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Photographer's Note by Kike Arnal - Introduction by Ralph Nader - Foreward by Fred Ritchin


San Francisco Chronicle

PAGE VIEWS: In the Shadow of Power
John McMurtrie
March 28, 2010

If unemployment, poverty, inadequate health care, homelessness, a failing education system, crime and drug abuse are among the major problems that afflict our country, they are, in a sad irony, greatly magnified in what should be our most shining example of democracy: Washington, D.C. In the Shadow of Power (Charta; 144 pages; $50) is a devastating collection of 92 black-and-white images by Oakland photographer Kike Arnal - with an impassioned introduction by Ralph Nader - that reveals a little-seen capital. The photo shown here, of people on benches in Daniel Webster Square, fairly well sums up how our society has turned its back on its own.

March 3, 2010

Periodically, someone tries to tell a story about Washington DC that the rest of the country is not anxious to hear. About a place, as Leni and Philip Stern pointed out in "Oh Say Can You See" in the 1960s, which had an aquarium but also homes with no running water. Or Constance McLaughlin Green's history of black Washington, Secret City. Or, in 1974, Captive Capital, in which I described Washington as a place where "the American dream and the American tragedy passed each other on the street and do not speak."

In 2002 a Venezuelan photographer Kiki Arnal visited the city and was shocked by what he found. He recalled, "I was reminded of the marginal barrios back in my home country." He decided to tell the story of the other Washington, a city that has the nation's highest infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and AIDS infection rates, and where 16 percent of local children live in extreme poverty. "With a population of roughly 570,000 people, the District of Columbia is, by world standards, a small city," Arnal writes. "Its manageable size would seem to indicate that Washington could fulfill expectations naturally associated with a city of its global stature, to take care of its people. The disparity that I saw compelled me to spend the next few years documenting Washington, D.C., in order to draw attention to the realities of the city."

This book, with an introduction by Ralph Nader, tells what he found. It is great photography but it is not a pretty picture. - just a necessary one that belongs on a nearby table of everyone who presumes to speak or write about the capital city. - Sam Smith

Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

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