(500) Days of Spammer

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Firstly, some statistics: It has been over 16 months since I started posting photos, some iconic, some banal on this blog. I did over 700 posts so far — and has enough to go on for at least another 150 or so. The blog itself is nearing its 500th day. That will fall in ten days from now, but since I am taking a vacation (again! — isn’t August sweet?) I am preempting it with this rather long post, which is more of a laundry-list of things I want to tell you guys for last 16 months.

1. My friends know I blog but refuse to read it; my readers don’t know me — in fact, I kinda enjoy that sort of limbo. Internet is a dangerous place to put too much of your information out there.

2. There are some serious commenters on this site, and usually the discussion devolved into a partisan fight (and to reductio ad Hitlerum). That is one reason I don’t weigh in on my own posts, but I appreciate every commenters’ devotion to the site. Without the comments — and realization that people actually do read this blog — I would not have reached seventeen posts let alone seven hundred.

3. My reply rate may be horrible — or rather non-existent — but I do read all of the comments. In them, I have been called names by both sides of the political aisle (am I too conservative in my liberalism or too liberal with my conservatism or what?). For a person who is not even American, alternately being accused of spreading American propaganda and of bashing American values have some innate funniness. I am also simultenously supremacist, revisionist, apologist, fascist, communist, capitalist, militarist and peacenik. I seriously should go into schizophrenia therapy sessions.

4. There were surprises too. Two photos I personally would say of local-only importance (here, here) were widely considered ‘iconic’, and were re-posted on digg, tumblr, etc. On the other hand, two photos I would consider almost equal in their intrusions into familial privacy (here, here) had different fortunes here on this blog, as they would in the real life too. Popularity of Brooke Shields photos (545 comments and growing) may be due to the fact that she is a famous actress and that many googlers image-searched her using questionable terms.

5. Thanks to Ms. Shields and a few other posts — and once notably for plagiarism, I have been ‘reported’ to the police (well, at least according to some indignant commenters with their moral hissy-fits) no less than 14 times. Fourteen reports and police hasn’t knocked my front door yet, which causes me to worry a wee bit about our law enforcement.

6. There were people who plagiarized from this blog. I myself copy a lot of information from other sources (books, newspapers, etc.) so I don’t really mind this plagiarism. Since my writing is awful, I am just flattered than someone might copy my materials even. But what is mind-boggling is that they kinda stitched five, six, or ten posts of mine in a single huge post together and reblogged it. Appeal of such a thing escapes me.

7. I have done a few variations on my theme: a painting, a television show, a magazine, a montage, a portfolio-profile, and lastly, a what-if. These were the posts I had the most fun creating.

8. Not all photos are created equal, and some are more iconic than others. But I noticed some categories (fashion, advertisements) remained more unloved than others. War photos were unsurprisingly popular, and so are sports photos too, but the raters tend to affix the ‘iconic’ moniker more on older photos.

9. Many major photo news stories of the last 18 months took place when I was on vacation or too busy to blog about them. (Case-in-point, earlier this week, the most famous of Jazz photographers, Hermann Leonard died when I was away). Luck is a harsh mistress.

10. For the LAST time, I don’t sell any prints here and don’t have permission to authorize republication of these photos. This is a non-profit blog — I will probably get sued to penury by the photographers’ estates if I start charging or commercializing — and I refused a book deal (itself a surprise since my writing is super-bad) a few months ago for the same reasons.

11. The best thing about this blog is the looks I got from friends (at times some girl I am trying to impress) when I say in a understated tone that a few thousand people read it everyday. Maybe some just clicked it and didn’t (can’t) read; maybe some accidentally got here through a dubious search term; maybe one person checks it from thousands of computers everyday; who knows? But I am doing better than some print media, and anyway, the looks are precious.

12. Photography and blogging in general led me towards so many (mis)adventures over the last sixteen months. I missed my train in Brussels because I was too busy obsessing with one photo-exhibition. I led my then-girlfriend on a wild-goose chase across Moscow to find the state photogallery (we never found it, and I seriously doubt it even exists. Muscovites should weigh in). A date turned sour at the Irving Penn show in London. I was arrested for taking photos in a totalitarian-state-that-should-remain-nameless. I randomly ran into an Estonian photographer named Kalju Suur who was once a protege of Henri Cartier-Bresson in Tallinn.

13. To answer a question repeated a few times, I myself do take photos. I just don’t publish them here because they are not only un-iconic but also very bad.

14. Finally, some acknowledgments. I thank all of you for your continued support — and would like to ask you to re-post, re-tweet or re-whateveryoudothesedays your favorite posts from here. Information is worth sharing. I have to thank my parents for their coffee table books, their dinning room gossip and of course my first cameras all of which had been crutches for this blog; Kristen, Emily and Quinn — for I know all of you will be reading this, and for all of you had been extremely understanding; Paul, Josh and Nelson — for all your helpful and sarcastic comments; and lastly, to you, the nameless gift-shop attendant at the Plaza Hotel, New York without whose condescending attitude when asked about a certain Burt Glinn book, all of this would have been quite impossible.

