At the end of October, as the fall term in the Carleton School of Journalism program reaches its slog point – where the initial enthusiasm of beginning a term runs dry and the drag-your-feet-in-the-mud, but get-it-done attitude takes hold – I decided to head to New York City for a pick-me-up.
Aside from a much needed change of scenery, I went for another reason.
I was scheduled to interview American, non-fiction author, Sebastian Junger, whose work I hold in high esteem.
Junger’s work is thrilling, unique, interesting and insightful, but he also strikes me as a down-to-earth, common sense guy. He owns a bar in Lower Manhattan called the Half King and seems to address the rest of humanity, in his books and in public, in this I-know-and-understand-why-we-do-this-shit manner. In other words, Junger has a unique insight into the human condition.
I once read that he bought his bar with other writer friends to “stay grounded.”
Which is why I wasn’t surprised when he got back to me a few days after I emailed him and agreed to an interview.
What I didn’t know was that the week I scheduled the interview, the East Coast was to experience, not only the biggest storm in its history, but a storm that was to grow bigger as it hit the coastline. It was what many called “the perfect storm.” A storm that was to wreak havoc on the heart of New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods.
When I learned this fact, I hastened on my way to NYC. What a good opportunity for still photography, and what a great chance to expand my portfolio with interesting work.
As it happened, I was not able to interview Junger. Tuesday, our scheduled date, just a day after the storm, conflicted with Junger for obvious reasons, and he, I assume, had to bail his bar out from under all the sea water that rushed the lower part of the city.
But I got some great photographs while I trekked up and down Manhattan on Sunday and Monday because the subways and buses were closed.
I should also add that Junger was on CNN the night of the storm. He was interviewed about Sandy and asked to draw similarities between it and the storm he wrote about in his 1991 book, The Perfect Storm. The book was later turned into a feature film starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Slate later reported that Junger did not “deliver.” Here’s what he said about Sandy to CNN’s Piers Morgan:
“Well, the storms are similar in some ways. In the storm I wrote about—and in this storm, obviously—there was a major hurricane, there was a low-pressure system and there was a high-pressure system. And those things combined in really catastrophic ways. The meteorologists that I interview for my book sort of groped for a way to explain it to me and said, ‘Look it was a perfect storm.’ All the variables that make a storm bad, they were all maxed out. And in some ways that’s happened again with this storm. Of course, the big difference is that today it’s a hurricane that’s coming ashore. In the storm I wrote about the hurricane stayed at sea and the nor’easter, low-pressure system, hit the coast with devastating affect.”
Sebastian Junger is also contributing editor to Vanity Fair magazine.