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US Army Base

October 17, 2008
  1. October 18, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Oh, God.

  2. October 19, 2008 at 5:36 am

    The glee in the prisoner’s face makes this even more interesting.
    Terrific shot.

  3. October 19, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Charming – and close to home: tomorrow our grandson begins the final phase of his attempt to become a marine.

  4. October 20, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Thinking about this photo I realize that in retrospect I was also playing an essential part in these war games – embedded photographer (though at the time the term hadn’t been invented). To the left were a clump of girls on bikes I could have photographed just as easily – and captioned them as successful examples of pacification. Even further out of frame were some of the moms gardening…more convincing examples. The kid with the pistol, though, has always stuck with me. I think he links in my mind with the child holding the grenade in the Arbus photo; a little disjointed, a little nutzoid.

  5. October 20, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I agree about the pistol kid and the Arbus shot. He’s deep in his character, and has a hungry look. Besides the faces, it’s the pants that drive me wild here! What year is this?

  6. October 20, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    You’re right about the pants, but probably also the weaponry marks the time. Also my use of the word “pacification”. It’s Vietnam War. I was visiting relatives on the US army base in Vicenza. I will always remember the MP guards saluting the shaggy longhair (me) – it was the borrowed car that had rank and garnered the salute.

  7. October 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Oh, that explains the title and period! So are these ‘army brats’ rather than Italian boys? The disjointed air I felt initially still lingers even after this information. Is it because of the current American war as well as the opposing political correctness about teaching our boys to be pacifists? The boys are having fun, but should it even be play? Great photo!

  8. October 21, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    The whole thing is seriously creepy but for me it’s more because of the level of professionalism in these kids. Not having any children it’s easy to say things but if we did I’d probably load on the guns – insist that they be played with – so that there wouldn’t be a forbidden (read attractive) element to them at all. But if I saw anything like this going on I’d certainly draw the line, and fast.

  9. November 6, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Boy play is so fascinating: such a thin line between rejoicing and destroying. This afternoon my very skinny youngest spent two hours sword-fighting with a friend, using foam swords, and then wrestling wildly, so this felt familiar. To me, boy play often appears equal parts pain and laughter.

    Fashion note: plaid shorts for boys came back recently. And plaid pants for girls. I wonder if the boys would all be so slender today.

    The one under the helmet at left also has an Arbus-like look.

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