Any chance you can post the whole article? It is behind a paywallKung-fu Hillbilly wrote: ↑Fri Nov 08, 2019 4:02 pm
Sean Flynn, left, and Dana Stone on the rented motorcycles they rode into Cambodia on April 6, 1970. Photo courtesy Perry Deane Smith/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Nov 8, 2019
full https://www.afr.com/world/asia/out-of-t ... 021-p532n8
- Kung-fu Hillbilly
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- Kung-fu Hillbilly
- Posts: 3293
- Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 11:26 am
- Reputation: 3499
- Location: Behind you.
Ah, OK. If you can explain how to access that cached page I'd be happy to do it. Maybe PM me.
BY TIM KING
Saying goodbye to Crystal Brown
Journalist, aid worker and former girlfriend of John Steinbeck IV, son of the famous American author, related amazing stories of her time in Vietnam surrounded by a diverse group of war photographers and reporters.
crystal tim blake 67cbe
I was sad to hear of the passing of Crystal Brown. I was able to meet her only once, but I've been captivated by her story for a lifetime. For a time, during the Vietnam War, Crystal was married to the son of the famous US author, John Steinbeck. They had a child while living in Vietnam, a girl who they named Blake. She is the only biological grandchild of John Steinbeck. I have known Blake Smyle for many years. We have talked at length about shooting a documentary tracing her parent's experience in Vietnam. I traveled to Shepherdstown, West Virginia by motorcycle during the summer of 2013, for a rare chance to see Blake and Crystal; a woman whose life was inextricably tied to the bloodiest aspect of the war in Vietnam.
Her former husband, John Steinbeck IV, was a writer like his father. His work brought fear and reality to Americans, much like his father, yet he was extremely different. The younger John Steinbeck worked with noted journalists like Walter Cronkite and will always be remembered for the article he wrote titled, "“The Importance of Being Stoned in Vietnam," for Washingtonian Magazine.
While John Steinbeck IV covered combat in Vietnam with his close friend Sean Flynn, the son of Hollywood sensation Errol Flynn, Dana Stone, was was captured and killed with Sean Flynn, and Tim Page, perhaps the most famous journalist of the Vietnam War, Crystal lived in Saigon, with others who were connected to the news teams following this violent war. They lived in a Saigon home known as "Frankie's House" which would become famous through the Australian movie of the same name.
Crystal's eyes danced with adventure when she recalled those radical years of her young adult life. I was happy and amazed that she was willing and able to discuss these tumultuous times after so many years.
Crystal said to me, as we strolled down a sidewalk in her historic Revolutionary War town, "The really fun part about it, you get to tell everybody the stories over again," For perspective, Blake's 1759 home in Shepherdstown was bordered by an ancient alley that contains the graves of two Americans killed during the Revolution. Serious American history in this region gives one the undeniable feeling that you are walking among the shadows of this nation's earliest participants.
During my visit with Crystal, she related a story that I never could have imagined. The news agency founded by her former husband and his contemporaries was called "Dispatch News Service". I remarked to Crystal, "Dispatch News broke many stories, many important stories," to which Crystal replied, "Yes, My Lai was one of them."
My Lai, perhaps one of the darkest moments in American military history, was the name of a Vietnamese village where US soldiers murdered nearly all of the inhabitants, who numbered in the hundreds, on 16 March 1968. The act would be ultimately attributed to a US Army lieutenant named William Calley of "Charlie Company", though so many soldiers took part in the wanton slaughter. Calley, the only man charged with a war crime in relation to My Lai, he got little more than a slap on the wrist before being fully pardoned by former US President Richard Nixon.
One of the few survivors, my friend Duc Tran Van, who resides in Germany today, was a seven-year old boy in My Lai when Lt. William Calley's boys swept through his village.
There was a great deal of confusion for young Duc Tran Van on that historic day. U.S. soldiers shot his mother and he became photographically immortalized as the little boy laying in the dirt road protecting his infant sister from the marauding, murderous soldiers. He shared his thoughts about the massacre in a previous article that I wrote in March 2012.
"Despite her injuries in her leg and stomach, my mother dragged herself to the street to see us running away. So she had to see her other two daughters lying dead on the other roadside. I ran away from this place, carrying my sister."
