“the answer is blowin in the wind…”


yes, Bob Dylan had it right..answers for life tend not to be empirical but rather instinctive gut level decisions based on the moment and circumstance…we TRY to have rules to follow, methods, reason, and sage advice…any of that really work for you? most likely instinctive decisions  seem to play the largest role for most of us…things seem to either go good or bad based as much on the alignment of the moon and stars as on any reasonable “planning”…there is no doubt that man has always tried to “stack the deck” in favor of good outcomes,  and surely this is a noble effort, but i think we all know that fate, whatever that is, has center stage…whatever actually happens can be justified or vilified by any number of philosophies, religions, political beliefs, and/or coins tossed into the fountain…

those of us who rode out hurricane Irene on the coast of North Carolina indeed did have the feeling that we had cast our fate to the wind…yes, we followed all the rules(well, except the “rule” to evacuate)….boarded up our homes, stocked up with food and water , extra candles and flashlights, and then just waited…and waited..and listened ..and felt….and finally became a part of the power of nature…a spectacular and most beautiful power…a power that was actually only destructive for those who had homes built in the known path of hurricanes..those of us who live here take our chances..this cost some their lives, others their homes…

yet all KNEW the worst could happen…intellectually likely to happen in fact…they just hoped and/or prayed it would not happen…Billy and Sandra Stinson are friends on my street and i suppose now ex-neighbors for they surely will not be allowed by town rules to build another vacation home out over the water where they were..their house was totally destroyed by a fast moving wall of water…last year i  photographed Billy and Sandra in their moments of best family joys  in their home and now also  of greatest despair,  but i will not publish this last moment without their permission on Burn , or  in National Geographic where my assignment is indeed right now the Outer Banks..maybe by next spring when my story is due in NatGeo will i seek to publish, for storms are indeed part of the story…but now my role is friend and neighbor more than journalist….the picture i took for  FB and Twitter of Billy and the destroyed house is not the picture to which i refer…

Michelle Madden Smith, above, lives just a few hundred yards from the Stinsons who lost it all…Michelle, who runs my workshop program and my son Bryan’s partner in life, also rode out the storm, but with a happier fate….here shown in 75mph winds in Nags Head….a joyful moment amongst tragic moments for others and part of a 10 picture series i did publish on FB and soon to be part of a new book….in any case, i have ridden out many hurricanes in my life and IF you are not in a vulnerable position from flooding or wind damage, then it is  truly one of the most dramatic living experiences one can have…so, exhilarating for some, and a tragedy for others….

indeed Mr. Dylan, the answer my friend is blowin in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind…

236 Responses to ““the answer is blowin in the wind…””

  • Today is the last day of the dry winter season here, it’s only going to get hotter, stickier with a relentless build up of hot desert southerlies mix with the humidity of the tropics to signal the start of the buildup, mango season, a time when top Enders drink more, care less, dogs hide and the suicide rate gets a massive boost to the wet season and it’s cooling thunderstorms…my first build up in Darwin, a bird died on the front verandah, for weeks we drank beer in the afternoon and watched the green ants strip it to bone…It’smy favorite time of year!
    Early this year we got cyclone Carlos, a cat 3 which turned to a cat 1 by the time it hit us, Judy the kids and I saw out the storm in the smallest room in the house, the kids loved it and the adults were just plain scared….we rode it out together as we do everything else….so storm season is only months away….time to get out the waterproof boxes , put every thing of value in them and under the stairs….the rest can just blow away….glad you got through safe Dave , was a little worried for ya Uncle!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I don’t do Hurricanes…I am a Greek civilian
    after watching and reading…your photos,FB pics,twitters,comments…
    oh,yeah…I can feel the “wind”
    and I believe that there is an answer…


    P.S…oh,MEDUSA…one of the three mermaids… you had to travel that far…
    you crossed the waters…and find your way …near the Outer Banks…

  • Embrace life.

    Panos, I have a print for you: will post it this week.


  • Saw this picture in your instagram feed and glad I can see it bigger here.
    And can’t wait to see this book you are talking about….sounds interesting…a thin book, comic book style?
    I don’t have a facebook account so I can’t see the rest of the series. bummer.
    I know what you mean about hurricanes…been there plenty of times myself but not as close as you….i stay indoors ;-)

    I don’t quite follow what you mean to say here:

    “they just hoped and/or prayed it would not happen…a deeply religious man and wife on my street lost their home totally and are arguably perhaps the best equipped to deal with it”

    I mean the “deeply religious” part.

