Kyle Cassidy's Image Stream

Photographs from photographer Kyle Cassidy, mostly people, with a mix of whimsy and menace.

Neil Gaiman & I teach a class and there are photos.

I think the school of Communications at my Alma Mater, Rowan University had been plotting for a long time to get Neil Gaiman to come out and do a lecture and a master class. They wrote me months ago asking if I’d be involved if they could pull it off, and of course, I said I would. So last week Neil & I taught a master-class in storytelling, art, technique and … making things happen, to a group of students and then Neil gave a lecture to 850 or so people in the giant auditorium where I’d seen Man of La Mancha and Van Cliburn in my youth and where I’d had at least one class during college. I walked across the campus I hadn’t seen in decades and felt a bit like one of those movies where all the students come back to their college after the war and it seems different but the same and they want to touch all the door knobs they touched in their youth and stand in all the places they stood and think of the moments and people and events they haven’t thought of in years. Every doorway had a memory. Dean of the College of Communications, Lorin Arnold blogged about our visit here and was particularly responsible for so much of the awesome that happened. Mr. Neil Gaiman blogged about the day here and includes a few photos that I took of him.

Neil reading, me showing slides. Clickenzee to Embiggen!
The class went really well. We started out with questions and just took that as a jumping off point to have a conversation about how we worked, how we decided what to work on, and what happens when you devote your time to a thing. We went back and forth for a while, pinging back to the class to make sure they were getting what they wanted. Then we talked about The Big Book of Who Killed Amanda Palmer and I got up and showed some slides, some from the book, and some that didn’t make it into the book and that Neil hadn’t seen before. Neil talked about why he picked the photos he did to write stories about, how he went about writing them, and the things that he felt inspired by. This was terrific for me as well, since I not really heard him talk before about what motivated him on this and why he’d picked one and not another.
Neil reading, class watching, I’m still showing slides. Clickenzee to Embiggen!
They’d done a great job keeping the class size manageable so, I think, everybody got time and attention. I met the editor of the literary magazine, Avant, which I’d been the editor of when I was in school there, and the editor of the school newspaper, I’d been the Photo Editor while I was there and it was really great to be able to talk to them about their experiences and mine.
Left to Right, (standing) Dr. Julie Haynes, Dr. Lorin Arnold, NFG You may Clickenzee to Embiggen!
Neil had shown up looking a bit like Ernest Shackleton, in that he’d been holed up somewhere writing for months while his wife was off in Australia working for months and he had neither shaved nor cut his hair. “I must photograph this Ernest Shakelton beard” were words that actually came out of my mouth. “Send them to Amanda!” he said cheerfully, because he’s mostly always saying things cheerfully, “she hasn’t seen it!”
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They threw us a big fancy dinner with some wonderful faculty and some students who had won an essay contest and everybody called me “sir” which was a bit weird, but not necessarily in a bad way and there were an awful lot of forks and spoons in the place setting.
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There was something of a forbidden wonder to being brought to the top of the library tower and having people buzz around. One of my English professors confided to Neil “He wasn’t a very good English major, but he was certainly unforgettable,” which is about the best eulogy of my college years I could hope for. I was indeed a terrible student, and it’s nice to know that I was memorable. I was seated next to Julie Haynes, the Associate Dean of the College of Communication and Creative Arts who teaches an incredibly interesting class in something that I can’t tell you about because while she was talking about it I said “OMG, I’m totally working on [Top Sekrit Projekt Very Much Related] and a conspiracy began which might push something even better than I’d initially expected into the world. More on that in … six months. Someone ran up behind me waving a sheet of paper and said “Please! Give this to Mr. Gaiman!” — the paper had a ten dollar bill stapled to it. It seems Neil’s author bio in the back of Good Omens says something like “Neil likes it when fans give him money” which was a joke based on Terry Pratchett’s bio that said something about if you see him you could buy him a margarita. It’s a bit overwhelmingly wonderful how The People love Neil and how Neil loves The People right back. This is what being a nice guy gets you.
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Neil gave a lovely lecture where he answered questions and read a few stories, there was applause, a standing ovation, and I drove back to Philly and picked up Trillian Stars who had just finished a performance of Dancing at Lughnasa (where she’s playing Kate) and we met up with Neil at his hotel & had a nice unwindy time unwinding and talking about friends and houses and jogging paths.
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We parted with our heads full of things past and things future and art that we’d loved and things yet to come and plans to make things happen. It was a good day. Thanks Neil & thanks Rowan, Lorin & Julie for making it happen.
Indeed, let’s. I’m excited for the great wide world tomorrow brings.
Wild Bill in his apartment, 2007. This is pretty much exactly Bill as I remember him.

