This year, for the “Wednesday photos” feature, I will be including photos that reference the date of the post in their description or when they were taken. For some reason, lots of photos from Aprils 29th were available, we have Presidents, Writers, Opera Singers, plus bombs and wreckage. Enjoy!
Upton Sinclair was arrested for protesting the conditions of Colorado Miners, 1,200 of whom were attacked in their camp that very morning by the Colorado National Guard in what was called the Ludlow Massacre.
One of my prized possessions (thank you, Joe Hancock and Joy Sperling) is a Dawn of the Dead poster signed by George Romero, Ken Foree, David Emgee, Scott Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross. Among the various bits of stuff that the seller provided were photos of the signings — attesting to their provenance. With C2E2 today, I now find myself in the position of preparing to seek photos and autographs from luminaries and scribblers, so this seemed an apt time to offer a few comments on signatures.
The signature attests to presence and agreement. It used to be ubiquitous on contracts and love letters. It had to be witnessed (the more important the contract, the more crucial the witness). We have special people whose job it is to watch other people apply their signatures. In encounters with celebrities, we ask them to sign things as a souvenir, as an agreement (I was here with this thing). It’s a tangible thing we can take away from our encounter with them. I can imagine two teens in high school in the fifties:
Teen 1: You’ll never guess who I met when I was in Los Angeles last weekend. Maryiln Monroe!
Teen 2: Autograph or it didn’t happen.
Of course, the signature only stays reliable as long as we want it to. In the age of the digital manipulation, it’s but a matter of moments to scan, copy, paste, and render a document that looks as though it was signed by someone who didn’t sign it. One of the more bizarre ways we maintain a belief in the integrity of the signature is in the use of Faxed, but not emailed, documents. Two different financial organizations I work with accept faxes as legally binding documents, but NOT email. Of course, the easiest way for me to fax things is to scan them and use a PDF to Fax service to send them. We’re approaching angels on pinhead territory here.
With the rise of ubiquitous cameras, the autograph has given way to another form of “I met a celebrity” — the selfie or posed picture. When we were at Comic-Con last year, we were far more interested in getting photos with recognizable celebrities than autographs. First, they’re much more compelling as something to share. Second, they document the human interaction — I met this person — rather than the human/object interaction — this person touched this thing. Third, for the celebrity, the photo attests to true fanhood because it’s not a commodity. No one will want to buy a copy of my photo of me and John Hodgman, though there might be people who’d pay slightly more for my autographed copies of his books.
It will be interesting to see if the photograph of the signing makes its way back into legal spaces. I can imagine photos embedded as part of legal documents showing all the signers and witnesses together, holding up the signed document. There would be joyous photos (the shared signing of incorporation papers, for instance) and grim ones (I can imagine a thread somewhere highlighting the most depressing divorce-papers-signing photos).
Someday, we’ll have to upload a photo to attach to our e-filing of our taxes, face next to the screen. It will be automatically updated as our driver’s license picture, and the circle will be complete.
This year, for the “Wednesday photos” feature, I will be including photos that reference the date of the post in their description or when they were taken.
What do Lincoln, Taft, and Wilson all have in common? March 4 Inauguration day!
After George Washington set the date as March 4 at his second inaugural, every President up to Rutherford B. Hayes was inaugurated on March 4. Hayes was sworn in on March 5th, 1877. Then we went back to the 4th until FDR’s second term, when the 20th amendment changed the inauguration day to Jan 20.
I just thought Magón’s look here was so plaintive, I had to include it too.