  • and though all things vanish, they shall not pass away…..

    just put mrs. black onto a plane heading north….

    having spent the last 5 days surrounded by sea and wind and beaches torn up by Irene, and quiet walks along the teething sea and the bent and shorn piers…and along the cobbled stone, spanish-moss arms of Charleston streets and long-drawn out stories and the humming-howling of my 9 month old nephew and the melancholy of resistance and the upending and overtaking of things and stories over rebuilding, and charmed greentomatoes cadences and all that remains is the creeking of the cicada’s in the humid palm’d afternoons and all that a part of all of that, to measure out the loss and the losing with the rebuilding and this:

    over a dune:

    even in disppearance and decay, the rebuiding innate in our chromosonal lives…..

    the connection between those who lost their lives and homes and lands with those who lose their lives every hour of the day, long and distant toward the East….

    shuffling through survival means we must not forget…..

    will try to write something on the current essay by week’s end….

    for now, words being tossed toward the sea….

    hugs around


  • “A man’s character is his fate.”

    “Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate… but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.”
    Franz Kafka

  • Could she be on the bow of the Titanic? 75 mph-whoa.

  • Try the South!!! Drought, dry , Intense heat, triple digits, people die from heat exhaustion..
    But on the other side/north side of America people die from hurricanes, lack of electricity/power, floods etc.. What a weird summer!!!

  • Glad to hear you and your friend got lucky. Lovely post. Stay well.

  • Great photo… enjoyed the post.

    For me, however, the ratio of gut versus reason/empirical is in the other direction. Much, much more of my life’s decisions are based on reason and empiricism. Yes, of course, “gut” decisions do occur, but even then it’s coming from a base of life experience.

    In any case… tomayto, tomahto, I guess.

  • “In any case… tomayto, tomahto, I guess.”

    Or “wolf peaches” as I learned from Akaky yesterday…I’m never saying tomato again.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BURNIANS…I believe that since ADMIN and the BURN CREW are extremely busy in Perpignan area(France)
    we better stay in one room…cause my computer is slow and I can’t get back and forth to see you

    can we stay in this one…(I have to admit…I like MICHELLE, a lot)!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    can I bring here…maybe the 31st blah,blah?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Mike R
    August 31, 2011 at 2:57 am
    Civi, I do have a photo; not sure if I’ll keep it though: bad memories. I’ll ask him if he wants to share it with the world.
    A spider just crawled out of the keyboard of my laptop! We have a spider in our front porch, it used to hide when we went in but now seemingly feels big enough not to have to bother. I’m sober, no drugs, honest.
    No photos, apart from the snap of Tom, since his accident (this is day ten). May get out today.
    a civilian-mass audience
    August 31, 2011 at 3:24 am
    ” Time spent with cats is never wasted.”
    Sigmund Freud
    MIKER…whatever works…I can wait…and may the spirits of health be with TOM !
    and soon he will be strong enough to eat this spider…yeap!
    August 31, 2011 at 4:08 am
    “From the stomach, not your head. Not thinking too much because if not the inspiration goes…”
    Antonin Kratochvil
    August 31, 2011 at 4:13 am
    Mike R…
    Get down and burn away on your new camera and make Anders Petersen’s cat image look lame…
    August 31, 2011 at 4:20 am
    “For portraits you have to smell people and they do not necessarily need to appear physically in the picture”
    Antonin Kratochvil
    August 31, 2011 at 10:04 am
    Mike R,
    Here’s my cat saying hello to Tom
    wishing him well.
    August 31, 2011 at 10:56 am
    And I got my eyeball kick…
    the blow nearly knocked my eyeball out of it’s socket…
    Opening the floodgates for the rush of life surging through my eyes, I feel on top of the world…
    panos skoulidas
    August 31, 2011 at 11:14 am
    August 31, 2011 at 11:20 am
    gooooooo Anton!
    August 31, 2011 at 11:21 am
    Isn’t Anton from Belgium?
    August 31, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Parkas…well, I suppose if you enjoy that sort of thing…
    August 31, 2011 at 11:55 am
    Mike R…
    My wife’s Chihuahua sending your cat his best wishes….
    August 31, 2011 at 11:56 am
    Congratulations :)
    Mike R
    August 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm
    Anton, congratulations!
    Paul, I was a little worried about opening a link to a view of your wife’s Chihuahua but it turned out to be only a dog. Phew!
    Just joking mate; tell him / her thanks for the best wishes. Tom-Cat is doing well; he’s just been having a wash and tugging at his stitches …… Noooo!
    Gordon Lafleur
    August 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    OK, since wer’e sharing cat pictures

  • a civilian-mass audience

    hiiii…you are all here now…

    oups,ADMIN…sorry…I made a mess…BUT at least we are ALL here…

  • Wow – all those statements David made about the wonders of being in a hurricane over on Comic book – come to life in this single iPhone photo. Really makes me wish I could have been there.

