'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

A visit to Faisal Shahzad's Pakistan village

The gate is locked at terror suspect Faisal Shahzad's family home in Pakistan. (Screen grab courtesy of The New York Times.)

A major shout-out for friend and colleague Adam B. Ellick, who submits another one of his knockout videos for The New York Times. Ellick is one of a new kind of journalist: a so-called “one-man-band,” who can parachute into a difficult place and assemble both front-page print stories AND three- to ten-minute video reports.

His latest dispatch is from the ancestral Pakistan village of terror suspect Faisal Shahzad. Check out the video — and see how Ellick’s reporting compares to other print pieces you’re reading now. Video’s pretty good, huh?

Previously: Ellick contributed an moving and challenging video primer on the spread of extremism in Pakistan’s Swat valley.

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Filed under: Faisal Shahzad, Islam, Pakistan, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism, World, , , ,

In awe of new 9/11 tower collapse photos

33297870I’m probably not the first and I certainly won’t be the last to comment on these photos, but goddamn: I’m blown away.

ABC News filed freedom of information act requests to secure release of images taken by a New York City police department helicopter on the morning of 9/11. Capturing the towers before, during and after their collapse, the photographs give a never-before-seen perspective on a pivotal moment in modern history.

It’s absolutely chilling to see the bright red flames in the still-standing tower. It’s just as eerie to see the quiet, perfectly crisp edges of the dust cloud as it envelops lower Manhattan. (See a slideshow here.)

I don’t know if I’ve been so affected by a set of images. More than my breath being taken away the first time I saw the lurid Abu Ghraib prisoner photos or the queasy surreality of Saddam Hussein caught wide-eyed in his bunker, these copter shots of the World Trade Center towers show a moment with which we are all — the whole world — all too familiar. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: 9/11, Photos, , , ,

My favorite American painter

<i>Frenching</i> (2007)

Frenching (2007)

Jeremy Willis’s paintings are a meditation on longing. And much of his work — a collection of oil-on-canvas paintings you can see at his New York studio, by appointment — actually depicts figures who reach out, who provoke the viewer. As a result, his subjects feel as if they long to be more than the sum of their parts — quite actually more than the body they inhabit. And like each of us, the figures Willis paints seem to be locked in a dim but growing awareness that having such hope is as foolish and endless an endeavor as it must and always will be.

<i>I Love You</i> (2008)

I Love You (2008)

But where is human history without longing? And where are any of us without someone to tell us what we want? Popular culture often imagines the best we can be, just as it creates new and limiting borders to the notion of what is civilized, to what is and should be desired. Willis’s paintings lull viewers into thinking that such idealization — in film, TV, magazines, and others — might even be something like a hopeful projection. But the paintings ultimately seem to flip that idea, arguing instead that such projections rarely stray from acts of vanity and/or cruelty. Nowhere is the tension between these two poles (adoration, hatred) seen more astonishingly and horrifyingly than in Willis’s depictions (of depictions) of sexualized men and women — sex being what humans are programmed to desire most, and what we connive most bizarrely¬† both to get and to prevent. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Thanksgiving Bingo: Creative Types edition

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving

Simmer resentment, salt in wounds to taste. (Image via Wikipedia)

Tara Parker-Pope over at the Grey Lady takes on the grim, often hilarious ritual of family Thanksgiving. Sure, there are those who love the assembling of elders, middlers, and the young — all of whom share blood. But for others, the gathering of the tribe means a litany of abuse, criticism, eye-rolling and more.

Why not make it into a game? Pope quotes two ladies who do just that, assembling Bingo cards with key phrases — “That’s an interesting outfit” or “Your children won’t sit still.” The first to fill her card rushes to the bathroom to call. Rejoice, your family is more maniacal!

I love the idea, but given my own demographic and the background likely shared by many of my readers and colleagues, I thought I’d assemble a list more appropriate to our unique brand of failures, inadequacies, and annoyances. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Family, Food, New York City, New York Times, Thanksgiving, , , , ,

Twins embrace ancient art of NY bartending

USA 2006 (October 9th) New York, New York City

New York: It's hard -- always has been. (Image by Paraflyer via Flickr)

I do feel sorry for Kristy and Katie, twins from the Midwest who’ve lived difficult and unrewarding lives in New York for a year. College graduates and aspiring journalists, the ladies describe their year-long job search to The New York Times:

SEVENTEEN months out of Rutgers University, they live in an unwelcome continuum of mass rejection. Between them, Kristy and Katie Barry, identical twins who grew up in Ohio, have applied for some 150 jobs: a magazine for diabetics, a Web site about board games and a commercial for green tea-flavored gum; fact-checking at Scholastic Books, copy editing for the celebrity baby section of People.com, road-tripping for College Sports Television.

The story —¬† by N.R. Kleinfield — goes on to list the pair’s travails. Highlights include:

  • Eating too many canned beans.
  • Busking for business cards — networking! — not money.
  • Having their mom tell them she’s embarrassed by them.

Like I said, I am sympathetic to the ladies: It sucks to tend bar and be broke and eat beans and wonder if things will work out. (Hint: They will or they won’t.) But I’m still annoyed.

After all, aside from a select few — the rich, the lucky, the talented, or a combination thereof — most everyone’s first year in New York is less than glamorous, not the “lush time of stimulating work, picturesque travel and a rich social orbit” the twins say they expected. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economy, Islam, Jobs, Journalism, New York City, New York Times, , , , , ,