Here are a few more images from this weekend’s Buffalo Fighting Festival in Do Son. I’m happy with some of the photographs, but I’m definitely missing pieces of the entire story, like the actual fights and the final act of killing the animals. Which is a shame. Because of the crowds, I ended up spending most of my time behind the stadium, near the makeshift stables, where different teams were keeping their animals.
The disconnect between care and carnage is one of the stranger things about the festival. I would see teams and owners staying with their buffaloes, washing them down and keeping them calm while they were backstage, only to lead them, to much applause and fanfare from the crowds, straight into the fighting ring. Not even the winners survive the day. In fact, their meat is the most sought after in the end.
One of the more well-known structures in Hanoi is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Built in 1975, it houses the preserved and polished body of President Ho Chi Minh, who passed away in 1969 in the middle of the Vietnam-American War. It’s widely recognized that in his will, Uncle Ho, as he is still affectionately known, asked to be cremated, as it was more sanitary than burial and would not take away precious agricultural land from the people. That didn’t happen, and he can now be viewed from between 9am and noon daily, excepting annual cleanings and short trips to Moscow for further preservation.
Some people claim that the body inside is a fake, an elaborate national hoax. But really how real can the remains of a human look after 30+ years of chemical treatments and cool dark interiors? If you want to go inside, you’ll have to leave your cameras at the gate.
I’m going through some old photographs from a road trip across the American West two years ago, as part of this large project I’ve given myself to fully update my PhotoShelter Archives. Which is rough, by the way. Even nostalgia can’t make thousands of old (bad) photographs interesting. And nostalgia is a powerful tool. I still like a lot of the images I took back then, but with a kind of qualifier that I’m a different kind of photographer these days. Not better or worse, just different. Maybe it’s circumstantial. Or maybe it’s just growing up, out or wherever.
In other news, homeless, drug-addled art darling Dash Snow apparently died of an overdose today. Or maybe it was yesterday. I could never separate him from the dangerous celebrity mythos that surrounded him, and though his art sometimes hit some marks a bit sideways, it always seemed to me more like his fame came from his grandmother’s maiden name and the lifestyle he had subsequently chosen for himself. He had a book with a funny title. He would masturbate on things and then sprinkle glitter across them. He put colorful little rainbows coming out of Kennedy’s shot-open head. He took Polaroids of drug addicts and other low-brow scenes that most high-brow art people would/could never see on their own. And then he died of a drug overdose at the magical age of 27. If you are interested in Dash Snow, this New York Magazine article is a nice, long, in-depth read.
I just got a few old rolls of film developed and I found this image on one of the last frames, of my friend Landon, who recently passed away down in Saigon. It was a nice little surprise. The 36 pictures span about six months (I don’t use the camera that often, I guess), and I must have had it on me by chance on that night.
I don’t shoot film here very much for about a thousand reasons, the main one being that the scans I get back from the store are something beyond atrocious, grainy and dusty and like two inches long at 300dpi. But I like it here. The painterly quality, the darkness and that feeling of kind of falling apart. It’s also just nice to find a forgotten photograph of an old friend.
I’m back in Hanoi now, swamped in work and editing and personal projects that I’m trying to get off the ground. It was a strange trip to Saigon. Surreal. Like a really long drive with no one at the end to talk to. And then the return. Now life goes on.
I’ve been updating all of my social networking sites, which is about as exciting as it sounds. Pretty soon I’ll have all the links on the sidebar, so if people want to see the inane things I Twitter, the castaways I Flickr, the light I stalker or the sets I Behance, well, soon you’ll be able to. I don’t know what it all means. I’m also working on a huge overhaul of my Photography Archives. There’s time for all of this stuff somewhere, I just need to find it. Then I’m trying to get some writing and images together to apply for grants in 2010. And I’ve decided that one of my new goals (in celebration of the 10th anniversary of my 20th birthday) is to write a novel. Not a long or good one, obviously. Just your standard everyone-does-it-once-in-their-lives kind of novel. So that’s going to be fun.