It has been a strange Spring of Change at my office. I like to compare newspapers to an emaciated cow, being milked by an ever-thirstier corporate farmer, and when that cow falls over dead, the farmer will walk away with a big belly and buckets of milk.
We are the cow. I know that’s hard to accept, being a journalist my whole life, but that’s the mood at my newspaper as we make some drastic changes: shrinking staff, lack of budget, sections of our building abandoned. I want to hope that we can weather this storm because real journalism is more important than ever, but I remain, as do many of my coworkers, pessimistic.
One way I am reacting to this sea of change is that I have decided to let my hair grow. What? How is that going to solve anything? Well, nothing, but… 1. Abby has told me repeatedly how much she likes my hair longer… 2. I might not ever get a chance to do this again, as I am 55… 3. I have really nice hair.
My hair is presently entering the bad stage: not long enough to be long, but long enough to be droopy and lifeless. I will power through this stage and emerge as a hair-owner to remember. And yes, I am aware of the down sides to growing my hair: looking like a a doofus who is insecure about middle-age, looking like a pretentious hipster, looking like an undergroomed burnout, et cetera.
Also, last night I had the following dream...
Ultra-complicated, ultra-vivid dream: I am a 14 year old black kid who has snuck onto a US Air Force base to use their F-16 flight simulator. It flies well and I demonstrate some sophisticated flight maneuvers. I meet the base commander, who is wearing a new rank between captain and major, which looks like captains bars with a bar diagonal across it. He tells me it is complicated new rank called “Prinz Eugen.” The simulator becomes a real F-16, and I fly it beyond it’s capabilities because of my extensive video game experience. I then take Abby to the hospital, where we see a woman in a cocoon who has just flown from New York and has no memory of the trip. Doctors tell Abby she either has a spider bite or has been in a knife fight, based on a macro photo they took of her neck. The clerk keeps asking, “What’s Spanish for ‘Joseph’?” We walk from the ER to the Amityville Horror house, which is huge and covers many acres. One of the children has gone insane. We try to take her back to the house, but she drops her turtle and tells it to “stay.” She enters the house, where there are thousands of insane children. We realize we will have to kill them all in a gun battle. Abby and I crouch into a vent shaft, and I tell her to go left, and I’ll go right. I kick open the door and insane children pour out into the shaft. I realize the magazine in my Ruger LCP only has six rounds in it, so I tell Abby, “Fall back!” As we are doing so, we arrive at a checkpoint meant to keep us from stealing Air Force weapons, but they let me keep my Ruger when I tell them it’s mine. The commanding officer says we’ll have to continue our battle inside a video game, which we enter. We install thousands of Nikon cameras to photograph the battle. It turns out the children have the power to literally suck us back into the real world. We have to burn the house down. The end shot is of us driving away with a huge column of smoke in the distance behind us.
I know that if and/or when journalism collapses, I will find a way to make a living, but I believe we would all be diminished by such an occurrence. I have made photos of the kids in this town, of their kids, of the old folks who aren’t around any more, of the main events and minor happenings… my photojournalism has been a part of my community and my community has become part of me through it.