I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. We're going to get a little whimsical for this post and visit a heavy equipment junkyard along the Aiken-Augusta highway. The next post will be epic, detailing the largest building we got into in the CSRA (that's the Central Savannah River Area, don't ya know) and it's going to take a couple posts to cover. For now then, in the holiday spirit, we'll take it a little easy. If you were driving from Augusta to the building-to-be-posted you might pass the junkyard anyway, so it does make some sense.
Remember this view? I don't know if sitting in the back of the bus carries the same connotations it once did, but that used to be where all the bad kids sat so they could do bad things on the way to and from school. The good kids sat in the middle seats and those subject to getting beat up would go for the front. I never really did most of those bad things, but I still preferred sitting in the back, myself.
There are a couple impressive photo books out there that have shots of smashed-up vintage cars. One is "Car Crashes and Other Sad Stories," by Mell Kilpatrick. Mell took pictures for newspapers in Southern California in the 1940's and 1950's and was often one of the first people to arrive at accident scenes. Some of his photos are undeniably gruesome (you can often see the victims strewn about the wreckage) but there is something disquietingly beautiful about the mangled Packards and disemboweled Chevy's. All that fractured glass and twisted chrome reminds you that life can be dangerous and it's always been so. But especially when you're not wearing your seatbelt.
Another book of interest is "Strange Days, Dangerous Nights," by Larry Millett. Larry worked as a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota and has assembled photos from the Pioneer Press and the St. Paul Dispatch circa 1940-1960. Many are accidents and murder scenes, but there's plenty of strange "cultural" shots as well. These photos were all published, sometimes on the front page, and if you think media coverage can be graphic now this book (and exhibit) will give you pause.
I won't argue whether our society is progressing from a higher to lower order. I'll leave that to others to waste their time with. However, it does seem like things constructed in the fast-fading past were built better and more expressively, at least when it comes to architecture and design (and the grill badges on fire trucks). McCarthy was speaking of civilizations, but the statement is no less applicable to the decay of objects. And these places and things now frequently lie in ruins and there is always an air of mystery about them. You can even imagine that the neglect and abandonment of what was once so important to those who built them and the people that used them, now unhappily forgotten, has cast the slightest pall of rage over what little remains. I can't believe that wandering around an abandoned Wal-Mart in 50 years will be as profound an experience as creeping through a turn-of-the-century farmhouse or Art Deco movie theater. But, ah, what a thought, that: abandoned Wal-Marts.