Friday, May 18, 2007

Cycling in Belgium "by" Mouth of the Mersey

Here is some of the work of Stephan Vanfleteren. See more at www.panos.co.uk in the "Hard Men and Heroes" section.

The one and only Eddy looking as hard in middle age as in his prime - there is no such thing as a bad photo of him as this book http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1884737722/ref=sib_dp_pt/102-7933104-7113727#reader-link proves.



Here is some of the terrain over which the Belgian Hard Men make their reputations - in real life, it's still just black and white.









And this is what it does to your legs.

47 comments:

mimi said...

Fantastic. And they race over the same terrain these days. Just hearing or reading the words Paris-Roubaix gives me a vicarious sensation of pain.
You spoil us Mouth, you really do!
Thanks.

nesta said...

Please don't take this to heart.

I find the pics good quality and they do provoke some thoughts but I find that a pictorial essay without accompanying article cheap. I thought this site was for writers. When did it becaome an art gallery?

It also pushes articles that probably took hours to write and a great deal of thought, organisation and effort down the page far too quickly.

Just my opinion but I prefer thoughts with a picture or two rather than pictures with hardly a word.

MotM said...

Nesta - That's an interesting point.

I've posted two blocks of photos now, the first an an experiment and the second because the first received some favourable comments. Each time I have pasted very few words, indeed the headline was an ironic allusion to that ("If a pictuire paints..." as is the "by" in this headline). My feeling is that for me to select the photos and then write my "story" of them would be too overpowering in a blog based on community, and so I preferred to wait for the reaction and join in.

The photos do push text down, but it's not far away, and the pictures have to be fairly big to do them credit.

I'm (as you would expect) happy to be guided by pseuds and will desist from photos other than to illustrate the text as File's do so admirably, or will post photos from time to time as we all do written submissions or comments.

Any views fellow pseuds?

nesta said...

mouth

I know that a picture tells a thousand words and therefore I want to read those thousand words with the pictures. If this keeps up at the current rate I will find myself slowly drifting away from pseuds. I do not wish to force my will on you or anyone else I am only expressing my honest opinion.

And isn't Prior doing a fine Gilchrist impersonation. Makes Nixon's recent selection look a very poor one. And remember I love old Nanny Nix!

MotM said...

Such is the preparation of this Windies team and the dearth of talent available, I feel that this is a very cheap century for Prior - but fair play to him: he had to do it.

I wouldn't want to drive anyone away or change the character of pseuds one iota. Ebren is the instigator of pseuds, so I'd be interested in his view, especially as I posted these directly since it's a bit tricky getting the photos sorted and I didn't want to make work for him.

Ebren said...

Nesta - In the last few days we've had some great stuff from file, an excellent debate from you and mouth on nationalism and sport, and some quite funny stuff from Zeph while mimi has bared her soul on sporting heroes and lee has looked at the relationship between sports and fans.

In all of that we've had two pure photo pieces, and a couple more with photos attached (although I pulled mine then added them in link in the comments, but that was me being vain mainly).

I would hate to lose you (or anyone), as I welcome anyone who wants to comment, and think the more voices - above or below the line - the better the debate will be; but I thought we were having quite a good week, it seems a trivial thing to leave over.

Generally there has been a call for more photos, rather than less, and I would quite like your views on how we could work this out...

nesta said...

motm

It wouldn't be you driving me away it would be my own concious decision. i would not lay the blame anywhere. I'm interested in people's views and how they see the world. Now if they were your photgraphs I'd probably appreciate them a whole lot more.

And eb I never said I was leaving but drifting. There is a difference.

Ebren said...

cool, I'd still like your views on this though.

Photos are a new thing on the site and opinions on how they are working are a good thing.

Prior is doing rather well. But as the OBO man says, Grunt got a ton on his debut too.

nesta said...

Eb asked, I would quite like your views on how we could work this out...

Here they are;

I actually like the photos combined with the articles. It adds colour but in my opinion not depth.

If there are pictotial essays - which I am not against - I think they should be the author's own work. Like your stadia pics. And is that you in the foreground at Berlin?

And so a question for you, Would it be OK for me to copy and paste a famous author's work and post it here?

If it is I have been misled. I was led to believe that this was a place for ORIGINAL works.

So is it or is it not?

Ebren said...

It's not me in the foreground - I would guess it is a Swedish fan.

Authors frequently post song lyrics and poetry, but I accept your point, this is never the whole article.

If I'm honest, I think the photos look good, and the selection of them is not easy.

In Adam smith's words, the water in the river is everybody's, but by reaching into it with a bucket and transporting it to a village you make it your own through your labour. By finding and posting images - at least theoretically - Mouth is adding value and making the selection his own.

But then they are still other people's work - even if cited - and there is also a copyright question here.

If I am forced to rule, I think photos to illustrate text only, unless they are your own.

Not that I think they don't add to the site (at least aesthetically), just that I think the originality point and the possible copyright question mean that seems a sensible compromise.

MotM said...

