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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Hello, Mr. Anderson…

Oct 21

In Rambling, Thoughts at 5:08am

You’ve certainly become a bit of a household name, and face, via your folksy thank you videos that all Delta passengers are familiar with by now. And kudos on trying to make the process of “inserting the metal flap into the belt buckle” more entertaining. Love the triplet scenario in the emergency exit row.

Videos aside, you’re doing a nice job running Delta, you and all your colleagues. I find Delta service to be generally excellent, upbeat, and folks from the counter to the cockpit strive to please. Some of the planes are pretty old, but you’re making strides. A bunch of the airports are much nicer of late. (The iPads at LaGuardia are fun.)

I’m just like all the other legions of folks who daily drag their fatigued buttocks down jetways and onto your planes. (I was going to say sorry asses, but that has a judgmental quality to it, and I shouldn’t extend that descriptor to others. Their posteriors might well be thankful, happy ones.) The only difference that might accrue to me is that I tend to do it more frequently than most. I’ve flown over 1.9 million miles on your airplanes 

I’m a freelance photographer, and have been sent many places on this earth where your planes happen to go. Even though I fly a lot, do a lot of business with Delta, I realize that as a tiny operation my studio matters not to a huge enterprise like yours. I am an economic flyspeck in the big picture of things. But, there are a lot of us flyspecks out there, on your planes. And it’s been this two way street of you running a good airline, and us coming back for more, that has gotten Delta to a very good and happy place, right? Near record profits. Gas prices are falling. (Though, somehow, airline ticket prices are rising.) Planes are constantly full. Reasonably priced tickets are generally non-refundable.

(How many businesses, outside of Uncle Stevie’s on Canal St. in NY, back in the day, can get away with basically an all sales are final motif?)

Most of us pound a certain airline (hence the loyalty factor) to accumulate miles. When my kids were young, I called my Delta miles “Mickey Miles” so I could get the kids down to Florida and wait with them on the line for Dumbo. And you do give back for the loyalty. I’m a non-stop coach flyer, only occasionally springing for the moola to do an up front seat. And the upgrades I get pretty frequently are very welcome. My arthritic knees would be happy to send you chocolates.

But those biz class seats are becoming like a mirage, fading in the distance, ever receding, certainly in terms of buying them. I just booked my wife and I for a NY to London, part work/part vacation trip later this year. Coach seats went for $960, roughly, which is fair enough. Just for giggles, I asked the agent to price biz class tix. $7700! Gouge! I mean ouch! Even the Delta person on the other end of the phone choked on that one. For the NY to London to NY route, that computes to more than $500 an hour in the air. That better be a pretty comfy seat! Honestly, if I paid that kind of hourly rate for a fancy, motorized chair, I’d expect it to be more than comfortable. I’d expect it to, you know, do something for me. I won’t go further.

And now the frequent flyer, mileage program is going to be pitched not on miles flown, but on price paid. Sigh. There will be new quotas to adhere to, and an increasingly high bar to gain any measure of decent treatment and comfort, none of it based on loyalty, frequency of travel, or miles flown. It’s all based on price. My bud and fellow long time traveler David Burnett, on his Facebook page, just quoted a letter Delta Platinum Flyers recently got that evidently said something to the effect of, if everyone’s elite, no one is.  Does Delta really mean to become an airborne country club?

Here’s what should have happened. It should have been offered, this new plan. Not required. Those at the beginning of their lifelong journeys, new to the ways of the traveler, well, okay, I can see why they might have to sign onto this new style of program. Virtually every company in America offers incoming, new employees a different deal than those who joined the enterprise thirty years ago, if there are any of those folks still around the hallways.

Those who have stuck with you, through the bad old days, through the mayhem of the Northwest merger, through the winds and weather of travel, should have been offered a choice. Stick with the program you know and love, or opt for the new one. Some folks, whose type of business might be able to afford higher fares, just might leap at the chance to capitalize on their expenditure, and go for the new gig. The rest of us, beleaguered and unattractive as we might be, have been quite a sizable spark plug of your currently revved up economic engine for quite a while. We should have been offered a tip of the hat.

We should be given a choice. Options. Acknowledgement. Fairness. We don’t deserve to be thrown under the bus, or in this instance, into the baggage hold.

I’m sure, sir, you’ve heard of the old expression, “Ya gotta dance with the one who brung ya!” And your long time loyal flyers would definitely be the ones who brought you to this current, festive party Delta is enjoying. Sticking with us would be the way, Mr. Anderson, of showing the frequent Delta customer that you do, as you say in your down home, aw shucks video, “always have your back.”

