photos (ears of corn)


I just received a book I had ordered from Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour Hersh.

I am eager to read it

Well, I WAS eager to read it.

I flipped through it and took a look at the photographs. There is one of Henry Kissinger under which there is a caption: “My favorite portrait of Henry Kissinger.”

It is a horrible photo. It made me queasy. I am not going to describe it, and I hope no one else looks at it. Suffice it to say that it shows Kissinger in an unflattering way when I am sure he did not know his photo was being taken.

This reminds me of when, about a couple of years ago, an old high school friend of mine, then living in Maine, posted a photo on Facebook of his wife at some kind of clambake or whatever. It said, something like, “_________ enjoying her first ear of corn for the summer.” It was horribly unflattering. Embarrassing. I thought, how can he do this? I am sure my friend thought it was funny, a cute photo.



I and another woman from New York City met a year or two ago with a foreigner living in the US, also a woman. The three of us were discussing a possible writing and translation project. We did not know one another well.

It was my first meeting with the foreign woman. She is a professional with advanced degrees. I tried to be very careful about making arrangements (including suggesting a meeting) and introducing myself.

We arranged to meet in a restaurant in Tribeca at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday. The location was convenient for the foreign woman.

I was determined not to be late. My wife dropped me off at a convenient subway stop. I got to Union Square at around 6:00 p.m.

I was walking to Tribeca when I got a text message from the foreign woman saying that she was already at the restaurant. I texted her right back, saying I would be there in ten or fifteen minutes.

Don’t come now, she texted back. I am with a friend. We haven’t finished dinner yet.

Then why did she text me, I thought.



I think Facebook knows who has been checking out your Facebook page. Because the next morning, there was a suggestion that I “friend” the foreign woman. How did Facebook know we had just met (in person)?

I went to her Facebook page, which I had never seen before. It had hundreds of photos, mostly of her, a few with her husband. It was incredible how many photos, all recent, she had posted of herself.



Relatives of mine have criticized ME for posting photos of myself on Facebook, saying it is evidence of narcissism. Many of the photos of me were taken in interesting locales in the City or on overseas trips; for example: me on the Brooklyn Bridge and in front of Trump Tower, in front of the Gare du Nord, or posing in front of a portrait of Juan Ramon Jiménez in his former home in Spain. Of course, I tried to choose the best photos of myself, but I thought that — besides showing me to advantage — they were interesting in their own right because of showing interesting places where I had been.

Wouldn’t you know that some of the same people have posted many photos of themselves and seem to be more “guilty” than me of what they accuse of me of.

I have also gotten edicts from family members to never post a photo — under any circumstances — in which they appear. These same people have ignored their own rule and have posted family photos in which I appear. (Have you ever noticed how common it is for people not to practice what they preach — admonish you for?) There were a couple which I did not particularly care for. I complained to no avail, asking the family member(s) to take them down. I was ignored. It seemed that they were taking sadistic pleasure in making me look bad or just annoying me.

Some people seem to get much of their enjoyment from sadistic acts directed at people close to them whom they perceive to be easy targets. In general, they like to see people ridiculed, often in a crude fashion. At the same time, they are often seen to be affecting an air of moral superiority with a smugness that masks narrow mindedness and a lack of emotional sensitivity, discernment, and intellectual depth.



My “ground rule” would be. There’s nothing wrong with posting group photos and having pride in your family and friends. But choose tasteful ones. Even if it’s Henry Kissinger. Everyone wants to be flattered.

And bad taste is. … Bad taste.


— Roger W. Smith

   June 2018

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