click here

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

6. Christopher Shays

"When so-called moderate Republicans start toeing the right-wing talk-radio line and spout off about Chappaquiddick, you know they're in trouble. And that's exactly what Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut did last week. Shays compared the 37-year-old incident to Dennis Hastert's role in the Mark Foley scandal, as if one thing had something to do with the other:

"'I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day,'" Shays told reporters. 'Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody.'

"True enough - all Hastert did was turn a blind eye to a Republican congressman who was sending sexually explicit emails and instant messages to 16-year-old congressional pages while engaging in drunken whack-off sessions during votes on the House floor. And it's also true that Hastert didn't kill anybody. Not like, say, George W. Bush.

"But Shays wasn't done yet. I guess he must be worried about holding on to his rapidly disappearing right-wing base, because he also parroted the Limbaugh line last week by telling reporters that Abu Ghraib was not torture. In fact, it was 'more about pornography than torture.'

"Really? Quick, someone call Craig Schelske!"

* From Harper's November 2006:

-- Percentage of Americans who cannot say in which year the September 11 attacks occured: 30

-- Number of additions made to the U.S. endangered species list so far under George W. Bush: 56

-- Average number made each year under Bill Clinton: 65

-- Percentage of U.S. GDP represented by salaries and wages today: 45

-- Number of years since record-keeping began in 1929 that this percentage has been so low: 0

-- Number of U.S. mortgages whose interst rates will reset next year to higher levels: 2,000,000

-- Percentage by which the average payments on these loans will increase: 25

-- Fraction of Manhattan real estate that could be bought with the annual gambling earnings of Native American tribes: 1/8

* "When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well." -- Jackson Pollack


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