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POTUS Photos

06.27.2008 - Unity, NH - Barack Obama worked the crowd and still had time to smile for the cameras following his appearance in Unity, N.H. Friday afternoon with Hillary Clinton. Photograph by Stephen Dunn | sdunn@courant.com

06.27.2008 – Unity, NH – Barack Obama worked the crowd and still had time to smile for the cameras following his appearance in Unity, N.H. Friday afternoon with Hillary Clinton. Photograph by Stephen Dunn | sdunn@courant.com

Photographers show up hours before POTUS is to arrive. We must pass security. That takes time. We get wanded by magnetometers and inspected by bomb sniffing dogs. We are ushered, guided, and ordered by secret service and handlers. And then we wait.

On some Connecticut visits Courant photographers are designated “pool photographers” granting them better access to the president on the condition that we share whatever we photograph with other media. We join the traveling press corps and ride in the official motorcade. The status grants us closer and more fluid movement around the president. Somewhat closer that our colleagues standing in the back of the room.

Presidents arrive in a flash of activity like a midsummer thunderstorm . The police, secret service, politicians and the traveling press arrive at once. Then POTUS arrives. And as quickly as he arrives, he leaves. The police, secret service and traveling press leave too.

My first experience photographing President Jimmy Carter was not a success.

12.10.1978 - Hartford, Ct - President Jimmy Carter waves among a gaggle of politicians outside the Hartford Hilton. MICHAEL McANDREWS | mmcandrews@courant.com

12.10.1978 – Hartford, Ct – President Jimmy Carter waves among a gaggle of politicians outside the Hartford Hilton. MICHAEL McANDREWS | mmcandrews@courant.com

 

I knew President Jimmy Carter liked to press the flesh. He would wander up to shake, squeeze, wave, touch and smile his way down along line of fans pressed against the barricades, eager to be close to the most powerful man in the country. I’ve seen it. I wanted to photograph that ritual up close when he came to Hartford December 10th, 1978.

I planted myself at the fence hours before he was to arrive. The crowds grew. So did the excitement. Soon people were standing 4 deep behind me.

We all waited together.

He got out of his limo surrounded by politicians and Secret service and raised his right hand in a wistful way to acknowledge the crowd. Then he was gone, ushered into the Hartford Hilton in one swift smooth motion. The idea for the picture didn’t work this time.

I got a picture of his arm and the back of his hand. That was my first attempt at photographing a visiting president.

19.16.1980 - Hartford, CT - President Jimmy Carter, from the roof of his limo, waves to fans outside the Old State House in Hartford. MICHAEL McANDREWS | The Hartford Courant

19.16.1980 – Hartford, CT – President Jimmy Carter, from the roof of his limo, waves to fans outside the Old State House in Hartford. MICHAEL McANDREWS | The Hartford Courant

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Glastonbury vs Farmington Swim Meet

Farmington's Max Vitkin swims to first place in the Boys 500 Yard Freestyle just ahead of Robert Davis of Glastonbury at the Farmington at Glastonbury swim meet Wednesday.

Farmington’s Max Vitkin swims to first place in the Boys 500 Yard Freestyle just ahead of Robert Davis of Glastonbury at the Farmington at Glastonbury swim meet Wednesday.

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The Farmington at Glastonbury swim meet Wednesday.  Both teams were undefeated before the contest. Glastonbury won, 97 to 84.

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A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, which is being presented at Hartford Stage Nov. 29 through Dec. 28. Michael Wilson returns to collaborate with Director Maxwell Williams  for the 50th Anniversary Season at Hartford Stage. Redesigned costumes, enhanced special effects and dazzling new lighting bring new life to the holiday classic that has thrilled more than 250,000 families for the past 15 years.

http://galleries.courant.com/gallery/hc-a-christmas-carol-20131205

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Hartford Public vs Fermi

Hartford Public met Fermi boys soccer and they battled to a one to one score.

HARTFORD--Fermi's Matt Stroiney, #48, left, and Hartford Public's Nushawn Clarke, #11, right, go head to head during Hartford Public at Fermi boys high school soccer game Tuesday. The score was tied one to one in double overtime.  (RICK HARTFORD|rhartford@courant.com)

HARTFORD–Fermi’s Matt Stroiney, #48, left, and Hartford Public’s Nushawn Clarke, #11, right, go head to head during Hartford Public at Fermi boys high school soccer game Tuesday. The score was tied one to one in double overtime. (RICK HARTFORD|rhartford@courant.com)

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Braemore

A visit to the 95-acre Braemore Preserve in Guilford. Several miles of trails take visitors along old logging trails and overlooks to views of Long Island Sound and Bluff Head. 

