A blog by Bill Hess

Running Dog Publications

P.O. Box 872383 Wasilla, Alaska 99687


All photos and text © Bill Hess, unless otherwise noted 
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Wasilla is the place where I have lived for the past 29 years - sort of. The house in which my wife and I raised our family sits here, but I have made my rather odd career as a different sort of photojournalist by continually wandering off to other places to photograph people and gather information, which I have then put together in various publications that have served the Alaska Native Eskimo, Indian and Aleut communities.

Although I did not have a great of free time to devote to this rather strange community, named after a Tanaina Athabascan Indian chief who knew Wasilla in the way that I so impossibly long to, I have still documented it regularly over the past quarter-century plus. In the early days, my Wasilla photographs focused mostly upon my children and the events they participated in - baseball, football, figure skating, hockey, frog catching, fire cracker detonation, Fourth of July parade - that sort of thing. 

In 2002, I purchased my first digital camera and then, whenever I was home, I began to photograph Wasilla upon a daily basis, but not in a conventional way. These were grab shots - whatever caught my eye as I took my many long walks or drove through the town, shooting through the car window at people and scenes that appeared and disappeared before I could even focus and compose in the traditional photographic way.

Thus, the Wasilla portion of this blog will be devoted both to the images that I take as I wander about and those that I have taken in the past. Despite the odd, random, nature of the images, I believe they communicate something powerful about this town that I have never seen expressed anywhere else. 

Wasilla is a sprawling community that has been slapped down hodge-podge upon what was so recently wilderness of the most exquisite beauty. In its design, it is deliberately anti-zoned, anti-planned. In the building of Wasilla, the desire to make a buck has trumped aesthetics and all other considerations. This town, built in the midst of exquisite beauty, has largely become an unsightly, unattractive, mess of urban sprawl. Largely because of this, it often seems to me that Wasilla is a community with no sense of community, a town devoid of town soul.

Yet - Wasilla is my home and if I am lucky it will be until I grow old and die. Despite its horrific failings, it is still made of the stuff of any small city: people; moms and dads, grammas and grampas, teens, children, churches, bars, professionals, laborers, soldiers, missionaries, artists, athletes, geniuses, do-gooders, hoodlums, the wealthy, the homeless, the rational and logical, the slightly insane and the wholly insane - and, yes, as is now obvious to the whole world, politicians, too.

So perhaps, if one were to search hard enough, it might just be possible to find a sense of community here, and a town soul. So, using my skills as a photojournalist and a writer, I hope to do just that. If this place has a sense of community, I will find it. If there is a town soul to Wasilla, I will document it. I won't compete with the newspapers. Hell no! But as time and income allow, it will be fun to wander into the places where the folks described above gather, and then put what I find on this blog.


by 300...

Anywhere within a 300 mile radius of Wasilla. This encompasses perhaps the most wild, dramatic, gorgeous, beautiful section of land and sea to be found in any comparable space anywhere on Earth. I can never explore it all, but I will do the best that I can, and will here share what I find and experience with you.  

and then some...

Anywhere else in the world that I happen to get to, such as Point Lay, Alaska; Missoula, Montana; Serenki, Chukotka, Russia; or Bangalore, India. Perhaps even Lagos, Nigeria. I have both a desire and scheme to get me there. It is a long shot. We shall see if I succeed.

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Sarah Palin's Wasilla book signing: people in line, animal balloons, LaRouche disciple, Palin herself - a photo got, a photo not got

Being both cheap and in a bit of a tight spot, I had thought about trying to go in and take pictures without a book, but a book was the price of admission. There was one other possibility. When I entered Wasilla's Curtis D. Menard Sports Center, I found a sign posted on the door instructing all members of the media to go to a certain room to get their credentials.

For a brief moment, I thought about it. However, as explained in yesterday's post, based on some of the reports I had read from Lower 48 book signings, I feared that showing up with my professional-looking DSLR's might in itself prevent me from gaining access. So I had come instead with the new, tiny, Canon s90 pocket camera that my daughter Melanie and her boyfriend Charlie had given to me in a gift-wrapped package, with instructions to open immediately - just so that I would have it in time for this event.

So it made no sense to go to that press room and get the credentials that might well prevent me from getting a picture of her.

