Self Portrait

I had a pretty awful day today. Around noon, I ran downstairs and found out that my new neighbor had side swapped my beloved Ford Focus with her rented Penske moving truck. The damage could have been worse, but the truck did hit my driver-side tire, which jutted out just far enough for my alignment to go completely out of whack. I’m not even going to mention the new yellow paint job my car is now sporting in the gouges left by the truck. Just my luck, right? She was kind enough to tell me that she did it (though it would have been tough to notice that the new yellow pin striping on my car matched the truck sitting in the street all day), and we exchanged info and some pleasantries. Welcome to the neighborhood, just be careful of the narrow streets.

The rest of the day was spent pondering how much insurance entanglement I was going to be in for. I’ve never been in a car accident before, and I count my blessings for that every time I strap on my seat belt. Hopefully we’ll figure it out and my car will be back to it’s previous glory. What bothered me more was how much of my day was spent worrying about how much it would cost to fix it, and whether her insurance would skyrocket, and general petty sorrow. I tend to bring that upon myself when I’m down. I know I shouldn’t, and it wasn’t even my fault, but I tend to get sad over silly things.

Roger Ebert by Ethan Hill

I mean things could be so much worse, right? Any time I get glum these days I just pick up the new Esquire and re-read the feature story about Roger Ebert. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so now. Chris Jones explains where the legendary movie critic has been these last few years and tells us why we haven’t heard a word from him. I knew that he had some form of mouth cancer, but I had heard rumors for months that he would be back on TV good as new. Where had those magic thumbs gone?

I’m a huge fan of Ebert and At the Movies, even though I generally side with Richard Roeper’s movie selections. The show had been staple in my life for decades, and when it ended abruptly, last year, I was left wondering what happened to Ebert and Roeper. A few weeks back I discovered that Roeper had found his voice on the Internet, recording short-form movie reviews in his home on what appears to be a handicam. But where was Ebert? It turns out he lost his real voice for good, as well as ability to eat and drink through his mouth. Jones goes into detail about Ebert’s fight with cancer, the loss of his bottom jaw, having to speak through post-it notes, and the discomfort he feels sitting through multiple movies. Roger Ebert has been fighting the good fight on his blog and is mentally strong as ever, but what is most striking are photographer Ethan Hill’s haunting photos of Ebert without his bottom jaw.

The first time I saw the shots, I was horrified and sad. Gone was the pudgy man I watched every Sunday afternoon. He was replaced with this slack-jawed person that would have frightened me as a child. But then I read Jones’ words I realized that Ebert doesn’t ask for pity and my fear is ignorance. He isn’t fighting for his life, he is simply struggling to regain his voice. He is a survivor and someone I am truly inspired by. Jones and Hill told Ebert’s story so perfectly that it’s hard for me to really be depressed—anything I’m going through is petty compared to what Ebert is going through. Anyone wondering just how powerful a photo can be, just needs to look at the photo above and then read the article—I promise you, it will move you. I know I’m no longer upset about a stupid car.

If you want to read more about Ethan Hill, check out a great look at the making of this photo at A Photo Editor.

I spoke to soon. Looks like Ebert might get his voice back after all, or at least some semblance of it. Check out the video below. (via Engadget)