Retired Airman, Alamogordo, NM, 2013 - A retired Air Force man poses in the afternoon’s last light at a local veteran’s outpost near Holloman Air Force base, a major center of drone pilot training. From my Drone Beat story about the sedentary lives of drone pilots which Mother Jones published in June: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/drone-pilots-reaper-photo-essay. All the Syria chatter has me wondering what kind of sorties are being handed down to the RPA pilots right about now.
Beware of Dog, Louisiana, 2013 - Herman drinks a 40oz while his pit bull snarls at me in front of the oak tree in his family’s yard, which sits on plantation land. The local lore says that when slavery was abolished the plantation owner hung 13 slaves from the tree rather than let them go free. I wrote an accompanying story about my day with Herman in the bayou: The Alligator Hammer.
The Alligator Hammer, Louisiana, 2013 - Herman smokes a Black & Mild cigar while taking a break in Dulac bayou from hunting alligators, which he kills with a hammer by sneaking up from behind and banging a ‘kill spot’. A Cajun accented poacher, Herman has been doing this for years as supplemental income, and says he has “killed hundreds” of alligators. He cooks the meat but also sells the skins to a heart surgeon who lives down the road, who in turn exports them illegally to Italy, where they will be used for purses and shoes.
Plains, Texas, 2013 - An oil rig’s flame burns in the distance in West Texas.
Alamagordo, New Mexico, 2013 - Dora and her Mexican Chihuahua named “Sexy” in front of the home where she has lived for 50 years, since emigrating from southern Mexico.
Alamagordo, New Mexico, 2013 - Raul warms himself and boils a pot of water on a fire in front of his roadside home. He crossed the border into California 35 years ago, but has lived in NM for ten years from odd jobs and stucco construction. The home he shares with his brother has no heating, so he brings buckets of steaming hot water indoors each night to heat the room. ”Life is hard, you know, but I’m never going back to Mexico.”
The Salton Sea - Near Bombay Beach, CA, 2013
Peripatetic - Niland, CA, 2013 - Brian is a 22 year old from Staten Island who’s been hitchhiking his way across America for ten months. I met him wandering alone in the desert by the Salton Sea. He spent the summer in Alaska, near the forest where Christoper McCandless died August 1992 of starvation or food poisoning in an abandoned schoolbus, made famous by Into the Wild. In a thick Staten Island accent, Brian explained that Into the Wild partially inspired his own journey, but confessed that his romanticization of the story was deflated after experiencing the pleasant Alaskan summer himself. ”I mean, I was ten miles from where he died, and I just don’t get it. You mention it up there and people just shake their heads.”