Happy 22nd birthday, Babystock!

Happy Birthday, Babystock! You are not 21 anymore! I remember perfectly how you came about — it was during a conversation with Tom, and we were all in the car, with Anna, driving home from our summer vacation in Montreal. I had taken the new Getty contract with me to read during our trip. It was outrageous! It sucked! Getty changed the rules on everything — our commission was cut down and we didn’t even have rights as they were our agents, because they cut that out too.  I didn’t want to feed their unfairness with my artwork anymore. They no longer deserved it.  So Tom said, we really have to get our own licensing website, let’s call it babystock.com.

We rushed home and I ran to the Internic website to register the domain name. Miracle of miracles, the babystock domain name was free for us to own!

And miraculously, I won an award for “best website” from the photo industry trade magazine, PDN, for my other website, gentieubabies.com. Babystock gained immediate attention from the full page article, which helped, together with my promotions, make babystock an overnight success, and Newsweek was my first babystock client.

22 years later, the world has changed, and clearly stock photography has changed (for the worse) but we’ve kept babystock “as is” — exclusive, respectable, and a pretty great collection of distinctive baby photos that still resonate with freshness and individuality today.

50th Anniversary of the Kent State Massacre

Howard Ruffner, photographer and student at Kent State University, was hired by Life Magazine to photograph the events of May 4, 1970. His photo is on the cover of the May 15, 1970 issue of the Life Magazine cover story about the Kent State massacre. He has published a thoughtful photographic memoir of the few days surrounding May 4, 1970 – Moments of Truth, (Kent State University Press, 2019.)

gasp masks, no students on campus, no graduation ceremony, unpopular president, protests, overwhelming resistance. We will commemorate the 50th May 4 online.

The irony.

May 4, 1970. Monday at noon.

In a monumental movement, college students across the country were standing up for what they believed in, standing up to The Power.  But then The Power pulled their guns and shot them.  At Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.

The Ohio National guard’s excuse was that stones were being thrown at them, by Kent State students who were 100 feet away, at the bottom of the hill. Most of them just on their way to class.

“Guard! All right, prepare to fire!”


1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13

In thirteen seconds, the National Guard shot 64 bullets at the students, striking thirteen students; four shot dead.

Here’s what Life Magazine had for us on May 11:

“Nixon in a Crisis of Leadership.”  Nixon got the headlines.

They wouldn’t dare shoot bullets into a crowd of Yale students, but Kent State was a small town public university in Ohio where maybe they were considered expendable.

Nixon withdrew troops from Vietnam in 1971.

Newsweek, April 28, 1980

It took nine excruciating years for any money to reach the victims of the Kent State Massacre in a long and painful court case, and then an appeal. No guilt admitted. For this, many students, including Howard Ruffner, the photographer, who was the lead witness with his extensive photo documentation, had to devote extensive periods of time during the 1970’s to testify in court about the Kent State massacre.

There is no justice for little people.

Moments of Truth by Howard Ruffner. A photographer’s experience of Kent State 1970. Published in 2019 in remembrance of the Kent State massacre.

A Monday just like the day I’m posting this, on Monday, May 4, 2020, during the Great Pandemic.

But still:

“Stay passionate for what you believe and stand together to make changes.” -Howard Ruffner

William Brewster, 11 GG

William Brewster (1566-7 – 1646)

Of the William and Mary who came on the Mayflower. Nothing is known of his wife.  William was the oldest Mayflower passenger to have participated at the First Thanksgiving, in his early fifties.

400 years ago

Before coming to America on the Mayflower in 1620, William Brewster helped form the Separatist church in England. When the group was found out by the King of England, they fled to Holland, in 1608.  While in Holland, Brewster had published a number of religious pamphlets which were critical of the Church of England. One caught the attention of the King, and Brewster had to go in hiding until he sailed to America on the Mayflower.

William Brewster was the Reverend Elder of the Pilgrim’s church at Plymouth.

I love it that I’m related to such a dynamic radical who is so personally responsible for the ultimate founding of the United States of America. As there are about 10 million Mayflower descendants in the U.S., I figure that William and Mary might have ultimately begat a million of us, so in that respect I feel like I’m one in a million.

Is life the car or the road?

Mysteriously retouched by Pierre

Laying of corner stone – Mount Salem Methodist Episcopal Church Addition – March 11, 1917     photo by Pierre Gentieu 1917 / printed by Penny Gentieu 1992
History of Mount Salem Methodist Church, Wilmington Delaware 1847-1947  written  by Frank P. Gentieu 1948
Photos by Penny Gentieu 1992

Digital image by Penny Gentieu 2019

Defending the Great Lake Erie

It’s a sad day when we the citizens of Toledo have to take it upon ourselves to vote on whether or not we should protect our huge wonderful life-giving nurturing Great Lake Erie. But that is our task on Tuesday, February 26, 2019. Our elected representatives won’t protect it.

Toledo had a national emergency in August 2014 when the city of Toledo admitted that the water was so toxic, we couldn’t drink it for three days. Four and a half years later, we drink water we buy at Aldi’s, hoping we won’t get cancer or some other dreaded disease from the toxic environment that nobody seems to want to take care of.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Believe it or not, Toledoans are voting on whether we have the right to defend our Great Lake Erie from harmful, poisonous dumping. Which is one way of saying enough is enough to the harmful effects of corporate greed, industrial dumping and fertilizer run off into our lake and the water we drink. We are water too. We are the lake, the lake is us.

Corporate Greed: we are but laboratory rats in their experiment
I am the lake, the lake is me. Ouch! They chopped my head off.

Le Monde:  In summer, from space, large portions of Lake Erie take on fluorescent tints. This is not particularly good sign….


Happy Birthday, Pierre

Photo by Anonymous: Felix Nadar’s second ascension of Le’ Geant in Paris on October 18, 1863 (my mother’s birthday), shown aside a regular size balloon to contrast its gigantic size, on the ground where the Eiffel Tower now stands, Champ de Mars. Le’ Geant floated all night, but in the morning, it infamously landed (by crashing across the countryside in a high wind for 30 minutes, no one escaped injury) in Hanover, Germany (where King George V took them in). Nadar’s efforts to advance aviation were praised by Jules Verne, who in his next novel, modeled the main character Ardan after Nadar in Journey From The Earth To The Moon, where he was sent to the Moon in a cannon!

A coincidental cannon, Civil War style, c. 1863. So close in the universe; so far across the world.

I’m probably not the only one wishing Pierre Gentieu (1842-1930) a Happy Birthday today, January 26 – as if I knew him personally – he would be 177 years old!  After all, Pierre owned the entire set of Jules Verne’s approximately 30 science fiction novels, translated into English (when you just know he read the books in French!) so it’s no wonder to find him projected in our hearts and our minds one hundred years later.

Consider this 1863 Parisian balloon scene and how different it is from the photo of the firing of the cannon, happening concurrently across the ocean. Imagine Pierre in 1863, age 21, as a carefree bohemian in Paris drawing satirical cartoons for underground papers, writing poetry, hanging out in salons, exploring his creativity, and perhaps he went ballooning.  But instead he sailed to America, fought in the war to abolish slavery, married Binie Weed from New Canaan Connecticut, and Voila! Here we Are!

So Happy Birthday to Pierre, who spoke French (and English), stood up for his principles, fought in nine Civil War battles, and knew quite well that there was a more progressive use for the cannon than as exemplified in the photo above.  At 177, he may or may not have gone to the Moon (who can really say), but astrologically, he is definitely completing his sixth Saturn return. (I checked his chart!) That is one wise old great great grandfather.

Pierre in 1863