Plus, one way or another, I figure this is a book I should own and read. 

So I put it on a credit card. Tucked into the back was a coupon for a free coffee at Pandemonium Booksellers and Cafe - AND a free ticket to an Alaska Avalanche Jr. Hockey Game, PLUS another coupon for one free kids meal at the The Wild Olive - a new place that I have not yet tried. 

I will take advantage of all these things. I will blog about them.

I had determined that I would not come like a media person, but rather just as a regular citizen of Wasilla, coming to get an autograph of the lone, non-dog musher, celebrity of his town. I would just get my book, get in line and see what happened around me. I would not get in anyone's face with questions. I would put no one on the defensive. I would just mosey through the line, take no notes, but would snap a picture now and then, just as anyone with a pocket camera or a cell phone would be expected to do at such an event.

When I drove into the parking lot, I had noticed policemen sitting here and there in cars. All seemed to study me carefully as I passed by them. While scrutiny from a cop is always slightly unsettling, this was to be expected, given what a polarizing figure Sarah Palin has turned out to be, coupled with the tendency of individuals here and there in our society to act violently.

More police officers stood about inside. I walked up to this one. "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to take a picture of you," I said, "I might as well catch the full flavor of this event."

"Okay," he said, as I framed him in the LCD of my tiny, tiny, new pocket camera. "Don't I know you?" he then added. "You look very familiar."

"I don't think we've ever met," I answered.

"You sure do look familiar, like I've met you before. I could almost swear I have."

"I can't ever remember meeting you," I answered. "But I get around a lot. You could have seen me somewhere."

"Maybe..." he said.

Actually, looking at his picture now, he does look a little familiar - but maybe that's just because I saw him very recently, at the book signing, when I took this picture. And the fact is, when you wander around Wasilla, everybody looks a little familiar, like you've seen them all somewhere before, because you probably have.

I then saw these two, sitting at the top of the bleachers: Ellen Lockyer, a reporter for the Alaska Public Radio Network and Al Grillo, the long-time Alaska photographer for the Associated Press. I used to bump into Ellen here and there in the 1980's, but since then I have come across her very rarely.

As for Al, I can't even remember how many times I have been somewhere in Alaska, maybe out on the Iditarod Trail, in Nome, Barrow, Fairbanks... anywhere... taking pictures and there he is, taking pictures too.

I am always glad to see him. Some photographers share a sense of comradery, and that is how it is with Al. I get a good feeling of friendship from him.

He is conservative in his political leanings; I lean left. But what the hell. When did all this bullshit that liberals must hang out only with liberals and conservatives only with conservatives set so firmly in?

I was shocked to learn that Al had been laid off by the Associated Press - on the same day that they laid off over 100 photographers throughout the country.

That's what this wonderful medium that I make this blog in is doing to my profession. Kicking it to pieces, even as it opens up ever more new and exciting avenues and possibilities.

Al was here freelance on behalf of the news photo agency Zuma.

He had driven out from Anchorage at his own risk. He would only be paid for pictures that Zuma would be able to sell. His challenge was big. The sports arena is a public building, but her party had rented space on the second level for her to sign her books. They were calling that a private area. No photographers were being allowed in the private area.

Al could shoot all he wanted down on the main floor where people stood in line by the hundreds, but he could not go up to the second level to photograph Palin.

So his plan was to stay until the end, and then get photos of her after she came down the stairs into the public area.

At the very beginning, just after Palin arrived but before I arrived, media photographers had been granted a brief window of minutes to shoot photos of Palin from a distance back, but that was it. I don't believe Al was present for that part.

I visited Al and Ellen for awhile and we talked about all the changes that have come to Alaska. Ellen said that the Alaska that we had all began our work in is dying, and, in some ways, might already be dead. This could also be said about the world of American journalism, as we had known it.

Reporting has largely been replaced by screaming; people have divided into their own camps, the voices they hear and listen to are proliferating by the millions, even as these voices funnel people through the talk radio, blogs, and cable "news" networks comfortable to their philosophy into ever more narrow channels of information and opinion.

Look at me and this blog. I'm part of the proliferation - albeit a more quiet part than most, lacking the influence to funnel anyone anywhere.

Finally, I said, "see you around," and went down and stepped to the back of the line. This young woman immediately stepped up to me with a petition that she wanted me to sign. 

