Snack time

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Ladies sitting on steps

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“Gente de mi barrio” (People From my Neighborhood) by Tito Alvarez

Tito Avarez was a Cuban photographer who whose work began in the early 1960s. One of his more noted series was Gente de mi Barrio or People From My Neghborhood. I became aware of Tito through my friend, Rufino del Valle, who brought some of Tito’s negatives when he visited Appalachian State University eight years ago. When  reviewing my own photographs from Cuba I was struck how the  barrios had not changed much over the long span of the Revolutionary government’s reign. In Cuba I have always stayed at the same place, a Casa Particular, in Central Havana. I have done most of my photography within walking distance which at times extends to 5-10 miles from home. I thought that I woud try to find images that would make interesting diptychs -one image from Tito, the second from me. The diptych is a new concept for me. It seems like such an easy thing to do. When I look at the  Ralph Gibson’s diptychs, I begin to realize how complicated this can be. In most of Gibson’s books  two photos in a spread share some relationship and are essentially diptychs. Gibson has published at least one book of  diptychs, Overtones, and I find it fascinating. These are a starting point for me. I am working to improve  the series of 12 diptychs and will post new ones that are improved. I  invite and hope for criticism and advice.

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Freedom’s Birthday, Fourth of July

Next week is my favorite holiday. The Fourth of July, America’s birthday! I have terrific memories of living in rural NC and having a big Fourth of July parade in which we rode decorated bicycles or trikes, depending upon age. My brother, three years old at the time, won first prize in the trikes division for his red, white, and blue festooned tricycle! On the night of the third many men would gather together, build a big pit from cinder blocks, and then cook pigs over coals while they told lies and drank beer. Later in Myrtle Beach we would be inundated by company as everyone wanted to come to the beach for the Fourth. All of the mills in the Carolinas shut down for the Fourth of July week, and all who could came to the beach. I worked on the beach first as beach boy and then later as life guard. It was our busiest time. When in the Air Force there were always picnics, demonstrations, fly overs and such to mark the day. Once I saw the Thunderbirds, the USAF aerial flight team. It was thrilling. In the mid 90s I drove an old Ford model A cabriolet in the Great North American Race. We got up early in Wilmington, Delaware and drove to the Mall in downtown Washington DC. All of the 150 antique cars parked in rows and we were a car show for the Fourth of July. We were featured on the Today show, our host was Willard Scott!

Ted Barron put some freedom music on his blog, Boogie Woogie Flu last 4th of July. I look forward to his post next week. He is an interesting photographer, musicologist, and social pundit whose blog is always terrific. I like the music and the stories. Everyone should pass through there and see what goodies he has posted there in Fluville. I wish he was a neighbor, he seems to be a really interesting man.

I am not much of a flag waver I must admit. Flags, national anthems, and and flag decals are too nationalistic for me. Also, they just make it too easy to declare one’s patriotism while remaining seated. I agree with John Prine: “Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore…” The picture accompanying this post was made a few years back in Habana Vieja, Old Havana. This young woman, almost certainly a young jinetera is most likely setting out to meet an American sex tourist in Havana. Either ways the flag around her waist makes a striking counterpoint to “wrapping oneself in the flag.”

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Twins

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