  • Civi – thank you for moving all the cat pix and everything else over here. I went over there before here, so, to keep it all on this page, this is the comment I left there:

    All these cat pictures – and me probably having more cat pictures than anyone, I ought to post one. But there’s too many. I can’t take the time to go find one.

    Always, Civi…

    Akaky… you are probably only familiar with sad, imitation, parkas – the kind you find in the Lower 48. A genuine Arctic parka from Alaska can be a mighty spectacular thing.

  • Civi you are always ahead of the game!

  • Here, but only shortly, Civi, the wind is……. Blowing me off….

  • Instinctive gut decisions? Me? I never take them. E.V.E.R.

    Because behind my decisions there’s always THE scentific explanation: because it FEELS right.

    Oh yes.

    And that’s why tomorrow I will do something that nobody would.. I’ve made it down to Arles after a crazy three days of meetings and an even crazier drive, am couple hours away from Perpignan.. but will go home tomorrow after seeing some of the exhibits, because in my heart I know it’s the right thing to do, it feels good.. I hope you all there have a blast at tomorrow’s screening and I’m sure that Burn02 will sell like cold beer on a hot summer night!

    Anton, way cool on BBC!

    Civi, can’t check mail, am not home.. and will be for only a week and then off again.. please wait?? Thanks :)

    Bill.. Frostfrog, that VU app is now free for downloading, until the 4th..

  • Forgot: hi Michelle.. as already written on twitter, it does look like bliss!

  • Civilian:

    Reporting in; while David was being chased by the tempestuous Irene Sunday, I was privy to the making of Mannish Water, also known as Jamaican Goat’s Head Soup. You are the Epicurean master in our League of Extraordinaries, by both birthright and prose, but these images may teach you a thing or two:


    Warning! Shot chronologically, coverage begins with the last bleat, and finishes with the first burp. At least I think it was a burp. Discretion advised.


    By far the funniest film I watched this year was “The Trip” with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Their sibling-like sniping reminds me of the two of you. I hope both of you get a chance to enjoy it:


  • a civilian-mass audience

    HAPPY 1st Of September!!!
    BURNIANS…in Perpignan…Please report to aisle…Blowing by the wind/DYLAN/MICHELLE/DAH!

    FROSTFROG…YOU,YOU have THE cat photos (my ROYCE)…oh,well,you are busy my friend therefore
    we can wait!FROSTY,always! 15 more days to see you…

    EVA…we need to sychronize…we are “dancing”…all over(kinda like MR.HARVEY)hiii…

    CARLO…you can say domata…greek accent…Domata…see:)))

    JEFF…wowwww…JEFF…when YOU report,YOU do report…thanks for sharing!

    HERVE …reporting from San Fransisco…you have cat photos too…I have seen them!

    Come on BURNIANS…bring it on!!!

    P.S…I had a dream…I dreamed that I could write like BOB BLACK…oime

  • a civilian-mass audience


  • a civilian-mass audience

    and I dreamed that I beat AKAKY…100…yes!

  • Joseph KOUDELKA’s ‘Gypsies’ is being reprinted as a limited edition, 109 photographs instead of the 60 of the first version:


  • EVA

    you were two hours from Perpignan and did not come? oh my…you would have enjoyed the first peeks at 02 among the gathered…a bit of beer spilled on one copy and the scene a bit chaotic….and the joke from Diego was that at one point i sold another copy of 02 three times….nice huh? well it was sitting on the table and kept going back to the table with three different people thinking they bought it…


    maybe i will rewrite that line if it is confusing…what i was trying to say was that Billy and Sandra feel their beliefs help them most at a time like this…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    what is the purpose of your “photo life”?
    what is the purpose of my life? what do I love to do…hmm…?
    every year the same problem…

    maybe,I should relax…cause the answer is blowing in the wind…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    and MR.HARVEY…beer spilled?

