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LAST 10 MINUTES print heading

LAST 10 MINUTES

Monthly Archives: July 2011

Fan Club on Vacation

I slid into the beach running on empty.  Boys in our arms making us promise we would stay ten days, when we only have five.  Jackson waited in the car for an hour before we were even ready to leave.  He was ready.

I have been coming to this house since I was a little boy.  One outdoor shower for 12.  One bar of soap in a shell.  Two rules:  No tampons in the toilets.   No complaining about how tired you are.  Naps are fine, just NO COMPLAINING!  So I was mute for the first 24 hours.

I have written 26 pages for the blog the past two weeks.  Writing, but no time to edit.  I hope I will have time this week.   Or maybe, will just dream.

In the meantime, Annie Meyer’s friend from Boulder wrote better than I ever could.  I always wonder who is out there reading this.   Meet Elizabeth.

Hi George,
My name is Liz Query, and I quite possibly could be your biggest fan. I am in northern Michigan at the moment in a tiny little town on a beautiful lake I have spent every summer in since I was three weeks old. this email has been reduced to be written on my iphone because unfortunately, (even though i wish and hope and pray to god this was not the case) we don’t have access to great signal under these trees. which can admittedly be a good break for a computer/facebook/whatever obsessor as myself. as we drove back from a canoe trip today, I was thinking as hard as I could about what on earth I should say to you and how I should form the email to make it sound like I was not just some ordinary fan, but some awesome literary genius who swept you off your feet with my intelligence and wit. But, let’s be honest here.. If I had tried, I would have tried too hard. I look at your blog almost every day and watch your videos and flip books pretty much religiously. I am good friends with Annie, and that’s how I found out about you. I love taking pictures myself, and quite often try to incorporate your style into some pictures I take. Overall, I think you are the bees knees, and an incredible inspiration to a youngster photographer like myself.

If you ever find yourself in boulder, it would send joy through my eyeballs if you decided to get in touch with me and talk about photography. I have lots of questions I have dreamt of asking you, and I can promise you I’ll to try to make them not be the repetitive and regular cookie cutter questions I’m sure you so often hear. I am told the summers where you are are just incredible, so I hope you get to enjoy your time there with your family, as I will continue to do the same here.

I admit, I had a tweaky teen fan moment today when Annie told me to email you. so as this email may sound level headed and calm… just know…. I LOVE YOUR PICTURES!!!

Sincerely,
Elizabeth

Luke Meyers took this shot on the porch.

07.30.11 Posted in Photos

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Birthday at the Wall

When I was 8 my parents sent me to summer camp in northern Pennsylvania.  2 months.  All boys.  No underwear (strange camp tradition).  The owner of the camp was a dentist so sweets were restricted to the point of absurdity.  One Coke per summer.   Packages from parents gone through for any candy.

I went for 5 years.  The last week of every summer would split the camp in half and turned on eachother for the most competitive, intense color war.  All five years I was on the winning team.

On July 10, at lunch they would bring out a birthday cake and the entire camp would sing to me.  Their were 16 slices of cake.  12 went to my table.  The other 4 pieces were for whoever I chose of the remaining 90 kids at the camp.  I couldn’t win.  One piece went to my brother Andrew.   The other three I had to make and break friends with.

I have never looked forward to my birthday.  Never wanted the attention.  Never wanted to choose who gets slices of cake.  Not that I had a thing about my age.  I am fine with that.  I just didn’t know what expression to have when they sang Happy Birthday.

I don’t feel that way this year.  I am so happy right now that a birthday feels like a way of sharing my happiness.   Stephie and I began my birthday at midnight at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.   I put my hands and face against the warm stone and sent prayers to the place they are heard.

We then went back to our room for a videochat where Jackson sang Happy Birthday (with Janet and Emily and Asher) – and showed me the card he made with cookie sprinkles.

07.10.11 Posted in Personal Work

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Friday in Israel

Love all the preparations for Shabbat.  Families coming together.  The markets, the food being prepared, the deadline of sunset.  We started out with the most remarkable breakfast at a settlement on the west bank.  This is like nothing you can imagine.  Up in the most beautiful mountains, one family opens their cabin for a feast.  Children everywhere.   It all feels like a family you really wanted to be a part of.  Children are so loved here – you see it, you feel it.   Families are the glue that this nation is built on.

Then lunch with new friends in Jaffa at the great Dr. Sharshuka’s.   Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce.   Served in the frying pan on the table.  Semolina wrapped lamb sausages.  Beans and couscous.  Carafes of lemonade.

Then the Tel Aviv market – a long alley of olives and spices, mountains of fresh dark cherries, watermelons halved, cold almond juice, and figs.

Classic shabbat dinner.   I was allowed to photograph the kids beforehand, and quickly shoot Einat with her mother, then the camera was put away.

07.09.11 Posted in Photos, Something I Saw

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Am I On Vacation?

A friend in Maplewood sent an email this morning asking if we were around for a picnic.   Wrote back that we would love have a picnic when we get back in town after July 14.  He responded, “Well I hope you are on a vacation.”

