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December 13, 2012

Best Photos of 2012, And Why — #1: Amber Waves of Grain Meet the Apocalypse

Okay, here goes. With all the “best of 2012″ lists out there now, get ready for Bag’s series of bests and why….

Leading off, this photo by Stephen Wilkes is almost irresistible for the way it frames the horror of Sandy (and our homeland disaster anxiety, in general) while vaguely or not so vaguely echoing quintessential American imagery.

As any political communications expert with tell you, one of the most cherished and patriotic American visuals you can include in a campaign video is that of a wheat field, those golden stalks undulating in the wind. Now, this isn’t Iowa and those seaside reeds aren’t wheat. (They’re wetland grasses called phragmites, I believe, that are actually notorious on Staten Island).

What the image achieves, however, in an fearfully awesome way, is how Sandy messed not just with New York, but America. (Adam Sandler altered rendition of “Hallelujah”  – illustrating the storm as an almost religious blow to America’s ego at the 12-12-12 Sandy benefit concert – captures it well.) Simply, Mr. Wilkes’ eloquent photo could be summed up as : amber waves of grain meet the apocalypse.

…And that’s with strains of Andrew Wyeth and the Wizard of Oz chiming in.

(7:50 am – slightly revised for clarity)

(photo: Stephen Wilkes for TIME via TIME’s Best Photojournalism of 2012 caption: Staten Island, N.Y.: Strong winds and waves ripped several homes from their foundation, like this one in the Oakwood neighborhood. Linked Adam Sandler 12-12-12 photo via Mercury News photo gallery: “12-12-12″ Benefit Concert For Hurricane Sandy Victims)

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