Harold Lee Miller is remarkable. He had to have won a blue ribbon in photography in whatever fair he entered as a kid.
Here's a sample (not in the book) from his website:
The book intros with a preface by Miller, a foreward by Philip Gulley, and a Profile/Introduction on Fairs by Gerald Waite - then, it gets right into the pictures. And they're magnificent.
It's crazy that Miller manages to make me nostalgic for something I've never completely embraced. Crazier still is that it's a nostalgia for a simpler time... You know: 2005-2008. (view spoiler)[Don't even get me started on the whole, "simpler time" fallacy. Miller doesn't get into this trap or anything... I mean it's a photography book... That's why I put it in the spoiler tag, so people looking at the review wouldn't see this big long rant. It drives me crazy to hear people longing for the past. Memories are great, and I'm all for them. But when people I grew up with start posting on facebook how, "when they were kids they never would have ________________" whereas "kids today are always _______________..." I want to point out the time they locked a kid in a port-a-potty and started rocking it. Or the time they were throwing rocks through the windows of an "abandoned" warehouse. I knew it would happen, and no doubt people will fall into the same trap... I just remember that when I was a kid, I got tired of hearing about how much better my parent's generation was when they were kids. (hide spoiler)]
But it's more than simple nostalgia. Miller does a good job of documenting his subjects: people, animals, carnies, mooches, cakes, corn dogs, cucumbers, etc... We seem them as they are, which at least for the people, is deeply humanizing. That each person is an individual, with an individual, unique beauty.
This leads to another interesting aside: Miller has pictures of the 2008 Miss Elkhart, Mekayla Diehl. I hadn't thought of this when I wrote the above paragraph, but you may recognize the name. She was in the Miss USA competition this year, and though I couldn't name the winner, I can name Miss Indiana - and not because I'm a Hoosier. It's because the internet lit up over-night due to her, "normal body." Because apparently, anorexia is the new normal or something, I don't know. As patronizing and insulting as the comments in the linked article are, Miss Diehl's body is NOT normal. But it's a step toward health and away from eating disorders, so kudos to her.
Anyway, fairs: I've never been a "Go to the Fair" person. I think I went to The Bloomsburg Fair twice as a kid. I liked it. (And I always appreciated funnel cakes. You can get them at High School Football games in Pennsylvania. I keep hoping that trend will make its way out here to Indiana soon. This year, please.) But crowds are harder to navigate with baby strollers. And I never really caught the appeal of the fair.
I hesitate to say this, because I'm writing from Elkhart, Indiana - home of the largest county fair in These United States. In fact, it's larger than many state fairs. (At the time the book was published, Elkhart was in 2nd place to Orange County, California. I remember I was in a crowd of people when it was revealed that Elkhart had passed them because they had some financial troubles. I'm not sure that cheering was appropriate, but whatever. It felt like winning by forfeit, but hey: a win is a win.) People here go CRAZY over the fair, and there's a chance I'll be looked down on by quite a few people for admitting I've only attended twice.
The book made me see it in a new light. It's not all deep-fried ________________ and carnies. (Every year they deep fry something new at the fair: Oreos, Snickers, butter - no joke... I'm not sure what it is this year.*) It's more than concessions - in fact, the book says the the term, "concessions," in this sense acquired its meaning as "concessions" were a concession to the lower class. I.e. some wanted to keep fairs strictly educational and agricultural, but they wouldn't be sustainable that way. Good move: again, I'm a huge fan of funnel cake.
But it's more than all that. It's community. Inter-generational. Educational. Head, hands, heart, health. This might be the first year I'm genuinely interested in going. For more than the funnel cakes. Maple/bacon funnel cakes with extra powdered sugar.
... ... ...I'll still get one of those, though. Let's be clear about that.
*Liz, my wife, told me this morning that it's supposedly peanut-butter wrapped in bacon, and then deep-fried. ...And why not?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sorry about that. That is about as detailed a synopsis as I want to give right now, without giving too much away.
I liked the book a lot. We read it for club. Discussed it, then promptly watched the movie.
It was exactly what I needed at the moment out of club. We read so many tomes, it was nice to have a quick read, which is also a classic in its own right.
The art is incredible. I've always been a little put off, because I thought it was a ventriloquist holding his dummy on the front cover. The cover art in no way does the book justice. (No disrespect to Richard Piers Rayner - the art inside is magnificent.) (less)
Should high school students (seniors) in an American Government course be required to read The Constitution of the United States of America?
...Or woul...moreShould high school students (seniors) in an American Government course be required to read The Constitution of the United States of America?
...Or would that be prohibited by the 8th Amendment?
