Beautiful but Anonymous Art by Barry Mangham

Barry ManghamI have a constant complaint about people who publish on the internet: a lot of them want to remain anonymous. I understand this to some extent when it comes to political bloggers. And I understand it when people are writing about their struggles with drugs or pedophilia or any number of other things that would cause them to be ostracized. But I see this tendency toward anonymity related to totally benign activity. And nowhere is it more common than among graphic artists.

I ran into this a couple of month ago when I featured a photo collage by Kassandra. I posted an image called Opium Dreams, which blew me away. All of her work is outstanding. But who is she? Certainly a professional based upon her work. And I think that she is Russian. But why hide? The world wants to know about you! And in her case, I would certainly like to know more about the craft of what she does because it isn’t pure photography. I can understand the desire for privacy, but I suspect that most people remain anonymous by default. They aren’t writers or they don’t realize that people would like a little context for their work.

This is the situation with an article I discussed a couple of years ago in an article, The Beauty of Abandonment and Decay. The artist is Barry Mangham who uses the moniker Pixog. I have been able to hunt down a little information on him. Over at 500px, he wrote, “Taking photos is purely a hobby for me. I experiment quite a lot with post processing…” I like that. It goes along with my general belief that our society is overflowing with unheralded artists of great creativity.

Given that Pixog doesn’t seem to mind that people post his work as long as he is credited, let me present some of his stuff that I find really compelling. The first is Abandoned Bumper Cars Prypiat/Chernobyl. You should click over and see it at full resolution, because much of the detail is missing here. He provides the following description, “Abandoned bumper cars found in the amusement park in the city of Prypiat, Ukraine. The city is preserved in time, having been evacuated in 1986 due to the explosion of reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.”

Abandoned Bumper Cars Prypiat/Chernobyl

I love back-lit photography. This is something that friend of the site Robert Langdon excels at. This one by Pixog is very much in that style, Sunset over the Slovenian Coastline. He describes it, “A shot of people on a pier, silhouetted against the setting Sun, near Ankaran, Slovenia.”

Sunset over the Slovenian Coastline - Pixog

He doesn’t do much black and white work, but what he does do is really stark as you can see in some of his work at 500px — specifically USA, New York, Broadway. But I just love this one, B&W Balloons at Dawn, “Hot air balloons rising up at the same time as the Sun.”

B&W Balloons at Dawn

Go check out the rest of Pixog’s work. You can purchase it for things like wall hangings. You know: buy one, take it over to Reprint Mint and have it properly mounted. A lot of them would make great Christmas gifts — much better than the worthless crap people normally buy.

But I do wish these artists would be a little more forthcoming with who they are.

My Five Questions for Ted Cruz

Ted CruzAt the last Republican debate Ted Cruz mentioned the five government agencies that he would cut: “Five major agencies that we would eliminate: the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and HUD.” Thanks to the fact that I’m so hooked into the Cruz 2016 campaign, I was able to have a wide ranging interview with him. I think we got a lot of clarity on what kind of administration that he would run. And I have to say, I’m much more supportive of his candidacy now.

FC: Thank you for speaking with me, Mr Cruz. Just on a personal level, what are your favorite colors?

TC: There are five major colors that I like: blue, red, green, red, and yellow.

FC: I’m very fond of those colors too. In the sense of knowing your enemy, what are the Five Pillars of Islam?

TC: I wouldn’t say that Islam is my enemy. It’s just more that I want to kill all Muslims. But the Five Pillars of Islam are: faith, prayer, charity, prayer, and fasting.

FC: And the counting numbers: what are the first five?

TC: Well, that’s an easy one: 1, 2, 3, 2, and 4. I mean 5! Of course: 5! You slipped a gotcha question in there!

FC: Sorry. Just doing my job. The five books of the Torah?

TC: I know these very well: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Genesis, and Deuteronomy.

