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The Red Whitened Blues

Posted by
Stephen Phillips (San Francisco, United States) on 26 August 2009 in Abstract & Conceptual and Portfolio.

Communications - U.S.A.

This is a photo that may be worth a word or two.

I was immediately impressed with a powerful metaphor as I looked upon the large graffiti artist's tag along the red, white, and blue wall. Here was this old pay phone. No handset, no dial pad, no face plate. No number to dial to report that there's trouble.

A dead phone in an aluminum open casket.

My mind was awash in the ongoing deterioration of our once proud land. A nation of over-crowded schools, ailing citizens denied medical coverage, crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded prisons, and closed parks.

I hear voices screaming against our government with the chant, "No new taxes." While others (myself among them) long to return to shared social values being the nation's top priority. Neither hears the other. The art of compromise is lost. Lines of communications are down.

The metaphor shouts back from the mobile phone. So independent. So cellular. No network of wires binding our common threads. We become imprisoned in our self-contained points-of-view.

The Mega-Corporation runs the show. We segregate the animal waste from our farmlands so agribusiness can spread oil based fertilizers upon the fields. Our meat stands in its own steroid enhanced toxic waste.

Forests fall and insects die amid plants grown with genetically altered seeds. We who shout the insanity of this on our warming, dying planet are called tree-huggers or worse - and written-off as head-in-the-clouds idealists with nonsense ideas of implementing sustainable structures. Yet science increasingly acknowledges that these natural applications are superior - especially in the so-called third world.

We are a nation of great wealth and even greater arrogance.

We are not happy. We are not healthy.

Our collective view of the world is near non-existent.

And I am loathed to ask,

"Can you hear me now?"

© copyright 2018 by Stephen Phillips Photography / Oakland, California /
please respect these rights - do not copy or use these images without permission.

Mirko Herzner from Germany

I can hear you, Stephen. I am impressed both by the simplicity, colors and composition of your picture, as well as by your powerful words... Even if I am not from the US: You make me think!

26 Aug 2009 5:18am

sherri from Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

What a contrast. Very nice.

26 Aug 2009 5:22am

Alun from cheshire, United Kingdom

great shot, love the colours and contrast

26 Aug 2009 5:49am

yz from Budapest, Hungary

cool shot, i like your writing

26 Aug 2009 6:59am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Good reflexions about the metaphor of this dead telephone.
I agree: "We become imprisoned in our self-contained points-of-view."
This is the logic end of the Western system, you and us (an we were also proud to be europeans).
And there is not a substitute for this way of life, I think.

26 Aug 2009 7:18am

Marcie from Newton, United States

Love the graphic simplicity..the balance. Great eye!!

26 Aug 2009 11:52am

Betty from New Jersey, United States

I hear you Stephen and agree completely! So glad you said it all, and the photo says it all, too! Very, very well done both the photo and the words. (I almost long for the days of pay phones, it was much simpler then. How did we survive without a phone in the car?)

26 Aug 2009 2:20pm

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Super colors of this cool shot !

26 Aug 2009 2:58pm

Calusarus from St Sorlin en Valloire, France

I like the contrast between the colored right side and the B&W left side. Nice composition

26 Aug 2009 3:59pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

What's that you say? I hear you loud and clear. One example of the lunacy going on here could recently be seen in the town hall meetings on health care reform. Another, available every day, can be seen on the so called Fox News. Quite the colorful photo.

26 Aug 2009 4:25pm

Louis Hebert from Kuwait, Kuwait

This shot is a great background, but it would have better expressed your passion if there was something a little more expressive in the image. I read your statement, but I think you are reaching and projecting because the image is not saying all of that. Photography is a visual language, and I believe we should focus on making those statements in the image and not in paragraphs below our images.

26 Aug 2009 5:53pm

@Louis Hebert: Thank you Mr. Herbert. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I value you thoughtful words. Yet the fact remains that the words on my post reflect my experience at the time I took the image.

The past four decades have been a difficult period in American history for people of social conscience. One of the gifts of a strong democracy is our freedom to speak to these matters. This is my blog and when I feel strongly on an issue - I will use this or any other forum to state my thoughts. I do not do this often at AM3 - and I do not do this lightly. I note this is the first time you've commented here. You are welcome to join in the conversation or to not return to my page. I would prefer the former as I believe strongly - that we are all better off when we engage in civil conversation.

Stephen Phillips / San Francisco

ordinaryimages from Kentucky Bluegrass, United States

Such an innocent looking snap : ] best...jerry

26 Aug 2009 6:57pm

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

An evocative image of urban melancholy... it's great to hear from you Stephen! Just one thing, I always feel connected notwithstanding that our threads might seem unraveled sometimes.:-)

27 Aug 2009 12:08am

@hugo poon: I completely and enthusiastically agree, Hugo - I value your presence at all times. I still miss our daily exchanges and (as importantly) your wonderful images of that most complex city you call home.

susan from Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

Thoughtful image, and thoughtful words.......but most importantly today, is your response to Mr. Hebert. This is a "blog", isn't it?

27 Aug 2009 12:18am

susan from Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

And for anyone interested......definition of the word "blog" here

27 Aug 2009 12:21am

@susan: Thank you Susan, for the comments and that helpful link. I understand and respect Louis Herbert's criticism in that this is first and foremost a photography blog. That said - many of us have written here at length. I loved Jaycee's (d.j.tigersprout's) stories from Alaska and Iceland for example. We have been silly, sarcastic, or whatever else we choose to be. These are our pages. I think it very important to remember that the primary force of art - any ART - is to evoke thought ...

grant from kansas city, United States

a powerful photo, and commentary. i hope you keeps saying anything and everything you want here.

27 Aug 2009 5:43pm

@grant: Thank you, Grant. I'm guessing you know that there is zero chance of changing my willingness to engage - respectfully - as I see fit. Thanks for the support!