"I'm not signing any petitions today," I told her. She took the news in good stride.

I got in line behind the woman at left, Margaret, who, upon seeing my camera, immediately asked me to take a picture of her. She has been living in Wasilla for many years now, but is thinking about moving to Anchorage. She likes the fact that Anchorage has good, well-cared for trails, parks, concert halls and such.

I shot a couple of frames. Then she noticed that everybody around her was carrying books, but she wasn't. "Do I have to have my book before I get in line?" she asked. She had thought there would be a sales table in the signing area. "Could you save my place?" she asked, then she dashed off to the Pandemonium books table to make a purchase.

She was gone for at least 15 minutes. When she finally returned with her copy of "Going Rogue," I showed her the pictures that I had taken of her on my LCD screen.

"Oh! I look like a Russian!" she said. This caused someone standing nearby to make the inevitable joke that you can see Russia from here, which put another person slightly on the defensive. That person emphasized that Sarah Palin had been right. that "you can see Russia from Alaska."

"Absolutely," I agreed. "I actually have - even through living room windows. I have looked out from Alaska and seen Russia."

"You have?" Margaret exclaimed, looking at me with wide eyes.

"Yes, from Little Diomede!"

"Little Diomede!" she gasped, clutching her heart. "Little Diomede! Oh, Little Diomede! I used to work in Nome, at the hospital. I met many people from Little Diomede - from all over the Bering Sea. I love all the places of the Bering Straits region."

This caused someone nearby to inject that he knew someone or had a relative who had been to Little Diomede and, sure enough, you can see Russia from there.

"Little Diomede is Russia!" Another authoratively piped up.

A bit later, Margaret decided that she needed a coffee. "Would you save my place again?" she asked.

"Sure," I said. She left. I never saw her again, even though I had more than an hour of standing in line still ahead of me.

I also told this lady that I was not signing petitions today, but she asked if she could tell me about the petition, anyway. It's an Alaskans for Parental Rights petition - meaning that signers seek a law change that would ensure that a minor daughter could not get an abortion without her parents consent. She said that right now, a 12 year-old girl would need parental consent to get any kind of medical care from a doctor, be it the flu, removal of a splinter, or whatever.

But not an abortion. If she got pregnant, that 12 year-old girl could go get an abortion without ever letting her parents know. That was what "Alaskans for Parental Rights" wants to change.

That's a pretty strong argument.

Yet, there is another argument to be made: What if the 12 year-old girl is pregnant because her father raped her, and now she must get his permission? What if that 12 year-old girl is so frightened of her parents concerning such matters that she would never seek their permission or let them know she is pregnant, but would instead seek out means more dangerous than a doctor's care to make certain they never found out?

This may look like people meandering about in a crowd, but everybody here is in one line - one, long, zigzagging line - the folks below in the public area, the folks above in the rented, private area - some walking beneath a quote accurately attributed to John Wooden.

And then this disciple of Lyndon LaRouche came along, moving up the line towards me, telling people that Obama's health care plan was identical to Adolph Hitler's in the 1930's, that Obama was taking us to the same place of annihilation and death that Hitler took the Nazis. 

To be certain, this was a pretty conservative crowd, but most of those in line ahead of me ignored him - some recoiled when he approached - but not all.

Although I had pledged to myself that I would be the dispassionate observer this day, my blood boiled when I saw the picture of Obama with the Photoshopped Hitler mustache, when I heard the hateful and false words that the man spoke.

He must have sensed this, because he approached everyone in line ahead of me, but very deliberately stepped around me to the next person behind, the one that he shows his literature to here.

This man listened, looked and accepted his literature. After the follower of Lyndon LaRouche moved on, the man behind me held the picture of Obama up in front of the lady who appeared to be his girlfriend.

"This is classic!" he said. "This is a real classic!"

Maybe 20 people up the line, I saw a young woman take his petition and sign it.

Stick with this post to the end, and you will get the response of one conservative to this man and his message.

I had been curious as to what the people in line would be saying about Sarah Palin, but the fact was, hardly anyone within conversation distance even mentioned her as we moved toward her.

They just talked about everyday stuff, like what year they moved to Alaska, the weather, dogs, sports...

