Category Archives: unfortunate

In Love with Risk

This beautifully written letter to Tim Hertherington, who was recently killed in Lybia while covering a story, really moved me. I would imagine friendships inside careers like this spark some dark conversation topics during happy hours.

Written by: Sebastian Junger

Tim, man, what can I say? For the first few hours the stories were confused enough that I could imagine maybe none of them were true, but they finally settled into one brief, brutal narrative: while covering rebel forces in the city of Misrata, Libya, you got hit by a piece of shrapnel and bled to death on the way to the clinic. You couldn’t have known this, but your fellow photographer Chris Hondros would die later that evening.

I’m picturing you and your three wounded colleagues in the back of a pickup truck. There are young men with bandannas on their heads and guns in their hands and everyone is screaming and the driver is jamming his overloaded vehicle through the destroyed streets of that city, trying to get you all to the clinic in time.

He didn’t. I’ve never even heard of Misrata before, but for your whole life it was there on a map for you to find and ponder and finally go to. All of us in the profession—the war profession, for lack of a better name—know about that town. It’s there waiting for all of us. But you went to yours, and it claimed you. You went in by boat because the city was besieged by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi (another name you probably never gave much thought to during your life) and you must have known this was a bad one. Boat trips are usually such nice affairs, but not this one. How strange to be out on the water off a beautiful coastline with the salt smell and the wind in your face—except this time you’re headed toward a place of violence and killing and destruction. You must have known that the unthinkable had to be considered. You must have known you might not ever get back on that boat alive.

You and I were always talking about risk because she was the beautiful woman we were both in love with, right? The one who made us feel the most special, the most alive? We were always trying to have one more dance with her without paying the price. All those quiet, huddled conversations we had in Afghanistan: where to walk on the patrols, what to do if the outpost gets overrun, what kind of body armor to wear. You were so smart about it, too—so smart about it that I would actually tease you about being scared. Of course you were scared—you were terrified. We both were. We were terrified and we were in love, and in the end, you were the one she chose.

I’m in the truck with you. I’m imagining those last minutes. You’re on your back watching the tops of the buildings jolt by and the blue Mediterranean sky beyond them. I almost drowned once, and when I finally got back to the beach I was all alone and I just lay there watching the clouds go by. I’d never really thought about clouds before, but there they were, all for me, just glorious. Maybe you saw those clouds, too, but you weren’t out of it yet, and you probably knew it. I know what you were thinking: What a silly way to die. What a silly, selfish, ridiculous mistake to have made.

Don’t think that, brother. You had a very specific vision for your work and for your life, and that vision included your death. It didn’t have to, but that’s how it turned out. I’m so sorry, Tim. The conversation we could have had about this crazy stunt of yours! Christ, I would have yelled at you, but you know that. Getting mad was how we kept each other safe, how we kept the other from doing something stupid.

Your vision, though. Let’s talk about that. It’s what you wanted to communicate to the world about this story—about every story. Maybe Misrata wasn’t worth dying for—surely that thought must have crossed your mind in those last moments—but what about all the Misratas of the world? What about Liberia and Darfur and Sri Lanka and all those terrible, ugly stories that you brought such humanity to? That you helped bring the world’s attention to?

After the war in Liberia you rented a house in the capital and lived there for years. Years. Who does that? No one I know except you, my dear friend. That’s part of Misrata, too. That’s also part of what you died for: the decision to live a life that was thrown open to all the beauty and misery and ugliness and joy in the world. Before this last trip you told me that you wanted to make a film about the relationship between young men and violence. You had this idea that young men in combat act in ways that emulate images they’ve seen—movies, photographs—of other men in other wars, other battles. You had this idea of a feedback loop between the world of images and the world of men that continually reinforced and altered itself as one war inevitably replaced another in the long tragic grind of human affairs.

That was a fine idea, Tim—one of your very best. It was an idea that our world very much needs to understand. I don’t know if it was worth dying for—what is?—but it was certainly an idea worth devoting one’s life to. Which is what you did. What a vision you had, my friend. What a goddamned terrible, beautiful vision of things.

(via Vanity Fair. They say “a version of this article will appear in the June 2011 issue.”)



Nate Dogg has died at 41. Damn.

#WINNING!!! (The Charlie Sheen Soundboard)

Jodorowsky’s Dune: The epic that was never made

In 1976 cult Chilean filmmaker, Alejandro Jororowsky, was slated to direct an adapatation of Frank Herbert’s SciFi epic, Dune. Following the release of his mystical Western ‘El Topo’ (1970) and the more psychedelic ‘Holy Mountain’, Jodorowsky attempted to bring ‘Dune’ pto life, garnering talented artists including the French comics artist Moebius, the Swiss artist H.R. Giger (who made the iconic design in ‘Alien’), the British sci-fi artist Chris Foss and the British band Pink Floyd, who would provide the soundtrack. Among Jodorowsky’s rumored cast were Orson Welles, Mick Jagger  and Salvador Dali as Emperor Shaddam IV. Not being able to get the money to produce the movie the way he wanted, Jodorowsky abandoned the project. All that survives of this project is Jodorowsky’s extensive notes, and the production drawings of Moebius, Giger and Foss.

We lost another good one. Another damn good one.

Thanks for all the hahahas, Lt Dreben.

(I suppose the comments section is as good a place as any to post your predictions on the next two celebs who will complete the trifecta.)

Hoarders: a little bit obsessed

I hate to follow such a lighthearted and funny posted with something so heavy, but I just can’t stop thinking about this and I must share.  Yesterday, AMNY wrote a small article on hoarders in NY.  If you don’t already know I have a slight facsincation/obsession with hoarders (Hoarders: Burried Alive, Hoarders, and Animal Hoarders – I watch it all).  Maybe it’s because I’m a neat-freak organized perfectionist and cannot even remotely comprend how someone can let their home become such a mess.  Of course, I’ve already known about the famous mother/daughter “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale.  If you haven’t already seen the documentry Grey Garden’s you need to Netflix that instantly, Little Edie is divine.  However, in this article AMNY highlighted the two famous hoarding brother’s that I had never heard of, the Collyer brothers.  I immediately googled them and found numerous articles, not to mention the many books that have been written about them (which I plan on reading next).  They were known for their excentric lifestyle and hoarding, which ultimately led to the demise of these two recluses.  The older brother, Langley was first killed by one of his booby traps in their apartment.  He was bringing food to his older brother, Homer, who was blind- Langley fed Homer 100 oranges a week, believing this would eventually cure his blindness.  He also saved newspapers and magazines for Homer to read upon regaining his sight.  However, Homer never regained his sight and died of starvation shortly after Langley’s death.  After the police had been notified of a dead body in the apartment they first discovered Homer, but Langley was nowhere to be found.  The police searched for him as far as Atlantic city, eventually they discovered Langley’s body after three weeks and only 10 feet away from the spot in which Homer’s body had been found.  The police removed 134 tons of garbage from the apartment include 14 pianos (both upright and baby grand), human organs in pickle jars, 8 cats, more than 25,000 books, collection of guns, the folding top of a horse-drawn carriage, and more.

For your daily dose of hoarding check out

Space Trash

a Google Earth view of the satellites in orbit.