I just re-read it because I taught a section of U.S. Government dealing with primary sources. We read a lot, and it was difficult for several students, but they persevered. During the course, there were four co-teachers, each with their own section. At the end, one of my colleagues asked students for some input. No surprise: some students thought they read too much in my section.
A couple comments stood out: "I wish we would have taken more time for the important documents, and less time for the less important ones." ...I agreed with that one whole-heartedly - which is why that's exactly what we did. True, we would often intro with a letter, or section of a speech - but those were to give perspective and clarity to whatever major document we were reading. For instance, we read part of William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator during our days reading the Constitution. We looked at current maps showing what recently happened in Ukraine, and what is currently happening in Iraq with ISIS alongside of our reading of Federalist 10. We read a letter from George Pickett to La Salle Corbell (Pickett) dealing with his famous (infamous?) "Pickett's Charge" while discussing Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. (Incidentally, you can read the letter HERE, but you have to scroll down to page 101. It is probably the most heart-breaking letter I've ever read... Talk about survivor's guilt.)
...So, needless to say, I was confused by that one...
Another student said he wished we didn't do, "...all the reading in Mr. Habecker's class..." I'm not sure who should feel more insulted by that, me or the other teachers...
Honestly though, I felt a little apprehensive about reading these texts as well. Was I trying to tackle too much? Would high school students be able to handle them? In the end, I thought that it was worth it. The majority of the students were able to discuss and write about the texts, and as for the ones who ...well... couldn't... At least they could say they had read them - which is something. Something tangible, nonetheless, which we don't always receive in an education.
Not only that, but so often I hear people all over the political spectrum invoke The Constitution, and I wonder how many of them have even actually read the dang thing. The same is true of the Declaration of Independence... for instance, Indiana - like many/all other states - is trying to figure out what to do about marriage equality/traditional marriage/ even the way I word this is controversial. While the class was going on, a judge ruled that gay marriage was legal in Indiana. When our local paper wrote about it, the comment section went crazy with all sorts of claims about The Constitution, The Declaration, In God We Trust, Communists, The Gettysburg Address, etc... *Side note* Lots of people kept mentioning The Declaration of Independence while others intoned that that is NOT the basis of our government/country - The Constitution is.
In class, I had my students subtract Four score and 7 from 1863... So maybe The Declaration is a little bit important... At least according to good old Honest Abe.
At least my students can now say they've read them, and presumably, most have learned something (content, historical perspective, relation to today, etc...) about each as well.
I love The Constitution.
So, why the 3 stars? I really, REALLY hate slavery. I understand historical bias. And I get that I'm a product of my times as much as the founders were products of theirs. And I get preserving the union... But Garrison was a product of his times as well when he wrote, "It was compact formed at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of millions of our race, for the sake of achieving a political object - an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come.
And, knowing what we know now, I wish for more clarity in the Bill of Rights - especially the 9th. We've seen throughout history, that unless we're specific in the rights we want, they'll be denied: racial, gender, et al...
Ruth Bader Ginsberg came under fire recently for saying that she would look to more recent Constitutions if she were drafting a new one. I understand that some people believe our Constitution to be sacred, but I also hear what she's saying. While the founders protected our privacy with the 4th amendment, they couldn't have predicted Facebook, or the NSA. ...Actually, I think they were predicting the NSA... but maybe we should have more privacy protections as well... Among the other ways the world has changed...
For all the legal (and government class) questions surrounding The Constitution of the United States of America, I was surprised that there were no questions on here.
Anybody can write the guy. (Or, if this is being read sometime after our curren...moreThe President's Address:
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500
Anybody can write the guy. (Or, if this is being read sometime after our current president, the girl.) Go ahead. Grab a pen and tell him how you think he's doing. It will only take a minute, and what... a $.49 stamp? Ask him a question. Give him a suggestion. Ask him if you could be a "Federal Agent at large" in the war against drugs:
...Elvis did... His handwriting. Oh, man... his handwriting. And the fact it's written on American Airlines letterhead.
One of the strengths of this book is that it includes pictures of all the letters. Most other books don't. Some are funny, others gripping.
Several stood out, including one from Jackie Robinson to IKE "...I was sitting in the audience at the Summit Meeting of Negro Leaders yesterday when you said we must have patience. On hearing you say this, I felt like standing up and saying, 'Oh no! Not again.' ...I respectfully suggest that you unwittingly crush the spirit of freedom in Negroes by constantly urging forbearance and give hope to those pro-segregation leaders like Governor Faubus who would take from us even those freedoms we now enjoy..." pg. 108.
