Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Rest of the Country

Over the past 51 weeks I have posted and explained the images and stories I had chosen for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for this portrait of America.  Some were very specific events linked to their exact location.  Others were an example of something that was happening in other places besides the attributed state.  As I was organizing the composition I decided to add a few general stories not part of a specific state, but part of the whole nation.  Since I have one more Sunday left in this year, I thought I'd talk a bit about them.

City and Country

I decided to fill a background space in the upper right corner with an urban city scape.  I based it on a vintage photo of Newark, NJ, though the specific choice was not something I considered significant.  At the time I was just thinking about representing another aspect of American life.  Looking back at it now, I notice that this is the one area of the print with no specific news story, which sets up a situation where almost all the news is happening outside the big cities.  Significant cultural differences between different regions of our nation have existed going back to the founding fathers, and right now we seem to be in a moment where that divide is deepening.


Immigration, especially the illegal kind, continues to generate all kinds of controversy.  Everyone agrees the current situation is a problem, but there is a lot of conflict over what the solution should be.  Dealing with border security issues, the economics of individuals and corporations, political balances in regions and the nation, these are all part of the equation.  (lower left corner)

Reality Television

Around the turn of the century American prime time television turned over a big part of its schedule to things lumped into the general group of reality tv.  No need to pay professional writers or actors- just get a bunch of people seeking attention, film them for a while, and edit it into a show.  Includes traditional game shows, but also the more modern model of setting up situations were personal conflicts will be created, then let nature take its course.  In the race to get that bit of fleeting television fame, some people will do pretty much anything on camera.  I went with two examples here.  Above (lower center) I have someone being filmed doing something potentially dangerous (think the Jackass show and movies of this era, and YouTube videos these days).  The idea below (center right edge) was based on a network show that had just started a brief run at the time I was working on this piece.  Called "Are You Hot?", it was just men and women posing briefly in front of a panel of "experts", wearing minimal clothing.  If the majority of the panel approved, they moved on to the next round.  Mercifully, the show was cancelled after its introductory run.

The stories in this print were all about reported news events from a specific two month period in American history, but in many cases the story is far from over.  Go back through all 50 states on the blog and see how much has changed, and how much is still the same.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


State and region see a crime wave linked to the spread of meth labs. (lower left center)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


A record amount of people were killed in automobile accidents the previous year.  (upper left corner)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

West Virginia

A contractor wins a $316 million lottery jackpot, the largest in history.  (right of center)

Sunday, December 1, 2013


An atheist Eagle Scout is forced out of the Boy 
Scouts of America.  (bottom edge center)

Sunday, November 24, 2013


U.S. Forest Service approves request to build transmission lines through a forest. (upper right corner)

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Veterans home is quarantined for a stomach flu like ones that had infected cruise ships.  (left edge center)

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Some link UFO encounters to faiths in the region.  (upper left corner)

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Investigations continue into the Enron collapse and executive criminal activities. (bottom edge center)

Sunday, October 27, 2013


A lost disabled teen is found in the woods, six miles off the trail.  (center right edge)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

South Dakota

Over 100 small farms closed the previous year due to drought and economic conditions.  (central left)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

South Carolina

The state is training 41 new state troopers.  (lower middle left)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rhode Island

The state joins a multi-state lawsuit against Clean Air law changes.  (upper center)

Sunday, September 29, 2013


State provides low cost home insurance against collapse over mines.  (upper middle right)

Sunday, September 22, 2013


School districts go to four day school weeks due to budget problems.  (lower right corner)

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Rainbow trout season opens across the state.  (left of center)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Clean Air law changes will allow coal fired plants to continue operation.  (upper center)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

North Dakota

Towns empty as economic conditions cause the state to depopulate.  (central left side)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

North Carolina

Permits to carry concealed pistols are declared invalid, and will need to be rechecked.  (lower middle)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New York

There are extra Coast Guard patrols in New York harbor due to terrorist threats. (far right center)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

New Mexico

Developers must install 8 to 12 high efficiency toilets to get a single building permit. (lower left corner)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Jersey

Newark Liberty International Airport deploys 1400 federally trained screeners.  (lower left corner)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Hampshire

A nuclear plant announces it is cutting its workforce by 25%.  (top, right of center)

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Starbucks will begin operation of a 360,000 square foot roasting plant near Tahoe.  (upper left center)

Sunday, July 14, 2013


The state reports an increase in the local bald eagle population.  (top, left of center)

Sunday, July 7, 2013


A local Native American tribe bans non-members from hunting on their land.  (top, left of center)

Sunday, June 30, 2013


The state sees its third major winter storm in a month.  (upper left corner)

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott is pressured to resign after a video surfaces of him making statements that are interpreted by many to be pro-segregationist.  (right of center)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Democratic, Republican, Independence, and Green Parties are all given major party status for all state elections.  (right of center)

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Women bring a lawsuit against a man with a camera in a workplace ladies restroom.  (center left)

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Cardinal Law resigns as Archbishop of Boston following sex abuse scandals involving priests in his archdiocese. (lower middle right)

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Fish and Wildlife is poisoning lakes to prevent the spread of the snake head fish.  (upper center)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Bowdoin College bans smoking in all dorms, forcing students to smoke outdoors.  (lower right corner)

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The state sends seven new fire trucks to New York City fire departments.  (upper center)

Sunday, May 5, 2013


The state reports that gambling problems are on the rise.  (upper center right)

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Heavily subsidized corn sold to Mexico and the rest of the world.  (center left)

Sunday, April 21, 2013


University of Iowa's costumed mascot receives a settlement related to attack from a rival school band member.  (upper center left)

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The state leads the nation in home foreclosures.  (upper center right)

Sunday, April 7, 2013


The governor commutes all death sentences to life in prison, and pardons four prisoners from death row.  (lower middle)

Sunday, March 31, 2013


There has been lobbying for non-emergency dental care for the poor.  (center)

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Wandering donkeys to be penned in to prevent highway accidents.  (center left edge)

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Thousands of troops are departing for Kuwait.  (lower right corner)

Sunday, March 10, 2013


A local police department becomes one of the first in the country to accept free police cruisers that carry advertising.  (lower middle)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

District of Columbia

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft arranges Virginia trial for Beltway Sniper suspects to secure executions.  (lower middle)

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Foster family and adoptions processes are working better.  (lower right corner)

Sunday, February 17, 2013


A man is arrested for not discouraging the breeding of West Nile virus mosquitoes.  (lower left center)

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Lots of kids are going skiing on days off; a snowboarder dies in a collision.  (upper left corner)