In the Right Light

If all you had to go on were the media images you’d think all of Ciudad Juarez was lit with the jaundiced yellow glow of streetlamps.  Every picture I see of the city in the news, and every effort to represent it on camera makes it seem as though the whole city has chronic hepatitis: wan, sickly, and dirty yellow.  And perhaps as long as the biggest stories coming out of Juarez surround the violence (late night shootings, gang warfare, police raids) then those will be the most enduring images of the city (handcuffs, bright lights of police cars, crime scene tape, dead bodies) and all these things will be lit in the foreground by a yellow streetlight standing sentry, bathing the chaos below in that harsh, isolating yellow light.

But I prefer the light in the mornings when I step outside with the dog for a long walk before work.  It’s not yet oppressively hot and few people are up.  Grey and purple clouds are untangling themselves to reveal the Franklin Mountains and the sun is only peeking over the horizon.  The sky is vast, the air fresh, and the world, or at least my little square of it, quiet.  We walk for a long while seeing a jogger here, a factory worker there, but generally seeing very few people at all.  It’s pretty, and peaceful, and a good reminder that Juarez is not just a headline, or a problem.  It’s a place.  A place that has seen more than it’s share of pain, suffering, and senseless violence, yes.  But a place where people get up every day, kiss their kids, water their lawns, go to work, and just generally carry on.  And every morning the sun comes up and the streetlamps turn off.

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2 Responses to In the Right Light

  1. Ancient relative says:

    Re: yellow light- had the same question after watching soderbergh’s “traffic”. Now I wonder, was he going for cinema verite after seeing too many clips on the 6 o’clock news, or are all the news camera guys closet cinematographers who watched traffic once too many?

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