March 8, 2007

where will you spend eternity

Henry Wessel, Oklahoma, 1975

Wessel first gained critical attention in the 1970s as part of a generation of young photographers who questioned and expanded two seemingly fixed categories: landscape and documentary photography. Since that time, he has continued to draw his inspiration from the aesthetics of the everyday, turning the least monumental of subjects — traffic lights, advertisements, suburban homes — into a kind of personal poetry. Wessel's keen-eyed observations share the spontaneity and honesty of snapshots, but are inflected with his own wry humor.

* New York Times:

"Americans often suspect that their political leaders are arrogant and out of touch. But even then it is nearly impossible to fathom what self-delusion could have convinced Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico that he had a right to call a federal prosecutor at home and question him about a politically sensitive investigation.

"That disturbing tale is one of several revealed this week in Congressional hearings called to look into the firing of eight United States attorneys. The hearings left little doubt that the Bush administration had all eight — an unprecedented number — ousted for political reasons. But it points to even wider abuse; prosecutors suggest that three Republican members of Congress may have tried to pressure the attorneys into doing their political bidding.

"It already seemed clear that the Bush administration’s purge had trampled on prosecutorial independence. Now Congress and the Justice Department need to investigate possible ethics violations, and perhaps illegality. Two of the fired prosecutors testified that they had been dismissed after resisting what they suspected were importunings to use their offices to help Republicans win elections. A third described what may have been a threat of retaliation if he talked publicly about his firing.

"David Iglesias, who was removed as the United States attorney in Albuquerque, said that he was first contacted before last fall’s election by Representative Heather Wilson, Republican of New Mexico. Ms. Wilson, who was in a tough re-election fight, asked about sealed indictments — criminal charges that are not public.

"Two weeks later, he said, he got a call from Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, asking whether he intended to indict Democrats before the election in a high-profile corruption case. When Mr. Iglesias said no, he said, Mr. Domenici replied that he was very sorry to hear it, and the line went dead. Mr. Iglesias said he’d felt “sick.” Within six weeks, he was fired. Ms. Wilson and Mr. Domenici both deny that they had tried to exert pressure.

"John McKay of Seattle testified that the chief of staff for Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of Washington, called to ask whether he intended to investigate the 2004 governor’s race, which a Democrat won after two recounts. Mr. McKay says that when he went to the White House later to discuss a possible judicial nomination (which he did not get), he was told of concerns about how he’d handled the election. H. E. Cummins, a fired prosecutor from Arkansas, said that a Justice Department official, in what appeared to be a warning, said that if he kept talking about his firing, the department would release negative information about him.

"Congress must keep demanding answers. It must find out who decided to fire these prosecutors and why, and who may have authorized putting pressure on Mr. Cummins. And it must look into whether Senator Domenici and Representatives Wilson and Hastings violated ethics rules that forbid this sort of interference. We hope the House committee will not be deterred by the fact that Mr. Hastings is its ranking Republican. The Justice Department also needs to open its own investigation. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s claim that these prosecutors were fired for poor performance was always difficult to believe. Now it’s impossible."

* From a 2001 interview of Robert Pollard excerpt:

Q: I understand you've been making some mix tapes, of the best albums of the late sixties, early seventies?

Pollard: I actually did, I took them along on one of our tours not long ago. I made 75 ninety-minute cassettes, which came out to be close to 150 albums from like '66 to '70.

Q: Well, what did you put on those tapes?

Pollard: Odyssey and Oracle, by the Zombies; Sgt. Pepper's and the White Album, obviously. The Who Sell Out. King Crimson's first album, that was '69. The Bee Gees' first album. All my favorite records from that period of time. I just wanted to have something to listen to on the road, and also I kind of wanted to educate some of the younger members of the band about some of the good stuff that I listened to back when I was a kid. And they weren't even born yet.
Q: Do you have any favorite album covers from the past?

Pollard: I just mentioned the King Crimson first album. I love that album cover; it's actually a water color painting. Let's see... although I don't like the album, I like the Blind Faith cover with the little naked girl holding the plane. That's cool. I used to like Hipgnosis. Remember Hipgnosis used to do covers? I liked all their stuff, Pink Floyd covers. One of my favorite covers is a single by a band called Killing Joke, War Games. It's a collage of Fred Astaire dancing across dead bodies on a battlefield.
Q: Who's the tougher audience, fourth graders, or rock fans?

Pollard: Oh, fourth graders. For one thing, I couldn't drink when I taught. (laughs) I wish I could have. Fourth graders are tough. You have them all day long, you really have to keep things varied to keep their attention for seven hours, and that gets rough. We play for a long time; we play for like two and a half hours. But the audience, they drink beer, and it's kind of proportionate, their level of drunkenness with ours. And as it goes along, it gets better. It's not too difficult to keep their attention.

Q: So if the fourth graders were drinking, they might not be such a tough audience.

Pollard: If they were drinking with me, it might not be too bad, you know. Might be some fights breaking out, though.

* "When I started out I wouldn't write a poem until I knew the first line and the last line . . . I was a tyrant and I was good at it." -- Jack Gilbert

-- admin question: anyone have a clue on how to locate my archives - they were lost when I made the mandatory transition from old to new blogger. any help is appreciated.


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