An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog


The Internet Archive and Webzine2005!

Posted in algiers,astrodome,houston,iraq,media,neworleans,photos,travel,turkey,videos by jacob on September 24, 2005

Today I’m speaking at Webzine and I’ve got a great announcement.

Thanks to the Internet Archive I’ve now found a permenent home for the photos and videos I’ve planned to release for some time. I’ve gone ahead and uploaded both JPEG images and Canon cr2 RAW files. Thanks to TTK at the Archive for helping with this project. He’s a bad ass and you should call the Archive to let them know how much you love him for his hard work. I stayed at the Archive last night until 22:00 and I think he stayed later. Thank you TTK.

Regarding the actual content, you can preview the images by looking at the smaller JPEGs. If you’re interested in using the RAW files, you can decode the file (very useful jwz script here, thanks Jamie!) and do anything you’d like with it. In the near future I’m going to process the RAW files into very large and uncompressed JPEGs but at the moment time is fleeting so I’ve put that off until next week.

If you’re interested in my photos from the Houston Astrodome:
http://www.archive.org/details/jacob_appelbaum_Houston

If you’re interested in my photos from New Orleans:
http://www.archive.org/details/jacob_appelbaum_New_Orleans

As it just so happens I’ve also finally released all of my photos from my recent trip to Turkey and into Iraq.

Here are the photos from Turkey:
http://www.archive.org/details/jacob_appelbaum_turkey

Here are the photos from Iraq:
http://www.archive.org/details/jacob_appelbaum_iraq

I’ve also released about 21 videos that I made with the help of a few friends in Iraq:
http://www.archive.org/details/jacob_appelbaum_Iraq_Video

All of these photos and videos are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5. If you don’t agree to those terms and you still want to use the content, just ask and I’m sure we can work something out.

I’d like people to put them to use in the wikipedia, into books, into their art projects, public benefits or anything that suits your fancy. You don’t have to contact me for use even if it’s commercial. I don’t want your money, give it to the The Internet Archive or the EFF if you feel it’s important for money to change hands. Those people have helped me more times than I can count and they deserve your support. On the offhand chance you or someone you know is planning to use any of this content, I’d love an email just so I know it’s being used. Credit should be attributed to Jacob Appelbaum.

I hope this helps. Enjoy.

An interview by Esther Sassaman for an upcoming text

The following is a personal interview by Esther Sassaman:

Bloggers are known for strong political opinions and too much openness about their love lives. A growing number have taken the expressive power of the blog into new realms. Many bloggers of all interests and political viewpoints have debunked inaccuracies portrayed by the mainstream media, maintained compendia on rapidly developing stories more quickly than big broadcasters, and established their own live news services in conflict zones. Jacob Applebaum is one of this last category, publishing photojournalism from Iraq, Houston, and New Orleans that has often surpassed the news value, narrative power, and beauty of photography produced by longstanding news service photographers. Appelbaum went to Iraq in April 2005 as a photographer and to visit friends, and visited Houston’s Astrodome after Katrina to help set up a low power FM radio network and wireless service [http://www.prometheusradio.org] for details. He is currently in the poor, black Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, administering a data center at the behest of community organizer and former Black Panther Malik Rahim.

Jacob’s photographs have gained a new audience with the Houston Astrodome series [http://flickr.com/photos/ioerror/sets/905698/], which has become widely distributed. I reached him on Tuesday, the second day of his stay in Algiers. We talked about the situation in Algiers on Tuesday, but also about his personal motivations for coming to activism, and his background.

You can read the rest of the interview off site.

Hitting home

Posted in algiers,Katrina,media,neworleans,photos,rant by jacob on September 19, 2005

Tonight was probably one of the most depressing of all nights I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was the moment that all of the things I’ve experienced on my trip to the south came to their obvious conclusion. It was a moment that my disconnection connected. It was a moment that I looked into the face of something terrible and something terrible was staring back at me. I’ve been disconnected from the damage around me and in the face of torn down buildings, I’d photograph them. When faced with death, I’d document it. When faced with reconstruction efforts, I’d capture it.

My lens doesn’t provide me with a very good disconnection but it gives me some sort of hope. Hope that I can fix what I am literally focusing on. Bring attention, build awareness and people will contribute to the positive aspects they are able to help with, right? It’s one of my personal attempts to solve the caring problem, to make people actually attach to this event. At the same time, I’ve been telling myself that I cannot really think too deeply about the things I’m seeing. If I make a personal connection every time I take a photo, I would break down. I know my limits and I know that I have to stay slightly cold even if I’m wholeheartedly concerned. When I hear stories about photographers like James Nachtway or writers like Christian Parenti, I really wonder how they internally cope with the things they see. Those men are my heroes.

