MinnPost: All that rises must fall

By Max Sparber

Millett_Once coverLarry Millett, who reads from his newest book tonight at the Mill City Museum, is somebody I sometimes envy. He has a few nonfiction books to his name, and they tend to be big and full of photographs. They're loaded up with facts, and I presume these are the results of hard labor. There was, for instance, "Strange Days, Dangerous Nights: Photos from the Speed Graphic Era," which consisted of stories and photos culled from various era newspapers photo morgues from the middle of the 20th century. If you've ever wondered what crime was like in the '30s and '40s, there it is, in glorious black and white: the tragedies of the past.

I myself have dug through archives, and know the task to be fascinating but backbreaking. We overdocument our present (I am as guilty as the next — I spent a good portion of Wednesday editing and uploading photographs to Facebook.) But we also documented our modern past, from the moment cameras and print became relatively accessible and inexpensive. Newspapers, then flush with subscriptions, would sometimes put two or three reporters and a similar number of photographers on a case, and they would document away. Additionally, there was never a better time for crime photographers, as forensics was in its infancy and so newspaper people with big Speed Graphic cameras were often allowed to just clomp around a crime scene, taking pictures of whatever they liked, some notoriously reposing the dead and their possessions to make a better picture.

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