A visit to the 95-acre Braemore Preserve in Guilford. Several miles of trails take visitors along old logging trails and overlooks to views of Long Island Sound and Bluff Head.

A visit to the 95-acre Braemore Preserve in Guilford. Several miles of trails take visitors along old logging trails and overlooks to views of Long Island Sound and Bluff Head

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Butterflies are free

janice pockett 19Forty years ago seven year-old Janice Pockett set out on her bike on Rhodes Road in Tolland to collect a butterfly she had found down the street. Although she never returned home, her friends and family honored her memory Friday July 26 with sweet poignancy: releasing more than 40 butterflies into the air at the end of a ceremony in her honor at the Cross Farms Recreation Complex.

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Enfield Dog Park

Linda Holter and her dog, Sylvia at the Enfield Dog Park

Linda Holter and her dog, Sylvia at the Enfield Dog Park

 

The greeting party at the Enfield Dog Park

The greeting party at the Enfield Dog Park

 

A familiar landmark at the Enfield Dog Park

A familiar landmark at the Enfield Dog Park

 

Playing around at the Enfield Dog Park

Playing around at the Enfield Dog Park

Amanda Staggs and Bitsy at the Enfield Dog Park. The park has been open since December, 2011. dog park 4

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Graffiti Park

Welcome to Heaven. Skate Park, that is. Its a work in progress at the entrance to downtown Hartford on its northern border. For a long time now its been a “legal” graffiti park, and it will soon be transformed into a skate park called Heaven, with graffiti welcome. And Heaven it is. Bring some spray cans. And create!

It definitely is.

It definitely is.

 

 

Didn't John Beluschi and Dan Aykroyd do this skit? The Killer Bees?

Didn’t John Beluschi and Dan Aykroyd do this skit? The Killer Bees?

 

 

Don't mess with this guy. Ever.

Don’t mess with this guy. Ever.

 

Its a thought, I think. Or maybe a backwards song.

Its a thought, I think. Or maybe a backwards song.

 

One of its nine lives, and its a doozie.

One of its nine lives, and its a doozie.

 

Here's looking at you, Kid.

Here’s looking at you, Kid.

 

This would make a great tee shirt, I think.

This would make a great tee shirt, I think.

 

Have you seen this man? I know, every Zombie looks alike.

Have you seen this man? I know, every Zombie looks alike.

 

Tastefully done, of course.

Tastefully done, of course.

 

Its eternal, but this love letter is probably already gone.

Its eternal, but this love letter is probably already gone.

 

Shades of Picasso?

Shades of Picasso?

 

Another great tag

Another great tag

 

Munch has nothing on this guy.

Munch has nothing on this guy.

 

Some of its so beautiful you want to take it home. But you can't. Pictures are good, though.

Some of its so beautiful you want to take it home. But you can’t. Pictures are good, though.

 

Much of the time the art is in the artist's name itself.

Much of the time the art is in the artist’s name itself.

 

Somebody spray painted "Monsters are Real!" on the concrete. Here's proof.

Somebody spray painted “Monsters are Real!” on the concrete. Here’s proof.

 

The walls at Heaven are constantly evolving, constantly changing. That's the beauty of it.

The walls at Heaven are constantly evolving, constantly changing. That’s the beauty of it.

Christina Choute, of Hartford, poses in front of a mural on a recent trip with friends. Christina Choute, of Hartford, poses in front of a mural on a recent trip with friends.

 

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Graffiti Park

graffiti faceDo Not Enter,
The signs demand
At the entrance
To the Island
Of Graffiti Art.
Tags and pieces,
Screaming out
From captured walls.
Beautiful anarchy
At this northern gateway
To downtown Hartford.
There are discarded aerosol cans —
On the ground.
On tables.
Trash bins overflow with them.
And liquor bottles.
There is broken glass, everywhere.
You see a smashed bottle,
The strewn shards suggesting
A rambling utterance
Spoken from a label
Called Steel Reserve.
You walk along.
“Lost Thoughts” are sprayed
In red on the concrete by your feet.
And then:
“Monsters Are Real”
Not far away, a monster’s face
Is painted on a wall
With bloody red gums
And white saliva
Dripping from its teeth.
Over there, on the grass,
A caravan of empty vodka bottles,
Dead soldiers frozen in time
Where they fell
On a pilgrimage to oblivion.
Above, in the trees,
Plastic bags flutter in the breeze,
Like ensnared souls,
Caught on bare tree branches.
Struggling to escape.
Struggling to fly away.
A girl wearing owl eye shades
Wanders in with friends.
For a photo shoot.
She leans against a wall,
The wildstyle images behind her
A blazing fire of colors,
And letters, and symbols.
She sinks into the art.
To remain there, forever,
As a shutter opens
And closes again.

