Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Odds & Ends - The Pathfinder and Bill Hess' Great Book-Signing Story

I. Looks like my favorite tugboat hat will be getting a lot more comments when I choose to wear it.

One of my sources says that they will be taking the Pathfinder to Seattle for repairs because that's how far it will have to go to find a drydock that isn't booked up for the next six months. Divers from Valdez are putting emergency patches over the hull damage as I write.

Don't ask me how anyone piloting a Crowley tug at the bottom of Valdez Arm could possibly hit Bligh Reef. Everyone knows exactly where it is. It is very well marked.

The Pathfinder used to have a computer connected to the radar that pegged exactly where the hull was, according to its GPS position, at all times. For some reason, it was removed some time ago, and even though laptops can be used to run this program in concert with the main bridge radar, there was no such system on board when this happened.

The closest one might come to an answer to the grounding itself is probably one of my favorite quotes from the late ornithologist, fisherman, big game guide and environmentalist, Pete Islieb. At a conference in Anchorage in May 1977, he predicted that a tanker would ultimately go aground on Bligh Reef. That was over 12 years before it actually happened.

When asked by the head of the USCG Marine Safety Office in Anchorage to explain why he felt that way, Pete responded, "Because it is there; because somebody ALWAYS hits Bligh Reef. They always have - they always will."

Wasilla photographer Bill Hess, whose iconic image of Diane Benson driving concrete truck as a Teamster has been used time and again at Progressive Alaska, has posted one of the best articles on what it means to be who we are here - in Wasilla, Alaska - I have ever read.
Bill, unlike others, was able to take a camera with him to Tuesday's Wasilla Sports Complex book signing with the Crazy Woman, wait in line, take pictures of people he met and dealt with as he wound his way to Palin's table, and walk away with a good picture of the CW. Bill's description of his short conversation with her perfectly pegs her for the inane, incurious twit she truly is.

I'm not going to quote from Bill's article, because
you should read it yourself. It should win an award.

lower image - Bill Hess


Grahamn Kracker said...

Thank you, Phil.

Anonymous said...

I thought that journalists are supposed to cover the story, not become the story.

Is it just a coincidence that Zaki IS the story once again ?

Funny how that is, eh ?

We don't read about Ellen Lockyear becoming the story, or Al Grillo becoming the story, or any other of the media professionals becoming the story.

Mr. Hess did an excellent job on his coverage, the "progressive" bloggers should take note of his blog and perhaps learn a thing or two from it.

Philip Munger said...

and thank you very much, Mr or Ms controlling concern troll at 5:34 am.

As if I'm not drawing attention to Mr. Hess work....?

clark said...

thanks for linking this, phil. hess is awesome, love his style and approach -- lengthy, deliberate, reasoned, extremely well-written and photographed; always pausing at the right time to add valuable perspective.
[made me feel really bad for al grillo -- i recognize his work, he was with the anchorage times before AP.]
hess's depictions of wasilla remind me of a lot of bill owens's book suburbia, the best coffee table photo book of all time, where he gently, fondly pointed out the quirkiness and futility of his northern california neighbors. hess should work up a book, too.

Anonymous said...

"Bill's description of his short conversation with her perfectly pegs her for the inane, incurious twit she truly is."-PA

I read Bill's entire article and thank you for linking to it. However, one of the things I liked about the article was a certain degree of graciousness and consideration which I feel is lacking in your comment above.

Bill gave Palin credit for being sharp enough to spot the unusual term on his cap--also, for being bright enough and interested enough to ask a question about it. He was also willing to consider how tired must be at this point, and therefore to some degree forgave her disappointing and lackluster response to his answer, "Oh."

She may have known and been embarrassed by forgetting. Whatever. This sort of anecdotal evidence of Palin's superficiality has a value and I'm glad people pick up on it and report it, but it also can be made to serve as propaganda. That Palin didn't know a common term doesn't necessarily mean she knows little or nothing about the subject. Please consider that if you call Palin inane, incurious, and a twit because she didn't know the term, you are also calling everyone else who doesn't know it the same. That's going to be most people.


Philip Munger said...


I don't claim to be as gracious as Bill is. Not by quite a way.

The CW's first step to power was to truly fuck over my close friends John Stein and Karen Marie. I'd almost forgiven Palin fror it when she became the nihilistic person she now is.

Anonymous said...

"I'd almost forgiven Palin fror it when she became the nihilistic person she now is."

Oh. my God !! How will she sleep, how can she go through life knowing that you won't forgive her !!!!! If only she'd known what a fearsome enemy she would make by "fucking over your friends", I'm sure she would never have done it...

Anonymous said...

I don't blame you for disliking Palin, Phil. Not one bit.

However, Palin is on the forefront of the culture wars--and the way she gets attacked by porgressives is important. It's a part of the war itself.

I can see us losing this war electorally, as we have in the past. "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How conservatives won the heart of America" could easily be retitled, "What's the matter with Alaska?"