A Clear Message From Colombian Police: Don&#039t Mess With &#039100 Years Of Solitude&#039

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A student reads aloud from Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Cien Años de Soledad, in Bogota, Colombia. Fernando Vergara/AP hide caption

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Fernando Vergara/AP

This is the story of a stolen book, a sense of national pride and some inventive sleuthing. The book in query is a very first edition copy of A single Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. In 2015, it was stolen from a Bogota, Colombia, book fair. Several cases in that city go unsolved since of a lack of sources, but local law enforcement went all out to solve this crime.

In its new season, the Spanish-language podcast Radio Ambulante tells the story of how the book was recovered. Host Daniel Alarcón tells NPR’s Kelly McEvers that the story left him with conflicting feelings.

“On the a single hand … we love García Márquez, we adore books, and so it’s just anything to celebrate,” he says. “On the other hand, it leaves this kind of odd taste in your mouth due to the fact you’re like, Nicely, if they can resolve that crime in six days, why do not they solve other crimes?”

Interview Highlights

On how the book was stolen

This story was reported by my colleague Camila Segura, who is the senior editor of Radio Ambulante. She’s a Colombian journalist, she lives in Bogota. … And what happened was that they had been celebrating García Márquez’s life a year following he passed away. They constantly invite a nation to be like, you know, a unique guest at the book fair in Bogota, and that year they invited Macondo, which is the produced-up [town] that García Márquez wrote about in so several novels. So as portion of the exhibition about Macondo, they had a collection of very first editions that had been brought by a bookseller.

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And, you know, I have been to that book fair, Kelly, like thousands of people come via there. I was there that year, in fact, even though I did not steal the book. … And in the midst of all of that chaos, a single day 1 of the booksellers that was in charge of searching more than this collection of books saw, appear at that, the window of this glass case is ajar and there’s a book missing. And it was a 1st edition, signed, of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

On how individuals reacted to the theft

It’s nearly like two parts of Colombia colliding. You know, this view of Colombia that is for export — which is the Macondo, this vision of Latin America that García Márquez has written about — and then also this kind of really urban, dark theft violence crime.

The theft of a book became national news, you know. And men and women have been outraged and there was just like this type of visceral feeling that this was some type of attack on the national pride. You know, part of it has to do with who Gabo is — you know, who García Márquez is — in that national culture. … It’s not just that he won the Nobel Prize, it really is the sort of books that he wrote, it is that he transformed national folklore into excellent art. … So he himself implies a lot. And the reality that this book were to vanish and that someone would have such a lack of respect for an individual of that stature … produced this national outcry. … It went about the globe. …

It is virtually like two parts of Colombia colliding. You know, this view of Colombia that is for export — which is the Macondo, this vision of Latin America that García Márquez has written about — and then also this kind of quite urban, dark theft violence crime. So these two competing visions collide in a location that was supposed to be a celebration of the former. And I think that’s what created men and women so upset.

On how the book was recovered

It was sort of wild. … We’re talking about a nation exactly where crimes go unsolved, exactly where murders go unsolved. And one of the factors that Camila identified as she was investigating this was that the police — and this is one thing I think that we all know intuitively — that the police sort of rank crimes as to their value and that significance often has to do with who’s breathing down their neck to solve it, and that often has to do with power, and that usually has to do with media. And so the theft of this book went about the globe … and so there was a true want to solve it and resolve it rapidly.

And she actually got to interview one of the policemen that was involved in the recovery. It involved a shootout it involved a high-speed chase by means of downtown Bogota it involved stakeouts and informants and all of this organization that appears like one thing out of a spy novel. …

It was found in a neighborhood close to central Bogota. … There had been competing stories, but the story that we heard involved a shootout and involved folks sort of operating away into the neighborhood and disappearing. [They found] the book in a box just type of on the street. … They had been becoming chased and it just dropped. … So they’ve recovered the stolen home, but no one’s been arrested for the crime itself.

On what drew him to the story

I’m interested in any story that complicates our vision of Latin America. … You know, García Márquez is each an iconic figure and … he’s not quite as relevant as he employed to be. Like, we’re reading distinct books, we’re discussing diverse factors. The world that he described is not the globe that exists anymore in Latin America.

Latin America is considerably much more urban than it was when García Márquez was telling his stories about Macondo, you know. The majority of Latin Americans reside in cities now, they don’t live in towns like Macondo. And so I was really interested in this clash … between this vision of a folkloric Latin America as described in the operate of García Márquez and this other Latin America, which is the a single that I know better. … And the truth that these two worlds collided in front of an audience of hundreds of thousands of millions of folks who followed the news of this stolen book and its recovery was also super attractive to me as a storyteller.

Arts &amp Life : NPR

Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, Whitney Museum, New York — overview

Danny Lyon's ‘Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville’ (1966). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York©Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Danny Lyon’s ‘Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville’ (1966). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

“You put a camera in my hand, I want to get close to men and women,” the photographer Danny Lyon once stated. “Not just physically close, emotionally close all of it.” Perhaps that yearning for intimacy explains why New York’s Whitney Museum chose the 74-year-old as the topic of its 1st photography show. If so, the curators fell for the very same romance of roughness that seduced him in the 1960s, when he shot calendar-prepared photos of sullen bikers and sinewy Texas convicts. If he ever got actually close to a subject it was only to find out there was nothing at all significantly there, aside from an attitude, a rap sheet and a properly-honed set of muscles.

