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So Long, Oolong

Oolong, the Internet superstar, apparently died at the age of 8, a ripe old age for a rabbit, I think. (warning: link contains very sad dying/dead rabbit pictures). Apparently it was some time ago; I hadn’t heard.

Usually when you see pictures of domestic animals, they’re posed horribly (more so today with the horrible image-warping abilities transferred to us by various pieces of software) or burdened with maudlin sentiments (need I even mention the Hang In There! kitten?). And of course, because how we feel about our pets is generally not conveyed well by those of us without professional photography skills, many personal pet photos are poorly lit, poorly framed, plagued with redeye, etc.

And as for wild animals — I’m thinking back to my Ranger Rick days, here — in addition to the sentimentality problem and other issues of representation (majestic eagle! free mustang! graceful dolphin! which would all just as soon bite you as look at you), there’s the problem of catching them at all. When you see their photos, they’ve often been separated out from anything indicative of what their environment, expressions or postures mean.

I don’t know how the Oolong oeuvre reads to Japanese readers — for all I know, what I translate as the weirdness of putting a waffle on a rabbit’s head may have all the cloyingness of a beribboned basket of kittens to this guy’s neighbors — but there was something hypnotic in the routine attention the photographer paid to the rabbit, his expressions (not easy to capture; rabbits, unlike dogs, have mostly inscrutable faces), his half-domestic, half-rural environment, and his interactions with his owner, many of which were very nicely captured.

I don’t want to get too maudlin, but there’s something soothing about seeing someone on the other side of the world caring for a small animal. At the risk of apologizing for too-featuresy news (which I’ll generally apologize for anyway, because I am a features gal at heart), I think it’s a nice counterbalance to news that people in the rest of the world are preoccupied with killing you. (I have to say, though, the front page of the New York Times had an unusual amount of heartening news today, what with the Supreme Court’s getting itself out of the private lives of gay people, some stabilization in the city budget, Strom Thurmond wobbling off this mortal coil, and a NY state court finally recognizing that the state underfunds NYC schools so we can maybe get to work on that problem now. Oh, and Bush provided some much-needed comic relief by trying to pretend he knows how to solve Africa’s problems. No links for you, I’m busy.)

Anyway, as James said, wear a pancake on your head in memory.

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