Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Salton Sea

It’s like going to sleep not caring if you wake up. Here’s to one more endless night in a motel at the end of the world with nothing but a pile of ashes for a bed. The salt stings your eyes; the listless sun will handle the rest of you. A bloated bird, one-hundred thousand dead Tilapia, the endless stench. It’s in your sweat. There were dreams, once, at least for a little while. But you better be careful what you invest in. Keep your assets liquid so you can get out if—make that when—you have to. Don’t get too deep into anything or anyone out here.

I guess none of this matters now. You watch the day rise out of the scalding water and fall down the mountains, keeping company with the dead and the mad, pretending you’re different, not like them. Sure, you’re just a spectator, not a participant. Then why don’t you leave? Nope, this is it, the end of the line. You'd almost forgotten about Chinatown, Jake, but it caught up to you out here in the desert. It had to. So, welcome to where everything finally stops. Greetings from the Salton Sea.


Anonymous said...

It's too bad that a few people come out here just to find that one trailer, motel and the other obvious trash. But that's really just a very small portion of what’s out here. Many people have bought property and others come out here because they fell in love with the beauty, which seems to have flown right over your head.
You missed all that because all you saw other photos of that trailer which has been photographed thousands of times and you thought that you could take a better picture of it. You could have saved a lot of gas by just driving a few miles in L.A., or wherever you come from, and can find a lot worse in your own neighborhood. I don’t say this to put down L.A., where I was born and raised, but to point out the obvious. Yes, it’s here, yes it should be gone, yes it gets very hot out here, but no, the water isn’t scalding and your other points are also greatly exaggerated.
It’s very easy to take a few words, string them together to tell a story that isn’t even true. What the hell has your juxtaposition of “Chinatown” got to do with anything out here?
It’s obvious that you hope to become a writer and spent more time trying to put some words together than you did in finding that trailer that some people find so interesting. I can tell you this, what you’ve written is a bit hard to read and your confusion shows your lack of knowledge for this area. It seems that your real point is to show off your writing skills and ability to snapshot.
Next time, you should do some research before you practice your desire to write and photograph. That way, you’ll avoid the future embarrassment you’ve caused yourself, and maybe you will get better at what you set out to do.
Everett English, editor of the Salton Seafarer

justin said...

i digg the post, wish you updated more. keep it up.

tristan said...

me, too ! don't stop !

and very best wishes

Anonymous said...

Jeez, I was all set to move to a nice beach front condo on the Salton Sea, but now forget it! I shall be sending a terse letter to the Salton Sea Chamber of Commerce and let them know they have quite a bit of work ahead of them.

Good day sir!

jmhouse said...

Clearly my description of the "Salton Sea" is exagerrated. It's...what's the writerly term? Metaphorical. Just like Chinatown in the film "Chinatown." By the way, it's a great movie. Jack Nicholson plays a detective. I recommend it.

And, hey, people come out and take pictures of that trailer because it IS interesting to see a vehicle wholly rotted away by salt. And, if the photographs you see from the Salton Sea are largely abandoned motels, destroyed motor homes, and dead fish it’s because that’s a lot of what’s out there at the moment. I appreciate that sort of thing, but perhaps that makes me a liability.

I’d say the Salton Sea is a place in real trouble, despite the beauty inherent in the Sonoran Desert. The reality of what I wrote might be found in a Salton Sea that hasn’t seen a drop of agricultural water in ten years. Although I believe current "restoration" plans have the Salton Sea slated to stabilize at 1/5 its current size, not zero. Still, that plan will probably be just as devastating to residents of the area as it will be to the region's waterfowl, despite being couched as revitalization.

I had no intention of writing anything factual or historical here. I'll say I did take some inspiration from a couple fairly creepy things I came across out there, but I'll leave it at that. If you would like to write a completely factual/historical post on the Salton Sea, be my guest. There's plenty of space here for you and you can even submit your own photos.



Anonymous said...

Nice job "JMHOUSE"
Very artistic and poetic.

Obviously the salt air has also dissolved Everett English's sense of art and prose...

"It is the exaggeration of reality that gives the veiwer a deeper look into what is actually real"
(like that...just made it up on the fly)


jmhouse said...

Thanks, JimBo! And nice quote--you hit the nail dead on the head.



