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World Trade Center almost 5 years after the fall

On our initial flight to from San Diego to Madrid, we had a 12 hour layover in NYC. We took a brief nap in Central Park (brief because the ground was wet and the bench wasn’t very comfortable), wandered down Wall Street, and stopped to take a look at the World Trade Center site.

World Trade Center

From the Burger King window overlooking the World Trade Center site
June 9, 2006

On September 8, 2001, I was here at the World Trade Center wandering around much like the tourist I was on the day I shot the above image. I sat below the towers watching some free concerts between the Winter Garden and the water (off screen to the left of the image). I distinctly remember looking up at the towers and thinking I should take a picture. I remember being impressed by their height, but they’re otherwise pretty boring to look at, so I passed on the shot. After all, I had just passed 10 postcard vendors and knew the towers weren’t going anywhere.

The Great American Boycott – May 1, 2006

May 1st is a holiday in Mexico, and on any holiday you can expect the lines to cross into the U.S. to be substantially longer than normal. But today is a different day. Less than 1 percent of the normal traffic crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S.

El Mexicano vs The Union Tribune

At Balboa Park in San Diego, tens of thousands gathered to remember those who have died crossing the border and celebrate their unity. At the corner of Juniper and Sixth, a small group of people waving flags started calling others to march. People started to follow, and the police quickly stepped in to try and stop the crowd. The group chanted “Si se puede” and walked past the police and began to march through the city. The police worked quickly to clear a path, blocking streets as if it were a planned parade. Organizers of the rally ran to the front of the line, but were unsuccessful in dissuading the crowd’s action.

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The organizers and police decided to guide the crowd to City Hall. The group ignored several blockades and twisted their own path through the city. At the entrances to the highways, police were standing with bags of riot cuffs at the ready. Once the crowd reached the closed and vacant City Hall, they turned through the Horton Plaza entrance and looped back to rejoin the tail of the crowd, heading back to Balboa Park.

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Throughout the impromptu march, the participants remained calm and peaceful. In the end, the same officer who pleaded with one of the leaders to turn around shook hands and thanked him for managing to lead them back around safely and peacefully. Those at the front of the march were young and passionate. While the group was unorganized, they worked together and followed each other’s lead. There were no egos or celebrities leading the group. It was clear that a newfound confidence, strength and power emerged tonight.

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Border Pop Art

Border Study

This image is a collage of photographs I’ve taken in the border region of Tijuana and San Diego. I put this together as a kind of rough digital sketch of urban texture. I’m interested in visualizing the tension between U.S. and Mexican cultural landscapes, the complicated relationships between people, products, and the land.

Immigration Rally in San Diego

Sunday afternoon, tens of thousands marched through downtown San Diego. The news wires report over 50,000 attended, while others estimate the count at over 80,000. I was at the march to gather sound for NPR’s Morning Edition, KQED’s California Report, and KPBS News. On site, people were saying 15,000. I have no idea how they estimate these things, and I’ve never been in a crowd that large, so I can’t really say how may people were there. Here are photos I took:

Immigration Rally in San Diego

The march was completely peaceful. The organizers handed out free bottled water. The police presence was very low. Most people wore white to symbolize peace and unity. People shouted “Si se puede,” “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido,” and other chants. I spoke to a journalist who writes for the media in Mexico City, an actor from the film A Day Without A Mexican, local residents, and several undocumented immigrants. I met a husband and wife who held a sign that read, “My wife is not a criminal.” The man served in Iraq and the woman was undocumented. She was brought to the U.S. at an early age and spoke perfect, unaccented English. She said she considers herself an American.

Immigration Rally in San Diego

Scenes from Tijuana

It is not my intention to perpetuate myths of a city well-known for its demons. Most people learn about Tijuana from news reports on TV about crime, violence, and corruption. No one can deny that these things exist here, just as they do every other place on earth. But life in Tijuana is much more than that. It’s an amazing place, teeming with life. It is a hybrid of dollars and pesos, English and Spanish, McDonalds and tacos.

In the past six months, I’ve been photographing pieces of this complicated cultural landscape. A work in progress, I hope the images in this series focus the viewer’s gaze on both the creativity of the city’s residents and the role of mass media culture brought to México by the U.S.

NowPublic.com adds my photo to a story

NowPublic

I got an email from Calder Lorenz, Director of Contributor Relations at NowPublic.com asking me for permission to attach this photo (from Flickr) to a story about Mexico extraditing drug lords to the U.S. I’m glad he at least asked and let me know he wanted to use (or share) it.

The image is (sort of) protected by a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike License. I’m a believer in sharing ideas. At this point in time, I am not overly concerned with making money on my creative work. That Creative Commons license is basically an “open source” license for media. If someone decides to use my photo/video to make money, they’ll have to negotiate with me before being legally free to use it. If it serves a non-profit or educational purpose, feel free use it or twist it into something new. Just let me know about it. If my work becomes so massively distributed and culturally important that I could actually make money on it, I suppose I might renegotiate with my conscience.

This is the first time I noticed NowPublic.com and I’m not sure yet what I think of it. Will it be a citizen journalism media frenzy? Or get clogged up with people ranking hot chicks as news?

“We are not just a digg, where we are focused on the editorial stuff, or a Flickr, where we are focused on photography, or YouTube, where it is just video, or Blogger, for that matter, where it is just written stuff. We are pretty much everything…. We organize all of the information around these news events and people can collaborate and report on news stories from whereever they are with whatever device they are using.” Michael Tippett, CEO Founder of NowPublic.com [source]

At a conference for public broadcasting in February, a panelist asked this question: Which is more real, 200 cellphone pictures of an event or a 30 second story by a reporter? The question draws attention to the bias any individual has in telling a story. Hundreds of people telling the same story adds credibility. So giving people a platform should be a great idea… but I’m still a little sceptical of the process. I still think there is a cultural divide of people who are consciencious and those who just don’t care. At the moment, NowPublic’s top stories are about burlesque, sex symbols, fashion, and tattoos. Go figure.

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