    …YES,this is a sign…THIS IS MY COPY…!!!


    well, maybe i have made it sound like too too much fun..there were for sure moments of great uncertainty…and if the cat 1 or 2 force winds that did hit were 20mph higher, and all structures wiped off the face of the earth , i would not feel quite so so enthralled by the powers of nature…however, like everyone else living in the outer banks, i take my chances…why live here? well because most of the time it is magic…probably in the same way you feel about Alaska….you see Alaska as beautiful i am sure, and others might think it too damn cold in winter for example…for sure living in extreme environs is invigorating for some, and off limits for others…

    cheers, david

  • a civilian-mass audience

    and don’t forget me…I live in Greece…IMF brings cat3 force…:)

    oime…keep reporting and thank you in advance …

  • earthquakes are my favorite..
    sh-sh-shake it like a polaroid picture.

    strongest was in india 1991, and i was 70 km from the 6.9 epicenter at uttar kashi..
    ceiling of my room caved in.


  • David,

    I thought that’s what you meant but did not want to assume. I think it sounds condescending…it bothers me to be honest. I think prayers (and faith) do help people as much as common sense does but the way you put it here is as if saying on one hand “non believers” got away scott free and the “believers” got their home destroyed.
    Is not about being “politically” correct and it’s entirely your opinion…like I said it sounds condescending specially given the situation.

  • Mr.David Alan Harvey and Burn magazine

    thank you so much for having my picture in the Burn 02 book.
    this is a big,big honor for me.
    I am reporting from Greece

    blowing in the wind

    thank you,thank you.
    Uncle P. are you at home?


  • David…

    yes, two hours away, but it was past midnight, would not have been there before 2 or more likely 3 o’clock in the morning.. you probably would have sold that same 02 at least other three times.. but you do make progress, at least now you sell instead of just giving away ;)

    you know, if you think of it it’s kinda amazing, soon you will add another line up there in the ‘BURN BOOKS’ aisle, soon enough add the ‘SOLD OUT’ tag.. all out of nothing with the amazing team you’ve put together.. A team that delivers.. so cool!

    hope the screening and speach goes well tonight, no need to be nervous.. you, an American at Perpignan on stage.. doesn’t happen that often I think.. you done good, ALL of you :)

  • Herve
    Wouldn’t you rather be blown to pier 32 instead of pier 39? ;-)

  • Interesting to see the rapid adoption of the iphone as a ‘serious’ capture device though I’m
    starting to be left with the impression that many are falling into presenting a very similar
    visual end result as far as style goes. Should convenience trump originality?



  • a civilian-mass audience

    DAVIDB…VISSARIA …yessss,you are back in BURNLAND!!!

    CARLO…hmm…my translation:”believers and non-believers” will be fucked by nature anyways…
    BUT “Believers” might have more tools to go through the hard times…IMO
    now,I am a believer…and I am waiting for your book!…and some wine:)!

    MTOMALTY…the answer:…is blowin in the wind

    and as EVA says…”you done good,ALL of you”…VIVA BURNIANS

  • as to serious capture devices, I am torn now between a Canon F1 in excellent condition or a Panasonic Lumix GF2. A Burn 01 alum sang the praises of the GF1 within earshot [no, this person did not know I was there, and yes, I did enjoy not introducing myself] and I am wondering if I shouldn’t just skip the old film camera for this new gizmo.

  • Civi wrote,
    “MTOMALTY…the answer:…is blowin in the wind”

    or is it just…..blowin’ wind :)

  • Akaky

    Different beasts, of course, and each might put you into a different shooting headspace but
    the GF1 (which I use) and GF2( which I don’t) tick quite a few boxes when considering
    compact nature and output quality.
    Unfortunately, neither have any compatible Apps or can be Tweet’d :)

  • Akaky the Grammarian here, here to tell those who wonder about such things, all two of you, that the phrase is blowin’ in the wind, as this should be blowing in the wind, and although you could say that Irene was a blowin’ wind in the Outer Banks, when she arrived here in the Tri-State area she did not blow-in and did very little blowin’. There was lots of rain, though.

  • How ’bout, ” Irene was good at blowin’ “

  • Civi,

    I “believe” you got it right!

  • Michael…. very, very cool. My favorite version is by Ry Cooder on Chicken Skin Music. Great album all around if you like that kind of music. Hear especially The Bourgeoisie Blues.

    Here’s a YouTuve video from about that time:

  • MW…

    Ry Cooder, right on! Love that one. Will certainly check out Bourgeoisie Blues.

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.