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The Devil’s Picture

 

Rico Suave was a photo bum,
Born with a camera in each hand.
He shot from Maine to Yokohama
Without a comma
And every frame was worth ten grand.
He’d shot them all since he was five inches tall,
It didn’t matter which brand.
Yep, he was the best, forget the rest,
Until he shot Instagram.
It was hot as hell one day late in May,
The water was the same temp as the sand.
Under the boardwalk Rico was shooting the breeze,
When somebody put a Droid in his hand.
Get out of my way, he was heard to say,
I’m the best shooter in all the land.
But behind him came a sinister voice,
“Frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
It was The Devil and he turned,
As his fingertips burned,
Lighting a cigar with his brand.
‘The photo op’s here,” he said with a leer,
“Throw me a picture, Rico-san!”
So Rico took aim, to enhance his fame,
“The Devil’s Picture, I’ll be Damned!”
And the shutter went click, but Rico felt sick
When the photo refused to be scanned.
“Failure,” it read, and the screen then went dead,
But Rico merely held up his hand.
“Cool off your hooves, I still have my moves,”
And he aimed the phone once again.
Well, it went that way, pretty much all day
Till the sun sizzled into the drink,
The screen had died, the camera phone fried,
And the Devil gave Rico a wink.
it was right about then that Rico pulled out
His old fold down Polaroid.
The shutter went clunk,
And they both got drunk,
Toasting Rico Suave’s sangfroid.

Archive

Dead Man’s float

I’ve come to think of it as the Dead Man’s Float.
You know,
All other options exhausted,
You just lie face down in the water,
And blow bubbles.
The assignment was:
The Most Dangerous Intersection in the City.
It revolved around a pay phone at Sterling and Albany,
Where the 911 phone calls were made.
A normal place, at daytime.
But at dusk “an aura of menace” descends,
As the zombies of the drug trade are born again,
And the night is ruled by violence.
I was told to go to that intersection
With a camera and a tripod,
And wait for something to happen.
At that point in the newsroom,
I began to understand it:
The usefulness of the thousand yard stare.
You appear to be pondering the situation,
But the reality is,
There’s nothing much going on in there.
But how could one refuse?
Could’ve been the most
Dangerous intersection of my career,
For all I knew.
So here we go as the sun sets low,
Toward somewhere in the suburbs,
Where lawns are being mowed,
And cocktails clink with ice.
And the camera is on the tripod,
At the most dangerous intersection in the city.
At first the people who pass by are interested, amused.
A woman gently ponders my explanation,
And smiles and down the street she moves,
Wheeling a baby carriage.
Some people slow in cars as they drive by,
With puzzled looks…
And questions.
Was this was some kind of performance art?
Or was I was selling something.
Windows buzz down.
Windows whine up.
Now, as darkness sets in,
The boys on bikes wheel by,
Their black coats flapping,
Like bats, with perfect sonar.
They zoom ever closer and faster,
Uttering things that shall not be repeated,
But mean, and ultimately heeded:
Leave the most dangerous Intersection in the city.

Archive

Hiding in Plain Sight

They want pictures of  “Evil.”

And with a Holga.

So simple.

Find Satan’s image hiding in plain sight.

And capture it with a toy camera.

(I remember the line in a movie:

We are errand boys sent by clerks.)

So to Enfield Street,

Where the shattered windshield of a car

Frames a man furtively walking away.

Then over to Albany Avenue next to the auto parts shop,

The one with the graffiti on the wall,

Where the poems of the dead, carved into stones,

Cry out in mute agony among the trash and the weeds.

Then to the apartments on Vine,

Where the police and the gangsters circle each other in an endless loop.

Sitting in the car by the curb, engine running, waiting for something.

Somebody calls my name.

He waves from up there on the stoop.

It takes a moment.

Did I know that he had been shot?

There was a parade.  So many pretty colors and happy faces.

And then.

Pulling up his shirt, he shows the map of the pain.

Scars and sewn flesh, the slugs still inside him.

Sensitive to the cold.

We draw a little crowd, some bringing smiles, some blank stares.

A  kid on a bike glides up with a baseball cap and an RIP tee,

Like wearing a tombstone.

He looks away,  a bird ready to fly, detached from us.

Yet listening, monitoring, absorbing everything.

An old lady pulls groceries in a cart,

Head down as a patrol car swings  to the curb.

Two policemen walk up easy in the summer night.

Got a call, one of them says.

The landlord says you are causing a disturbance.

We need you to leave.

They smile.