The guy motioning to the kid selling books did make one brief mention of Sarah Palin. He said that he had known her before she became famous, that he had already read the book and that it was pretty good but that, in some cases, she stretched the truth.

He cited a passage that had something to do with her and Todd, going from one building to another in Palmer. In the book, he said, they cross the street - but both the building they left and the one they went to are on the same block, on the same side of the street, so they could not have crossed the street.

This guy came along, blowing up balloons, which he then gave to children. This balloon, however, is for a man to take home to his wife. The man specifically requested a pink poodle.

A little boy chooses his balloon.

The man carried a bottle of hand sanitizer with him. He sanitized his hands and then blew the balloon up with a pump as the little boy watched.

The little boy eagerly accepts his doggie-balloon.

I saw several people carrying books by the stack. The rule was that Sarah would sign no more than three per person.

This is Tyler, 19 years old, from Palmer. He was curious about my "Kivgiq 2009" baseball cap. I told him what Kivgiq was. He was very interested. He said he didn't know much about rural, Native, Alaska, but he would like to go out there and learn more.

He said he has a brother who is three-quarters Yup'ik and he wants to know more about what that means -about Yup'ik and other Alaska Native cultures. He hopes the people out there keep hunting, keep whaling; he thought it must be something special to witness. He spoke with pride of his father, who retired after a career in the Air Force. 

I thought of my own father, flying with his crew through flak and bullets in his B-24, dropping bombs on Hitler's infrastructure.

Tyler carried two books for Palin to sign - one for his mother, one for his grandmother.

I liked him; he impressed me as being intelligent and sincere. We exchanged emails today. He told me that his mom and grandmother loved the autographed books that he brought them.

Understand that the line was moving very fast. Each person had only seconds with Palin. The book signing had been scheduled to last from 11:00 to 2:00, but, according to the metadata, I took this picture at 2:09:18 PM. I had arrived at about 11:45 AM.

As Tyler stepped to the table, Palin asked, "what do you do in Wasilla?"

I figured she would ask me the same thing. I wondered what her reaction would be when I told her that I was a photographer?

Then, there she was, in my eyesight for the first time, ready to give me four or five seconds of her time.

As I have earlier recounted in this blog, during her time as Mayor, I was ambivalent toward her. My head and heart and often my body was out in Rural Alaska and I did not pay much attention to Wasilla politics. I live in the unincorporated part of Wasilla and, even though I pay the same sales taxes into the city as do those who live in the incorporated part, I cannot vote in Wasilla elections. Not yet, anyway. The current Mayor, Verne Rupright, is working to incorporate us.

I just didn't care about Wasilla politics. 

Even so, I did pick a few things about her. I learned that she was against any kind of rural or Native subsistence hunting and fishing preference, nor did she support the self-government rights of Native Alaska tribes.

When she ran for governor, I voted for Tony Knowles.

But then what at first seemed to be a very amazing thing began to happen. It seemed like she was going to be a good governor. She seemed to step away from the excesses and arrogance of the Murkowski administration, she challenged corruption in her own Republican party; she seemed to be making accomplishments where Murkowski had failed.

She seemed willing to reach across the partisan aisle - and actually worked better with Democrats in the Alaska Legislature then she did with Republicans.

I began to think maybe she would turn into a pretty good governor - as did 89 percent of Alaskans, according to an Ivan Moore Research poll done in May of 2007. A couple of warning lights popped up, like when she fired Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, a man who I respected and who, by most accounts, was doing a good job, but who would not fire her former brother-in-law.

Then along came John McCain... Sarah Palin then stepped onto the national stage and immediately claimed to have told Congress, "thanks, but no thanks," to the "Bridge to Nowhere."

That simply wasn't true. It just kept getting worse. She began to accuse Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and did not reprimand those on fringe who, in response, rose up in hate - even to shout, "kill him!" In doing so, it seemed to me, she gave new license to the fringe, a certain respectability that they did not deserve, a respectability that no Republican who loves his party should accept. 

She divided America up into those who she said loved America and those who didn't.

I love America. With all my heart and soul, I love this country.

But in her words she placed me in that "Other America," the one that she claimed does not love it like the true patriots.

Then, after she and McCain lost, she appointed Wayne Anthony Ross to be Attorney General - a man who had stood against all the basic, fundamental, aboriginal rights of Alaska's first peoples. Alaska Natives took her on on that one and the Alaska Legislature denied her appointment. Ross had to go.