FC: I think you left out Numbers…

TC: Did I? I’ve never been too good with the ones above three.

FC: Clearly. But I really appreciate you speaking to me today.

TC: It was my pleasure. In fact, there are five ways that it was my pleasure…

FC: I’m sorry. That’s all the time we have now.

Afterword

I just realized that after the last debate, I wrote, Ted Cruz Whined About Five Substantive Questions. And I misquoted him! It should have been:

  1. Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?
  2. Ben Carson, can you do math?
  3. John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?
  4. Ben Carson, can you do math?
  5. Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?

Morning Music: Alabama

Jesse FergusonOver at his website, Jesse Ferguson wrote, “Music brings family and friends together for good times and provides a bond between the generations.” I quote that because it so closely matches what I think about music. I’ve had the experience many times where a bunch of people are visiting and people bring out instruments and have an impromptu jam session. It isn’t an opportunity for anyone to show off (although usually there is one person who stands out); it’s just a communal activity where everyone is bonding over a shared activity. This is why everyone should learn some music.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any music of Ferguson playing with other people. But that’s okay. He provides that same feeling with most of his solo work. Here he is performing Neil Young’s classic “Alabama.” The song is controversial. But really, it is just an invitation for the south to embrace modernity. As we saw in the life expectancy map that I posted yesterday, the south continues to lag behind the rest of the nation. And why? Because it hangs onto this notion that it was on the right side of the Civil War. And rather than embrace its changing demographics, Alabama instead tries to stop the “wrong kind” of people from voting.

But I don’t feel a lot of politics while listening to Jesse Ferguson’s version of the song. The emotional core of the song is a call to join modern America and stop pining for the Confederacy. And that is the feeling that comes through in this performance.

Anniversary Post: My Lai Massacre Story

My Lai MassacreOn this day in 1969, Seymour Hersh broke the story about the My Lai Massacre, which happened 16 March 1968. Most people I talk to don’t know much about it. They know that it was something really bad. But it isn’t exactly something that we Americans like to dwell on. By the military’s accounting, 347 men, women, and children were murdered. Other estimates are higher. Some of the women were gang raped. It actually took place in two hamlets: My Lai and My Khe. Twenty-six soldiers were involved in this vile act.

There were three service members who tried to stop the massacre and rescue those Vietnamese who were hiding. Not surprisingly, these three were publicly smeared. They were shunned inside the military. It took the US government 30 years to recognize and decorate those three soldiers for their acts of heroism. One of them had died — less than a month after the massacre.

Of the 26 soldiers who were charged criminally, only one was found guilty. It’s amazing how “just following orders” works wonderful when it is your own army that is conducting the trial. The only one held accountable was Lieutenant William Calley. He was sentenced to life in prison. But within one day, President Nixon had his sentence changed to “house arrest.” He ended up serving only three and a half years. Ultimately, his defense to this day is that was just following orders.

The truth is that I’m somewhat sympathetic to that defense — just as I am to many of the Nazis who used that defense. When you are talking about the military, there is no sense of morality. The right thing to do is always whatever it is you are told. It is ridiculous to think that soldiers can be taught to always follow orders but that they shouldn’t under certain circumstances that imply future knowledge. The problem is the military and war itself. I hate hearing the outrage over things like the My Lai Massacre from people who are totally pro-war. Regardless of how bad the behavior, it is outrageous to think that wars are going to be fought without this kind of stuff. Wars are about dehumanizing people. And the My Lai Massacre is an obvious outcome of that.

Seymour Hersh is a great journalist. But my understanding is that the My Lai Massacre wasn’t exactly a secret. Hersh’s greatest attribute has always been his bravery. Journalism is probably worse today than it was then. But it has always been bad. Journalists don’t want to lose their access to powerful people. We would have a far greater press if our journalists simply changed their attitudes toward their jobs. It is to seek out the truth — not to collect powerful sources so as to make future banal stories easier to write.