Saturday, December 25, 2004

Proposed Ban on Subway Photography

You know, they had laws like this in my Russian host city. Sarov had been the seat of Soviet nuclear development, the USSR's answer to Los Alamos, and there were all kinds of relic formalities that were observed because the end of the cold war hadn't extended that far yet. You couldn't take photos of the city's power stations, couldn't enter or leave the city without a passport (this included Russian nationals), were even restricted in taking pictures in meetings with city dignitaries. (NB Yes, we met city dignitaries. This was possibly the most importance I will ever hold: one of twelve teenaged ambassadors to a "secret" city in a miserably depressed former communist state. My life is comfortably small.)

My point is that this is not part of a thinly veiled attempt to bring back Cold War Fear in hopes of inspiring the same nationalism and patriotic consumerism that we saw after WWII. On the contrary, it's not veiled at all. Once a few bigwigs declared irony dead after 9/11, all bets were off. There are no excuses necessary because any suggestion that we are willfully repeating history requires a sense of irony, and that is Just Not Welcome Here.

I have a picture of Kelly and I on the Union Square station platform waiting for a train during the trip we made during my first spring break at UMD. I hadn't been in the city for almost a year. I had sent the Jackass of Doom a no contact request prior to my arrival that he went to great lengths to ignore. That particular night he was hanging on like the flu. I was sleeping on a linoleum floor with only a sleeping bag for comfort. I was deleriously happy to be home, and to be sharing it with my best friend. You bet your ass I was gonna take pictures.

There's a quote that's frequently (and perhaps erroneously) attributed to Ben Franklin about how anyone who would give up freedom for security deserves neither, and will likely get neither. Those who take pictures for commemorative purposes will not accidentally capture The Secret Inner Workings of the MTA. Those who take pictures for nefarious purposes will not be stopped by rules against photography.


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