After she resigned, then came the "death panels." And me, facing the ever growing misery of paying Cadillac Premiums for a clunker insurance policy that has made it extremely difficult for me to get the health care that I thought I was buying into - that I need. This one was personal.

Now, as I placed my book in front of her, she looked at my hat and asked what Kivgiq was. I told her.

"Oh," she said. She signed my book.

I had two thoughts about the matter. First, she was obviously and understandably exhausted. Yet, she had been observant enough and sharp enough to pick up on what was on my hat. She had displayed the curiosity to ask what Kivgiq was.

But... why did she have to ask? She had been governor of the State of Alaska for two-and-a-half years and of all of Alaska, it is the Arctic Slope that has been far and away the most important generator of wealth and economy for this state. The Iñupiat are the People of the Arctic Slope and Kivgiq is the big Iñupiat celebration of dance and feast like no other. 

Frank Murkowski had danced at Kivgiq. Any governor of Alaska should know what Kivgiq is.

I had just enough time to get off this one snap with the pocket camera. I picked up my book and moved on.

I went down the stairs and found Al, sitting at a table, waiting for Palin to come down so that he could take some pictures of her. Al has been photographing Sarah Palin at least since 2002, when she made an unsuccessful bid for Lieutenant Governor. He covered her campaign for Governor and her Alaska activities during the 2008 Presidential campaign. He has several photos in her book. He flipped through my copy to show them to me.

As we visited, the Lyndon LaRouche disciple came by with his pamphlet. On the front, was a picture of LaRouche standing at a Podium, pointing a finger, and these words, "The People of the United States NO LONGER ACCEPT their President or Congress." On the back was the photo of President Obama with the Hitler mustache photoshopped onto his lip.

"This is wrong," Al told the LaRouche disciple. "I don't like Obama, but it is wrong to say he is a Hitler. It makes me angry, just as it made me angry when people called President Bush Hitler." He pointed out that Hitler murdered six million jews and caused the deaths of many tens of millions of people more.

People who spout such nonsense unfairly "give conservatives a bad name," Al said, as the man left.

Al pointed out a photo that he took of the Palins with their daughters, Bristol and Piper.

By now, the line had grown short. Al badly wanted to go up and take his photos. No other members of the media were left. So Al went to the stairs to see if he could go up, but the guard denied him. He would just have to wait for her to come down the stairs.

Gradually, it grew quiet. Above us, we could see only a handful of people in the area where her signing table had been. Al checked again. Sarah Palin was gone. She had left by a route that did not take her past us. 

So we left - Al to drive back to Anchorage without getting any picture that he needed to pay for his gas and his time; me, to Taco Bell because I had grown very hungry.

If I were to turn right at the light ahead, I would be on Knik Road. If I were to turn left, I could drive the three block-length of Main Street and then I would be on Fishhook.

As I waited in the line of the Taco Bell drive-through, I saw the moon, almost to first quarter. I rolled down the window, reached out with my other pocket camera, the Canon G10, framed the scene in the LCD and snapped this picture.


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Reader Comments (41)

It worries me when I read about guys like LaRouche. I get emails from people who are trying to "educate" me and that refer to some fanatical website. If I read correctly, it seems to me they advocate revolution and all kinds of unpeaceful things. I'm conservative in my leanings, but it scares me to see these websites. They remind me of KKK and other extremist groups. They are scary. And to my way of thinking, they are dangerous to this country.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWhiteStone

I'm grateful for this post because it led me to your Kivgiq pictures - they're gorgeous.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterManxMamma

Thanks for a thorough report. It was a very interesting read (as usual) and your photos were great. This is what I consider classic photojournalism.

Sad that Ms. Palin didn't know what Kivgiq was.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

What an excellent essay. Thank you so much.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCGinWI

Very well done! Thanks -- a refreshing read.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Grant

I think I recognize the lady in the " Palin" red jacket, do you happen to know her?? Thanks for the great photos and Merry Christmas to your Happy family..

