How does an award-winning, internationally recognized, war-and-humanitarian photographer do it? What is it about a successful career that continually guides a man to just the right spot, at the fortuitous moment, to capture such an expressive narrative zircon as the one above? Let's ask Time Magazine's James Nachtwey--he'll tell us.
Because the truth is never what it appears to be. What vile mind could ever have imagined Nachtwey would be given advanced notice of the destruction of the World Trade towers? Would have been steered over from his apartment in the South Street Seaport, or have anticipated and planned this very moment, to take a synthetic shot like this? The consequent affirms the antecedent, but that is not the whole proof.
A proof is revealed in his allowing his images to be doctored with pesky obscuring smoke, which is a journalistic sin everybody can understand.
And if we need still more proof then, his being paired with another photographer, the icon-maker Thomas E. Franklin will do the trick. The meaning of the symbolism behind the twin towers is--we can know a thing in its duality.
Thomas Franklin was the New Jersey newspaperman who took the central iconic image of heroism on 9-11. Depicting three firefighters raising an American flag amidst the rubble of the trade center towers, it shamelessly piggybacks a meaning off of an earlier war-ravaged Marine flag raising, which was itself actually a contrived affair. Within six months the hero's image was made into a 45-cent stamp.
Firefighters and photographer are reunited at the stamp unveiling on 11 March 2002, six months after the Trade Center attack. Standing (from left) are Postmaster General Jack Potter, Firefighters William "Billy" Eisengrein and George Johnson, President George W. Bush, US Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Firefighter Dan McWilliams, and Thomas E. Franklin. (White House photo)
Mr. Franklin's story is told primarily in three places--on an Arlington National Cemetery web page, and secondly, as a page in a special public-relations effort explicating 9-11, which unfortunately has another page belonging to "the tourist guy,"--a prank snapshot taken on top of the trade center building, with an approaching 757 jetliner photoshopped in--so the choice here is between death and poor taste.
And thirdly, in an article he wrote for the May/June 2003 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dc52kcvf_279hprmcbd2
where he said,
"Much of what happened to me on September 11 is a blur, but this moment I clearly remember: It was 4:45 p.m., and all the firemen and rescue workers were evacuating Ground Zero after word came that a third building -- WTC 7 -- was ready to fall. I had only a few frames left, and an entire day's worth of pictures to develop, so I prepared to head back to New Jersey."Here was a clue that Mr. Franklin was so blinded by his briefings that he didn't perceive how illogical such a statement might sound in the real world of professional news photojournalism, where people would die to get a chance to record the demise of Building 7.
Franklin's story began:There is a grammatical glitch here, when Franklin crosses the river with a photographer named John Wheeler (Google result zero,) to "arrive" at Building 7, only to announce that he then was "traveling" with James Nachtwey, a Pulitzer-prize winning [sic] photojournalist. How did he become paired with Nachtwey?
"By noon the ferries began to taper off. Another photographer, John Wheeler, convinced the police to let himself and Franklin take a tugboat to New York. He first arrived at WTC 7, a 47-story structure that would collapse that night. As Franklin further penetrated Ground Zero, police threatened to arrest him about a half dozen times.
Franklin was traveling with James Nachtwey, a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist who told him he had just narrowly escaped death at Ground Zero.
Around 4 or 5 p.m., Franklin and Nachtwey were taking a break and drinking water and juice. A trio of firefighters caught his eye.
"I would I say was 150 yards away when I saw the firefighters raising the flag. They were standing on a structure about 20 feet above the ground. This was a long lens picture: there was about 100 yards between the foreground and background, and the long lens would capture the enormity of the rubble behind them," Franklin said.
The three firefighters, William Eisengrein, George Johnson and Daniel McWilliams, had discovered a US flag on the back of a yacht inside a boat slip at the World Financial Center. They took the banner and decided to raise it as a statement of loyalty and resilience.
Franklin recalled, "I made the picture standing underneath what may have been one of the elevated walkways, possibly the one that had connected the World Trade plaza and the World Financial Center. As soon as I shot it, I realized the similarity to the famous image of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
"This was an important shot. It told more than just death and destruction. It said something to me about the strength of the American people and of these firemen having to battle the unimaginable."
