Category Archives: Photography

John G. Morris – 20th Century Little Big Man

Capa,_D-Day1In 1964 Thomas Berger published Little Big Man. Filmed later as an anti-war parody by director Arthur Penn, the satirical novel recounts the exploits of 111-year-old Jack Crabb, as he wanders through the history of nineteenth-century western America. Along the way his life intersects with the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, and Custer. Through it all he has a front row seat to the so-called “winning of the West”— and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Crabb was a fictional character but each era seems to have its real life Jack Crabbs–  people whose long lives spanned critical historical events, and whose actions, usually associated with their work, influenced events behind the scenes. One such real life character is John G. Morris (1916 –  ). Quietly Morris became a key figure in the story of the 20th-century through his photo editing. He was on the scene in downtown Los Angeles early in 1942 to photograph the first wave of Japanese men, women and children being packed off to internment camps in the high desert. He then went to London as Life magazine’s lead photo editor in Europe during World War II and was in charge of coordinating the visual coverage of the Western Front. It was Morris who managed to save a handful of historic images shot by Robert Capa at D-Day when it was feared the entire set had been lost when damaged in development. Morris went to Normandy himself shortly after the invasion and snapped some memorable photos of his own. After the war, while at Ladies Home Journal, Morris published Women and Children of the Soviet Union with photos taken by Robert Capa. The photos provided Americans with a rare glimpse behind the Iron Curtain at the onset of the Cold War.

His career spans tenures with Life magazine, the Magnum photo agency, Ladies’ Home JournalThe Washington Post, The New York Times, and the National Geographic magazine. He knew and worked with the most celebrated war chroniclers of the times– Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Ernest Hemingway and David Duncan to name just a few. While he was the photo editor for The New York Times during the Vietnam War, Morris put Nick Ut’s “Napalm Girl” and Eddie Adams’ Saigon execution and John Filo’s student crying at Kent State on the front page — photos that greatly affected public perception of the Vietnam War. Morris is passionately anti-war, and much like Jack Crabb, it becomes abundantly clear upon listening to him speak that he doesn’t like what he sees. View an excellent documentary about John G. Morris called Get The Picture.

Career:

Daily Maroon (The Chicago Maroon), University of Chicago student newspaper, 1933-37

Pulse, University of Chicago student magazine, Editor, 1937-38

LIFE (magazine), Editorial Staff, 1939-46 : New York, Los Angeles, Washington, London, Chicago, Paris

Ladies’ Home Journal, Associate Editor (Pictures), 1946-52

Magnum News Service, Editor, 1952-63

The Washington Post, Assistant Managing Editor (Graphics), 1964-65

Time/Life Books, editor, 1966-67

The New York Times, Picture Editor, 1967-74; Editor, NYT Pictures, 1975-76

Quest/77-79, Contributing Editor, 1977-79

National Geographic, European Correspondent, 1983-89

Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Studs_Terkel_-_1979-1The National Endowment for the Humanities has funded the creation of a publicly accessible digital archive which will stream nearly 5,000 oral history interviews conducted by the great Studs Terkel from his 45 years on Chicago radio. The site is active but currently only a fraction of the material is up. Much more to come. Check it out here:

Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Listen to a sample: Studs interviews Alfred McCoy in 1971 about his book on the drug trade in Southeast Asia and it’s effect on American soldiers in Vietnam.

Chavez Ravine: Ashes and Diamonds

Went to Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago for a ballgame. It’s a beautiful park in a beautiful setting. Had a great time with my mom. We had Dodger Dogs, heard Vin Scully and rooted for the home team. But I couldn’t help thinking about what had happened there in the years leading up to the team’s move from Brooklyn. I first learned of the struggle for what is now the “Home of the Dodgers” from the musician Ry Cooder when he put out his “Chavez Ravine” record about ten years ago. The music is excellent. The story…. 

Related Material:

Music: Thee Midniters – Chicano Power

Music: Lalo Guerrero – Los Chucos Suaves

Video: The Zoot Suit Riots

Video: The Battle For Chavez Ravine

Video: First Game at Dodger Stadium – April 10, 1962

Video: Barry Goldwater at Dodger Stadium 1964

Video: Club Scene from Criss Cross w/ Lancaster, De Carlo and Curtis

Link: Independent Lens: Chavez Ravine

Photography: The Mexican Suitcase

Photographer Robert Capa during the Spanish ci...

Image via Wikipedia

In late December 2007, three small cardboard boxes arrived at the International Center of Photography from Mexico City after a long and mysterious journey. These tattered boxes—the so-called Mexican Suitcase—contained the legendary Spanish Civil War negatives of Robert Capa. Rumors had circulated for years of the survival of the negatives, which had disappeared… More>>