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlillibird

this is the best coverage i've seen yet of her book signings. i've seen al grillo's byline for years. that is unsettling that he was laid off. a longtime photojournalist was just laid off from the Juneau Empire too after working there for almost 30 years.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdahli22

This may be the most thorough report of this event out there, and it is very well done, both the written piece and your most excellent photographs. You really know how to capture people's essential selves. Your teeny new x-mas present does not disappoint!

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe problem child

Best pictorial of the Wasilla signing event yet, Bill.

This time I won't be judgmental about the Palins avoiding their lingering fans and photographers like Al -- she has had a hard week since her photo op arranged in Hawaii last week, and the papparazzi photos she obviously DIDN'T arrange -- then coming back to read speculation about Track and Piper after readers of her book found a number of passages about her relationship to and lifelong close regard for the namesake of the ice arena adjoining her book-signing venue.

She surely was exhausted, as you said, but she looked secure enough in her make-up, coiffure, and dress to not object to YOUR picture-taking.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarenJ

Do you only take credit for your photography skills? I ask, because as usual, your writing really tells a story. For me, it would feel like going into the belly of the beast. I would feel
my nativeness screaming, 'I'm different' to the Wasillan / Mat-Su folk. I know a lot of natives live in the Valley, many I grew up with, but Im sorry to say that even glancing at you, not knowing your beautiful relationship with rural Alaska and your own native family - I would assume you would be like Sarah, an incurious and indifferent kusaq who married a blue-eyed native.

I bring up New Stuyahoak whenenver I can about Sarah, since she made a tremendous showing as one of her first acts as Governor, to go out to Todd's region and ask why they where suffering so many preventable deaths in short time. She came with Walt, promising a solution - she even came back with Walt earnestly working on a plan - a plan that ostensibly led to her firing him, for going rogue and being fiscally irresponsible with Bush public safety solutions. New Stu was quit. I won't forgive her for that.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous Bet

"Don't I know you?" my adrenaline was starting to kick in as I read......how exciting!......Politics have been a part of this country since day one and I'm glad to know that there is still some rough and tumble expression going on in this country. What would it be like if everything was aligned, cool and collected? Maybe that is the way the Palins envision it? Glad to see the picture of the traffic with the mountians in the backgound......reality check!.....Thanks for sharing Bill.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMGSoCal

Great post, Mr. Hess.

And you are right about LaRouche. He was convicted in Boston a bunch of years ago and is even more nutty in person than he was in the news.

Hope your buddy Al gets a paycheck the next time he gets out on the road.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersauerkraut

Great report.

Hmmm ... when I read about the guy with pics of President Obama (on Celtic Diva's site) as Hitler, I was outraged .. I wrote about it on my blog and I have also written to Harper Collins, since they paid for the event ...

If Sarah controlled it to the extent of banning .... she is responsible for this too!

Anyway .... hope you don't mind, but I used your picture of the guy (with credit of course) If you mind, let me know, I will remove it!


December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterArchivist1000

Excellent photos and writing! I truly enjoyed it. Thank you Mr Hess, for sharing.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommentertrishSWFL

Wonderful story- not I'm off to see Russia from Diomede!

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKateinCanada


This is one of the most thoughtful, well written articles with photos I've read anywhere in 2009. Certainly the best essay on the Menard Center book signing. By a good country mile.


Blogs didn't kill the newspapers. Craig's list did.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Munger

Hello Bill,
Checked out Acivist 1000 blog and found this entry about you in the comment section. 'Anonymous' gave you this excellent review:

"Anonymous said...
Another boots on the ground report on the Wasilla book signing is now on this wonderful Wasilla site - http://wasillaalaskaby300.squarspace.com

Bill Hess lives in Wasilla and is a photographer who has a blog that I check daily. It is a mix of articles w/ most having nothing to do with $P.

Today, he posted his personal experience w/ includes photos of his attendance at this book signing. He always includes interesting summaries and this time is no exception.

Plus, he has close-up photos of those requesting he sign petitons and the Lyndon LaRouche guy who is the one w/ the infamous photo of Pres. Obama as H. He lets us know how those in line reacted to that person.

He did have a book signed and explains all of the free coupons that came with that purchase. Plus, $P asks him about his cap which shows her total ignorance of the native Alaskan population.

A worthy read IMO.