Wild Bill in his apartment, 2007. This is pretty much exactly Bill as I remember him.

Showing Bill the first proof of War Paint, with him on the cover.

Showing Bill the first proof of War Paint, with him on the cover.

Wild Bill Guarnere in his element, telling stories.

Wild Bill Guarnere in his element, telling stories.

Wild Bill and his wife, Frannie.

Wild Bill and his wife, Frannie.

Wild Bill Guarnere in his kitchen, 2007. The tattoo on his left arm is in memory of his brother who was killed in Italy.

Wild Bill Guarnere in his kitchen, 2007. The tattoo on his left arm is in memory of his brother who was killed in Italy.

We knew that it was very hard to kill Wild Bill Guarnere, but we also knew that something eventually would.

April 28, 1923 – March 8, 2014 We knew that it was very hard to kill Wild Bill Guarnere, but we also knew that something eventually would. I got a call last night from our friend Barbara who was a neighbor, friend, & caretaker to Bill, that he had finally passed away. He’d survived so long and so much it seemed that nothing could kill him.

Wild Bill in his South Philly home, 2011. Click to see this image larger.
The German army tried, again and again, and failed, again and again. They shot at him when he parachuted into Normandy, they tried again at Market Garden. He was a fighter, he got away every time, giving better than he got. His commanding officer, Major Dick Winters called him a “natural killer” — which seems strange to the people who knew him as a jovial and friendly old man. But the war was different. While patrolling the banks of the Rhine river on a stolen motorcycle a sniper shot Bill in the leg and was sent back to England. By covering his cast with shoe polish he escaped from the hospital to return to his unit, like Lassie, he was devoted, and nothing would keep him away and let someone his friends face bullets alone. Eventually they got his leg with an artillery shell at the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and a chest full of other medals. He went home, quietly, to Philadelphia where he didn’t talk about the war, except with his friend Babe Hendon, who’d also served in Easy company, and at reunions.
Bill on his birthday in 2012 with our nephew Oakes
Eventually, Stephen Ambrose talked to Bill and the other surviving soldiers of Easy Company and wrote the book Band of Brothers about them, which got made into a TV series and it made Bill a star. Bill was very happy being a star. He loved talking to people, he loved telling stories. He told me stories when I met him and he was the inspiration for my book War Paint: Tattoo Culture and the Armed Forces, and was on the cover of that book. When I’d asked him about his tattoo I realized that no one had before, and he talked for hours about them.
Bill on his sofa in 2007. Click to see larger.
He was funny man, a witty man, always making jokes. He was always happy to see me and I was always happy that he had Barbara and her husband Ryan to offer the help he always pretended he didn’t want. When War Paint came out I brought him a copy and he didn’t seem to care so much that he was on the cover, but he paged through the whole book and talked to the pictures. "Oh!" he’d say, "a Marine! Hello tough guy!" I never saw him sad, and really not even nostalgic. He was proud of the past and liked to talk about it, even for someone who did so much, he lived in the now. He lived to be talking to you, right now.
Bill on his sofa in 2007. Click to see larger.
I’m sorry he’s gone. For me it was always the most tangible indicator of whether or not there were World War II veterans in the world. "They’re not gone," I’d think, "Bill’s still here." But they’re going so quickly and their stories are going with them. I’m very glad that I had an opportunity to talk to some of these people and to write down some tiny bit of what they’d done and preserve an infinitesimal bit of who they were. Goodbye Wild Bill.
The last second that vacation was fun.

The last second that vacation was fun.

"My marketing plan is to have our campaign go viral," is the modern equivalent of "fairies will make the shoes while we sleep!"

"My marketing plan is to have our campaign go viral," is the modern equivalent of "fairies will make the shoes while we sleep!"

Responding to the many librarian bickerings

librarianwardrobe:

Although these arguments are broadly addressed through empirical and literature-based research in the forthcoming, The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Presentations and Perceptions of Information Work, with ACRL Press, I would like to take a moment to deconstruct them here. Mob…