Report from the trenches.

Now we all know Jon Stewart is busy with the last week of the show for 2012. And we also know there have been Jon Stewart sightings in NYC stores and New Jersey malls purchasing Hanukkah gifts for his friends and family. (Hey, Jon?! How about a few copies of my photo-documentary book, Arn? Narn as gifts?) From what I can tell, he’s a decent enough kind of guy and I wouldn’t expect anything less of him, certainly not around this time of year. He’s what’s known as a Mensch. For of those of you not steeped in Yiddish, please Google it. It’s something we all should strive to be.

Fort Amherstweb From the book, Arn? Narn.

So, one week into the battle and I thought I’d give all of you an update on the effort to bring Jon Stewart around to help me tell the story of Arn? Narn. Some of my trusted deputies have heeded my call and sent him one of the reviews the book has received. This far, we’ve not heard from Mr. Stewart. That’s OK. I’ve got plenty of good reviews to send plus more tricks up my sleeve. If you’ve e-mailed him once, well then do it again. I will ask you several more times to do this. If you haven’t, I really need your help. The more e-mails he gets, the harder it will be for him to ignore it. I’ve posted another really good review below that I would love for all of you to send to him. Please feel free to add any other comments you think would help the cause. And it is a cause. No one will lose their life or limbs, just a minute or two to send it. Causes take time and this is a good cause. If for no other reason than I’m a Jersey guy too and a landsman. C’mon already, Jon!

So here it is. As I said, feel free to embellish it with whatever praise you feel is appropriate or even damnation if you must and send it to: and don’t forget to sign it too.

Dear Jon,

I’ve been a fan of yours since you started hosting The Daily Show. And I especially like the segments you do on books. There is one author whose book I would love to see you feature. It’s called Arn? Narn. by Bruce Meisterman. In case you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s an interview I found on the web. Hope you like it.

Arn? Narn.
by Bruce Meisterman (John Gosslee 2012, Softcover) 165 pages $32 cover price
Well doesn’t it just figure that the most beautiful, eloquent depiction of the plight of Canada’s province of Newfoundland was photographed and written by a guy from Tennessee? I actually wonder how many of my fellow Canadians, at least those living from Quebec west to the Pacific even have the slightest idea that the Newfoundland fishing industry is gone? Over-fished and subject to God knows how much environmental damage, the former vast swimming fields of cod that ships could barely make their way through are now – gone. And my dear fellow, they aren’t coming back no longer how long a moratorium on fishing remains in place.
That might be a little hasty. I’m sure that given another 10,000 years or so the Earth will manage to repair the damage done to it by the ignoramuses who run our governments and carbon fuel-based industries. However, that sort of time frame isn’t going to do much good for the citizens of the island of Newfoundland unless one is a serious believer in cryogenics. ‘Pop us in the freezer luv, an’ be sure to be payin’ th’ electric bill!’
For those who do not know the place, Newfoundland is a large island off Canada’s Atlantic Coast which became a province by the narrowest margin of referendum approval in 1948. To this day there is a suspicion that the late Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland’s first Premier and the driving force behind the winning side may well have stuffed the ballot box with an urgency that the old bosses of Tammany Hall and Chicago politics would have heartily approved.
I have read elsewhere descriptions of Newfoundland as Canada’s Ireland, only with much more ice. Small villages, a harshly lovely landscape and a unique lilt of speech do bear out the comparison. The book’s title reflects on that lilt. As Meisterman puts it:
‘Arn? Narn.’ It is said to be the shortest conversation in Newfoundland. It’s also a prescient description of this culture’s future. Two fishing boats in a harbor are approaching one another, one departing, the other returning. The captain of the departing boat yells out to the captain of the returning boat. ‘Arn?’ The other captain’s reply, ‘Narn.’ Translated, ‘Any fish?’ ‘No fish.’ And that is the story.
The rest of Arn? Narn is an expansion on the theme as Meisterman takes his camera through the island and records the villages, the kitchen concerts, the colourfully painted mailboxes and the great white sheets of ice piled onto the winter shores. He is a magnificent photographer and given his other career as a cinematographer he has a sense of how to compile images into a silent narrative. Thankfully, he also shot the pictures on real film. For all the glories of the digital world, there is still something more tactile, more real if you will to a photograph captured directly onto film then developed by hand. It is much more the medium of the artist.
Textually, Meisterman is a faithful journalist in his observations. Perhaps he over-cooks his praise for the islanders generosity and welcoming nature, one starts to think of hard-boiled Newfoundlanders as lovable Smurfs, yet if one has to err that is certainly preferable to condescension or worse yet ignoring the whole culture.
I do wish that the book itself was larger and in hardcover to better show off the prints inside. If Arn? Narn proves as successful as it should (for one thing, no school library should be without a copy), perhaps a deluxe edition might be in the offing. I certainly hope so. In the meanwhile, Canadians owe a gentleman from Tennessee a nod of thanks for showing us a portion of our own country.
Be seeing you.
So, what do you think, Jon? Let’s learn more about this.
Thanks for your time.

One thought on “Report from the trenches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s