Raymond Sackler, Dead at 94

Raymond Sackler did the world a lot of favors. He donated art to improve our knowledge of the history of man and built a company which created the drug, oxycontin which threatens to destroy it.

Ironically, he built one of the world’s biggest drug empire based on product which numbs the taker, interfering with physical pain and inhibiting perspicacity, delivering it in measured doses, packaged in hermetically sealed containers, guaranteeing the absence of harmful additives. In most cases, the Government even pays for it.

Just for fun, figure out whether the net balance of his life added or subtracted from the human equation.




George Romero died. He taught me to be scared of the dark. Hell, I am old, which means I don’t carry heavy things and I get tired earlier. But age, the early age of television, let me watch Bela Lugosi while my parents were in the other room doing whatever.

Dracula didn’t scare me, because Zacherly was there to intercept them.

But, no one helped me with George. He made me believe in zombies.

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

Stanley Green, Another Photographer, Dead

Now, why didn’t I have the courage to do this when I could? I guess it’s because I wanted to use words instead of images to change the world. I failed. Stanley Green didn’t.

Very sad. The world will miss his work. To replicate it, if that was possible, a photographer would need to be connected to the universe by strings, like he was. He could feel the beat and see it. I got the feeling from his work that he knew the answers. I wonder if he felt the same way.


So, Brady’s lawyer died at 90, a good age, time to do enough and live. Didn’t you want to know what some of these lawyers and defendants looked like? How many times do you ask for Brady material? Did you ever read the original case and then look to see how it has been eviscerated?

Don’t forget Brady applies to stuff that inculates and exculpates, though prosecutors are loathe to say anything positive about those they think to indict and convict. One might ask the latest SCOTUS nominee what he thinks of it, too.

Barbara Grau, Dead Too Soon

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Barbara Grau died a few weeks ago. I photographed her last year for the official Temple Anshei Shalom’s President’s Wall. She had just gotten over her latest chemo/poisoning. We talked as we shot. She said she was satisfied with what she had done with her life. More importantly, she thanked me for making her feel beautiful again.

Artur Fisher, Dead at 96

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So, a guy lives. We never heard of him, but we know him. He leaves the world different than how he found it. Why? He has imagination.

So, Artur died. He had more patents than Edison. From my standpoint, he gave me the power to hang things on my walls and to have my flash go off when I push the shutter on my camera, making my life better. Didn’t know him, but thank you for living a long and productive life and for making my life better.

Leila Alaoui, Photographer Wounded in Burkina Faso Siege, Dies at 33

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Any time a photojournalist dies, the world is a little less safe and its future a little less optimistic. One image can bring a message words can only hope to deliver. One need not know the artist to understand her voice.

Her obit in the NYT tells of a woman who saw truth and put her vision to work to educate and enlighten.


How inspiring she must have been to those who saw her work or worked with her.

Cantor Efraim Sapir, Dead at 69

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So, at his funeral service, which I didn’t attend because Sharon and I were out of town and didn’t know about it, the presiding Rabbi said God didn’t take Cantor Sapir, he took himself.

Why? I don’t know. I wish I knew before he did it. Many wish they did, too. Could we have helped him? Who knows? Everyone must make their own decision when to live and when to die. Some may need to be told how much they are loved.

I didn’t know him well or for so long. We were the same age, almost. I envisioned growing old with him, learning more about all the things he knew: music, humor, talmud and the meaning of life. I don’t have many friends; he could have been one.

Cantor’s voices connect prayers with God. Efrain loved to sing in Temple, using melodies to rid the congregants of self-consciousness, elevating their thoughts and minds to holy places. He’d pause between some phrases to look out into the audience, listening for proof he had connected, him to them and them to the angels. He once told me that he had observed me banging my prayer book on a pew during a prayer and that I had used an alternative beat. I sit in the last row; how observant.

We did a photo shoot in my studio, a formal shot for the hallway and the Temple Anshei Shalom bulletin. It took two hours. He was dressed perfectly, hair groomed, suit/shirt/tie selected for the occasion. We exchanged stories, listened to cantorial music and played with the lights. During one song by a noted Cantor, he explained the guy was just singing nonsense words, because the music was so beautiful and he wanted to sing along. I told him, after the shoot, how handsome he was and what a joy it was to photograph him. He said he never saw himself as being so good looking and that my images made him very happy.

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The shot of him holding the Torah after the reading was the last shot of him. Taken two weeks before his death at Morning Minyan, it is not my usual kind of photograph. He isn’t looking at the camera and really doesn’t know or care I am in front of him. I usually go for the head, but I was drawn to his hands and the words on the Torah cover. You can see the joy in his heart, his love of Torah and feelings for humanity.

The Photo Gods helped me shoot this image. I wish God had helped me with fix his self image. He was a beautiful man, a significant man. My life will be less without him. You see, sometimes it isn’t how long you know someone but how well.

Richard Horowitz, Baton Maker, Dead


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Richard Horowitz died. He left the world better than he found it.

He played Timpani drums and made conductors batons. Nothing is seen more during a symphony concert than a baton. And nothing is more welcomed than the beat of the timpani drum. One might think that the drummer doesn’t even have to be a musician. Just wait patiently for the right moment and barge right in.

No member of the orchestra can set the dramatic tone fast or more effectively than a timpani drum. No one can lead an orchestra without a baton. Richard had his drum set right in front of him. Armed with what you can be sure was one of his homemade drumsticks, he waited the conductors cue. Vmmmm, Bam.

Moran Building and Hilla Becher


So, Hilla Becher died at 81. She was too young. Another photographer who should have lasted longer.

What she and her husband brought to the party now seems banal and commonplace. But before them, people didn’t give the industrial plant any notice. We have all seen big building and smokestacks. Water towers in certain places are breeding grounds for microbial diseases. They not only saw the beauty in factories, silos and storage, they recognized them as art. Then they arranged them on posters, deemphasizing their importance,  for a second, while heightening your interest in seeing what they saw. No one had done it like this before. And all our attempts are lame.

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When I lived in Burlington VT, a town where the people were colder than the temperature, I wanted to shoot the Moran Building, a dilapidated structure on Lake Champlain. They had their people, their artists, their crew. Me. I just lived nearby, visiting everyday. Angry at the damage the plant did to the Lake and wondering if the next incarnation would make it healthier, I longed to get inside with my camera. One day I did. Just a short visit, enough to snap and show what I would do if given more opportunity.

The two recent UVM graduates, whatever Gov’t agency gave the money for coming up with a development plan and the fund raisers didn’t recognize my desire to contribute my work or my ability. They got people to paint images on the wall and make paintings. The architects sent me one message and probably went back to their photographer. I never heard from the Mayor or whomever controlled the art. One person told me I was on the team, though I didn’t get a jersey or a cup.

Never made it onto their list. Not a member of the inner circle of Burlington Artists. Didn’t work for the Free Press or 7 Days. Not a donator to BCA. Not sure they let people with attitude inside. They be happy with the same-old, same-old. So, we left.

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The Bechers. They live within me, too. Taught me how to see, better.