WooleyBugger said...

I don't get it I guess what Everitt is talking about but this , what you wrote, is what brings different views of places in time. So what, many people have taken pictures of the same bus but it gives different folks a different perspective perhaps of life and death it's self. Keep it up.

jmhouse said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you, WooleyBugger. And, you know, you can't please all the people all the time. If you did, something would probably be wrong.

Thanks for the comment!

Dave Keays said...

What I got from the comment was frustration that the trashiest area of the sea (Bombay Beach) is getting 98% of its publicity. Few, if any, seem to catch the nice properties in the north.

What about the sunsets? The view of the mountains on both sides of the sea? The geothermal power stations that can power over 100,000 homes?

I'm starting to get tired of this negativity in the same way I got tired of the MSM.

jmhouse said...

Sure, Bombay Beach probably is the "face" of the Salton Sea. But I don't think it's wildly unrepresentative of much of the area. If residents want to stop people from coming around and taking pictures of decaying trailers and old sofas on the beach then the easiest way is to get together and do a little housecleaning. I understand the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club has been renovated as a museum and that's a good start.

I agree that, physically, the region is gorgeous. I also find much of the decay to be beautiful. But there are big problems associated with having a large body of water on a salt flat in the Sonoran Desert. Animals, both human and otherwise, are having an increasingly hard time living there. I believe a restoration should be considered, but I have no idea where the funds or political willpower would come from. I like the place very much, but, at the moment, I don't think I could be convinced that the area offers economic opportunity, is an ideal place to raise a family, or will provide a good return on real estate investment.

The Salton Sea is a prime example of massive expectations being destroyed by harsh and immovable reality. The post was partly about what it feels like when that happens in a person's life.

Dave Keays said...

It seems kind of strange, but I really would like to move out to Bombay beach. The calmness, the small community feeling.

The main thing that is holding me back is access to a broadband line. That is how I make a living so it is a big issue for me.

jmhouse said...

I have a friend that's talked about moving out to the Salton Sea. He says it's one of the last places he knows of where it seems like a person could truly feel free. Like you, he needs computers and broadband for his work, but it'll be interesting to see if he makes a go of it out there someday.

Anonymous said...

Don't mind Everett English, he's OUR local village idiot. We are hoping he will just dry up and blow away. He's not down scamming woman out our their money. BTW he ran the Seafarer into the ground and has been evicted from three homes on the West Shores. What an poor excuse for human flesh.

jmhouse said...

Hmm, interesting. I was serious when I asked Mr. English to write his own piece on the Salton Sea. I prefer to write about places that are little-known, and a lot has been said about the Salton Sea. I have no interest in repeating the same old facts and figures. So, the offer still stands: if anyone wants to submit a piece on the Salton Sea--from any persepctive--I'll gladly post it here.

Incidentally, I just saw two large photos of the Salton Sea on the side of the Hearst Bulding in NYC. One was of that very same trailer that has been photographed "thousands of times" and another was a shot of an armchair on the beach. Unfortunately, both were photoshopped to death, the trailer fairly poorly at that.

Best regards from a different desert,


islandgrl100 said...

I grew up at the Salton Sea with my gramma...her and Helen were drinkin buddies. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY the BEST place on earth....HELENS was so much funand swimming allllll day everyday but we had to swim with tennis shoes because of the sharp rocks??? Like razor blades if u forgot em...I have th best memories of the Salton Sea and if I ever win a boat load of money...I will invest in any help to restore and advocate that wonderful place!!...Is there any way of getting a copy of that newspsper...I was in it for competing in skiing accross the lake and back and I beleive we got 2nd place...my name was Robin Newell around 1965-72?? Thanks for sharing!!

jmhouse said...

Hi Robin,

Thanks for your comment! It's really great to hear your recollections. As for getting copies of the Salton Seafarer from '65-'72, that might be difficult. I believe Helen, who started the Salton Seafarer in '58 and kept it going until '94, died a couple years ago and I don't know of an easily accessible archive. Perhaps someone will read your comment and provide more information.

You could also try posting to this forum:




Unknown said...

While trying to locate specific buildings in Salton Sea Beach using Google Street View for the map, I discovered that attempting to drag the little yellow stick figure onto their streets turns the stick figure into a UFO. Hmm...