Everyone here has to gloss over the personal aspects of this pain or they will simply lose the ability to function. It’s why body clean up crews work in short shifts, no human can sustain the physical and mental trauma they are exposed to here. Two men from Canada told me about how sick it made them to see thousands of houses simply gone. Driving along the highway for hours and seeing only rubble of houses. People don’t find bodies there, they find piles of human remains. They literally became sick from the sights. It’s insanity. Think of the insanity of finding perfectly healthy people shot to death because they were trying to survive by taking food from empty stores. Think of how the police turned their guns on people and said: “No niggers on this side of the river” when people tried to cross bridges to escape the flooding. Think about the cruelty before the storm and how it continued during and how it still continues. Right now. I do spend time thinking about it and I’m disconnected from it. Just as I’m sure everyone becomes unless it was their personal experience. I get angry but my anger subsides into a quiet rage and I continue working with more motivation.

At least that’s what I was feeling like until yesterday evening. My repression was running high, my stress was pushed down. I had it all under control on a personal level. Then an old friend and co-worker Strick gave me some very sad news. A close and personal friend John Hall died battling cancer on September the 17th. John spent time writing about his illness on his weblog, overcode.yak.net/3. His last entry was so hopeful and it came from such a positive perspective. It breaks my heart that someone of such an amazing stature could die so young. A man dying from cancer in his early twenties. It’s injustice at the heart of it and it breaks my heart in the most unjust way. I’m so sad, I’m totally devastated and I’m not his girlfriend or his family. I’m just some friend who’s hurt to lose such an amazing person. It’s selfish but I miss him already. I know I’m not the only one, he was a much loved member of many communities.

When Strick told me he died, he so by way of instant message and I remember reading it, I remember breaking down and sobbing over my laptop. People that surrounded me started wondering why I was crying, they wondered what brought me to my emotional breaking point. The people in the community started to hold me and they asked why I was crying, why was I so upset? I pawed at my screen, I motioned to communicate the data on my screen. I’m sure they read it, I’m sure they got it but I just left my laptop and moved into the kitchen. I laid on the floor and a person in the dark came to comfort me. I don’t even remember who was wtih me. They held me while I cried and wailed for my friend. They held me and they had compassion for someone who met an untimely tragic end, someone they’d never met.

I pulled myself together and I tried to write something. I tried to calm myself. I attempted to create something with words that could do justice for a person who earned my respect to such a high point. I failed. I cannot possibly express my feelings, my respect or my admiration for John and do him any justice while writing, it’s simply not possible at this moment.

When it happened I’m not sure and yet there was a point where I lost it again. I went and drank the better part of three bottles of wine, nice sweet local wine. Local in proximity to the store it was foraged from. The local Whole Foods had to destroy their building so they gave away their wine to anyone around and some people gave it to us to have with dinner. After finishing the wine, I really felt relaxed enough to really let the things in my mind come out.

I came back to the media center and I found myself sobbing and eventually, I laid on the floor and I cried for a long time. I cried so hard that I started to feel sick, sick from the wine and sick from the events of the day. I had spent a large portion of the day being a driver for someone to go into the really devastated parts of New Orleans. These are the parts that CNN, FOX and ABC don’t ever bother with. They don’t care about the issues in these areas – they care about staying in the safe areas and talking about the military or about the rescues. Just read the account of an anonymous camera man to get an idea of what I mean. You see this when you’re driving around the city, you see the lack of real representation.

At some point, my mental, emotional and physical disconnection broke away. The pain I felt for John, I felt for every single house destroyed. I felt it for every burnt out car, every house with a DMORT code, for every house without a DMORT code, for flood waters destroying families by taking away lives both human and animal. I lost my shield against the world of inhumanity that I have been facing for nearly two weeks. I felt everything I’d seen as if it was a really personal experience and I felt like a sailor going overboard during a storm. I was tossed around in this emotional sea. What I feel is nothing compared to the collective pain of this area.

That’s when everything here really hit home. Everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve been lucky enough to miss.

I need to shave

Posted in algiers,Katrina,media,photos by jacob on September 18, 2005

Portraits of Common Ground

This is a photo taken by Todd (Last Name Missing). The first photo on the left is me. The second photo is Gert and I. I really need to shave and I could use a haircut.