MLK to JFK after the bombing of the Birmingham church, "...In a few hours I will be going to Birmingham. I will sincerely plead with my people to remain non violent in the face of this terrible provocation. However, I am convinced that unless some steps are taken by the federal government to restore a sense of confidence in the protection of life, limb and property, my pleas shall fall on deaf ears and we shall see the worst racial Holocaust this nation has ever seen after today's tragedy, investigation will not suffice..." pg. 112.
And perhaps the one that stuck with me the most is from a girl named Leah Russell, age 12, to IKE. It has a title: How To Stop Trouble. In full, it reads, "If I were president, I would have all the children blindfolded and send some of them to school. I would also send some of the colored children and have them blindfolded. I think that all of them would have a lot of fun and there wouldn't be any fights. Probably after they got to know each other there wouldn't be any more fights or anything like that."
Many of the letters have the full text written on a tan back-ground underneath the original. So it threw me at first when I realized that the tan back-ground was actually a photograph of the original letter, stapled to the lower half of a blank page. Only when I looked at it closer did I realize the page wasn't blank, but actually written in Braille. So, maybe it's because of the profundity of the letter, or my own personal experience with my (often very profound) daughter who happens to be blind - I'm not sure which - either way the letter stuck with me.
I thought all of these would be easy to find online through the national archives, or presidential libraries - which is where the author did most of his research - but I couldn't find them. And the images are copyrighted, so out of respect, I'll not post any that aren't already posted somewhere else...
There's quite a bit in here, some letters feel very personal - like Lady Bird to Lyndon. Others ironic, like a young Fidel Castro to FDR. Some prescient - like Einstein to FDR or the scientists to Truman regarding the bomb.
But it's a surprisingly quick and easy read. I would say this is also true for people who aren't particularly into history. But maybe that's my bias coming through.
Side note: I checked this out because I'm teaching a small section of U.S. Government dealing particularly with primary source documents. I checked out several other books as well, but this one - because of how short it is - is the only one which I read in its entirety. I would be remiss if I didn't thank my former college professor, Susan Cagely for pointing me in this direction. She suggested Letters of a Nation and War Letters - both by Andrew Carroll - which I'm also using in the class. As I was in the 973.099 section of the library I stumbled across quite a number of useful gems, so thanks.(less)
I was walking down the hall talking to a guy a work with, and telling him that I had backed myself into a corner... I still had 200 pages of Schindler...moreI was walking down the hall talking to a guy a work with, and telling him that I had backed myself into a corner... I still had 200 pages of Schindler's List to read before book club Sunday night. (This was Friday, and I was working rather later than usual.)
He gave me one of those, "yeah, but no big deal looks" - you know the kind I'm talking about. He kindof shrugged, "but you've seen the movie."
There was a pause as I debated lying to the guy.
His eyes went wide: "You HAVEN'T seen Schindler's List???"
The whole conversation made me think about THIS POST - and specifically this picture:
Nobody knows everything they should know. Nobody's seen everything they should have seen. Nobody's read everything thing they should have read. (Although, a lot of us have probably seen and read plenty that we shouldn't have.)
I'd also like to submit that that was one of the original intents of the book club. Find books that we probably should have read a long time ago, and finally get around to reading them.
What was more shocking than my not having watched the movie? Right around half the book club was in the same boat. It's weird to think that anybody reads Schindler's List before seeing the movie anymore. And here there were 4 of us all at once reading it first.
(We're seeing the movie Sunday.)
The book was good, although 4 stars may be generous. I wasn't thrilled with the writing.
The story itself? I don't know what I was expecting. I was surprised to find out that Schindler was as much of a playboy as he was. I mean, seriously...
***I don't need to put spoiler alerts in here do I? I mean, we're all at least familiar with the Holocaust, right? EVERYBODY knows about that. If The Holocaust falls into your danger zone, read the book - or any Holocaust book - before continuing this review. In fact, who knows what I'll spoil from here on out, so if you're one of those really anal people (no offense) just stop reading now...***
The Allies Win. Hitler Loses. ...But not before murdering 6 million European Jews.
So, Schindler was a playboy - and the number of Jews he saved was only a drop in the proverbial bucket. 1200? It reminds me of that uber-depressing Starfish Story which gets told at every end-of-the-year teacher sendoff ever. Every one. Always.
And call me a pessimist. It's supposed to be motivational, but I still find it... you know... a little overwhelming.
Which isn't to say I'm calling on Schindler to give up. Don't you dare put words in my mouth. When one looks at the events of the Holocaust, it's difficult to focus on the silver linings of Schindler. Is it maybe even offensive to those who were killed? I don't know... I'm just thinking out loud here.
The Holocaust - as all injustice - is overwhelming.
I wonder which is better - the book or the movie.
*Also, I realize this is on my non-fiction shelf. ...Hey, if True Blood can be there, so can this, right?*(less)