December 24, 2009 8:21 AM"

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfunnyface

I almost didn't want to comment today, because I know your numbers will inevitably spike due to "her" presence. It is such a mystery to me, this special effect she has. But I do want to tell you that your short, but so accurate recap of the gubernatorial election and first few months of her term, mirrors my own reactions and feelings. I too voted for Tony (mostly for Katie John), but those first few months, I thought I had maybe misjudged her. I guess, actually I had, ...wow, didn't we all.

This post, as many of yours do, feels more like a parable than not. Perhaps I read more into it, but that's why I enjoy your writing and pictures so much.

Meanwhile, life goes on, and your blog exemplifies exactly that. May Christmas and the New Year continue to bless you with the love of family and better health.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia

Excellent post. I had thought about going to her book signing but decided that I had things to do that were more important than standing in line for several hours. Your words and pictures gave me the story in a way that made me feel as though I was there.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAKPonyGirl

This is a great story and photos. It must be the best at-the-event story yet. Thanks!

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersnowbilly

Thank you for this great Post. This should be on the HuffPo. I love how you demonstrated the evolution of thought about Palin as evidence unfolded about who she really was.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCelia Harrison

You should sell that book, Bill. With Palin's sig they're going for around $400.00. Don't bother reading it tho... it's full of lies.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnon in Palmer

Funny Face - I started reading your comment and realized that you had posted mine from http://www.archivist1000.blogspot.com I must say it was a bit odd to be reading my own message. (grin)

Although I corrected it later, I had left out an 'e' in the word 'square' within the address to Bill's blog. I did go back and post, again, with the proper site address.

I was hoping that "archivist1000" would check out Bill's blog today because I thought it was spot on ---the good ---the bad ----and the photos were only added to the story.

I notice that the sign owner is one of the people commenting today and he/she placed one of Bill's photos on his/her blog.

Bill, I wonder if you could sell that one of the LaRouche guy? I think you got the best shot of it and it is straight from Wasilla. Also, I am one of your daily readers. I just love stopping by your little piece of heaven. :)

BTW, since today's blog is on the political side...at Immoral Minority ---the 4th person banned at the book signing was Andree McLeod and Todd gave the complex manage the banned list!

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMirage

Thank you for such a wonderful read and pictures. Be at ease with your talent.

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteroldalder


Wonderful post.

Thank you also for the link to your photos of Kigviq.

I hope some day she will learn to dance.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBigSlick

Your experience with Palin after her election is the same one the rest of the country had with Bush after his "election". Even my husband thought he might not be as bad as his father, not heeding my warning about who was behind Bush.
Palin has the same types of scheming power brokers pushing her into the spotlight even today, when she is miles away from any elected office.
Keeping the harsh light of reality focused like a laser beam is the only way to ensure she stays far away from any true elected power.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGindy51

Excellent, all of it. I stumbled across this blog for the first time this morning and linked to it at Palingates, hope you don't mind.

I hope this goes viral, banning the bloggers and denying Al his shot is one thing, allowing the LaRouchian and his sign is something quite different.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFnord

Nice article Bill, I especially liked seeing Margaret, years ago when I drove for City Cab in Wasilla I was sent to pick her up and she came out with fur coat, Horned Viking hat and what I think was a small french horn. Then things got strange, but that's just part of being a cabbie in Wasilla. Having already been banned from the Alaska State Fair because they did not like the cut of my Press Credentials I tend to avoid overly Policed media events such as this, so it was nice to see what I missed (but do not miss at all) and many of those oh so familiar faces.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Fikes

I'm so shocked. I never expected to see Sarah Palin. Not really. You never cease to amaze.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebby

Thank you.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

One last comment, a bit of snark: When Sarah Palin looked at the camera in that 2nd picture of her -- I can't correctly say she looked STRAIGHT at the camera -- her eyes crossed.

That must be disconcerting for anyone talking to her face-to-face for longer than 10 seconds. That must be why some people call her "kinetic" and "full of energy" -- if she stays on the move, the crossed eyes aren't as noticeable.

December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarenJ

I ran across your blog today for the first time. Nicely done. I'll be a regular from now on.


