The APEC Summit has come and gone. To me, and to probably loads of other photographers, APEC was just Another Photo, EtC…
What a pain! 3AM call times so Secret Service could sweep you and your gear, the suspicious stares from foreign security guards, the endless traffic congestion due to heighten security and dignitaries’ motorcades, the endless waiting for someone to make an appearance. It just goes on and on.
Yet, I’ve gotten to photograph the three most powerful men in the world…Medvedev, Obama, and Hu Jintao. No to mention Hillary Clinton, just about every APEC nation’s leaders landing at the airport. I was no further than a very short stone’s throw from two of the most powerful men whose mere presence can shake the course of history. Do I exaggerate? Anyone who holds the US debt plus possibly the EU’s? No. I don’t exaggerate.
Yet, its all just Another Photo, EtC. Really. Images to catalog, to burn on a disc, and to file away. After its all over, all you have left is the lingering rush and adrenaline still pumping from the job.
The Associated Press was happy as I got a “Thanks for the good work” email from Tom Stathis…and that means a lot. I got to be a part of something important although I was just on the outside.
Here are a few of the selects from the APEC hell week.
Above you see Mr. Obama through the bullet proof glass of his pimped out Caddy. As he drove up to the tarmac and I spotted him in the rear seat, I couldn’t help to be struck by the fact that he’s the US President.
The toughest part of the week was being stuck on arrival duty and having to be cleared to enter Joint Base Pearl Harbor/Hickam at 4am on Friday and 3am on Saturday. Those days were tough yet I got to see the smiling Dimitry Medvedev exiting his crappy Russian state plane. The Sultan of Brunei had the BIG PIMPIN’ 747 ride that was just as big as Air Force One, or so it seems. Hu Jintao was rumored to hit Honolulu’s Chinatown but since I live a few blocks away, I would have probably been alerted to the super security that would have surrounded the Chinese presidents’ present, no? He, Medvedev and and Obama had full on security detail meaning they could shut down the city when they rolled. I saw no such action in Ctown the week they were here.
One rumor I read was the Russian delegation demanded the bars at the Modern Waikiki (hotel) remain open 24 hours a day. Stoli on the rocks at any time, no?
The Hu Jintao photo op was mired in constant “meiyou meiyou” and suspicious glares. The Chinese security forces around the President clearly were doing their job but seemed awfully unorganized and never believed anything the American handlers would tell them. Constant badgering, criticism, and attitude. Constant confrontation and getting into people’s faces. Not aggressive like Westerners but like Chinese…a mildly aggressive badgering. Bad haircuts and bad suits. At the end, we were hosed by the State Run media which got the better pictures and we got sidelined for cheaper and faster images. And when I say State Run, I refer to China, not our government media complex.
Speaking of bad suits, we had a run in with Russian security. As we were waiting in media line to enter Hickam for the arrivals on Friday, three guys in cheap suits got in line with us and tried to enter the base. They drove a black US sedan (which you knew stunk of Russian cigarettes and vodka and probably had a dissident tied and bloodied in the trunk) and got out of the car eyeing all of us suspiciously while sauntering over to the military police to get onto base. Medvedev was arriving and they had a job to do. They were young and didn’t look all the menacing but you knew if you screwed with them, you’d end up in the trunk with that dissident. I looked for bloody knuckles and blood smears on their jackets to no avail. The Cold War lives on.
Security was insane…but who can blame them. Imagine the fool who could get close enough to knock off a world leader. Their names would line the history books! I remember when I worked as an assistant and being left alone in a studio with Bill Gates for like 15 minutes. Boy did my mind drift to those c stands in the corner and how I could use it as a bat. We all know who assassinated Lincoln, Lennon, Kennedy, and Reagan, no?* Gates? Well, it didn’t happen. Your kid won’t learn about me in the history books and they’ll still have to deal with Windows crashing.
*Booth, Chapman, Oswald, Hinckley.
And for my last image, all I have to say is the 60’s live on. Most of those protesters, God bless ’em, who demonstrated in anti-APEC protests across town and in the country do have a point. Banks, politicians, media, etc…are in need for reform. I myself can’t help but to wonder how members of Congress are able to dance around insider trading laws, how millionaires like Michael Fat Boy Moore and P Diddy can hob nob with the protesters, and how the Democrats claim to support the peoples when they are the 1%. Obama didn’t fund raise at Disney’s Aluani with the homeless out living on the Waianae Coast. He charged $1000 per head and pix with the Commander in Chief were $5000. I wish AP paid me what those donors paid for a simple snap with Barack. I’d be big pimpin’ with da Sultan in no time.
Again, back to the pits…the harry hippies of yesteryear haven’t disappeared. Their indelible stain on society protrudes on our lovely siren holding a most important bed sheet while splashing around Waikiki’s warm waters. Yet might it be the marketing and the romance of the hippie culture which sells the image of revolution? No doubt the younger generations have copycatted the protest movements, clothing, music and chants of those stinking masses of yesteryear. The chants of “Hey Hey Ho Ho (add your chic cause here) has got to go!” are no different than those chanted by those who spit on my uniformed father when he returned from ‘Nam. The attraction of free love and free living along with being free of all society’s constraints is just too great. And to think those sandal wearing pot smokers went on to sell their wares in the capitalists markets. Now you can find hippie attire and culture all neatly packaged at Urban Outfitters or other such chain stores. And lets not skimp on the irony that its made by our comrades in China.
The scarfed, tent dwelling, cardboard waving sandalnista is no more than a carbon copy of old grainy film stock images of 60’s hippies. Except they use the the 1%ers Twitter, Facebook and web devices to carry on the message.
The message is correct to some degree but 1969 has come and gone. Vote them out I say. We elected the hope and change and got nothing. Vote them out. That vote weighs more than some scrawled message on an old cardboard box. But if we are not careful, we might not even have a vote. Then we’re gonna need to do something much more than occupying a city park and smoking dope.