Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • The mystery of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow

    A year after the Boston attacks, questions remain about what Katherine Russell knew and who she really is

    Katherine Russell, wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, leaving the house where he lived on Norfolk street in Cambridge on Apr. 20, 2013, the day after Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police. (William Farrington/Polaris)
    NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The unmarked police cars that used to be parked down the block are gone. So are the satellite trucks. But every few weeks, a paparazzo turns up, training a long lens on a two-story ranch-style home that sits on a quiet, wooded cul-de-sac here, hoping to land the money shot of the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombings.

    That’s why, neighbors believe, they don’t see Katherine Russell outside anymore — or her parents or two younger sisters. Not even on the warm days, when the family used to sit in lawn chairs smiling and laughing as Russell and Tsarnaev’s 3-year-old daughter, Zahara, happily scampered through the open backyard.

    When a tabloid ran photos of one of those backyard jaunts last summer, family members retreated inside and have rarely been seen by the neighbors since. A space that had once felt so open and free was suddenly a prison where there was no privacy from the prying eyes of a world curious about how a

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  • A war photographer's last testament

    A new book compiles the work of Chris Hondros, killed while covering the human impact of conflict

    CLICK IMAGE for slideshow — A child Liberian militia soldier. (From 'Testament,' photographs by Chris Hondros/Getty Images, text by Chris Hondros, published by powerHouse Books.)

    It was one of the most searing images of the war in Iraq: a tiny girl, splattered in blood and screaming in horror after her parents had been shot and killed by American soldiers who fired on the family car when it failed to yield for a foot patrol in the northern town of Tal Afar.

    Taken by Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros, who was embedded with the patrol, the January 2005 photo offered powerful visual testimony to the horrific impact of the conflict on Iraqi citizens. It came as the American public was beginning to question the rising death toll and purpose of a war that was starting to look unwinnable.

    Hondros was inured to the chaos of war. By then, he was a veteran combat photographer who had served as a witness for the world on the front lines of conflicts in faraway places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

    But Hondros wasn’t merely fueled by the adrenaline of covering war. He was there to document the impact of conflict on people, both soldiers and

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  • Looking skyward, for the first time, with fear

    A year after tornado tore through Moore, Okla., residents wary of storm season

    MOORE, Okla. — Robert Romines used to love thunderstorms.

    Like most people from central Oklahoma, storms were practically in his blood, so normal and routine it seemed as though people here had been born with DNA specially equipped to deal with crazy weather.

    Romines had been taught as a child to cast a cautious eye toward the western sky in the springtime, knowing that fluffy white clouds that looked so innocent one moment could erupt into something dark and ominous the next. And like most people who reside in the nation’s so-called “tornado alley,” where monitoring the volatile weather is almost a sport, he welcomed storms with a mix of both fear and anticipation.

    After all, it was hard not to appreciate the strange beauty in the threatening clouds and the way lightning streaked across the open sky. On a few occasions, Romines had jumped into his car to follow a storm and admire it up close — an impulse that is more common than not in a state so fanatical about its weather that the

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  • Charles Harbutt, a photographer captivated by magic in pictures

    CLICK IMAGE ABOVE FOR SLIDESHOW - XRay Man, Gare Montparnasse, Paris - 1973. --- (Copyright © by Charles Harbutt. All rights reserved.)

    Charles Harbutt has always been fascinated by magic, dating back to when he performed tricks of illusion for his friends as a kid growing up in Teaneck, N.J.

    By the time he got to high school in 1949, Harbutt had long grown out of the idea that he might become a next-generation Houdini. But he was still different from the other kids at his school, where sports was almost a religion. Either you were on a team or you stood in the stands cheering — and Harbutt wasn’t interested in either. But he found an out by signing up as a photographer for the school paper, and soon, he was on the sidelines making pictures.

    It was the first time Harbutt had ever seriously used a camera, and, as he recalled in a recent interview, “It changed my life.”

    At first, his decision to take pictures was a little about vanity. Harbutt liked seeing his images alongside his name in the paper. But soon, he realized photography was also a way for him to continue exploring the themes that had captivated him about

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  • Detroit: Beauty in the ruins for some, anger for others

    DETROIT — It was not yet 8 a.m. when the van pulled up behind Lee Plaza.

    A towering art deco monolith standing 16 stories tall over central Detroit, the former luxury hotel had been modeled after the opulent apartment buildings that overlook Central Park in New York City.

    When it opened in 1927, it was one of most extravagant buildings in Detroit, part of an architectural renaissance in the Motor City that exemplified the city’s boom times. But legal woes involving its owner and the onset of the Great Depression caused problems almost from the start, and over the decades, Lee Plaza’s star slowly dimmed, as it went from a sumptuous hotel to bourgeois apartments. By the time it closed in the 1990s, it had been low-income housing for senior citizens — many of whom were abruptly forced out when the building’s electricity was shut off because the bills hadn’t been paid.