Nesta - Glad that you're only drifting, so I hope the tide brings you back fully!

The skills required for writing and photography have some cross-over, but seldom will manifest themselves in a single individual. I don't even own a camera.

However, I like photographs and the net gives us unprecedented access to photography much, though not all, of which is free to download and use.

I don't think the parallel with using famous authors' words holds, as the writing is provoked by the photographs and appears down here below the line, rather than replaced by the cut and paste text above the line.

As I say, I have no strong views on photos and will be happy to desist or post illustrative photographs (such as the podium at the 1968 Olympic 200 metres which provoked one of my favourite pseuds threads) to Ebren for his judgement.

And I join Ebren in thinking that it has been a fine week at pseuds after a quieter period.

MotM said...

Ebren - I'm no exopert on rights (not sure many people are to be honest) but this is what it says on the site.

"Rights/Restrictions None

View at 600px | 800px | 1000px
Note: watermarked images can be downloaded by (right)-clicking on the enlarged image and selecting "download to disk". Unwatermarked images are only available with authorisation through the ordering procedure."

The images are the watermarked versions, though very unobtrusively done. I hope this means we're legal.

nesta said...

Just one more word or two before I retire.

Mouth's Olympics piece is a fine example of pasting photographs to illustrate the text.

Now if you posted the photo of Eddie Merks (I presume that's who the 'hard man' is) and then wrote about why it is a great photo and why the photographer captured this moment and what it means to you I would be concgratulatory.

But I still think that just posting photos with a caption only is too easy. Any child could do it. It requires very little skill.

As I wrote above it is interesting, illuminating and educational to get inside another's mind and to listen to what they are thinking. It is worth my time and time is a piece of your life and therefore precious. A caption does not do this. If you feel the need to post another artists image or text at least tell us why in detail so we can understand and learn.

That's all I will say on this matter.

paulita said...

if you don't mind I'd like to say that nesta does have a point. it'd be interesting to view original pictures.

that said, I particularly love the first one and I know I wouldn't have been able to see it if it hadn't been for motm. so thanks for sharing it.

Ebren said...

Right - UK copyright law is not a specialist subject of media law for me (get me started on defamation and you'll never shut me up).

Looking it up, and assuming we count as "broadcast" online, it seems we can print some things that illustrate current events, criticism, or review - as long as cited. Privacy laws mean we can't publish things that are not already made available to the public without permission of the author and the person who commissioned them.

But it's closing in on seven on a firday and I've been at my desk since before eight and up since six. So I think it's probably easiest to leave it for now (in other words - my brain hurts).

I would guess we are legal, yes.

But I think my original ruling (photos to illustrate only, unless you have taken them yourself) should stand for now.

MotM said...

Thanks Ebren and Nesta - point taken and that's how I'll use photos.

file said...

mmm, interesting debate I missed again

personally I love these pics and significant/interesting pics in general, I think they add a lot to texts when used well and provide fodder for thoughter when unaccompanied

perhaps we don't have to arbitrate, why don't those who want to post, discuss pics on sport only, post on pocketful?

me I think it might make a valid appendix or supporting library of sport pics for officionado's and cognicenti like ourselves and it might offset the need for any preciptous departures

it would leave pseuds' free to be original and text based with pics to supplement only

file said...

ebren,

Adam Smith justifying curatorship, a strange and beautiful fruit

Ebren said...

file - was that a billie holiday reference, or am I in need of sleep?

pipita said...

Great photos of the belgian cycling legend Mouthy. The legs ones are particularly impressive. Must say I much prefer those of that model walking alongside the pool in the GU add...Apologies for this sexist remark

pipita said...

Ebren

Cor blimey, Adam Smith...Is that a quote from Wealth of Nations, or Theory of Moral Sentiments?? Sorry for my ignorance

file said...

e, aah lala of nod

adam smith and billie holiday, gonna have very wealthy kids

what do think to the idea of a sports photo vault?

Ebren said...

filo - a sound plan. As I have already lost writers to the googly, am competing with GU anyhow, I see no reason why they shouldn't use your place as the art galary.

A link back here would be nice (I'll put one in to yours this weekend).

Synergy and back links, and photos all good.

file said...

e, synergy and back links good, two legs bad

and not 'mine' but pseuds'

[shuffles mop]

I'm only a curator here

hope mr.mouth, and others, will join me, it might be the opportunity to supplement storming articles with powerful and comprehensive contextual and historical pics and build up a really interesting sport photo archive to aid in your quest for Kane...

even later here than there, I'll get on things tom.

guitougoal said...

top of the line selection, mouth, I noticed you like black and white, it's amazing how blk and white add to the drama-it's art.
bitching!

honolulu said...

Yes, compelling selection, MotM; like paulita I might never have gotten around to picking up the original book, but I am now very interested in seeing more.

I didn't recognize the bottom photo as legs, at first, I though it was a closeup of a veiny yet smooth leaf. very beautiful. I find I have a great appreciation for bodies that have been toned for, driven by, a specific purpose- the legs of a bicyclist or footballer, a swimmer's back, etc... rather than a gym body- toned for aesthetic, not practical value. I guess general health is a good reason, but as an athlete I am a bit of a snob, I suppose. Bit off-topic, aren't I?

bluedaddy said...

