“ Working on any new books?”

I hear that often and I think that sometimes people are wondering whether I am pulling a General MacArthur. Remember his speech to Congress in 1951 after President Truman canned him?

….”Old soldiers never die, they just fade away…”  He was quoting from an old ballad, and referring to the end of his career.

Well I am faded, a bit.  I’m at home in my garret in Colbyville, this winter trying to stay warm.  Fuel oil and propane are so expensive I keep the thermostats way down. If those who manipulate the fuel prices keep this up, they’ll either break the country (they don’t care), or set off a revolution.

I work 7 days a week and this is what I do or intend to do.

Number one on the agenda is to scan, caption and keyword my photograph database, and then put them online. We (my young assistant Kyle, who is the resident technocrat and also a post modern (or is it conceptual?) photographer, estimates we have  5,000 color transparencies and maybe, with strong editing, 2,000 black and whites.

Why do this? As I already mentioned in this blog, it is the duty of  photojournalists to communicate. My photographs should be seen by this and future generations as a record of  our era…Governor Dean in a tuck skiing like a demon; my rural portraits of farm women and men from Vermont and the Great Plains; the simplicity and candor in the faces of the workers in a wine harvest in Margaux, France; my beautiful Trade Tower photographs from the 1980’s, when we were proud and happy, oh, photos of skiing, hunting, city life, sand storms and Atacama mummies, dead deer and placid cows, the list goes on and on. I hope I can afford to complete it.

But what about books?

Vermont People, is my now classic book on rural Vermonters. I updated it once and through the years sold 15,000 copies and now I am sold out.  I plan to do another edition of the book, with 16 more stories and photographs of  Vermonters. The question is who will buy it and where do I find the money to print it? From time to time I will be placing these portraits and stories on this blog.

Robert Frost’s Vermont. This has been on the back burner for the last 10 years.  I have photographed about a dozen of  his poems—my visual translations of them, of course. And I will write an intro about my experiences following his footsteps in Vermont.

The Vermont Way. Lessons from the rural hillside Vermonters, who have all those qualities our country is losing.

Memorable Photographs. The story behind some of my photographs…that awful night in Portsmouth photographing and talking to women who just lost their husbands when the submarine Thresher went down in 1963; Joe and Fred Tuttle, who I first met and photographed in 1989, before Fred became that off-beat movie star;  my mentor, Yousuf Karsh and Pablo Picasso; a maple tree;  a Vermont farmer cradling his cat (the story involves a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe) and so on.

I’ll put a couple of these photographs and the background text on this blog and ask you all to comment… thumbs up or down?

Money is short for my projects, so I am borrowing on my house to finish the archiving and work on book ideas. As John Wayne said,

“A Man has got to do what a man has to do.”

You think he said that? He didn’t. What he said in the film Stagecoach was…

“Well, there’s some things a man just can’t run away from.”

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