Archive for January, 2006

the trajectory of organizing

Posted in hit bull win steak on January 31, 2006 by samsondoggie

Did you ever notice: organizing communities matches with the trajectory of documentary photography. Maybe you have noticed that, but people like the organizer Reuben Warshovsky in Norma Rae are a lot like W. Eugene Smith or Eugene Richards. They spend a lot of time in people’s living rooms, sharing afternoons with people on their owns terms as they gain the trust needed to ply their craft. I think that Robert Coles is one of the people who manages to straddle the top of two careers, and those careers happen to be the fields of organizing and documentarianism. Then again, before Richards was a photographer, he was a VISTA worker in the Arkansas Delta region.


Samson Doggie

Big Heads

Posted in hit bull win steak on January 24, 2006 by samsondoggie

“You will notice,” Jenny said, “that the serval differs from the caracal by the head size. Head size is a good indicator of where a carnivore stands in the food chain — either in terms of being a predator, or being prey.”

Rain had already drenched my leather coat. This was surely the worst kind of weather — 35 degrees and very wet. Why not snow? But no matter, I was feeling confirmed. Because, you see, Jenny, a tour guide at the Carnivore Preservation Trust, confirmed an existing theory of mine: that big heads matter. Big heads are not random. Big Heads are as much a blessing for their possessors as are those with height or with beautiful faces. You can pretend that they do not influence human perception. Your head is in the sand. In reality, people respond to them.

My favorite set of big heads are those people most like predators in human zoology — corporate executives. I can think of very few CEOs with small heads. I spend a lot of time looking at 10-Ks. All of those pictures of Ken Lewis, of Sanford Weill, of Richard Kovaciech — those are some big heads.

Even politicians have big heads. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Lyndon Johnson — some large brains. The club is not exclusive to women. Margaret Thatcher. Nevertheless, neither W nor some of his cabinet members (Michael Chertoff) have large brains. But look at the heads on Cheney and Rumsfeld!

Actually, a place where small heads seem to do alright is professional sports. But sports differ from most things in the extent to which they put people in level playing fields. Perceptions matter less in basketball. What matters is speed and agility.

Of the three greatest basketball players of my generation (Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan), only Magic had a big cranium. In baseball, head size is possibly altered by the presence of steroids. Barry Bonds has a huge skull. But it grew as he got older, and that growth is one of the things that makes people think he took performance enhancing drugs.

It is not that a big head makes you more threatening. Only that a big head gives a person some kind of unsaid edge. Its a matter of perception.

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