Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Neighborhood Metamorphosis

Every day I step away from Mundane Necessity for exactly a half-hour by taking as vigorous a walk as I can. I've clawed and scratched for this oasis of activity amidst the generic confines of an office environment, and these strolls have--I'm firmly convinced--kept me sane and improved my health.

If the weather is inclement, that stroll takes place in a white, enclosed building. It consists of as many trips up and down a four-story staircase as many times as I can muster in the brief time alloted (I usually average a half-dozen times each way along these sixty-one steps). If Nature decrees to don some of her lovelier raiments, I hit the pavement around the neighborhood and walk. Whether indoors or out, an MP3 player (upgraded from my dilapidated old Discman shortly after these pics were shot) channels music in my ears--providing heart-pumping energy, melodramatic escapism, or intense contemplation depending on my mood.

The neighborhood is an enormous Petri Dish whose industrial/urban expansion pushes and crowds intrusively upon the last few scraps of the organic. The latter continues to hold on just enough to reveal its beauty, if you know to open your eyes and look.

Because things constantly change, I'm always conscious that many of the things that modern developers look down upon--plants, weeds, shrubbery, older buildings that've commited the unpardonable sin of showing their age and their exquisite faults--possess special beauties of their own, unique enchantments that'll fall beneath the ever-turning wheels of gentrification and homogenized urban growth soon.

One summer day a few weeks ago, I brought a camera and decided to snap some photos while I took my afternoon constitutional around the neighborhood. I realized that almost everything I photographed would likely vanish in a very short time, and after looking at the pictures, it occurs to me that some of those things already have disappeared. I'm glad I thought to capture them.

I don't have a lot of regard for the polished, shiny, faultless, impersonal face that the neighborhood's inexorably taking. Small wonder that a few layers of peeling wallpaper on a neglected old wall stimulate my senses far more than all the new shops and health clubs put together.

Small wonder also that the intermediate stages of construction--during which makeshift tunnels and pathways create pockets of film-noir shadow and texture amidst the generic brightness--look far more interesting than the shiny and bland end results.

Hmm...Not very pop culture-y this time. OK, let's talk about what I was listening to at the time of these pictures: A mix-disc including:

Cibo Matto, "Artichoke"

The Circulatory System, "The Pillow"

Charlie Rich, "Everytime You Touch Me (I Get High)"

Swervedriver, "Lead Me Where You Dare"

Tones on Tail, "You, the Night, and the Music"

Serge Gainsbourg, " Requiem Pour un Con"

Next time, some more pop culture. Thanks for joining me for the detour.

1 comment:

Vince said...

It's off-topic, but: no Horror-palooza this year? Say it ain't so!