30 May 2006

Amigo The Cat

Well, Folks, after the last two days of photo fare devoted to death and all that, I thought it'd be a good idea to celebrate a little bit of life here. So, without further ado, here are some pics of Amigo The Cat taken on Sunday night, while I was shooting the Baghdad city morgue pics.

He's an adorable little rascal, all right, but, I'm biased.


29 May 2006

Memorial Day Pics, Part Two

Well, Gang, you didn't ask for 'em, but, I promised 'em yesterday, so, like 'em or not, here are the last pics in the set of Memorial Day inspired pics I started.

The one on the left depicts a combat fatigued Iraqi government soldier in the city of Ramadi after a fire-fight with Iraqi insurgents.

Its title??? "Iraqi Government Soldier, Ramadi Iraq, May 2006 4a". Not the world's greatest title, I know, but, sometimes, the pic can speak for itself better than its title can.

The one on the right's "Johnny And Haji, Iraq, 2006 1a", which is an allegorical pic depicting two dead combatants in the Iraq War, one American, the other an Iraqi insurgent.

The title's a play on the title of the old American folk ballad, "Frankie and Johnny", about a pair of star-crossed lovers, whose affair ends in one murdering the other.

In a way, war is kinda like a love affair between the combatants, in that the parties involved experience vivid emotions and stronger emotional bonds than they would ever have had in civilian life.

But, it's a murderously doomed one as well.

Those of us back home, as well as those people watching this war from the sidelines all around the world, will never really be able to entirely understand the psychological attraction and repulsion that binds the combatants in this war, like any other war or armed conflict, together.

At the same time, lest I wax too damned poetic about this issue, it's also a good idea to keep in mind that, in the end, the combatants in this war aren't engaged in a romantic, "chivalrous" sort of battle here.

They are engaged in, very often, a set of truly nasty skirimishes, fire-fights and other military pin-pricks, with the occasional set-piece battle thrown in here and there, the object of which, for those involved, is to kill as many of their opponents as possible.

That's what war is, a killing game to establish one set of ideology, policies, economics and social order over another, period.

There's bravery and comradeship in war, sure.

But, in the end, it's really a grand failure on the parts of political leaders and their allies on one side to work out their differences with those on the other in a relatively rational and peaceful manner.

It's a failure that a lot of people, combatants and non-combatants, on the sides end up paying for, quite often in blood.

Please, remember those who have died in wars, yes.

But, also remember that those deaths were preventable, and, in whatever way you can, strive not to make more messy, ugly mistakes that will end up in someone laying deader than a stump on the ground somewhere, because of whatever political and social differences our leadership had with that person's.

Be good to yourselves out there, take care, and thank whatever you worship or hold dear that you don't have to make the hard choices that people living in war zones often do.

28 May 2006

Memorial Day Pics

I know, Folks, I've still yet to up-date y'all on what's been going on 'round here. Well, that'll have to wait for another day.

The pics you see above this screed are my latest. They were taken this afternoon, and were done with the Memorial Day theme in mind.

The first's entitled "Memento Mori, France 1917", and shows the remains of an unfortunate poilu (that's the French equivalent of "GI" for those of you who don't speak Frog) killed somewhere on the Western Front during the First World War.

Lots of unfortunate poilus , landsern (their German equivalents), Tommies and Doughboys ended up more or less this way, dead, alone, forgotten and uncollected for months or years on some God-forsaken battlefield in northern France or Belgium.

Their remains are collected either only months or years after the battles that killed them, or, in some cases, they merged, along with the mud, slime, filth, corruption and trash left behind by those battles, with the soil of those places, into which they sank, either never to be found, or to be found many years and decades later.

The second pic's entitled "City Morgue, Baghdad Iraq, May 2006", and depicts, you got it, only an infintesimal portion of the bodies that flow through that morgue on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Whether killed by American troops, Iraqi government soldiers or police, death squads in the service of the various political factions in the Iraqi government, factions outside of that government, the various Iraqi resistance factions, crooks, angry neighbours, what have you, the death toll wreaked on the Iraqi people by all of the above-named is obscene.

The next two pictures deal with wounded American soldiers after their return home.

The first of that lot's called "Le Repos De La Guerriere", which means "The Female Warrior's Rest" in Frog, and shows an American female soldier, whose left arm's been amputated due to a wound received in Iraq, at rest somewhere in the American West.

We've seen, and will continue to see until American forces finally leave Iraq, a small, but growing number of female soldiers and Marines coming home with missing arms, legs, and far worse injuries than those.

This is because of the integration of US armed forces female personnel into those services over the past thirty years or so, and because many non-combatant jobs in the military, like it or not, require those in 'em to work pretty close to the front lines.

But, in a war, like this one, where there are no front lines, rear areas, what have you, everyone and everything involved becomes fair game for the various sides of it.

Sad but true.

The last pic's entitled, "Walter Reed US Army Hospital, 29th May 2006", and features two patients, both amputee veterans of Iraq, having a conversation(about what, I don't know, and leave to your capable imaginations)on-guess which day, why don'cha????

Amputation of limbs has been a part of war ever since the institution began, and probably will be for as long as it continues.

However, in the past two centuries, so many new and different ways of hacking off limbs, killing people and the like have been developed, that it ain't funny, unless your sense of humour's TRULY dark, or just plain evil. Take your pick.

Will post more pics on this subject to-morrow.

In the meantime, thank whatever god, goddess or other deity you worship, or, if you're an agnostic or atheist type like me, just thank your lucky stars that you and your loved ones are someplace warm, dry and safe, and far away from any war zone. If you don't already know how lucky you are, you should, and that goes for me, too.

Stay safe, Gang, wherever you are.