I am sitting on a mountain above the town of Rosh Pinna watching the sunrise.  Roosters.  Birds.  Lavender. I wipe a chair that is wet with dew and sit down to write this.   Mountain peaking out from the haze to the left.  The Sea of Galilee barely visible at dawn on the right.

I never take pictures of sunrises and sunsets. Sunrises, sunsets, rainbows – all too much to squeeze into a frame. The frame only owns a piece of what you are seeing.   I cannot take that much in.  Stephie comes out and stretches.  There is my first picture of the day.  I am thinking of our friend Tom England who always gets up at dawn and photographs the sunrising so beautifully.   I never do that.

It is Thursday morning.   Tuesday was one of the most moving and intense days of my life.   Woke up in Krakow.  Visited the oldest synagogue there, and laid stones on the graves.   Visited the apothecary and met with Paulina, one of the righteous gentiles.  Even the translator teared up at the end when God’s name was given as the only explaination.  Rubbed my cheek up against the walls of the town where my ancestors perished and closed my eyes for a moment of prayer.

Mostly my cheek was pressed up against my camera.  We went to Auschwitz.  It was a totally different experience than when I first visited there before having a family.   This time it was unbearable looking at the photographs of the parents holding their children, not being able to protect them.  I photographed evidence of the horror, and the dandelions.  I photographed our group holding eachother, the guide from Israel, the young assistant from the government, the radio host and his wife all holding eachother. I photographed the daughter breaking down and having to leave.  In the crematorium I photographed the nail scratches on the wall.  In this hell, by the entrance the light was pouring in.   I used that light for beauty.  I did not stop myself.

When I broke down I cried then pulled myself back behind the camera.  I was working.

We then went up the road, and got out in a neighborhood.   We were told not to talk as we walked down the tracks to Birchenau.  The sound of my camera was unbearable, but I had to take pictures.  It was my job.  I walked along the tracks.   The steel converged into one track.  I walked a long time, photographing just in front of my feet.  Suddenly the track ended.

Prayers were recited for families lost, candles lit, then I went over by the rubble of the crematorium, put my camera down, and buried my face in my hands.  It felt like a firestorm of history spinning in my head, until it all suddenly stopped on a clear image of my grandfather George, who died at 39.   He did not die here.  He died on fresh ironed sheets in the house I grew up in, long before I was born.  His death was not violent, though still tragic.  After several minutes, I opened my eyes, looked at the tears that had dripped on my sleeve, picked up my camera and carried on.

That night we flew to Israel.  It was late, and everyone was drained.  Weary voices talked on the plane, as we appreciated more than ever the purpose and promise of Israel.   Vickie said the happiest day of her life was the day her son went off to fight in the Israeli army.  She said Jews had waited 2000 years to live and defend their right for a homeland.  I was so overwhelmed when we landed in Israel.  Just so happy be there.

I was driven to a hotel in Jerusalem, and went up to room 835 and knocked.  Stephie answered the door.   I finally put my camera down for the day and we hugged for a long time.

The sun is up.  It was not a dramatic sunrise though still beautiful.  The sound of the birds has changed.   The roosters have faded.  I will begin photographing Israel for a book this morning.   I will photograph gardeners who have made magic spring from the most arid desert.  I will photograph artists and holy men.   I will photograph great women chefs, eggs stewed in tomatoes, and mountains of cheese.  I will photograph dancers and politicians and large families dancing at a wedding.  I will try to show how terribly personal everything is.

I was told recently that the camera I am carrying has had over 380,000 images shot on it.  Several thousand more will be taken in the next week.

This is what I do for work.  I am not on vacation. I am getting paid to be here in Israel. My work is doing something I love, that opens doors and takes me places I could never dream existed.  My work takes me to places that are beyond guidebooks and introduces me to strangers that embrace and challenge me. Vacation is the moments when you get to put down the tools of your trade and hold your family, wherever that may be.  Vacation is a state of mind.  Vacation is this moment, feeling the sun rise on my face, just before I pick up my camera.

07.06.11 Posted in Photos

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Waiting for a plane

I am sitting at Teterboro.  Waiting for a plane.  To Poland then Israel.  The boys are in Nashville.  Stephie is meeting me in Jerusalem.   The slow lazy summer never materialized.  Instead.  This.

Have been going for days.   Shooting.  Writing. Organizing.   Planning this trip.  Gearing up for all the new video work we have as soon as I get back.

So excited to be going to the Holyland again.   My friend Ari woke me up this morning from Tel Aviv, and worked out details for the rest of the week.  Shabbat in a small town, a big Jewish wedding, dancers, chefs, mayors, families – the desert, the mountains, the sea….the walls.

Will build on the images I did the last time I was there in 2007: http://www.langestudio.com/videos/featured-

When I walked Jackson out to the car at 5AM on Thursday he said, “Daddy, the house is going to miss me….again.”    I think it might be the opposite, but I love the adventures that happen between nights together at home.

07.03.11 Posted in Personal Work, Photos

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