All posts tagged: istanbul

Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul

My heart to the victims, their friends and family as well as the people of Istanbul and Turkey after today’s suicide bombing on Istiklal Caddesi, Europe’s busiest street, a major pedestrian thoroughfare aligned with shops and restaurants that cuts through the heart of the Beyoglu district from Taksim Square to the ferry boat terminals of Karaköy. There are more bombings and senseless deaths today in the world than the imagination could have dreamt possible at the close of the last century. Often they occur far from home, but every day it seems they dream up new ways to manage to bring it ever closer to home, wherever home is. Some of us have seen our cities struck, our friends hurt, killed, maimed or disappeared into the abyss of wars and attacks of the age of terror. For me, Istiklal is close to home because it was home. Images from my archive of Istiklal in better times showcase the avenue as at the center of political, social and economic life in Istanbul:

Etem Erol, 1955-2016

The last message I had from Etem hoca was just a few days before he passed away. I had a night layover in Istanbul on my way to Odessa for two months and I asked if he wanted to join some friends for dinner, so naturally I invited Etem, as I had not been back to the city I called home for two years in over a year. He wrote to say he regretted he could not make it that he was leaving early that same morning for Bulgaria with his brother. It was in Bulgaria, I came to learn just a few nights ago from a classmate and fellow student in his Elementary Turkish I class so many years ago, that he had a heart attack and died in his brother’s arms. He was so young, 60, and with so much life and so much still to give. I write this with tears streaming down my face and it’s been more than a day now since I heard this really excruciatingly painful news. It …

Gifts from the Land of Awesome: The Piano Man in Taksim Square

Every respectable protest has its moment when it stops being something ordinary, predictable but rises to meet the occasion of something greater than itself. That night was last night in Taksim Square for the now 15-day old protests over the destruction of Gezi Park adjacent to Taksim Square have expanded into a much larger call for the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s resignation. That’s because Klavier Kunst, aka Davide Martello, from Italy (or the Land of Awesome) currently residing in Germany, arrived with his piano and played for the crowds of protesters as well as the riot police, the moment captured here.

Le Parisien Magazine: Mehmet Ali Agca, the Man Who Tried to Kill Pope John Paul II

On March 6, I was summoned to a far outer district of Istanbul, Büyükçekmece, to meet a most famous man who had very famously inserted himself into 20th century history when he tried and failed to kill Pope John Paul II. It was a crime for which he eventually spent 19 years in a Rome jail, learning Italian, and eventually walking free from only to declare, “I am Jesus Christ.” He now claims Ayatollah Khomeini put him up to the doomed assassination plot that has alleged ties to Bulgarian intelligence and a web of international Cold War intrigue. I was fascinated the minute I set foot in the hotel, the Eser Premium, a fairly gaudy Turkish honeymoon palace complete with balconies that had a laser light that continuously changed from various shades of neon red, purple, green and blue. Out of nowhere, just when the reporter Anne-Cécile Julliet appeared, so did he, right behind me, startling me with his small frame, delicate head and protruding eyes. He was very kind and perhaps rather medicated. He …

2012 A Year of Transition

2012 was luckily not like 2011, a year that goes down with 1789, 1848, 1917, 1989 as a year of revolution.  By contrast, 2012 was a year of transition in most every respect.  Global technologies, movements, ideas, and politics are all in flux; only the economies of the world remain sluggish, with some notable exceptions.  Turkey is one of these exceptions.  By 2023, the centennial of the modern secular Turkish Republic, the currently ruling Justice and Development Party, AK Party according to its Turkish acronym, hopes that Turkey will be counted among the top 10 economies in the world. (A great BBC Global Business report on what could go wrong is well worth a listen.) After finishing my Fulbright grant in Azerbaijan, photographing Azerbaijani Women, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Eurovision Song Contest, I moved to Istanbul in September to freelance here in Turkey and the region. I joined the VII Mentor Program where I am working with Ron Haviv on improving my craft for the duration of two years. In this time, I …