A. S. H.

25th August 2010.

31 thoughts on “(500) Days of Spammer

  1. Congratulations on this milestone – I always look forward to reading your blog and reading the comments

  2. I share your stuff on Facebook from time to time but sad and surprising to say, no one ever comments. I do however hope they visit. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that you have a gift for presenting well known historical episodes in a new light, with (to my mind at least) admirable objectivity.

  3. I have a serious Google Reader addiction, and this is in my 4 or 5 most seriously beloved blogs. Keep up the good work, and for the love of god, don’t stop.

    -Pittsburgh, PA

    • I wonder what other blogs you value most highly. One that I like is “Passing Strangeness,” which had an interesting article about an “epidemic” of horse flu, some time back. I think the author called it “The Great Epizoic,” although “Epihippic” would have been more precise.

      That “Epizoic” occurred in the 19th Century, when all local transportation depended on horses, and which was paralyzed when their sickness occurred. It aggravated the recession caused by the Wall Street “Panic of 1873.”

  4. I found this site earlier this month, when I did a Google for information about Sewell Avery. In 1944, when I was age 11, I was attending a one-room school that had very few books. However, the teacher brought the Chicago Tribune newspaper to school every day, and I read it.

    One thing I always remember is the picture of two soldiers, carrying a chair with Mr. Avery in it, out of his office, where he was President of Montgomery Ward. I didn’t know what it was all about, but I knew that the government can do some amazing things, in wartime.

    It was an amazing picture, and I’m sure there are a lot of others on your web site that I’d fine amazing, too.
    (I also was surprised by those pictures of wartime Paris.)

  5. Yesterday was an anniversary of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., and tomorrow is an anniversary of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

    Today are the birthdays of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Lola Montez, Ludwig II, Mel Ferrer (who played Cyrano de Bergerac), and cartoonist Walt Kelly, whose character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.”

  6. Congratulations! Don’t take the criticisms too harshly, this is the internet after all, and people will bitch about anything and everything. I enjoy reading this blog and wish you the best (and more hits!) in the future!

  7. I consult very often your site. I believe that it is a very original and interesting history lesson through photography. And I just hope that you will continue.
    The only critic that I could express is that sometimes, the details (not only the year, but the month and day) are missing (I.E. Robert Zecca’s pictures). But then, I can do my own research.

  8. I subscribe to lots of blogs via RRS, e-news letters, etc., and never have time to check them all. Except one. This one. I always open and examine every new Iconic Photo. Thanks for the great work.

  9. I never ever comment on blogs, but I truly love this site!
    I check in everyday and I’m never disappointed. Some photos I have seen before but the majority are brand new to me. You are doing an amazing job and keep up the great work!! I would be truly upset if this site was no more.

  10. I haven’t commented before, but i really enjoy reading your blog. It’s one of my regular things-to-do-on-weekend-mornings-with-coffee 🙂

  11. Thanks for putting together a great blog. Hey! How about some Herman Leonard photos?
    New Orleans, LA

  12. First rate. Sorry to hear your supply isn’t infinite. Your work in recognizing what is iconic and in finding the photos in the first place is meritorious. You’re generous to let us download our favorites–I have two or three, at least, historical ones that appear in the slide show that starts when I don’t input into the computer. Your essays are interesting and your writing isn’t that bad–where I’ve tuaght, you’d be getting A’s or B’s. Most of don’t write as well as, say, Evelyn Waugh.

  13. Hello! Congratulations on making it this far.

    Besides the selection of photos (which is undeniably excellent), the backing commentary adds so much to your posts. I’m very rarely bored or disappointed on my visits here.

    From Chennai, India.

  14. Maybe I’ve missed the political stuff, because I can’t really figure out how anyone has picked up a particular slant from you (Right, Left, who cares?). Wonderful photos and background stories, eclectic and interesting..and go figure, each photo and essay may have a different meaning to different people.

    I commented on a propaganda film from a concentration camp, because my dad was a survivor, and your shots from the sonderkommandos…my grandparents were killed in Auschwitz. But so many other films mean something else to me, because I grew up in the late 50’s; anything since may or may not have some meaning from memory.

    I also just enjoy LEARNING, and there are many things you have put in here that I have learned about and from. It’s one thing to see pictures of the familiar and memory, but it’s wonderful to learn novel and fascinating things of history, to see the pictures that make those things come alive.

    This is a prolix way of saying thank you for this amazing blog.

  15. Hi, i discovered your blog half an hour ago, and you grabbed my attention for at least this time span. I’m reading David Van Reybroeck’s Congo and was looking for a certain picture mentioned in this book. When arriving on your website i found several pictures that were scenes from this book and they gave me a lot more insight in the story. Thanks for this effort, i’m looking forward to reading more of your writing on a weekly (if not daily) basis.

    My kind regards
    Joke (Belgium)

  16. hi .. can u tell me how u made this interesting collagae? i wanna make one for my 500th day wedding anniversary

  17. hi .. please can u tell me how u made this interesting collagae? i wanna make one for my 500th day wedding anniversary..plz reply asap

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