Friends of the blog, feel free to bat this blog around the internet, and by all means, if you fly the all of sudden very expensive Delta skies, give them a call, write them a note.

More tk…..




Earth Days Past

Apr 25

In Stories, Thoughts at 6:29am


We celebrated Earth Day this past week. This observance has been around for a while now, and back in the 70’s I was occasionally assigned to cover some of the events. I shot the above for UPI one year, at an Earth Day observance at the UN. I recall it being the usual, uh, cluster….k, in NY press terminology, with all the papers, the wires, and the TV folks angling for angles and exclusives. I was working for the formidable drill instructor of editors, Larry DeSantis, or LD, as we called him, who told me in no uncertain terms to get the muckety-mucks. In color. Read the rest of this entry »

The Polar Vortex

Jan 15

In Rambling, Thoughts at 10:33am

We tend to come up with new, slick names for stuff all the time now, given our buzzword laced world. The phrase “Polar Vortex” got a lot of play lately when a chunk of really cold air that should’ve behaved better and hovered nicely over the North Pole pushed south in unruly fashion over Canada and the US. I’ve encountered the polar vortex before on assignment, but wasn’t smart enough to call it by its proper name. I think I just used the term, “f*%#ing cold.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Wild, and Occasionally Wonderful Internet

Jan 13

In In The Field, Thoughts at 8:24am


Last year, when I stood on the railing that supports the aircraft warning lights atop the Burj Khalifa, 2,716 feet over the sidewalk, and I leaned forward slightly, I was cautious, of course. Not that I was going anywhere. I had safety ropes attaching me to the structure. And my cameras were hooked to me, and were quite secure. (Whenever I make a climb over an urban area, I run heavy gauge wire through my camera straps, so the cameras are literally wired to my person.)

What wasn’t connected, or tethered in any way, was my Iphone. I took that slippery son of a bitch in my hands, with great and grave care, looked down, and saw my feet. Made a snap, pushed a few buttons, and it became an Instagram. I had a sense of standing at a window clutching a bird I was about to release into the wild. I flung it outwards and up into the sky, and I knew it would go many places, and I wouldn’t have a shred of say in the matter. Which, for this pic, was okay. (If anyone out there had similar childhood reading habits, you might remember the last page of Sterling North’s Rascal, one of my favorite books as a kid.)

This little picture did in fact cover a lot of ground, and was retweeted, screen grabbed, printed, and chatted up all over the internet. It easily, and quite rapidly, became the most seen picture I have ever shot, and I have shot lots of pictures. And it certainly became an education for me about the life of a digital image, as it’s still being retweeted on a regular basis, even now, almost a year after shooting it.

I have to admit, when it started hitting lots of screens and the retweets piled on and on, I sort of stared at my own computer screen somewhat slack jawed, a look of bovine wonder on my face. ” I mean, at the risk of sounding stupid, or old, or both,  I knew the internet was big, and fast and linked, but the speed of dissemination and numbers of eyeballs glancing at my battered shoes was definitely bracing.

Here’s an upside, speaking of my shoes. I’ve been buying the same model Ecco Track II, for at least twenty years, maybe more. A pair of those shoes has been with me to the top of the Empire State Building, up some bridges, onto power line towers, in and out of helicopters, and trod ground in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Siberia, South America, and coast to coast back home. I guess the Ecco folks were pleased to see their shoes atop the tallest man-made structure on earth, but also mildly embarrassed by their disrepair. So, they sent me a new pair. They reached out on Facebook, and next thing you know, I had a new pair of size 11’s. Haven’t used them yet, as there’s still life in my old ones, but it’s nice to have brand new shoes in the wings.

The other cool thing about the marriage of the internet and the camera is that the resultant, instantaneous, widespread migration of your images can make someone like myself, who started looking through a camera way before it was also a phone and a tweet machine and all the rest, appear somewhat with it, even to my kids. The pic, as I mentioned, still gets rerouted and retweeted, though it has all died down to a comparative simmer. But with one recent mention, my daughter picked up on it again, and shouted out the below.

So, that’s kind of cool…..what an amazing world we live in….more tk….




Wonderful Machine Portfolio

Nov 18

In Thoughts at 11:10am

After 35 years of doing this, how do you sort out a portfolio? It’s beyond my ken, really. Especially after having spent most of my time pursuing a generalist bent, to say my work is all over the lot would be kind. A more accurate description might be that my physical files, not to mention the file cabinet of my head, are a bit like a nightmare basement straight out of Hoarders.

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