VoIP phones installed at the clinic and media center

Posted in algiers,Katrina,neworleans,phones,radio by jacob on September 18, 2005

Yesterday four people involved with cuwireless.net brought two VoIP phones, one for the media center and one for the community clinic. This should be really helpful when the flood of people coming home use their cell phones. There hasn’t been a large amount of discussion with cell companies but it’s probably safe to say that it’s going to become a whole lot harder to make cell phone calls in just a short amount of time.

NYC hackers Neil and Justin save the day

Posted in algiers,gear,Katrina,neworleans,photos,radio,supplies,wireless by jacob on September 17, 2005

NYC hackers save the day

 These two guys deserve more respect than I can possible express. They came in today with nearly $2000 worth of equipment and within a matter of moments they had everything ready to roll. We’ve got over a dozen laptops – both Mac OS X and Windows (Knoppix shall soon overcome!).

The two brought everything including normal telephones. I think the kitchen sink is actually still in their trunk but we’ve got a few of them so we’re good to go in that department.

These guys are my heroes. They’ve helped us complete a very vital part of our mission here, they’ve helped us bring the medical center online. The medics now have the ability to look up life saving information and stay in contact with their familes, friends or whatever they use the internet for these days.

We now have two separate internet connections that we can share out over wifi and tomorrow we’ll deploy the gear we staged tonight. I think we’ve got three EVDO cards in the general area (one is Justins and the other two are Common Ground gear). I wonder how many cards we can fit per tower, is anyone really familiar with how Verizon CDMA towers allocate slots with EVDO? How many cards can we use before we max out the tower?

If you’re in the area and you need an uplink just select essid “Common Ground” and enjoy!
Oh and don’t forget about the radiostation on 94.5FM!

Power is out

Posted in algiers,electricity,housing,Katrina,neworleans by jacob on September 17, 2005

Just as I was about to post about two bad ass hackers from NYC who brought about 2k worth of equipment with them – the power died. We’re working on generator power but it’s comforting to know that it’s just our block.

Update: It’s back on now but we’re charging our UPS system so we can have enough power to finish staging our networks for deployment tomorrow. 

Radio Interview with Chris Pirillo

Last night I talked to Chris Pirillo for his weekly show. You can hear the interview on their site.

A local block party (Quote of the day)

Posted in algiers,Katrina,neworleans,party by jacob on September 16, 2005

All night people have been talking about a local block party.

“It’s just FOUR blocks away!”
“What about the curfew?”
“Four!”

Surely enough I decided that even though it might be safe to get there it’s almost certainly not going to be a fun walk home. Lets just assume that the party was full of people I didn’t clash with, I can’t imagine walking home alone would be safe. The curfew has been extended to 21:00 hours I’ve been told. Someone even reassured me by telling me that the local military from the 1st cav had no ammo in their guns! If that’s the truth I’d trust it for the person and only the person that shows me an open empty chamber as well as an empty clip. No one confirmed this but apparently that’s the company line for the 1st cav, no live ammo at all.

Still I was unconvinced. Surely I do things that might be a little risky but walking four blocks to a party in the dark under curfew in what is essentially a military police zone, that’s just crazy.

People just started returning from the party and it turns out that it was probably for the best. The vigilantes that people had been talking about, the white ones that are openly racist and violent were the ones throwing the party. Doh! Not a good party for the people in this community to attend.

As it just so happens I heard a story about a fight. An Irishman was drinking and somehow ended up ripping his shirt off to fight with someone. The 1st cav moved to the other side of the party and when asked if anyone from the 1st cav would break up the fight they said:

“We are the US military, we invade foreign countries. We don’t break up bar fights.”

And so it goes.

The Red Cross comes to Algiers

Posted in algiers,Katrina,neworleans,photos,redcross by jacob on September 15, 2005

The Red Cross shows up

The Red Cross finally came to Algiers. This is the first time most of us have seen the Red Cross in Aligers. They were giving out hot meals. Nothing for people with special needs such as people that do not eat meat or are diabetic. Basically everyone left behind has special needs, that’s why there’re here!

The American Red Cross is probably the least respected of all the groups in this area. The locals actually stay away from the Red Cross because of their experience. If you’re considering giving money to the Red Cross, try giving it to a smaller group first. The Red Cross is a bloated company and your money could be best used elsewhere. They’re full of good people and they mean well I have no doubt. However they’re certainly an example of a non profit that has gotten too large.

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