    Since then, the orange-brick building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has become one of the most

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  • Detroit's bankruptcy puts the fate of its art museum at risk

    DETROIT — Diego Rivera considered it to be his finest work.

    His majestic “Detroit Industry” mural, 27 different frescoes depicting the rise of the industrial age in the city, soars two stories high in a glass-covered courtyard at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

    Completed in 1933, Rivera’s murals were commissioned and donated to the museum by Edsel Ford, then-president of the Ford Motor Co., whose workers are depicted alongside surrealist images including an unborn baby in a plant bulb and nude goddesses representing fertility.

    That imagery — along with the Mexican artist’s outspoken communist views — immediately prompted protests when the work was unveiled, including calls from local church leaders to have the murals destroyed. But the museum stood by the masterpiece, and Rivera’s ode to Detroit has been safe — until recently.

    The Rivera mural along with the DIA’s 66,000 other works have been at the center of a political tug of war in the months since Detroit filed for bankruptcy saying

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  • Detroit in the dark: How the city's streetlights went out and the plan to get them back on

    DETROIT — Grand Boulevard used to be one of the most stately streets in the Motor City — a sweeping thoroughfare that circled what was once a thriving part of the inner city.

    The Boulevard, as it was sometimes known, was where General Motors opened its first headquarters and Berry Gordy founded Motown Records. It was also home to some of Detroit’s most beautiful neighborhoods, where the city’s early residents built massive art deco homes befitting what was once a prestigious address.

    But decades later, a drive down Grand Boulevard is a different story — especially at night. While the homes are still there — some divided into apartments and others just empty — the towering streetlights that city planners installed to light what they viewed as a major gateway in central Detroit are mostly dark. And some have been for years.

    The result is a somewhat eerie experience, where oftentimes the only illumination on the street comes from traffic lights or a glowing front porch. On some more

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  • Meet Detroit's unlikeliest home wrecker

    DETROIT — Bill Pulte’s grandfather was just 18 when he built his first home here in the summer of 1950 on the city’s east side — a five-room bungalow with a fireplace that sold for $10,000 even before it was completed.

    Within a decade, William Pulte had built his first subdivision in what was then a booming Motor City metropolis and was considered a pioneer of mass production home-building. His business, the PulteGroup, quickly expanded nationally and has since become one of the country’s top residential development companies, building nearly 1 million homes in 28 states.

    While William Pulte left his namesake company four years ago, the family name remains synonymous with building houses in Detroit. So it took many by surprise when Bill Pulte, the housing icon’s 25-year-old grandson, began pitching a plan more than a year ago to city officials that seemed counterintuitive to everything that had made his family famous.

    Instead of building homes, Pulte wanted to use his family’s

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  • Detroit: What it's like to live in the most famous bankrupt city in America

    DETROIT — Ora Williams has lived in her home in the Brightmoor section of Detroit for more than 35 years, and over those decades, she’s seen what was once a thriving middle class neighborhood sink into what many regard as the wasteland of the city.

    Crime and economic turmoil drove many residents away. Their homes, left to decay, became epicenters for murders and drug deals. The overgrown trees and brush became illegal dumping grounds for everything from old boats to dead bodies. Neighbors pleaded with city officials to do something, anything, but the government, broke and famously dysfunctional, offered little help.

    But Williams, a retired caseworker for the state Department of Human Services, refused to give up on Brightmoor — even as many around her packed their bags and looked for more stable ground. Her endurance is slowly paying off.

    Over the past two years, private foundations have come in to help Brightmoor, setting up a community action group to help revitalize and rebuild. The

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  • Photographer returns home to focus on 'heartbeat' of troubled Detroit: People

    Dave Jordano, wary of 'ruin porn,' specifically sought signs of life

    Photographer Dave Jordano was born and raised in Detroit and spent the earliest days of his career documenting the city’s astounding architecture and its thriving population during the early 1970s.

    Nearly 40 years later, decades after he had moved away, Jordano became fascinated with the images that were emerging from his hometown. Photographers were descending on the city in droves to document the burned-out homes, empty streets and abandoned factories that seemed to have overtaken Detroit.

    In 2010, Jordano decided to return to Detroit to see for himself what had happened to the city. He was stunned by what he found.

    “I was quite shocked,” Jordano recalled. “The areas I had been so familiar with … I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

    Jordano began to take pictures of places he’d documented before — as a comparison project. But after days of trekking through abandoned buildings and eying other “ruin porn,” as it is known in Detroit, he began to feel guilty about what he was doing.

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