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December 18, 2008

Obama: The Smoky Years


If this picture had been released during the campaign, it would certainly have been appropriated for “gotcha” purposes. That explains why former Occidental College classmate Lisa Jack had these photos of Obama locked up in a safe deposit box till now.

If the images serve a purpose going forward — beyond confirming the early and long-standing nature of Obama’s cool, jaunty side — I would hope this one does have some traction.

Obama, if somewhat reluctantly, has spoken up recently about his battle with nicotine. To the extent that the man has been over-idealized, part of the post-election process in building a more pragmatic relationship with Obama involves realizing the man — like all of us — has and feels his stresses; has both constructive and not-so-constructive releases for them; and, yes, does have his demons.

If not a necessary item for disclosure, I should mention I graduated from Occidental the year before Obama arrived. What gives me a bit of satisfaction is knowing we were involved in many of the same activist activities, especially a concerted anti-apartheid push which saw the school ultimately divest all monies from funds doing business in South Africa. (It did take an occupation of the President’s office along the way.) I didn’t know Lisa Jack, but Oxy is and was a pretty small school and the fact Jack, an upperclasswoman, chose Obama to photograph doesn’t necessarily mean he stood out in any particular way.

As usual, I’m interested where this photo leads you.

See the whole series: Obama: The College Years (TIME)

(image Lisa Jack, Eagle Rock, CA., 1980)

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