An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog

My Webzine talk

Posted in media by jacob on September 27, 2005

I wanted to share my webzine talk with my readers. I think it explains without all the detail much of what I’ve been doing for the last year and why I would do any of the things I’ve done. You can download the mp3 from the wonderful Webzine server.


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:

If you’re interested in my photos from 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:

Here are the photos from Iraq:

I’ve also released about 21 videos that I made with the help of a few friends in Iraq:

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 [] 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 [], 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, 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.

Radio Interview with Chris Pirillo

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

Public Service Announcement

Posted in Katrina,media,neworleans by jacob on September 16, 2005

I suggest everyone read the latest weekly review from Harpers. No this is not The Onion.

The media center is deployed by the community!

Posted in algiers,gear,housing,Katrina,media,neworleans,photos,supplies,wireless by jacob on September 15, 2005

Today was great. We accomplished much in getting everyone online. My method was to teach people how to teach other people. Everyone that learned from me went to teach others. They became the teachers and then they made more teachers. By the end of the day, no one was working with me at all, everyone knew how to fish. We now have 8 public terminals, custom ethernet cables, scavenged switches as well as other things. If you’re in the area we’ve got an open wifi network.

Community media center comes online

Here we have a photo of a local boy teaching a member of the Danish press how to setup a computer.

Community media center comes online

Here’s the finished product being used by the community that build it.

Joel is going to post about the actual tech involved tomorrow. I’m tired and for the first night since I’ve been sleeping in the Media center, I get to sleep on something other than a floor!

Secours Populaire Francais

Posted in gear,Katrina,media,neworleans,photos,supplies by jacob on September 15, 2005

While it seems many in America have a love hate relationship with France, I’d like to come out and say that I love the French in New Orleans.

Secours Populaire Francais

This group of French workers have payed more than a few visits to Algiers.

Secours Populaire Francais

These two are locals from New Orleans who apparently met the Secours Populaire Francais while traveling in Amsterdam. They’re local activists even if they don’t know it. I have a great deal of respect for these two as well as the rest of the group.

Today they came to the rescue for some really amazing stuff we need. Simple stuff but required some actually investments. The most important thing they brought us was around a dozen monitors and a printer. We then had all the parts for a media center and we had everyone around us participate in learning, teaching and building a media center.

Idea: Mad Max 4 (The slaughter of New Orleans)

Posted in Katrina,madmax,media,neworleans,photos,radio,travel by jacob on September 14, 2005

Driving around New Orleans

This is the I-10 West. The highway is flooded and a few cars are abandoned. The red truck in the middle is backing up when they see how deep the water is.

The median is probably 4 or 5 feet high and as you can see, it’s totally submerged as it goes beneath the underpass.

The white streak is water being ejected into the highway from some sort of waste pipe. There were no warning signs. To return one was required (because of the median strip) to drive in the fast lane of the road. The right hand side when facing east on the west bound side. The road was of course covered random trash, tires, crashed cars and so on.

This caused me (along with any other drives) to drive into on coming traffic as there were no turn offs or on ramps. The hills on the return back were blind. I had to drive in the wrong direction hoping that no one was driving over the hill at the same time or I would have been in a head on.

The people that wrote Mad Max could take a page from New Orleans today.

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