“Please help us selecting the winner of the 2007 Brian Mahoney Editor’s Note Photo Contest. (See attached images: 152 and 153.)
We also at this time would like to submit our design suggestions (with stand-in model) for your future Editor’s Note Image. (See attached images:155, 156, 157, and 160.)”
The attached images in question are to the right, arrayed in numerical order from top to bottom. The women in the pictures are Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt (top) and Emily Bennison (below). Nicole and Emily are on staff at the
Children’s Media Project in Poughkeepsie, an organization focused on teaching children how to be critical of media, and giving (often underprivileged) kids the tools and instruction they need, as well as the creative space, both figuratively and metaphorically, to make their own media. (Kelley Granger, former intern turned contributing writer extraordinaire, profiles the group and its good work on page 34.)
With regard to the “2007 Brian Mahoney Editor’s Note Photo Contest”: As previous readers of this column no doubt have guessed, there was no such thing. Narcissism has its limits. (But what a contest it would have been! Surely I would have been deluged with pictures of people kiwi juggling, watermelon cradling, kumquat clutching, and been treated to variations of banana handling. Each to his or her own fruit, as it were.) Nicole, whom I consider a friend, says she and Emily meant the pictures as a homage, and I humbly take it as such. As the photos also gently tweak my seeming pose of smug certitude, as if I was a Spanish aristocrat posing for a Goya painting, I admire them all the more. The seasonal appropriateness of the gourd is an especially deft touch.
It does, however, conjure the oft asked, broader question: What’s with the apple?
So, fruit misidentification first: It’s not an apple. It may look like an apple in black and white, but it is most definitely a nectarine. I had been eyeing it on my desk all afternoon, anticipating sinking my teeth into its hard white flesh. (I prefer most fruit slightly unripe, as soft or creamy textures repulse me.) Some important task must have veered into the foreground on my desk, because I became distracted by the actual business of work, rather than my customary mooning over an afternoon snack.
So the nectarine, you see, is lucky to be in the photo at all. Especially given that I had already stepped outside the office, bag on my back, on my way to the car, eyes fixed on fruit in hand in anticipatory, gustatory glee. I believe I even experienced one of those odd pre-eating tastes in my mouth, the kind you get when you’re concentrating so hard on savoring the flavor that’s about to hit your tongue that you actually pre-taste it in a visceral way. The nectarine, as an incarnate object, was not long for this world.
By chance, I ran into Yoel Meyers, who runs the art gallery downstairs from our office, in the back of our building, where he was testing out a new camera. He asked to take my picture. And thus I was caught, fruit in hand. The slightly upturned hand gesture, looking halfway between a left-handed Pledge of Allegiance pose and a poorly executed gang sign, was just something I threw in for flair.
And as for the nectarine? Well, I ate it walking to my car and threw the pit in the trash can. It was, to take William Carlos Williams ever so slightly out of context, delicious. But the memory of it is exquisite.