November 1, 2012

Sandy as Preview


In our post on the absence of the homeless in the coverage leading up to and during the killer storm, we sampled media photos of precautions taken to protect the banks, high end retail and the New York Stock Exchange. If absent the irony, the double standard stays true, as many aftermath photos seem to game out a future in which America’s resources diminish but the gap between haves and have-nots persists. That future (especially if you add havoc from climate change to the model) looks, let’s say, far from electric.

A Reuters article by David Rhode reprinted in The Atlantic yesterday attacked the monster storm and the “two Americas” issue head on. Titled “The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy,” this swat from Mother Nature, if one bothered to look, was quick to reveal the radically skewed economic reality of the island. The photo below more than adequately addresses the point, the Financial District a literal beacon in the storm. (Although there’s no caption, the building has been widely identified as Goldman Sachs, which apparently has its own backup generator.)

(click for larger size)

Echoing the same theme, but in a more angry and abbreviated way is this Instagram photo and post from photographer Dan Patterson from the evening of the storm.


He writes:

Screen Shot 2012 11 01 at 10 24 37 AM

An important caveat: even if the geography of the downtown blackout happened to be more random (just as 1%-ers took their own beating downtown), Mr. Patterson’s sentiment, in accord with larger pulls, priorities and access to more resources, is not.

Of course, parsing for economic justice and the widening divide, any number of photos are streaming across the newswire right now activating themes and serving as previews of fissures much broader than just access to electricity. Just as one example, otherwise mundane photos of clogged highways and suburban gas lines offer a rare peek at low wage workers spending hours getting to and from work on Fantasy Island. (I encourage you, by the way, to keep writing us about the themes and and narratives you see in the photos. Reading the pictures in the media stream from a more democratic perspective is one way to at least keep the media ecology more just.)

Finally, the Ben Lowy Instagram photo leading this post seemed the freshest variation on the theme. As still one more illumination of warning, there is something particularly poignant about young tourists relegated to hard copy, on Halloween night no less, navigating Lower Manhattan in darkness.

( photo 1: Ben Lowy/Instagram. caption: New York City, NY | October 31, 2012 French tourists Virginia and David use a cellphone to light a map while navigating the darkened streets of downtown New York. photo 2: Reuters; photo 3: Dan Patterson/Instagram;)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus