It’s that time of the season for high school students to start looking at Colleges, and with the first wave of SATs giving children their first grey hairs of stress, plus the impending January first deadline to file your Common Application looming overhead, the approaching new year feels more like the end of times for these seniors. My own memories of this stressful time have resurfaced in no small part to my younger sister’s high school tours, one of them being Baruch High school, which I attended. Still being on good terms with the school, I’d like to interview several of the students to discuss their future plans and contingencies, and use this final project as an exposé on the most stressful standardized process we encounter in our childhood. Like it or not, the Common App does gives you a blanketing perspective of your academic prowess; but one’s potential can also be overshadowed, or become outright invisible in the torrent of applications–before you consider the permutational hell of Early Decision. God, it’s stressing me out all over again; did I tell you Colombia rejected me on my birthday? Like Pepperidge farm, I still ‘memba.
Edit: I think it would also be best for me to profile one particular student–such as whoever is poised to be the valedictorian–and focus on their story; that way the whole project still functions as an exposé on the college process but isn’t too overbearingly general.
Another idea I have for my final project is to interview several members of my Fraternity who are currently tied up in a lawsuit with the school (I was personally involved, but was acquitted of the charges, which would have seen me suspended) The suit has everything to do with our own constitutional right to freedom of speech and association, plus it would also be a great way to gauge the school’s current views on Social fraternities, a way of life the school has been desperately trying to exterminate at all costs. I would interview the three students currently engaged in this litigation, give the viewer an understanding of their lives and how the chapter has benefitted their lives, and ultimately show how the school was entirely in the wrong. I’d frame this like a CNN documentary: I have all the evidence on my computer, as it were.
By Charles Tabasso
When I heard that Hurricane Maria–the last in a surprisingly long line of hurricanes to make the headlines this month–knocked out all power in Puerto Rico, with analysts estimating the damage to have quite literally set the country back “decades” (by some accounts) I had to see for myself. Now there are no shortage of pictures demonstrating this latest hurricane’s destructive capability; the writing is on the walls its reduced to rubble. But what the majority of these photographs have in common, and is wonderfully demonstrated by CNBC’s photo essay, “In Pictures: Puerto Rico pummeled by Hurricane Maria,” is the destruction on a universally human scale. It’s ultimately the comparison between the destruction and the people affected, standing alongside the wreckage, often in mourning, or merely coming to terms with the new reality of their homelessness, that speak for those affected.
The destruction of Puerto Rico is largely inarticulable. It’s scope cannot be grasped without some sort of comparison–a means of relating the horror the majority of us are lucky enough to view through our screens to the hell on earth Puerto Rico’s residents must now live in–But it’s because of the scope that these pictures are so jaw dropping. An entire nation without power is only so impactful as its citizens are shown to be: there is, otherwise, the disconnect between what we see and feel that screens encapsulate all too objectively. And it’s because CNBC’s photos always include this human element that the destruction we see is never without its due comparison. There are people dwarfed by telephone polls and fallen branches, others surveying the waste, the ruins and landmarks they used to call home. It’s this perspective that packs a punch, that ultimately reminds the rest of the world that these are people living through what is likely the worst time of their lives, and are now utterly helpless.
It’s like the aftermath of a child’s tantrum exacted on their model train set; with its figurines rooted to the ground, in shock, at what remains.
The hardest part of effective photography, when documenting these sort of natural disasters, is in effect to remind the viewer why we should care; to help us rediscover our empathy.
And it’s through the diminutive scale that this is ultimately accomplished. The scale speaks for itself: when I constantly reminded myself that this territory was reduced, practically, to the stone age over night, I couldn’t believe it until I saw the extent of these damages–and only then (and once again) in comparison to people like myself.
While Central Park is a citywide landmark and enclave for conservation its charm is in its escapism. New York City high rises peek over treetops; airplanes etch contrails in the sky; but this park represents a refuge for nature, not an attempt at integration with the surrounding metropolis. For this reason the piers that circumscribe Manhattan, especially by the Hudson River, offer a more striking image of nature’s place within the concrete jungle. And the bike paths that trace this region aren’t just a tourist’s best friend but a miniature highway rubbing shoulders with the real thing. It’s more than a convenient bike lane: there’s a lot to see and do by the Hudson. Scenic vistas are peppered with restaurants; biking along the underpass you’ll see the whole gamut of sports being played, from basket- to baseball and soccer, in the typical New Yorker pickup style; like the rest of the city there’s a niche for everyone, and I want to help others find theirs.
I want to reproduce what I’d consider a typical Hudson River experience with this photo essay. However, this is more than acting as a tour guide—for me it’s about capturing the immediacy of these experiences. My plan is to record myself biking up and down the Hudson’s bike path. My photos will contrast the Hudson River freeway with the sights and sounds of its adjacent piers. I already have a trail mapped out in my head: I would start my journey on Fifty-fifth street Twelfth avenue and bike up the Greenway, as the path is called, towards Ninety-sixth street. Between these two points are basketball courts, gymnastic rings, several interesting modern sculptures, and tons of geese. But what’s just as important to me is how the public uses it all; I want people interacting with the environment to bring these experiences to life. Hopefully I will also be allowed to interview the people I photograph, so I can learn why they choose to spend their time here by the Hudson. This will also add a more human element to my tableau that will, I hope, further impress the intersectional nature of this other environmental enclave.