The photos of his mother's corpse, so ungraciously gunned down in the dirt with her eyes still open, along with the photos of her son, were some of the central images carried by U.S. news magazines that historically represent this terrible war. Only when a US soldier named Ron Ridenhour released these photos after being discharged, would the story of My Lai rise to the surface, horrifying people the world over.
Crystal told me a story at that moment that I never could have imagined. She said, "I went to see the movie, 'Woodstock' with Ron Ridenhour in Saigon." Ridenhour, the very man who would later shock the world with his photographs of American soldiers laying waste to the people of My Lai, wrestled with the idea of sharing these photos with the public when he was still in Vietnam.
"So we went, I think Louise went as well. We went to see the movie Woodstock on the military base in Saigon! During the intermission I just broke down and cried and cried and cried because this was America and I was an American and this was happening as I was in Vietnam and I didn't want... I hated the war and so the irony of going there with Ron Ridenhour... his fellow soldiers were begging him to make My Lai public."
"Louise" Smizer was the devoted partner of disappeared war photographer Dana Stone. Zalin Grant wrote about this amazing woman in an article titled, "She Tried to Save Her Husband" published by Pythia Press. "She thought he was invincible. It never occurred to her that something like this might happen. She was at a hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, waiting for him to return from filming a battlefield scene for CBS. He and Time photographer Sean Flynn, son of actor Errol Flynn, were covering the story on motorbikes. They were captured on a road near the Vietnam border, April 6, 1970. Dana was wearing a braided necklace from Louise’s hair."
When I met Crystal Brown, the sun was shining and her words were captivating. Crystal also clarified to me that the movie "Frankie's House" by Tim Page was part fiction. "Tim Page suggested in that movie that he and I were having an affair, that is completely untrue, it didn't happen". Tim Page is famously portrayed at the end of the movie "Apocalypse Now" as the crazed journalist played by Dennis Hopper, who has become friendly with the murderous senior officer portrayed by Marlon Brando.
These individuals played their part during a war that was hugely unpopular with the American public.
An avid peace activist who was born in the Bay Area of California, Crystal Brown was delightful person and my regret is not having spent more time with her when I had traveled so far to meet her. Nonetheless, my short time with Crystal was a pleasure and little time passes without those memories revisiting. Her daughter Blake contacted me this morning to let me know that Crystal passed last Friday at the age of 76 after a battle with Parkinson's. She was a lovely and gracious human being who loved peace and she will be missed.
Tim King covers an array of resistance oriented topics both worldwide and domestically. With more than 25 years of experience and several notable awards, this former US Marine who covered both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, specializes in writing about Middle east politics and military developments.
JAN 30, 2018
This is a story about a camera, a rather special camera. Every camera has a history, so they say. But it is not all that often that one has such a rich and documented history. One that was thought to be lost but has been found again. This is the story of Sean Flynn’s Leica M2.
I have been very lucky throughout my career to have found some amazing cameras, but every now and again you come across something that sets itself apart. This is one of those cameras. The vast majority of the cameras I see have no record — you literally have no idea where they have been. But this camera is different, it has a well-documented history that was thought to have been lost. But through a bit of digging and a lot of luck, the history of this camera has revealed itself.
This really is a story of serendipity. I was offered this camera earlier this year by a representative of the Flynn family. As soon as I was told about the history of the camera I knew exactly who would want it. One of my clients has a particular taste for cameras with a history and this was the camera for him.
But first, we should go back and talk a little bit about Sean Flynn.
Who Was Sean Flynn?
Sean Flynn was the only child of the famed actor Errol Flynn and Lili Damita and was well known for his work as a photojournalist covering the Vietnam War. Flynn worked closely with special units in Vietnam and Cambodia, capturing incredible images of the war. Many of his images would be considered to be the raw view of an especially brutal war.
Flynn even parachuted into war zones with the unit he was embedded with, working side by side with the soldier to capture extremely compelling images.
In 1970, he was kidnapped in Cambodia while on the way to an assignment with fellow photojournalist Dana Stone and was never to be seen again.
