July 24th, 2007

Vacation Is Over, But That Doesn’t Mean We Can’t Go Back To The BBQ, One More Time

by Philip Baruth

The beautiful thing about VDB’s photojournalists is that they offer high-quality, heartbreakingly true depictions of the political landscape, without expecting a dime in return.


Last week we brought you the impressive lensings of Yusef, who captured, among other dramatic moments, Selene Hofer-Shall’s end-run around an overzealous campground monitor.

Today we dip into the work of two other hard-working photographers: Don Shall, owner of the storied Emerald Gypsy, and Elida Gundersen, the talented offspring of activist super-couple Maggie and Arnie Gundersen.

Directly below: a shot of Don, taken by Elida, and a shot of Elida, as seen by Yusef. Everyone straight on that?



Then let’s go Back to the BBQ, shall we?


Anyone coming up on the scene could only have imagined themselves in a wild cross between Robert Redford’s The Candidate and Disney’s The Swiss Family Robinson: John and Neil and I came out in the drizzling rain at 8 a.m. to claim this magnificent tree, which of course symbolizes the intense interconnectedness of all the various politically inter-related, um, internets . . . or something like that.

You know what we’re trying to say.


susan beard, super-reader


It was a fairly incredible scene, everyone talking and scavenging food, to provide the energy to talk even more.

nancy and didier

scudder sign

People who weren’t eating or talking just stood around smiling, for no good reason, because it felt good to do so.


But sometimes, even in a scene of general plenty, one commodity will become scarce, for reasons that are never clear. And suddenly a tribe is challenged.

How will it respond to the shortage? Who will get enough, or more than enough? And who will get little or nothing?

In this case, that commodity was sunblock.

For some reason, Peter Welch seemed to be the only one who came packing sunblock, and he layered it onto his face pretty good. Pretty liberally, in fact.

welch sunblock

Which would have been fine, except for one thing.

Elsewhere on the beach, Will Wiquist had realized three things: he had no sunblock, his skin contained no melanin whatsoever, and he was going to crisp like an Ore-Ida Tater Tot unless he could lay his hands on some sunblock — stat.

will unchained

Things could have gotten out of hand, of course. We’ve seen it happen before, always over the small things: a bagel, a match, tongs.


But in the end, Peter Welch quickly shared his sunblock, defusing the situation immediately. And it turned out we were that sort of tribe, where the sunblock is not hoarded.

everybody uses sunblock

Which nearly brought tears to our jaded political eyes.

kidAnd then there was nothing left but to talk more, and eat more, and imagine a world in which no one crisps like a Tater Tot. No one.

In which everyone has health care, in fact, and politics is not a partisan death-struggle, but a game that people play simply because it’s fun.

Simply because they haven’t got a damn thing better to do, when you get right down to it.

Simply because they look pretty damn cool holding a bat.

quinn at bat

Sure you call it a pipe-dream. VDB calls it something else altogether.

We call it America.

[Cue John Mellencamp, “Small Town.” Or Bono, “Beautiful Day.” Pretty much anything, really, besides Celine Dion. And a final hat-tip to our three photographers. You came, you saw, you conquered.]

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  1. on September 21st, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    […] Apparently moved by our coverage of last July’s Hamburger Summit — featuring Will Wiquist’s dramatic and ultimately poignant search for sunblock — Senator Bernie Sanders has tapped Wiquist as his new Press Secretary, with Will packing his bags for DC come November 1st. […]