A roll of Christmas joy

    Just got this roll of 35 mm film back from my Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot (I’m loving that red-eye, it’s so Terry R). Seeing it reminds me of a project idea I was brainstorming with Darrow Montgomery earlier last month. We were remarking how our film cameras were so underutilized that we would often find a full years worth of family events on one roll: Christmas, Easter, birthday parties and anniversary crystallizing in 36 moments. I thought this would be a great project to document your family through one roll of 35mm in one camera over the course of the year. Then present each year in the form of an enlarged contact sheet. Kind of like Nicholas Nixon but with more variation and serendipity. It will only take you twenty years to have a book, and it won’t be so labor intensive that it won’t free you up from pursuing other paying jobs projects.
I went to the White House press Christmas party a few weeks ago and brought along my incredibly fun and underutilized Olympus stylus. The evening went well, after a 45 minute wait outside the northeast entrance we were led to the south entrance and frisked for security. Barely an hour later and we’re being pleasantly encouraged to leave out the residence by courteous military aides:
Friendly Aide at the White House Christmas Party
    The White House always has a tough time getting the pencils and other news types out of the residence (the scribe/still photog party begins at the unGodly hour of 4.30 [hello – deadline!] whilst the satanic television tribe has a more respectable 6.30 pm start). If you’ve ever tried to get in the mood to stuff lamb chops and chicken fried steak (i kid you not) down your gullet at a quarter to five you will see my dilemma. Luckily the alcohol in the egg nog does stimulate the appetite.
As an aside, I am sure there are those of you who are thinking, “How can she even enter that den of iniquity, the Bush White House?” Without going too much into it, let me just say that close observation of the machinations of Washington has made a cynic of me.
I believe in our democratic process, but just a little bit, in as much as I’ve visited many countries and found their systems with as much if not more egregiousness in it as I’ve found in the U.S. But I’d say that the majority of national politicians are useless, our political system sorely in need of updating (uh, electoral college anyone?) which our founding father’s allowed for and even anticipated, but our literally-minded and duly-elected folks don’t want to aggravate their districts or loosen their stranglehold on our legislative gridlock to affect one iota of change.
    It works on both sides of the fence. If George Bush is a bad man, I daresay he would have remained an excellent baseball manager. And for this, I say, we have only ourselves to blame.I have seen the enemy and it is us, and I really don’t like discussing politics, because I find that most people don’t want to have a dialogue, they just want to tell you what they think. That being said, Judge no man by his Chicken Fried Steak, lest your Chicken Fried Steak be judged, is my motto. (Even though, to clarify, I do not waste my time or the taxpayer’s dollar with the consumption of Chicken Fried Steak).
    So, the funniest part of the evening was watching the cluster around the Hillary Clinton First Lady portrait in the basement of the residence (also known as the exit). There were pretensions of decorum, but basically a low roar could be heard echoing around the basement, where many first ladies noble visages’ are displayed. Nancy Reagan, uncomfortably close to the good Senator HRC, was virtually ignored, as throngs of unbiased press and their families gathered around the Yuletide Hillary, leaving me wondering,”Does this spell trouble for Obama in the heartland?” Then reason prevailed, and I remembered that the media has no clue is only making educated guesses about what goes on in the heartland, and it’s ridiculous to speculate at this point of who the front-runner might be. That said, I think that in politics, as in high school, you just don’t want to peak too early?
Gathering around the Yuletide Hillary, Christmas at the White House
    I guess the Red Room is my favorite room of the Residential White House. When I was a child I had a book about the First Ladies, with their portraits in it. Martin Van Buren was a widower in the White House, and his daughter-in-law acted as his hostess. The oil portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren, mesmerized me, she stood out from the more matronly FLs (Dolley Madison was not presented to best effect – and I loathe the Jackie Kennedy portrait). It was at this time, coinciding with my learning to play yankee-doodle on my ukelele, that I also first enjoyed wearing feathers in my cap. Angelica appeared all youthful and ethereal grace, in direct contrast to the guest talking on his cell phone in the red room pictured below. Can you hear his conversation now, “Mom, guess where I am?” Though knowing Washington, it was probably just a call to an editor to clarify what is is. I like the jaunty hand on the knee, though. A bold public statement in the Red Room.
Multi-tasking in the Red Room under Angelica Singleton Van Buren’s gaze
    At the beginning of the roll I found some pictures from last year’s pre-Christmas weekend in St. Michael’s Maryland. One of the more successful shots dealt with the concept of Santa Claus, death, and conformity:
Santa Graveyard, St. Michaels, Maryland


2 thoughts on “A roll of Christmas joy

  1. great post susana – i agree with you on political dialogues – they’re usually one way. having grown up in the d.c. area but now living in dallas – i can’t wait to read more of your views on the place i use to call home. happy new year!



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