Our Hero: The Newspaper Reader

Newspaper Reader Image 1

The Newspaper Reader, 1975, by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, Jr.

The bronze man reads The New York Times on a park bench among the trees (the things they made newspaper out of before all you kids started reading news only on the web) in Princeton’s Borough Park. This is one of several casts of the sculpture, some of which are reading other newspapers.

Newspaper reader sculpture 3 The Newspaper Reader sculpture 2


Upstart II by Clement Meadmore

Upstart II, 1970, by Clement Meadmore.

The Cor-Ten steel sculpture appears to defy gravity as it juts into the air. A description of this work in the literature for the Putnam collection of sculpture on the Princeton University campus (which includes works by Picasso and Henry Moore) says “Meadmore sees this sculpture as that of a person who inhabits a place.” But its angle of aspect and appearance of being in a, um, discernibly turgid state (scroll to the bottom of this Harper’s Index to learn why that means a $2000 fine in Mississippi), have drawn criticism from feminists.

Images from the Adirondacks

My weekend camping trip got rained out.

I rented a tent (mine is still in storage), and the darn thing leaked. When I woke up Sunday morning in a puddle after a night of steady rain, I decided to cut my trip short.

But I did see some amazing things.

I camped near beautiful ponds at two different camp grounds off the beaten path. I rented a kayak at one, and spent a few hours floating on Lake Kushaqua — its waters smooth as glass — listening to the cicadas and frogs.

After I checked into a bed and breakfast for my final night, the clouds parted for a few hours and I dashed up the slope of Cascade Mountain, one of the 46 peaks in the park over 4000 feet.

The walk was only about two and a half miles, but it rose nearly two thousand feet, which made it a bit strenuous.

But the view was more than worth it, and I made it back down before dark, before the rain started again.

It’s Official: I’m Newly Employed at Time.com

TIME Magazine LogoAfter nearly two years of living out of five suitcases in four different apartments in three countries, I’m finally returning to New York for good. I’m moving my stuff out of storage to a place in Brooklyn and taking an amazing opportunity/challenge at Time.com.

As the announcements below explain, I’ll oversee multimedia content at the Time.com site, train other reporters to shoot and produce, and continue to tell stories in this exciting and emerging medium of web video.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Time.com Taps Duff for Multimedia

Craig Duff to join Time.com

Christopher Reeve Walks

Christopher Reeve is missing.

Not the actor — who has been dead for nearly four years — but a street sign, placed on the wall of a building on a side alley renamed in Reeve’s honor. The alley leads from Witherspoon street to the famous Princeton Record Exchange, where I’ve spent a great deal of my salary since I got here.

A few months ago, I looked up from the sidewalk and noticed the street sign, a lonely green rectangle on an expanse of brick wall. I took a photo of it to remind myself to look into how this parking lot/alley came to be known as “Christopher REEVE Walk.”

I didn’t learn much. But I did learn that the actor grew up here. His father was a Princeton University grad, and as a youngster, Reeve acted at the McCarter Theater on the Princeton campus.

After the tragic equestrian accident that left him paralyzed in 1995, the erstwhile Superman became an advocate for research into spinal cord injuries. He was determined to walk again but never did.

So it was curious to see a street named Christopher REEVE Walk. Was it meant to be ironic? Was it meant to be encouragement? Or did no one in the city think about the word when they named the alley in his honor?

A few days ago, I noticed the sign was missing.

I asked the guys who work in Community Liquor, the building on whose brick wall the sign once hung, if they knew where it went.

“That alley was named after that guy?” one remarked, “I didn’t know.”

“There was a sign there?” said the other.

There are still dried drips of glue in the place where the sign was once affixed.

Perhaps it came unglued.

But, more likely, the sign was taken by a prankster — maybe a graduating senior — who took sardonic delight in the irony of a “walk” named for someone who could not.


Einstein bust profileYesterday, I finally walked past the bust of Albert Einstein in the park surrounding Princeton’s Borough Hall. Einstein lived in Princeton for more than twenty years from 1933 until his death in 1955. He worked here through the Institute for Advanced Study, a leading center for theoretical research where major figures in science like Robert Oppenheimer and Kurt Goedel have also held court.

I was struck by the quote on the side of the granite stand below the bust of Einstein:

The ideals which have lighted my way and time after time have given me the energy to face life have been Kindness, Beauty and Truth. (1930)

Colombia Uncut

Catedral en CartagenaBudgetTravel.com this week features two videos from my March trip to Colombia. The first is in the public square of Cartagena, the walled fortress city on the Atlantic coast.

The second is from a little fishing village called Taganga, a seaside town on the backpacker circuit near Santa Maria and en route to Tayrona National Park.

In Taganga, we stayed in a little hotel called Tsunami, off a side road in the village. As the article describes, the owners were still painting the place when we arrived. The wind was intense that night and it whipped through the decorative spaces in the concrete bricks, howling with a fury. The Tsunami room was cheap, but a far cry from the luxury (and 15 times more expensive) lodgings we splurged for in the park the next night.

Tsunami hotel tagangaThe editors at Budget Travel have asked other writers and photographers to take their video cameras out and shoot a POV (point of view) piece of an area in an extended take without editing.

This is difficult to do well, but I tried to give a flavor for what happens in these places by pausing occasionally on significant sites as I moved through the space.

Decide for yourself whether I succeeded.

Botero reclining nude in Cartagena

From the Archives

Craig Duff at 25 years old in the Daily TexasLast week, my friend Brian gave me a gift that was a blast from the past. While cleaning out his parents’ house, he found some old articles he had saved from our days in graduate school. This photo is from an article in The Daily Texan, the student newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin.

It discussed my thesis documentary project, an hour-long film that chronicled the work of a couple who were fighting a quixotic battle to repeal the death penalty in Texas.

I barely recognize the man in the photo. But, luckily, Elton John and I have the same prescription, so I could wear his glasses.

Rediscovered Photo

Craig at ruins near Luxor

I just found this photo on my hard drive as I was cleaning out some space for other files. It was taken by the father of a visiting student at the American University in Cairo. She was studying Arabic for a semester in a study abroad program from her college in Michigan. I met the family when we shared a table on the Nile cruise I took with my mom and sister. The student’s mother wore a hat with a propeller on it, so I could always spot her in a crowd. In fact, I used it to navigate my way back to our group, when I would ditch the organized tour to take photos on my own. The father was very kind to send me several photos he had taken, including some with a fish eye lens. Unfortunately, his original email got deleted somehow, and I’ve completely lost touch.

But I love this photo, taken at one of the ruins in Luxor. I think it’s at the mortuary temple for Hatshepsut.