Saturday, January 06, 2007

Sgt. Carmen Burgess: Coming in on the Pentagon Off-ramp

Scott Walsh's Patriot Video No. 1

Below is a 5:34-minute video by a man who will one day rate as a saint, but don't be scared off by the fact. Scott Walsh saved what might be the last known capture of a snippet of uncredited cable news video that shows former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld helping man a litter-bearing team outside of the Pentagon in the first 20 minutes after someone began an endless war there on 9-11. Rumsfeld appears at the 2:27 mark, he's only there for 4 seconds, when you hear the drumbeat of the rat-a-tat-tat, get ready.

Scott's "Patriot Video 1" was made as an art project really--one of a series of efforts he made to process his emotions in the aftermath of 9-11, our emotional reality being one way to tell us apart--different from the un-shocked, co-conspirators, who went straight to agenda without first passing through sorrow. Apparently Scott captured the video off live television, earlier, you see a video ID watermark on some of the clips, TLC, for The Learning Channel.

What a teaching it channels too. Although, the historical fact of Rumsfeld's behavior is well known through multiple official sources, seeing is believing, in wonderment as the Secretary fails to take appropriate steps to protect himself from further surprise enemy attack, goes "missing" to others in the government instead, to grandstand for the camera, before eventually reentering the building, the first to seed, according to reports, "It was a commercial jetliner that crashed into the building," thereby planting the storylet with a healthy dose of manure.

Some components of the story were jettisoned after being shown once on TV, as the puppet masters voted up or down on the elements as they flowed forth. Someone decided they'd made a mistake with Rumsfeld, and pulled the storyboard quick, but an irrationality that stemmed from the error rippled throughout the day as a consequence, stranding rows of empties as props, something colorful to lean on. Life didn't hang in the balance, so much as got drug out interminably. Without first articulating the foundational storyline of vain and valorous effort, (with just a touch of "dear chairman" thrown in,) the trickle-down motifs of man's heroic struggle to save lives, Marines do not leave their buddies behind, was lost. Without a team of quick, animated, kinetic winners, shown against the smoke of battle, or fog of war, there was nothing plausible to hide behind. So left out in the harsh light was this:

I don't mean to criticize this composition's auteur with undue hauteur, although I guess I'm trying to get a rise by using the French. Sgt. Carmen L. Burgess was the most professional and credible member of the whole in-house pictorial entourage, but he was working under some trying handicaps, like having to film his action-packed foregrounds in advance, to get them out of the way for some reason. That led to post-production problems, like the poor matching in the color of the grass, which is an unpardonable dereliction in professional duty.

The photographer's responsibility is to click the shutter at a moment of maximum emotional expression. Even professional actors can't be on stage all the time, although I know one who thinks he can. This amateur late-summer-stock cast is charming, but I think they were going for something more literally disarming. The guy and gal in front are the energetic up-and-comers, while the others are typical army stoics that hide behind them, so first, try reversing the blocking. The trick would be to get the stoics animated, and to stun the gushers into wide-eyed awe. Instead, we get The Iceman Cometh meets Guys and Dolls, not bad I suppose, for a a force that lives by the motto: don't ask, don't tell.

My point is this, just because the narrative hatch marks are checked off; like, service branches and ranks, pitching in together-meme--check, and, African-American lady victim, probably never thought she'd see the day-meme--check, there's no way these folks could act their way out of a wet paper bag, and reality may be a wet paper bag. This result is very disappointing. It's not like the military doesn't understand the drama of crashes and explosions, and smoke and flames, and the effect it has on people, it's that they weren't willing to risk really using it on themselves. They can dish it out but they can't take it. To make this work you'd need an 18-minute continuous running pan shot of shock and awe, like Altman's start to Nashville.

Over on stage right, another misfire, one that should have gone straight to video and skipped the theaters. Our Car-Lo Burgess, once again, with ennui, mismatching the fore-ground with the back, the yesterday not looking much like today. I wonder, as seen through both of Karen Hughes two evil eyes, is this scene the basis for Global War on Terror? To me it's a Gobble Waddles on Turkeys

First, what is that demented looking man doing with that women's child? [a meme?] I know you have daycare, [meme] they got the children out onto the sunny lawn to play, [meme] then why drag that tiny child into a war zone, to show her off? She's a tiny infant. I think the man on the cell phone is calling S.A.G. to report the terrible acting--hunching his shoulders over like that doesn't make him appear to be protecting the baby--it makes him look seedy, like he stole her to get on the last lifeboat off the Titanic. Three extras in the background are standing in a clump, one with his back turned to the action. He is leaning against the car, animatedly making a point with his arm about last night's ballgame. It looks pretty casual to me.

There were 32 chaplains inside the building that day, by coincidence, attending a conference. Were they trotted out for for a kick line behind Father Stephen McGraw, while a Lesbian Nun with an acoustic guitar played Kum ba Yah, my Lord, but it was cut as not explosive enough?

Sorry. My meme.

This is supposed to be the air space where a massive jetliner flew less than 20 feet off the ground at 530 miles-per-hour according to the Kean report, just moments before, with a singeing vortex, a turbulent sucking, and a percussive blast knocking down lamp poles. There hasn't been anything overhead here recently, except for the Oscar Meyer Weiner-Balloon, and we know it's shadow when we see it.

I can't keep this up, but I want to leave Burgess with some company, so I thought this Paul Disney image was ridiculous enough to eat out on for a month. It conveys the truth of the terrible fraud that was perpetrated that day by using that overused symbol of this medical response, the empty rolling gurney, as the team strolls towards Scarborough fair. No one came out of the building after the first 20 minutes. No one should have come out this side of the building period. Should anyone come out of the building here, they would be covered in smoke and soot. There were triage sites set up in the North and South parking lots, and in the center court. This site was staged for the cameras. Even if this triage site were set up with sincerity, it would have been dismantled after the first of three timed retreats to safety after "reports of incoming" were "issued."

The six anonymous responders with their backs turned towards us are moving in on an off ramp. To get to the action, they will next have to climb over wide concrete barriers and at least two metal barriers. They could have simply driven in under the overpass, like everyone else.

These inane and phony pictures were staged to disguise the fact there were far fewer than even 100 wounded. Somewhere between 35 and 17 is my guess, with seven serious burns. The line between life and death was redrawn on this day, I guess they thought they could redraw the map too.The mound of dirt seen in this picture was used as a stage backdrop and platform in many scenes, a place to play hide and seek and show and tell. So anonymous soldiers could walk up the hill and Jake and Jill could come down, and where Humpty-Dumpty could have his bad fall. In my storyboard, it will forever be a grassy knoll.

Below are a few images of un-peopled conveyances that illustrate my point. To be fair, I will post a file of images which show wounded on stretchers, gurneys, and litters, but segregated out, and seen together, they make my point supporting fraud, just in a different way.