Ella Fitzgerald: Let It Snow
Two Good Posts About the Immaculate Conception


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That really looks like it could be around here--except I've never seen your shadow around here.


glad the mall didn't get built!

The exit ramp my husband uses to get to work divides into two branches as soon as you leave the highway. For many years, the right fork led past a large brick "Welcome to Washington, DC" sign and up to a barrier marked "Road Closed."

That seems appropriate or prophetic or something, as the government distances itself further and further from the governed.

Unfortunately, Grumpy, this area is only one fairly small appendage of a huge swath of land--maybe a square mile, all told--of shopping centers, car dealers, and restaurants which all did get built. I'm never sure which is sadder, the failure or the success of such things.

Janet, I was all set to post a version which had neither the shadow nor the truck, but decided at the last moment that those really give it a stronger sense of isolation or nowhere-ness. The truck is actually in motion, and I'm a little sorry the camera stopped it. I think the picture would have been better if it had been blurred. Usually I have the opposite problem with anything in motion.

That "sense of isolation or nowhere-ness" in places like this has always gotten to me. If it's mainly due to the presence of the remains of habitation, why does that bother us so? Do we intuit death?

Oh, I think the shadow is great--both shadows. It would be a completely different picture without them. Looking at it again, it's surprising how small your shadow looks.


On Highway 321 going through Hickory, NC, to the mountains, there's a break in the aluminum guard rail opening onto a hillside of kudzu and marked with a "Road Closed" sign. No matter how many times I pass it, it always cracks me up -- though it also seems evocative of the end of the world. Maybe I think the end of the world is intrinsically funny?

I remember that!


That's a late-afternoon very elongated shadow, Janet, and much wider at the base. It's actually probably 25 feet long or so. I was standing well back from the road and the shadow as you can see reaches to the yellow line in the middle.

I always feel slightly odd that the street into my neighborhood says "Dead End." I know that's basically a good thing, but still...

I had to think about what you said, Marianne. It is the presence of habitations that gives such things their import, but it doesn't *bother* me. To me it imparts a sense of mystery in a not at all unpleasant way.

I had to think again about what I wrote, too!

Maybe such places bother me because they tell me that I'm no more significant than they once were, and look what happened to them.

Or it could be that I'm just an old gloomy Gus.

A perfectly appropriate reaction, it just doesn't happen to be mine.

Perhaps I should refrain from posting about an interesting site I ran across recently called Abandoned Places.:-)

That looks like a really nice website.


I thought so, but I didn't have time to do more than glance at it, and haven't been back to look further.

I have a friend, an amateur photographer, who takes really good pictures of old barns, farmhouses, etc. in b/w and sepia tone. She and I have toyed with the idea of doing a book together -- "Old Farms of Western Pennsylvania" or some such thing. It'd be pretty bleak, however. As Wendell Berry said, there's nothing sadder than an abandoned farm.

On a brighter note w/r/t dead ends and such, Pittsburgh had a "bridge to nowhere" for a number of years. It's a major span across the Allegheny River that was started in the late 50's but not finished till 1969, due to funding or zoning or some such thing. For five or six years it sat with its open, unfinished end just hanging over the river, hence the name. I remember that when I was a kid (I was born in 1961) we all speculated that it would never be completed, and would just sit there forever, eventually turning black and rusting, to end up looking like a derelict remnant of a WWII bombing or something. That would have been fun -- but no, they had to go and finish it!


Well, I live on an abandoned farm and it's not so bad, although I know what Berry meant. I was looking at some old farm buildings that I wanted to photograph the one the way to work yesterday and wondering why we are so fascinated with them. They are so simple, but many of them are quite beautiful even when they are falling down. We have two, a chicken house, and a small crib built around the original cabin that was on the property. I love them and just hope that they don't completely collapse before we die.


The remains of habitation are almost like grave markers, but in a natural way. Roads to nowhere, on the other hand, speak of hubris followed by failure. I'm always reminded of the landscape of dead cars in Percy's Love in the Ruins.

The "road closed" sign in DC that I mentioned is now gone and the road leads to a massive tract of luxury townhouses and a new Costco. I don't know if that says something about government vs. capitalism.

But then those townhouses are probably there for people in government or govt-related jobs. I think I read somewhere that the DC area is now the richest in the nation. Very close to it, anyway. Something wrong with that picture.

"hubris followed by failure"--that would have been a good argument for leaving the Duquesne Bridge unfinished--sort of an Ozymandias-style reminder. I can imagine, Rob, that it would have been disappointing to see it finally completed.

Talk of abandoned farm buildings reminds me: A friend of mine told me years ago of standing in line for something or other in NYC, and chatting with other people in the line. Upon learning that he was from Alabama, a young woman exclaimed "Oh, I just love Alabama. The shacks are so organic!"

I do think that would be a good if melancholy book, Rob. I have a co-worker who does something a little similar, or used to--not sure if he still does. On weekends, he would drive out into the country and follow a road he'd never seen before, taking pictures of anything that interested him. He has all kinds of great stuff, from natural scenes to goofy signs for goofy businesses...can't remember an actual example now but, say, pecans and used tires. He got systematic about it and covered a big part of southwest Alabama. Could be a book in there.

Oh, I wish I hadn't deleted my pictures from my phone. I have a great picture of a place just like that. Oh well, tonight or tomorrow you can see it.


That "Oh, I just love Alabama. The shacks are so organic!" makes me think all those Woody Allen movies simply wrote themselves.

Yes, maybe they're entirely composed of conversations he recorded.

Also makes me think of a T-Bone Burnett song, "I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance," about a girl who's a bit of an airhead but who can really dance.

"I said how do you like Texas?
She said 'It's just like Ireland
But the wells don't look like wishing wells'"

I would like to see those, Janet.

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