First Amendment Wall of Shame

Brooke & Erin 4-22

If you follow blogs like War on Photography or Photography is Not a Crime, like I do, you already know of many places in the U.S. where photographers working “in the street” have been hassled, sometimes by private security personnel and sometimes by police or other authorities. Some localities stand out for steps they’ve taken to reduce such confrontations, like the recently revised official policies of the New York City Police Department and New York’s MTA subway authority, but some jurisdictions have become known for their idiotic prohibitions of photography, like New York and New Jersey’s Port Authority’s restrictions on photography while on or in its bridges or tunnels.

I think we need a First Amendment Wall of Shame, and prominent on that wall will be Arizona’s Maricopa County (Phoenix). According to previous “War on Photography” reports, photographers there have been hassled and threatened with arrest for photographing Phoenix’s light rail system, and now these videos from September 9 surface, reported by Phoenix’s Channel 5, showing outrageous behavior by Maricopa County sheriff’s personnel and a totally erroneous legal interpretation by the sheriff office’s representative (the videos all come from the Channel 5 site, and apparently represent versions of the story broadcast at different times):

Interestingly, of course, these are not “terrorism”-justified interferences — they are just garden-variety “police don’t like being photographed” interferences.

(Thanks to friend Dave for pointing me to the first video.)

(And, a footnote: In at least one of the videos the sheriff’s deputy says to the videographer,

[Y]ou’re going to listen to me, or I’m going to take your camera, and if you’re going to keep running your mouth, I’m going to take you to jail.

IMO, at least in Minnesota, that is probably the crime of attempted coercion — not necessarily the “take you to jail part,” but the reference to taking his camera.)

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Yooper Department

Never heard of a “Yooper,” I’ll bet. It’s vernacular for “U.P.er,” which refers to residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (get it, “U.P.”?). Sunday I missed NPR’s major coverage of all things Yooper, although given we drive through it at least once a year, I needed to hear it. So I went to Weekend Edition Sunday to listen in. What I found were not one, not two, but ten segments (actually spread over Saturday and Sunday), some of them serious, and some definitely tongue-in-cheek.

If a slightly strange corner of Americana interests you, check it out.

And, yes, they tell you how to make pasties. (I don’t mean the kind used in burlesque.) This meat pie dish has obvious similarities to pierogi (given a cameo turn in Men in Black) and even ravioli, but originated in the U.K.’s Cornwall (home to Tristan, although apparently not as ancient). Interestingly, according to Wikipedia,

In 2002, the Cornish Pasty Association, the trade organization for pasty making in Cornwall, submitted an application to the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to obtain Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for the Cornish pasty. …. If PGI status is granted to the Cornish pasty (the same status that has been granted to Champagne, Parma Ham, Stilton Cheese, Arbroath Smokies, Cornish Clotted Cream, [and Alsace's Foie Gras, but not Scottish Haggis, apparently -- there's no accounting for taste]) it would mean only pasty makers based in Cornwall who make in a traditional manner and follow a traditional recipe will be able to label their products as Cornish pasties.

(I guess I could say anything derogatory I wanted to about Yoopers and they’d not know it — I’ve not had a single Yooper reader of this blog in the last six months.)

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Casting Pearls Before Me Department

Last night was Les pĂȘcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) at The Minnesota Opera, the highlight of which of course is the wonderful duet sung most gloriously by Jussi Bjoerling and Robert Merrill. Good performance, and I had forgotten how effectively Bizet recapitulates the duet, “Au fond du temple saint,” late in the opera to considerable emotional effect. (The opera is overshadowed by Bizet’s Carmen, of course, so is rarely performed.) At least in my memory, it’s never been done at the Met, although Wikipedia says it was the season premiere there in 1916.

Being in bachelor mode as I was, I invited sometime model and always good friend Lauren to join me. We joined friends for dinner, and then the opera.

A pleasant evening, indeed.

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From the recent Sappho set. This says so much ….

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