Okay, I'm still clearing the decks here at the City of Dust, so it's gonna be another outtakes post. Next time I'll have a few new rolls of film and a few new places to go. But this time I thought I'd say a little bit about what caused me to take hundreds and hundreds of photos of the crumbling corners and forgotten back alleys of the Augusta area in the first place. This is a picture of what was one of my favorite buildings in downtown Augusta. It was kitty-corner to the Meathouse, on desolate Walker St. As you can see, this is a document of the beginning of the end, but I've got some earlier photos that make it look downright cute. Unfortunately, they aren't digitized, so I can't post 'em. One morning I was roaming around and saw smoke coming from the abandoned lot across from this building. There's a lot of debris and wood over there, so I thought there might be a fire. When I went to check it out I realized it was just somone cooking their breakfast. We nodded good morning to each other and I was on my way again.
I moved to Athens, GA, home of the University of Georgia, from the Upper Midwest in the fall of 2001, and immediately found myself at odds with the town. It seemed to be a toy town, where kids just out of high school believed they'd been sent to paradise because they could get drunk and throw up in the streets and their parents might not know about it.
I started going on long bike rides in any direction AWAY from downtown. Athens is also a pretty bad place to ride your bike if you don't want to get hit by a car. Or ride over broken bottles. No one uses the sidewalks outside of downtown and so I'd ride on those only to have other bikers yell at me to get off the sidewalk and ride in the street like them. Yeah, right.
At the end of the summer of 2002 I had to head back to Athens. I didn't want to go and waited until the very last minute to make my way up GA 78. As soon as I arrived I went for a ride out to the housing development. They'd picked up speed in the months I'd been gone and there were probably a couple hundred new homes, some with people already moved in. I rode out to the farmhouse and found that it'd been torn down and ground into mulch with the rest of the woods. I kicked myself for not at least getting some photos of it. I'd never owned a camera in my life and could count the actual pictures I'd taken on one hand. But, still, I figured I coulda bought a disposable and gotten some documentation. I was bummed. That broken old house had felt like a refuge of sorts, quiet and seemingly far away from the problems that plagued me. It was an omen, the beginning of a bleak year. This is some odd graffiti from outside the Rooming House. Heed it at your own risk.
And so it was that when I moved back to Augusta for a long stretch in the spring of 2003 I bought a few disposable cameras and took some pictures of some of the old buildings I liked best around town. As I mentioned back in the Meathouse, I've been exploring old buildings since I was a kid. But I'd never taken photos of them. The pictures looked good to me, so I took more. I quickly realized that there were limitations to disposable cameras; poor flashes, and, worst, the viewfinder doesn't always correspond to what's gonna be in the picture.