Once upon a press club


There was once a press club in the heart of a city where everyone lived in harmony with each other and their surroundings. Photographers and writers, they were affable and comrades among themselves.

They had a club house in the midst of a hill—oh, magnificent, almost celestial. It was not fancy, exclusive nor isolated, but was famous for its abundance of camaraderie and the glorious togetherness they all shared.

There was a pond so still below that the trees reflected in it seems, to be painted in its depth–the beauty, the quiet, the cleanliness, the peace. They savored the pageant of the seasons.

In Spring white clouds of blossom drifted about it above the green fields. During autumn, the oak, maple, and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Half hidden in the mists of fall mornings are deers silently crossing the fields. In winter, the roadsides were places of sublime beauty where birds came to feed on the berries and seed heads of dried weeds rising above the snow.

Here a captious tribe of inspired imaginers and weavers of tales would gather to write their stories, dash out poetry, and push their pens, while in a gentle libation and their muses in abundance.

It was a work world for a pool of photographers, safe in their regressive sanctuary of male supremacy where one’s expectation far succeeds their accomplishments. It is hard to find the right words to describe their photographs. It is intangible but it is there, present. Beautiful. Courageous, Tender. Vigorous. Joyful and Mysterious. The photographers carried out a dedication to their craft that goes beyond and transcends the littleness that separates the men from the boys.

For the writers, some stories were without cosmic conclusions. Others wrote with the principle of ordinary telling and plain speech, while others wrote with images. Fables, echo, irony, certain obliqueness, double meanings. But through it all, the literati and hardcore news writers were kindred spirits, just as the photographers were, among each other, in their pursuit of beauty, truth and justice.

It was inspiration, the kidnapper of reason. The women did not pick on each other, the way one picked berries. They were harmonic. The men were always true to form, in their primal capacity for gentlemanliness, friendship, and honor. They made the difference. It was supreme.

Coleridge, a century and a half ago had written “A woman’s friendship borders more closely on love than man’s. Men affect each others in the reflection of noble or friendly acts, whilst women ask fewer proofs and more signs that are expressions of attachment.”

In their clubhouse, they never had to show off to one another. Though together as true friends, some tried to keep the worst from each other, to spare. Some seek approval, some seek acceptance. The heartwarming truth was, the men had been trained in restraint—no chip in sensibilities but considerate of each others judgement. Above all as true friends and colleagues, they faced adversity together. What could be more true, good, and beautiful?

They were admired, heard even from faraway places. Collectively these photographers and writers could shake and torch the earth!

Then a strange blight crept over the clubhouse and over the area surrounding it. Everything began to change, like a mysterious spell had settled. Suddenly, there was a strange stillness, the mornings that once throbbed with the dawn’s chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, nightingales were silent. The gaiety and merriment inside the clubhouse vanished. Where have they gone? Many people who spoke of the poets, writer, news harbingers (especially the marvelous photographers) were puzzled and disturbed.

Suddenly, there was only strange stillness. It was spring without voices and as though swept by wildfire, even the roadsides around, once so attractive were now lined with brown and withered vegetation…the once green flowering was now nothing but heaps of rotting leaves…silent and deserted by living things. No enemy action nor witchcraft had silenced the rebirth of a new life in the clubhouse.

The fourth estate had done it alone.

This Press Club does not actually exist. But it might easily have a dozen counterparts, here or elsewhere in the world. I know of no Press Club or Press Photographers Club that have experience the tragedy I have described, yet everyone of these lapses had actually happened somewhere and many real Press Clubs have suffered, a substantial number of what caused its demise.

A grim specter has crept upon us, almost unnoticed and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality in Medialand. We all shall know, with shrinkage of the heart and the soul in escrow.

***

E-mail Mylah at moonlightingmdl@aol.com

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