There were reports that both Flynn and Stone were kidnapped by the Vietcong and then handed to the Khmer Rouge before being executed, but remains were never found. Flynn’s mother spent her life and fortune trying to find a trace of her son, but sadly it was to no avail. Sean Flynn was declared legally dead in 1984.
Upon his disappearance, Sean Flynn apparently left behind an apartment in Paris which contained a number of his belongings, most of which went back to the hands of his family and friends, though there is some dispute about this as it seems there were a number of belonging that were missing. One of the pieces that did go back was this camera though. The camera. Sean Flynn’s Leica M2.
This is Sean Flynn’s Leica M2, with a Steel Rim Leica 35mm Summilux and a strap that was hand fashioned from a parachute cord and a hand grenade pin.
One of the things that makes this camera so special is that we absolutely know where it has been, who it belonged to, and what it has been doing. How do we know this? Because the camera has been doing nothing, absolutely nothing. This camera has been tucked away in a dark corner for more than 30 years. But recently the family finally decided that a new home should be found for it, which is when they found me.
This means that the last person to use the camera was in all likelihood Sean Flynn. To me that makes this camera really special. The camera has a beautiful patina, from heavy usage. But it also has grime, grime that could well have come from Sean Flynn handling the camera. There is dust too, but I would not dare wipe it away. You can see the memories and the marks on the camera, and you can attribute them to someone, which is amazing.
This is an important camera due to the nature of ownership, and with that comes a certain amount of responsibility. A camera like this is an important piece of history and needs to be treated as such. Fortunately, I had someone in mind whom I knew would be the perfect person to take care of this remarkable piece.
And this is where the serendipity kicks in. It turns out that the new owner of this camera was not only aware of the history of the camera, but he was friends with Frank Palmos, who knew Tim Page.
Tim has been instrumental in helping piece together the history of this camera for us. Tim confirmed that this is the camera that Sean shot with in Vietnam, as he remembers sitting with Sean in ‘Frankie’s House’ as Sean made the strap for the camera from the parachute cord and pin: “We used to have arts & crafts sessions where we would customise our field kit and equipment”.
He also very kindly provided images taken of Sean with the camera and pictures that Sean had taken with the camera which you can see here.
This was a major discovery — that we actually have a record of the camera and images taken with the camera. But it was about to get even better. You see, it turns out that this story started when a photographer in the USA found Sean Flynn’s bag at an antique show in Atlanta. Tim Page was sent the bag and it is in his possession, soon to be reunited with the camera.
So this is where the story ends, right? Will the camera be locked up in a collectors cabinet, hidden from the public eye to be forgotten? No, this camera is far too important to have that happen. This camera is going to be the centerpiece of a retrospective show of Sean Flynn’s work, and the work of other photographers that knew Sean Flynn.
The camera will be featured with the bag and prints of Sean’s, Tim’s and other’s work at shows in the Leica store in Hanoi and at a government house in Ho Chi Minh city. There is the possibility of the show touring to other countries in the future. The camera will reside in Saigon with its owner.
The camera survived Vietnam, Cambodia, PNG, Indonesia, the 6 Day War in Israel and Euro travels. Fortunately, Flynn did not have the camera with him when he was captured in the Parrot’s Beak of Eastern Cambodia, near Chi Pou on April 6th, 1970 with fellow photographer Dana Stone.
It is an honor to have been able to be a part of this incredible story. Finding cameras is always exciting, but this one is a once-in-a-career event. I will be attending the shows in Vietnam in the coming months, and I am looking forward to meeting the photographers that worked with Sean Flynn and knew him.
Helping to put something like this together is what makes my job so rewarding for me. Seeing the life of a camera so special is an exciting and emotional experience.
I am always on the lookout for cameras with a history and a story to tell. Drop me a line if you have one or know someone that does.
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Chad Kiser for helping me to work with the Flynn family. And to Tim Page for assistance with the images you see here. All images used with permission. No reproduction without prior consent.
Update on 1/31/18: Photographer Billy Beach has more on the backstory of this camera.
About the author: Bellamy Hunt is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan, and the man behind Japan Camera Hunter. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Hunt sources quality cameras and photo gear from Japan for customers around the world. You can find more of his writing on his website. This article was also published here.
https://petapixel.com/2018/01/30/story- ... -leica-m2/
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