They are beautiful photographs, but I find myself agreeing with nesta that there should be a connection to an original piece of writing.

I prefer to see links to visual/aural stimulants. If I am engaged with the Pseuds piece I will be back, but I also like to be sent of to other sites and maybe do a bit of meandering. I like that whizzy trick where a word is the link, which I have forgotten how to do. My wife will tell me when she's back from t'boozer.

MotM said...

Pleased to read the reaction and I like the consensus forming around posting photographs to another corner of the pseuds' room. I'll do that.

A little background now I am home.

I was posted the source website by a friend at work who has visited Belgium many times for both road racing and velodrome-based Six-Dayers. We share an interest in the particular culture of Belgian cycling exemplified by the Hard Men (Merckx, Maertens, Museeuw - a bitter blow when he admitted doping - van Petegem, de Vlaminck, de Wilde, and now Boonen).

I have also visited the bleak Belgian landscape to place myself in the geography of the First World War. Once I had a hard time at the French border on the way back once convincing the police that I was motorcycling to Ypres for a mid-March day trip to see the Menin Gate and some war graves and not couriering drugs! My grandfather was severely injured on the Somme, but millions of working class German, French, Belgian and British (as well as Indians and lots more men from other nations) were not so lucky. Thousands of middle and upper class men of those nationalities were lost in greater proportions as the officers led fearlessly by example. Women and children suffered at home on in the midst of the first fully industrial war.

To those who have been to this part of the world, the flat light seems to reduce everything to black and white. The prose of Erich Junger and Erich Maria Remarque and the poetry of Owen and Sassoon, amongst others, hangs in the air. It's a very acquired taste, but I love it in small doses.

These pictures, and others at the website, capture that feeling beautifully. I wondered how pseuds would see the photographs and what comments they would make without my specific story to frame them.

Is it sport? Well, I guess it's in the nature of the sacrifice the landscape has exacted from warriors and cyclists - not the same thing, but a parallel.

The Merckx book is unrelated to the website but is beautiful too.

honolulu said...

really interesting idea, MotM, I'm convinced a warrior's scramble over terrain to be the ultimate sport, the twin brother of the Olympic games.

mimi said...

There's almost too much to think about here.
I loved the pics - I hadn't seen them before and as the cycling correspondent of these climes, it was great to see Mouth putting up the pics.
But I agree with Nesta and others that this site is not an art gallery.
This is a home of writing, and maybe, Mouth - over to you mate - if you want a gallery, it should be in another Pseuds place.
We've got another blogspot going for the T-shirt debate, so maybe do a new home for the photos.

MotM said...

honolulu - more its evil twin. But I know what you mean.

The British Empire was founded on the playing fields of Eton - or something like that. Or so the cliche has it.

offside said...

Mouth,

great pics, thanks for sharing that. Very powerful.


Nesta,

"I thought this site was for writers. When did it become an art gallery?"

I don't know what Pseuds' Corner is. I am watching it evolve every day with utter amazement.

One almost fully pictorial piece out of a couple of hundred articles hardly makes it an art gallery. I like the diversity here, both in terms of subject matters and tone. I wouldn't mind being surprised further. How? I don't know. That's the point. There might be some "hit and miss", but I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying someting new.

honolulu said...

Yes, evil twin is probably more accurate.

I prefer the diversity of the site as it currently is- i would not, on my own initiative, pick up a photo book on cycling, but it is because I didn't know what I was missing- until MotM showed me. That goes for the most interesting written contributions as well- the pieces that interest me in things I would not seek out on my own (most recently file's piece- wow).

So don't get rid of the image essays, just yet, but if the other pseuds prefer to move it to it's own space, I won't put up a fight.

mimi said...

http://pocketfulofpseuds.blogspot.com/
Lulu: that's where you'll find the gallery. It's dead easy and just like here, everyone welcome to post and contribute their own offerings. I'd do something with pics myself - have even had the inspiration, but haven't a clue how to do it technically!

levremance said...

Great photos Mouth - the 2nd one, the old guy struggling up the hill is the best for mine.

I like the diversity here too and the surprises so I don't think there should be too many restrictions.

Both the photo pieces are well compiled. This one brings to life the Paris to Robaix peice in GU a while back (sans Offside's cousin Pascal).

Lucky you can't post smells on the internet.

lev said...

err... make that the 3rd one, the old guy struggling up the hill...

pascal said...

lievremance,

I am currently werking on a odourama system for blogs (patent pending). So, you watch out, d'accord?

DoctorShoot said...

levre
may i say if your idea comes to fruition it will be a stinker...

mouth loved the photo essays, and now we have an art gallery corner, that solves nestas worries, go for it.

duncan said...

Ooh lovely.
And good debate about pics. I'll be keen to see what happens if Ebren puts up the sound files with my next piece...

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