Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Members of the Parade of Colors march into the Memorial Day service at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix Monday. 
Today is Memorial Day, the day we’ve set aside as a nation to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States. 
We’ve been embroiled in two wars for almost 10 years now and most Americans have not had to make any significant sacrifices. A relatively small percentage of the population enlists in the military any more and civilians, safe in the homeland, can go weeks without hearing about what’s happening in Afghanistan or Iraq. But the media keeps us up to date with Charlie Sheen’s and Lindsey Lohan’s latest antics and Donald Trump’s latest blow hard pronouncements. 
During past wars Congress and the administrations had to raise taxes to pay for the war, but this is not the political atmosphere to try and raise taxes, so the true cost of these wars will be pushed onto future generations. 
There are more photos from the Memorial Day service in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Saturday, May 28, 2011

ZOMBIES!!!

Comicon is in Phoenix this weekend. The modern scourge of Zombies comes with the fun of folks reenacting their favorite Star Wars scenes, living the life of the Ghost Busters or just doing their civic duty as Super Heros
Last night Zombies went on a rampage through downtown Phoenix. The Walking Dead, or as the Brits call them “Mobile Deceased,” terrorized the placid denizens of downtown. 
But payback’s a bitch. This year the Zombie hoard was pursued by Zombie hunters who either killed them outright (head shots are particularly effective) or chained them and led them away to reintegrate them into society. Rumor has it that Arizona zombies are being housed in a private prison near the state capitol.
There are more photos from Phoenix Comicon and the Zombies in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Tongues started wagging in Scottsdale this weekend when the Arizona Republic reported that Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and running mate of Senator John McCain during his 2008 Presidential bid, bought this $1.695 million home in Scottsdale. According to the Republic, the Palins paid cash for the home. 
The probable purchase of the home has contributed to speculation that Palin is setting up in Arizona for a possible 2012 Presidential run, or, barring that, running for the US Senate seat soon to be vacated by Jon Kyl
After Bristol Palin bought a place in Maricopa (south of Phoenix) blogs started reporting that Palin was considering a move to Arizona to further her political ambitions. This is sure to add to fuel to those rumors.
Whoever bought the house, they are almost certainly not happy about the news of the sale becoming public. People inside the house started yelling at me as soon as I got out of my car when I went to photograph the house Sunday morning. While I was there, a young man came out of the house to put up “No Trespassing” signs. He wouldn’t say anything about the home’s owners. Local TV stations set up at the house Saturday and were asked to leave by people who wouldn’t identify themselves but were driving a black SUV with Alaska license plates. Three or four cars full of “PalinGazers” stopped to check out the house while I was there. Three people on horseback rode past the house photographing with their cellphones. 
If it’s not the Palin house, the new owners are getting a lot more attention than they bargained for. The house is not in a gated community and the street in front of the house is public, so the occupants have little chance of privacy. 
There are more photos of Casa de Palin in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Confronting Budget Monsters

Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) points a chart of the looming federal deficit during a town hall meeting in Anthem Monday night. 
Congressman Quayle came to Anthem, an upper middle class development north of Phoenix, Monday to talk about the deficit and press the case for budget reform and the Republican’s draconian budget plan. Nearly 200 people were there and I’m sure he was expecting a friendly crowd, given the demographics of the Anthem area. 
The crowd, though, was hardly friendly. I’d guesstimate that well over half the crowd were opposed to the Republican budget plan, especially the parts that would end Medicare and replace it with a voucher plan. But there were also questions about continuing subsidies for the oil industry during a time of near record oil industry profits, cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health care even though only about 3% of PP’s services are abortion related and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In general, they were skeptical and critical of what appear to be Republican plans to roll back the 20th Century
To his credit, Quayle (who, despite being the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, is a political neophyte), confronted and answered the questions head on. He didn’t flinch or refuse to tackle a subject. Even when questioners “refudiated” his answers with facts of their own he stuck to his guns. 
There are more photos of Quayle in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Passing of a Legend

I had the privilege of photographing Harmon Killebrew in 2002 in his home in Scottsdale, AZ. He was a genuinely nice guy who gave me as much time as I needed, and chatted about everything from the weather to his time with the Minnesota Twins. I’m not much of a sports guy (I didn’t tell him that), but what little attention I paid to baseball as a child was because of Killebrew.
(I used a Holga a plastic camera with lots of light leaks and a soft lens, which is why the photo has a different look.) 
My family is originally from Minnesota but we never really lived there. My grandparents though lived in St. Paul up until the time they died and visiting them during summers meant hours of watching the Twins on grainy black and white TV’s, either on the back porch or in the basement. 
Killebrew played virtually his entire career with one team, the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins from the time he joined professional baseball in 1954 until he left the Twins in 1974 - a feat almost unheard of even when he played. (The Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins after the 1960 season.) 
After leaving the Twins he played with the Kansas City Royals for one season before retiring from baseball. 
Killebrew’s stats speak for themselves: 
  • 13 times on the American League All Star team
  • 1969 American League Most Valuable Player
  • six time American League home run leader
  • 573 home runs (currently 11th on the all time Home Run list) 
  • Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. 
And none of these records have asterisks behind them. There was never a hint of scandal or cheating with Killebrew. 
The world learned that Killebrew had entered the final innings of his life late last week when he went into hospice care for esophageal cancer. He passed away this morning. For a lot of Minnesotans of a certain age, it’s the passing of an icon. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Next Big Thing

Meet Kylee, the hottest thing ever to come out of Chandler, AZ. Not many folks have heard of her in the United States, but in Japan she’s a bona fide superstar. Kylee (full name Kylee Saunders) is a 17 year old high school student in Chandler who has a thriving career as a pop sensation in Japan. She commutes between Chandler and Japan promoting her music. She’s often compared to Hannah Montana, who also had a double life as high school student by day and pop singer by night. Kylee is signed with Sony records. 
Friday morning she put on her first national performance on the Today Show on NBC and Friday night she performed in front of the home town crowd on the “Plaza” at 200EVB, in front of the Arizona Republic building. The Friday night show was broadcast on KPNX, which, like the Republic, is owned by Gannett and in the Republic building. 
I made these photos during the show last night after my shift at the Republic. There are more photos of Kylee in my archive