INTO THE DARKNESS
In Tennessee, the rate of suicide in 2012 was up 34 percent from 16 years earlier. Nationwide, someone takes his or her own life every sixteen minutes. And left behind are birthday cards, reading glasses, favorite shirts and sometimes notes, but more often questions. This project approaches a taboo topic head-on from three fronts: the families left behind, the growing subgroup most susceptible to suicide and the new epidemic of unplanned suicides aided by the availability of guns.
Tommy Jett’s once-exciting life has faded to mundane. The radio personality who brought rock ‘n’ roll to Chattanooga decades ago has aged out of his prime. But at 74, Jett still saddles up to his microphone once a week to remind him and the listeners he has left of the glory days. He tells the same stories over and over. How Little Richard was always high on something. How James Brown changed when he got older. How Elvis was mismanaged and misunderstood.
This project captures the contrast between hometown legend and a has-been clinging onto his former “fame.” And in the end, our video and my images give readers a clear picture of what Jett wants them to see and the less exciting reality of his banal life.
THE PRIVILEGE AND BURDEN OF FRANKLIN MCCALLIE
Franklin McCallie hails from one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Chattanooga, Tenn. There's McCallie Ave. But beyond money and what Franklin refers to as "McCallie Privilege" he has white privilege. Franklin learned what that meant in college. He'll tell you he's still learning what that means today. Franklin's fight for racial began with education: desegregating Chattanooga's public schools, desegregating his father's private school and working in and championing predominantly black high schools. Now in his seventies, Franklin is turning to friendship as the next frontier between black and white Chattanoogans. And that's starting with potlucks in his home.