In the Whitney’s incoherently hung retrospective, Danny Lyon: Message to the Future, Lyon comes off as a workmanlike documentarian who spent his greatest years mimicking Robert Frank, Bruce Davidson and Diane Arbus ahead of entering a steep inventive decline. But those photographers took deprivation and the men and women who suffered it seriously Lyon sentimentalised poverty, eccentricity and defeat.

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Born in 1942, the son of a New York doctor, he grew up in an affluent section of Queens, and graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in history. Lyon shucked off his privileged surroundings as soon as he had the chance, poking his lens into shabby neighbourhoods and campus protests. (He not too long ago enjoyed a small spurt of political fame when a 1962 photograph he took of Bernie Sanders addressing a student sit-in came to light, affirming the candidate’s civil rights bona fides.) Lyon went on to become an official photographer for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. You get the feeling in these early protest photographs that violence and confrontation thrilled him even more than the pursuit of social justice.

But what he actually relished was an air of proud seediness. In Uptown Chicago, he shot hillbilly migrants like rockers posing for an album cover, their sneers, slumps and hair radiating casual glamour. In 1967, he road-tripped to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he ogled barefoot and bare-chested unfortunates in their Ford convertibles and tumbledown habitats.

Lyon made his Knoxville pilgrimage in honour of native son and fellow celebrant of the downtrodden James Agee. The author of “Let Us Now Praise Well-known Men” exhorted photographers “not to alter the world as the eye sees it into a planet of aesthetic reality, but to perceive the aesthetic reality inside the actual world”. Lyon answered the get in touch with. He was after the holiness he saw incarnated in regular folk and their automobiles. “I am left feeling the folks I photograph are the best individuals in America,” he wrote. In Lyon’s populist exuberance, which is as significantly literary as visual, we hear echoes not just of Agee, but also of Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac.

Lyon’s fondness for pariahs drove him to join the Outlaws, a famously antisocial biker gang, whose members, the smitten photographer enthused, were “probably the only thing like cowboys left in America”. They definitely had fantastic outfits. Lyon lingers over their regalia — leather jackets, tight T-shirts, iron-cross pendants, tattoos, patches and berets — and the burnished gleam of their bikes. He had vowed to get behind the bandit pose and portray their lives and libertinage from the inside out, but for the Outlaws, image was a weapon they seldom holstered. As they rode dead-eyed by means of Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, they seem never ever to have forgotten that Lyon’s sidearm was his camera, and they treated it with respect.

The gang got a volunteer propagandist, the photographer got access to a renegade legend. He made a suite of flattering symbols, such as “Crossing the Ohio River, Louisville, 1966”. A slender rider’s physique types a 3-slash rune (torso, thighs, calves) against a lushly detailed bike. His hair trails out behind him like comic-book speed whooshes.

His relationship with these males was “tactical however genuine”, in the words of curator Julian Cox (but can each words actually apply at the exact same time?). Lyon’s corps of hog-riding primitives aligns perfectly with Kerouac’s portrait of Dean Moriarty in On the Road: “His ‘criminality’ was not one thing that sulked and sneered it was a wild yea-saying overburst of American joy it was Western, the west wind, an ode from the Plains, some thing new, extended prophesied, extended a-coming (he only stole cars for joyrides).”

The bikers led him toward the Texas penal technique. He hauled his camera to six prisons over 14 months, ingratiating himself with prisoners and guards alike. Lyon had just read Jean Genet’s penal-colony memoir, The Miracle of the Rose, and he responded to the dreamy eroticism of the prose: “I was certain that someplace inside those golden-necked brutes, maybe in between their shoulder blades, was a hidden rift of tenderness.” Genet transformed the murderer Harcamone into a practically godlike figure Lyon found his personal Harcamone in Billy McCune, a charismatic rapist on death row. “I believe Billy McCune is the identical as me,” he wrote — an ordinary man trapped in a pitiless system. Lyon believed that McCune required his story told, and he was the man to do it.

'Weight lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas' (1968). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York©Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

‘Weight lifters, Ramsey Unit, Texas’ (1968). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Whatever closeness Lyon established with McCune, or with any of the other Texas inmates, should have vanished in the darkroom. Alternatively, the men who populate his scenes of hard labour flaunt blank faces and buff bodies, some nude, some in jumpsuits like flashes against the dark land. This is the segregated southern prison culture of Cool Hand Luke, and more than a couple of of the convicts seem to have modelled themselves on Paul Newman. Not even the recordings he produced of his subjects’ voices (which play on a loop at a listening station) can genuinely bring them alive.

Later, he tried a distinct tack: maintaining a film camera educated on his subjects lengthy adequate to get to know them. But here, also, he plays the part of a slumming voyeur, fascinated with weird, provincial varieties. In his 21-minute film “Soc. Sci. 127” (1969), Lyon hangs around a Houston tattoo artist, Bill Sanders, who drawls and drones endlessly, whilst adorning a woman’s nipples with flowers or a man’s backside with an eagle. It’s tough to see what Lyon wanted us to see in this sweaty, talkative codger: an artist, a blowhard or a loveable eccentric?

The Whitney scrambles the photographer’s work so badly that it is easy to lose track of him. The show shuffles chronological order and geographic unity, occasionally scattering random photos across a gallery wall. Maybe this arrangement was meant to evoke his appetite for chaos and danger as an alternative it sows confusion and muffles Lyon’s quiet achievements.

To September 25, whitney.org

'Occupy Oakland, City Hall, Oakland' (2011). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York©Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

‘Occupy Oakland, City Hall, Oakland’ (2011). Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Section: Arts