Stories and Observations From a Working Photojournalist
Thursday, July 31, 2008
On This Steel Horse I Ride
After three days of sitting in bars, FBO’s and hotel rooms, we finally got on our new plane and went wheels up from JFK a little after 1 am. We learned that our 707 was once used by Bon Jovi and the Eagles for their tour plane.If these walls could talk. Ellen Kuras was excited to know that she was sitting in the seat where Hugh Hefner had sat with his girlfriends. The plane is totally rock star. It boasts 3 bedrooms, a large seating area with tables, couches and fully reclining swivel captains chairs, two private rooms and two baths with showers. The interior is a little dated with that early 80’s feel with lots of gold trim and beige leather, but who cares, it’s so comfortable. The flight crew is great. They have everything you could possibly imagine, including hundreds of new and old DVD movies and players. They even had tequila (well, almost. Jose Cuervo hardly qualifies as tequila) and three flavors of ice cream. Life is good.
People are happy that we are finally on the move towards our destination and despite the long flight people are in really good spirits. I think former Clinton advisor Bob Nash has slept since before we took off. How does he do it?
One thing has been really impressive to me over the last three days is that nobody has complained. Not even once. Everyone has just rolled with the punches and have occupied themselves as best as they can as we sit around in places for hours at a time. I’ve been on trips before when we have had an hour or two of delays and people are complaining non-stop. I guess it’s a big difference when you’re going somewhere like Africa versus Toledo, Ohio. No offense to people in Toledo, but I think Africa might be slightly more interesting and worth the wait.
With three days off the schedule, I am curious to see how the rest of the trip pans out. Matt McKenna, Clinton’s spokesman and a good friend, says we are still going to all the countries that we were originally slated for, just in fewer days. That means 5 countries in 4 days. I think we might have dropped a day off of the Rwanda leg. I am kind of disappointed with that since I was going to meet up with my friend and Newsweek photographer Jonathan Torgovnik who just happened to be in Rwanda on assignment. I think we will still be able to share a drink on the one night that we will be there.
We have finally arrived in Addis Ababa. We took a bus from the airport to the very luxurious Sheraton Addis (Starwood points!) where we were greeted by Bill, Chelsea and the rest of the VIP delegation for a dinner and drink reception. Everyone was going out of their way to tell us how sorry they were that we got stranded in Newark for so long. I talked to Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson about the church that we missed. Ted seemed sincerely bummed that we missed it. He said it was a once in a lifetime thing to see and just kept shaking his head in disappointment when I told him how much I had been looking forward to it.
Nobody was really hungry since we had eaten an hour and a half before landing. I did take advantage of the open bar and had an Ethiopian beer called Bati Bashen Beer. It was pretty good.
Justin Sullivan decided to pursue a career in photojournalism in 1994. A self-taught photographer, Justin worked as a freelance photographer for local San Francisco newspapers for 5 years before getting hired to work on staff at the San Francisco Examiner in 2000 then later at the San Francisco Chronicle that same year where he served as a fill-in photographer. Justin returned to freelance in the fall of 2000 shooting primarily for the Associated Press, Reuters, Getty Images and numerous newspapers across the country before being hired as a Staff Photographer with Getty Images. In the coming years he would cover a wide range of events from the World Series and political campaigns to natural disasters and overseas conflicts. Justin's photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world.
The views expressed in this blog are those of Justin Sullivan and do not represent the views of his employer, co-workers or friends