His story that the firemen were raised up twenty-feet higher then he was seems improbable given the angle of the view. And the idea that the firemen would steal a flag off a yacht, find a flagpole in the rubble, build a ramp up to a ledge, climb up, and raise the flag in an effort to lift compatriot's spirits--all without knowing they were under the watchful eye of the media--is, well, poorly written.
On edit, Sept. 28, 2008: Actually, the angle of the Franklin shot becomes even more suspect when compared with the following three images. The first, shows the remains of the Marriott hotel, beside which, to the right in the photo, lies the "elevated walkway" Franklin said he was standing under when he shot the picture, followed by a FEMA image from the same likely POV, with a longer version third. The flag in the early FEMA image is the same scale as in the Franklin shot. It is probable that Franklin's image has had the intact but leaning flag pole, with its functioning pulley, photoshopped in
But how nice of Mr. Nachtwey to give Mr. Franklin the money shot!
Because now we can get back to Mr. Nachtwey, whose story is found on his own site http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/, at Time Magazine, Nachtwey Time Essay, and on a page by Peter Howe James Nachtwey by Peter Howe.
My problem with Nachtwey is I believe these absurd photos of smoke electro-statically clinging to the south face of Building 7 are faked. The first two are marked Magnum Photos, Nachtwey's agent, and I assume they are by him. We need to trace the history of when and how all of these pictures emerged. It is unlikely that such "in-your-face" effort would have been undertaken to seed the record with examples of a Judy-Wood's-esque type fuming--more likely it was meant to hide the lack of damage to Building 7, and provide a plausible destruction scenario.
The following two are off Nachtwey's home page and they give oblique views of Building 7 with photoshopped emanating smoke wisps and swirls.
The next image is from New Jersey and if my theory holds true, then other photographers had to have their images of Building 7 fumed too. Was this location controlled by this time in the day? Might there be any images of Building 7 from this location, which are smoke free?
But my cracked sixth sense rides to the rescue in a non-fuming Building 7 image by Nachtwey! Of course, the rest of lower Manhattan seems to have disappeared too!
The remains of the Marriott Hotel are to the right, with Building 7 to the left.
And I found another non-fuming Building 7 photo from a different perspective. I think they indicate the earlier smoke was a cover up for the controlled demolition of Building 7.
Lastly, a Nachtwey art shot of a Building 7, demolished.
It is hard for me to judge whether or not I have made my case that Nachtwey and Franklin are revealed to be conspirators by dint of foreknowledge. Both were "handled"--tasked to provide specific narrative output. Something so obvious to me can elude others I have learned. But the lesson of Arlington is the photographers were too important not to be involved in the conspiracy. All of them.
The only other point I might make is to refer back to that opening Christological image, but in a version taken off Mr. Nachtwey's own web site, where I think he tried to minimize the cross by using some left-over blackout, because I think he realizes that it was beneath him. The body of his work is outstanding, a very moving assemblage. How he ever got involved in 9-11 I don't know. He is bigger than that. I think he should confess his sins and be forgiven for them.
Someone named Ronald Weick, in a videotaped argument with Alex Jones posted to a blog named Suzie-Q, shuts everybody up by getting in the last word:
“The fire department was not told anything about a controlled demolition. 343 firefighters lost their lives on that day. they were not complicit in this terrible terrible catastrophe.To argue that they were is simply insane.”Well then, let me be the first to state on the record that it is not insane at all to believe it is very well within the nature of a trillion-dollar-economic putsch conspiracy that some of the missing New York City firemen would be alive, rendered somewhere anonymous, their families fattened by seven-figure payoffs, while some surviving firemen may even be complicit in some other brother's [legitimate] demise. You gotta do what you gotta do. Firemen are definitely complicit in the little old arson and CD of Building 7. It's on the record.
At least, this is what the lessons of Arlington would indicate to me. The blending of profound personal and collective tragedy with manipulative individual synthetic activity is meant to be unfathomable, but we must give it a try nonetheless.
Thomas Franklin posted this photograph to the web, perhaps to allay criticisms that he wasn't even there at all that day. I believe he was there, although his shit looks pretty damn clean for late afternoon. He says this was taken just moments before he took his famous shot. I'd like to know where the ledge is supposed to be. That corner of a World Financial Center building appears at the left of his shot. Also, is that a James Nachtwey image?