December 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarauder

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side......
I am a conservative in Massachusetts. Sort of like a diabetic working at the chocolate factory. I only WISH we had someone here with 1/20th of the courage and charisma of Sarah Palin. I love her charm, her resolve and hard work ethic. She is fantastic. You have politicians here who vote to take the power away from a Republican Governor to appoint a Senate seat and barely 2 years later, vote to reverse that vote because of a newly elected Democratic Governor. This is what I have to deal with here in Massachusetts. Oh, and do you have a SERVING State Senator under 24 hour house arrest for 6 months due to fleeing a hit and run with a mother with her 13 year old?? How about a state rep caught by a sting operation taking bribe money and stuffing it into her bra?? How about a state rep voting for pension reform and the DAY BEFORE this new law goes into effect, he pads his pension with unpaid volunteer service to add to his take?? I could go on and on....So when you criticize Sarah Palin for not understanding Kigviq or looking into a camera and not having a perfect smile....just be careful what you wish for. I'll take Sarah Palin any day of the week over the crooked, corrupt, embarassing and morally bankrupt politicians we have here in Massachusetts any day of the week!!! Mike K.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMikeK

That ain't courage, Mike. That is a stupid woman.

December 26, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebby

Oh my! Well written, well observed. Not that Palin or her bots could ever understand your underlying compassion and objectivity, nor do they deserve it. But your readers do, so thank you for such a great essay!

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMartha Unalaksa Yard Sign

First time reader of your blog here and I just want to say Brava! The feeling I am left with is one of a real sense of objective journalism and hence, some realism concerned with her. That seems to be a rarity of late. I enjoyed your style and writing immensely.


December 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Fabulous post, a wonderful read indeed!! As someone who has a healthy mix of friends I totally agree with your statement "When did all this bullshit that liberals must hang out only with liberals and conservatives only with conservatives set so firmly in?". Unfortunately people like Palin contribute to that divide, as you said "she gave new license to the fringe". Palin and her crowd are the Taliban of the conservatives.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKarma

Bill, finally a mention of Sarah. Thanks for that. I understand that your well-rounded insight into Wasilla (and Alaska) was never meant to focus on her. Thanks for being a pair of eyes with a working brain in that area of our state, I agree with your acessment of her as she evolved after the Gov. race. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me/you....So glad I never gave her my vote. I saw your Inaugural photos and enjoyed them a year ago.Was like being there.
I hope Al has lots of photos of Sarah while she was governor, that he reads Palinsdeceptions, Palingates and Bree Palin blogspot sites and shares some very telling photos in the future of her during the so-called pregnancy, circa 2007-8 winter. Can't fault me for hoping for shedding some honesty on this whole sorry saga. Thanks for taking AFN photos of the Novi rose artist family...it was a rare treat for a bush family.

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I loved the Pics of Sarah and her beautiful family. However, it is obvious you are a left-winger as you tried your best to trash the former Gov while pretending to be objective--the malice showed through--nice photos--but disappointed in your political injections--BTW,the "kill him" shouts were proven by the FBI to be false and the "death Panels" are proven to be true--just written in less plain language! have a nice day!

January 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersifto77

Re-reading your post today. It is a classic! It's now February and it is llike you wrote it this morning. That last comment was like a kick in the gut....they just don't get it! Love your work. Read it first every morning to put a smile on my face before going to the mats with the diehard Palin truthers. Hope her reign is over soon and we all can become true American-lovin folks again!
Love your work, your family and your beloved Alaska. Thanks Mr. Hess

February 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn Mueller

I read your post on the Village Voice site, and I was compelled to visit your blog; interesting stuff, at least as interesting as the subject of Sara Palin is concerned. A friend of mine has a brother living in Wasilla and he (the brother) thinks Palin is bat-shit crazy, just like most of the rest of us in the lower 48. These tea party folks are pretty loud, but I'm not convinced they make up more than 20% of the voting population. The rest of us who vote don't have the selective amnesia that some conservatives have regarding the Bush presidency, and we also have lives and obligations that prohibit us from following the likes of Sara Palin and Glen Beck as though they were the second coming of the Grateful Dead. So, that is why I predict that the conservative vote will be split between mainstream Republicans and those fringe types, and Democrats will carry election day; then, America's business might finally be addressed. Keep writing your column, and I'll be sure to check in from time to time. And, please continue your efforts as an advocate for Alaska's native people; I know that I'm not alone when I tell you that your efforts are appreciated.

October 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCentennial CO

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