Death of a Pope

(Friday’s post was an April Fool’s prank. Toby Joe and I are NOT moving to Los Angeles. I was pulling your leg. And apparently, for some of you, I may have pulled a little too hard. Oops!)

On Friday, a little after 1:30 p.m. word got out that Pope John Paul II had died. I turned on the news when I realized that many of the major t.v. stations were reporting live from Saint Patricks Cathedral on 54th street in Manhattan. Why bother watching them on TV when they’re directly across the river from me? So I packed up my camera, put on my coat and headed to midtown to join them. After all, this was history in the making and certain things could wait till today to finish.

When I arrived, I learned that the Pope had not actually died. But people were setting up camp as if someone had given us all a countdown. I decided to stick around and watch.

Below are images taken during my spectator time.
(All images taken with a Pentax K1000. Black and white images are shot in TRI-X, color images Kodak Gold. All images are scanned using a Konica Minolta 5400 II Negative Scanner. All images can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnail.)

ABC news (I think. There were so many of them there, I am not sure who was who.)

Inside the Cathedral. I sat down for a bit to thaw out. The guy in front of me was brought to tears while sitting there.

They had candles set up at the front of the church specifically for the Pope. After we found out he was indeed still alive, people came in from the street to light a candle for him. (I have to say, while I’m no longer catholic, the smells and sounds of a church are still, many times, overwhelmingly beautiful. I enjoyed wandering through the cathedral. No matter what one might believe, it really is a site to see.)

Here is a side alcove filled with more candles. I remember these from when I was a kid. My mother and grandmother used to light one each time we went to church. I always found it rather beautiful, though I had no idea what it really stood for at the time.

A newscaster waiting for feed.

A pacing priest. (Correction: A Knights of Columbus member? Thanks, bryan!)

Another newscaster waiting for information.

There were several cops there. Over the course of the day, as we neared the 5:30 mass, more and more showed up. I sat there, trying to blend in as much as possible so they wouldn’t kick me away.

A priest(?) from the cathedral.

A cop and one of the ushers.

A newscaster mid-broadcast. The guy on the left looks to be silently judging him.

This guy worked for CNN. They had rockstar parking.

A family paying their respects. The father kept quizzing the small boy on facts about the Pope. As I eavesdropped on more and more conversations, I realized I know very little about the Pope.

Another newscaster.

Some more cops.

A radio tower and Saint Patrick’s steeples.

A cop.

A conversation between one of the police officers and an usher. This is when I found out that someone during the 1:30 mass at Saint Patricks had made the announcement that the Pope had already died. That’s why there was an urgency to get everyone up there. The cop was not pleased by this as everyone on the squad (on call, etc) was called into work. Errors like this can prove to be really expensive for the city.

This guy stood outside holding this metal briefcase for nearly an hour. I finally left and he was still there.

Cops and news crews.

Another reporter gearing up to go live.

Friday was a surprising wonderful day. I really enjoyed just sitting there taking it all in. Inside the church, there were mourners. On the outside, there were reporters, police officers and tourists. There were also people like me; individuals just there to watch. I love to watch.


Yet to come:

Our night with the Gotham Girls.


  1. I forgive you for your April Fool’s prank…I’ll admit I’m totally gullible!
    Great photos, thanks for sharing them. I cannot WAIT for the post about the Gotham Girls! I was in Arizona last June, and when in Tucson with my rock-a-billy drummer friend, we went to a show they played during intermission at a chick roller-derby north of Phoenix. It was awesome, though not as many fights as I had hoped. ;-)


  2. Thanks, Sarah. Also, yeah, the Gotham Girls event was amazing. We had a blast. We took hundreds of images, but it was under low light and we weren’t prepared. Some of them worked out. I think Toby Joe got some better stuff out of it.
    It seems that I missed our very own sherri , tho. And here I thought she didn’t show up. Later, after we got home, I received an email saying she’d be there. I looked and looked but didn’t see her. Next time!


  3. The guy from CNN- is that a grapfruit in his pocket or is he really happy to see you?

    The guy with the metal briefcase- skirry.

    Pope John Paul was a great guy. A true diplomat, and a rather brave fellow. I don’t know who they have lined up to replace him, but I wouldn’t want to be that guy.


  4. great pictures mihow!

    i have to agree with you on being a non-practicing catholic who finds the comfort in the church’s smells and sights. there is ALWAYS a sense of protection within those walls. this pope was a good one and i hope that the next one will be of the same character but a bit more forward thinking.


  5. Yeah, what is the deal with that “church smell”??


  6. I don’t know. I know it’s incense of some type. At one point, i thought it was rosemary. Now, I’m not so sure. I have always really loved it.


  7. david cross has a funny joke on one of his cds—its about how not all republicans are racist and homophobic, just the people that lead them.

    i think the same this pretty much carries suit to the catholic church too. i dont really think that this pope was ‘good’ in any real sense, and i really dont think that any of his successors are ‘good’ either.

    unless, of course, you hate black people. then you might think that tens of millions of africans dying from aids is good, and notch the pope up a few points.


  8. I don’t know much about the fella. Just got used to seeing his face over the years. After I read more about him, I’ll make a decision as to whether he was “good” or not. There are folks who believe mother theresa did wrong. There are folks who love and adore Michael Jackson. There are folks who think Reagan was scum. I’m not sure one can say, with absolute certainty, that the Pope was a bad man. He may have made some poor decisions based on his faith, but bad? Not sure I can say that.

    We’ll see. I have to learn more before making a decision.


  9. – you and julie are getting good.


  10. Well why dont you just MARRY them, IAN?


  11. Not to spark a flame war, but the pope was also a strong advocate for relieving Third World debt and for improving distribution of AIDS drugs. To lay the corpses of starving Africans and AIDS victims at his feet because of his opposition to abortion and birth control is the sort of rhetorical maneuver that would label an American’s opposition of the war in Iraq as treason or being unpatriotic.


  12. No flame war initiated, charlie. Thanks for the comment.


  13. oh, look, it’s toby.

    i think it’s funny that michele posted more pictures on her non-photo blog in one post than you have on your photoblog in two months.



  14. Toby Joe will have images galore now! I just know it! Now that we have a negative scanner, it’s super easy and sweet. I plan on making dinner while he gets to know it as I have been doing all day. :]


  15. i was thinking earlier. What constitutes a “photo blog”? One without words? One with one huge image at a time? Why can’t this be seen a photoblog with commentary? I was wondering that, I was. But I don’t expect a definitive answer. :]


  16. Oh. My. HOLY LORD.

    I fell for THAT April Fool’s big time.

    Regarding your b&w photos mihow, they remind me of Jill Krementz’s (can you make a possessive with her name?) photos. Which is a roundabout way of saying they are VERY good.


  17. I just KNOW that news got out that I’m moving to LA and in a week or two (maybe longer) I’m going to get an email from a friend of a friend of a friend of someone who lurks asking when I moved to LA.
    I really honestly figured that NO ONE would believe this. I told a friend on Friday night, I would rather put a gun in my mouth than move across the country again. And I hate guns. It’s kinda funny this backfired on me. I had no idea.


  18. Funny thing is … it looks like I may be moving to LA, sort of as a first step in my plan to move to Hong Kong! I was there last month and apparently my presentation/work went over better than anyone realized. What to do? What to do! Remain a contractor here where I have a lovely little life or become a high-falutin employee type there. Ugh.


  19. These photos are fab! I enjoyed the commentary as well. :) Really, very interesting.


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