Special Issues Archives

Safe + Sound


idsafesound.jpgSo it's Monday morning and I must say I'm feeling a little Le Blah. I was in a loner-y wandering around mood yesterday. I dropped by St. Marks Books but didn't see any magazines I wanted. Well, except for The Last Magazine book, but it was too expensive. The plan was to end up seeing The Valerie Project at Anthology but by the time I got there it was sold out. I hate that. I spent all day doing pretty much nothing but never bothered to check about getting an advaned ticket. So instead I went to see some horribly embarrassing romantic comedy hoping that its sappy dorkiness would cheer me. It did a little, but what really cheered me was sitting here this morning and reading i-D's Safe + Sound book over a cup of coffee and toast.

Safe + Sound is one of those i-D special issues, like the earlier Family Future Positive and Beyond Price. This one asked its contributors, as always a huge list of artists, photographers, fashion designers, stylists, and writers, for positive stories of people coming through difficult times. The snarky person inside me would prefer to be like oh lame but my heart was truly warmed and maybe its the coffee talking but I feel like I am starting my day off feeling pretty good. I'm off to photograph a girl who has an impressive collection of strangely shaped copper cake pans and is obsessed with mustaches.

The Last Days of W
Photographs by Alec Soth
48 pages, 12 x18, color newsprint

The Presidential Inauguration is days away and I'm reading about past Inaugural addresses in the New Yorker, stressing out about layoffs at all magazines everywhere, feeling nervous, confused, dismayed, hopeful, hungry and amused at a sudden interest I'm developing in American history and politics. As usual, I waited until the last minute to think about this. After the intense joy and relief of election night, I wasn't quite ready to interpret every move, word, appointment and photograph of our soon-to-be president.

So now, a week before the Inauguration, I sit in my living room looking over The Last Days of W by photographer Alec Soth. Mr. Soth and Little Brown Mushroom published this nice big unbound newsprint selection immediately following election day. The book's title is the last line of a poem inside by Lester B. Morrison. Mr. Morrison's poem talks about the aftermath of the last 8 years--a kind of quiet, an almost boredom. I get it. I have an empty feeling looking at the empty spaces in Soth's photographs knowing the realities behind them are too enormous to process. He's gathered images from a decade of projects including the mortgage crisis in Stockton, California, mothers of Marines in Iraq, and the world's largest landfill. Moments of that old Weird America (tm) show up in some images--an awkward motivational Jesus poster, a papier maché terrorist, a prom king and queen in front of a mural of the Pyramids--but they're not sensational or grotesque or hilarious really. Everything kind of flattens out. Whether dawn or dusk, the book repeats a few times, wondering if this is The end, the beginning, or both. I'm not sure.

The Last Days of W is available directly from Little Brown Mushroom, at Spoonbill & Sugartown and other cool bookstores.


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