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A Tale of Cameras and Kings

STOCKHOLM–We left the Royal Armory and its blood-stained clothes of long dead kings and wandered through the streets of old Stockholm. Rounding a corner we found ourselves at the Nobel Museum, edifice to prizes of peace and trinitrotoluene. In the window was advertised a show of the photos of Robert Capa. We went in and stood in front of black and white prints that were witness to the horrors of the last century, many of the men who made it that way and others who witnessed it in turn. There was old Leon Trotsky raging about kulaks, high and mighty before he ever imagined an icepick in Mexico. There was the famous, anonymous, Spanish soldier forever caught in the act of dying. There was Papa Hemingway, quiet beside a lake, his son and two shotguns by his side and there was that squat devil Picasso playing the demon fool. There were refugees and soldiers, the liberated and the oppressed and in a glass case was Capa’s worn old Leica. I took mine from my bag and laid it over his and let them talk for a while, separated by inches. Later, when no one was looking I snapped a photo of his camera with my little digital and thought how he had said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” I thought about the landmine he had stepped on in French Indochina and wished it had ended some other way. I took my girl’s hand, we left and walked through cold Stockholm streets, talking of other places, telling tales of cameras and kings and the blood-stained world.

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