I’ve known Dan Eldon in my heart and mind since the day he died, July 12,1993. This Mayor of Mogadishu co-opted me as no other real life person.
Some people can’t get enough of Paris Hilton. My celebrity idol is Dan Eldon.
Eldon owns me through his art, his journals. Dan’s images of his life Africa grabbed me by the throat years ago, refusing to let go.
Standing before his collages yesterday in Soho’s Candela/Decker Gallery, looking for the first time at over-sized pages of his creativity and vivid stream of consciousness, my senses were electrified. Eldon’s adventurous sense of the world spilled into the pores of my own being, reaffirming the woman I’ve always been — but now aspire to be even moreso.
“Somalia’s worse than the day you were stoned to death, by the angry Mogadishu mob, turning on you. Pirates are high-jacking UN ships, trying to bring food to starving refugees. The few aid workers on the ground are leaving for fear of their lives.”
Mogadishu Is Not An Action Film
“Dan, after updating myself about Somalia and watching many videos, this verbose blogger is plum empty, dry as the Somali desert.”
“She who wears rose-colored glasses and sees Portofino, not Jersey City, from her 19th floor window . . she who refuses to capitulate to anything ever in life … our girl has no ideas, nothing encouraging to say about Somalia, Dan.”
Dan To Anne
“Then write those words, Anne. Write that you have no hope … whatever it is you feel. Not every action in your life is tied to an effective To Do List, Anne. You can still try for Somalia, even though you are hopeless.”
That is the answer then, dear readers. I share these images of Somalia and Daniel’s story with you, because I am fresh out of creative ideas, but I feel the obligation to humanity. The trendmeister who is responsible for keeping the discussion going, when other brains are wasted, has no Somalia fix in her back pocket.
Acknowledging that the Western world, including America, has helped create a massive mess in Somalia, the plight of these refugees is also in the hands of her own people. If her warloads and gun-toting pirates don’t care if Somalia eats, then how can I help?
More Questions About Higher Powers
Anne to Dan
“Daniel, what do these men want from us?”
“Do they have any rational, objective process or is Somalia just our worst example of what happens when mankind degenerates completely, when anarchy and ego take total control of the soul of the land and its people?”
I read that much of today’s Somalia is about Allah. Is that true? Is this inhuman suffering a battle over Allah? I read the YouTube comments and the global press accounts.
Coldly intellectual, the same argument that stoned a 13-year-old girl to death just weeks ago as atonement for her rape, says that Somalia is a just war for Allah. Is this true, or am I mis-stating the facts, Dan.
I have zero desire to be Bill O’Reilly or Lou Dobbs here. I’m so exhausted with these guys and their inflamed rhetoric. I’m trying to be a good journalist, but also one with heart.
Suffering For Principle? Anne to Dan
“I sit here, your devoted Infidel, not facing north, where I would have visions of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. I look to the water instead, to this eternal, cleansing symbol of rebirth.”
“When interviewed about living at Ground Zero, I explain that I am about hope, communication, reconciliation, and responsibility to the world community.”
The Chosen Ones vs. the Infidel: Anne to Dan
“This suffering challenges my humanity, Dan. But so do the warlords and the guys with the guns. What is an Infidel anyway?”
• a person who does not accept a particular faith, esp Christianity
• (in Christian use) an unbeliever, esp. a Muslim
• (in Muslim use) a person who does not accept the Islamic faith
a person who has no religious faith
“Let me get this straight, Dan.”
“This slaughter of Somalie humanity; this barbaric piracy of ships and cutting off hands and heads; the fences, the settlements on occupied territory, the arms merchants fueling all sides in this pending catastrophe and conflicts all over the globe … this wholesale denial of our humanity and return to the Dark Ages is OK, as long as it’s done “honorably” and in the name of Allah? Jesus? God? The top guy, whoever he is?”
“The heart-wrenching videos I’m watching reflect mere simple sacrifice, the required price of Nirvana? Is this the message of Somalia, Dan? Suffering is good, sort of purgatory on Earth to prepare for a better life.”
Bottom Line Futures
Well, then, I have nothing to say, my dear friends. Our Anne is out of words. Honesty is all I have left. I’m on the sidelines, because I can’t play in this deadly and explosive game.
My higher obligation is to humanity, and I feel as stongly about this vision as Fundamentalist Christians and Fanatical Muslims embrace their own value systems.
As an Infidel, I retain my sense that I have human obligations to UNITE families; to create safe harbor; to continue sending foods on boats, even if they do get highjacked and the people starve instead. It’s the best that I can do … appeal to our inner conscience, but without logic or hope.
Not all is lost, of course. There are other countries … other peoples … other possibilities for action . .. I think there are some left, where we can indeed make a difference.
Safari As A Way Of Life
My message today is not to honor death, starving and sacrifice, but to recycle our creative, adventurous spirits, in a world of colliding intolerance and repackaged, rebranded, inhumanity to humanity.
Dan Eldon did not give up or withdraw. His family says that at 22, Dan had sobered up to the reality of Somalia and massive problems on the African continent. Yet, withdrawl from life or his Africa ,was not an option for him.
Sensibly, his bags were packed to leave Mogadishu but Dan was devoted to savouring the gifts of Africa, the human spirit that nourished his soul.
Brand New Day
I simply cannot leave our readers with nothing to hang on to. Yet, I post this next video with my rose-colored glasses removed. I end my gym workouts with Sting’s “Brand New Day”, and I share it now.
Sting sang “Brand New Day” in Italy on Sept. 11, 2001.
You must click to YouTube to listen, and I apologize in advance for the stupid Tide ads appearing in the midst of this Somalia writing, clouding such an important message in his song. These are the times we live in, dear friends.
For more information and participation in UNITE Refugees project, I send you back to BlogCatalog’s BloggersUnite.
The Pretty Girl In Us All
Anne to Dan
“Lastly to you, Dan … after seeing your Marilyn Monroe photo on the featured journal that was open at the Candela/Decker gallery, I know that I still have promise. Anne is not the hopeless AppleValley, self-indulgent queen of Apple Valley decadence that my Peace Corps friend suggests.”
In my own way, I have work to do … and art to make.
If the person who knows me the longest in life can’t reconcile Marilyn and The African Queen, this is a sign of a friendship that has outgrown its foundation … which wasn’t a foundation at all. It was one man’s vision of the woman he wanted me to be, rather than the woman I have become.
I am Anne, not Linda; I am blonde, not a brown-haired girl; and I’m an authentic New York woman out of answers, but still trying in our messed up masterpiece of a world.
Surely, there’s something good in the brand called me.
Side note: the other photogournalists who died with Dan Eldon in Somalia are Hos Maina, Anthony Macharia, and Hansi Krauss.