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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

So Twine’s a game building hypertext tool that freed people from mass quantities of coding. Games but also interactive stories and other species of e-narrative, which includes potential image narratives. And possibly dreaming the semantic web into place, since its based in part on RDF resource description framework tools.
Irresistible and accessible, although it would be great if WordPress would give us a plug-in option to host Twine builds instead of having to cross link to another site.
Anywho, I used Twine to contain some raw ideas for a project I’m building. Here’s the roughout: http://www.philome.la/DriftlessWorld/301-roadtrip
Thoughts and reactions invited, it’s one of those: “this is an interesting tool, now what?” moments.

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Summertime growing up in Villas, NJ lots of my friends’ families were Catholic, Irish or Italian, some German or Polish. Almost all were blue collar, factory & shipyard workers. Or they got by otherwise. Some stayed with grandparents. The blessed Virgin was ubiquitous: on dashboards, front lawns, jewelry, framed next to her Son in every dining room where the mother fed the neighbor kids as well as her own. Some kids went to St Raymond’s school on Bayshore Road, but most went back to Philly, where their real homes were; the Villas was for summer vacation, fresh air for the kids, breathing room for mom and the Villas Fishing Club on the bay for men- only. The boardwalk over in Wildwood for everybody with a car or bus fare.

Labor Day Weekend marked the end of summer firmly as a door closing. The following Monday morning the streets were silent, window blinds pulled down, driveways- twelve hours earlier festooned with wading pools, kids, grills, beer bottles & fishing gear, empty. A vacuous quiet descended. Left behind we were all watchers in this new found emptiness, watchful for artifacts of the prior occupants, for signs that summer had existed at all. Mary would stare dolefully back at us from within her blue robes at various locations throughout the neighborhood, daring our trespass.

And then there was St Francis, keeper of beasts & of nature, benevolent & compassionate. Guardian of the wildness inside us all and protector of the earth, he would keep watch along the bay all winter long, and ever after.

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware

Three Visions of St Francis Guarding the Delaware Bay

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Taking the time to sit down and edit again after a long and busy summer away from blogging. Rainy days like the one we’re having at the moment don’t induce the kind of “carpe diem” guilt that parking in front of a laptop, editing does on a brilliant blue sky summer afternoon.

Here’s a tumble-down tin roof roadhouse sagging toward earth near Muscoda, WI. Old wood and tin, irresistible!

Wooden roadhouse near railroad siding and highway 133 crossing

Wooden roadhouse near railroad siding and highway 133 crossing

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Teaseled  clouds and trees

Tall Teasel dominates an abandoned farmstead at the top of Fennimore Hill.

I admired the architecture of these dried tall weeds and discovered their name & history later:

Historical: Common teasel is a native of Europe where it has historically had many uses. The heads of a cultivated variety of teasel are used for wool “fleecing”, or raising the nap on woolen cloth. (Grieve 1995). These heads are fixed on the rim of a wheel, or on a cylinder, which is made to revolve against the surface of the cloth (Grieve 1995). No machine has yet been invented which can compete with teasel in its combined rigidity and elasticity (Grieve 1995). The roots of common teasel are also reported to have various medicinal values ranging from a remedy for jaundice to a cleansing agent (Grieve 1995). http://www.cwma.org/Teasel.html

What struck me was the remark that “no machine has yet been invented which can compete with teasel”. A case of ‘first design, best design’.  The prickly cone shaped heads atop the tall stalks are amazingly tough and durable. More durable that the receding farmstead that the teasel, trees and other encroaching brush and weeds have overtaken. As natural forces will always overtake what people abandon.

Therein a reminder to stay humble. Our tenancy and current dominance over the landscapes of this earth is entirely fleeting.  Grasses, sky and trees around the house appear to have enjoyed a good bit of teaseling on this windy day.   CanonT2i DSLR, 18-135mm f5.6 @1/200, no post-editing except the c. notice.

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Driving across Tennessee years ago, had to stop for a cold one and observe a history lesson. Image produced from a digital scan of a 35mm B&W TMax film negative recovered from materials that survived Hurricane Wilma’s flooding of Key West, FL in 2005.No post scan editing. Exact location in Tennessee has been lost. If anyone recognizes this place, I’d appreciate hearing more about it, thanks!

Tennessee Gateway, 1989

Tennessee Gateway, 1989

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One of the shots made in Muscoda yesterday,filtered through all that this day of remembering the ultimate cost of conflict represents in America.
My “photomod” post-processing actualizes the implicit tangle of emotion, layering visual moods directly over the image, rather than make any attempt at an objective presentation. The image becomes as freighted with interpretation as is our culture of ideals bruised by the realities of our actions and history. And our determination to get back up and move forward, unbroken.

Land of the Free

Land of the Free

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We drove over to Muscoda on Hgwy 133 Saturday to go to St Vincent’s Thrift Shop. I knew there were several sites / sights in this small river town that I wanted to frame and to think over. Memorial Day weekend always gets my attention anyway. Makes me mindful of what gets taken for granted in the backgrounds of our daily routines. There are the buildings, commerce, highway, past and present colliding. The road signs to tell us where we’re at. And then there’s the flag(s) speaking louder than anything else this weekend.
Here’s a couple of shots taken downtown at the intersection of Hgwy 133 & SR 80; I was testing smaller f-stops, using a remote release with the camera tripod-mounted and longer exposures, ISO 100. One’s “as shot”, the other’s post processed to adjust contrast and saturation. I need a better monitor for editing; this laptop’s color profile was balanced with a Spyder Pro, but I’m still not convinced that I’m seeing what I need to. Would appreciate knowing what they look like to you. Cheers.

Memorial Day weekend, downtown Muscoda, WI

Memorial Day weekend, downtown Muscoda, WI

Memorial Day weekend cruiser,  Hgwy 80 & 133

Memorial Day Weekend cruiser, Hgwy 80 & 133

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Caroline Street at Night, Key West FL 1989

Caroline Street at Night, Key West FL 1989

Back in the late 80’s after spending time in a graphic arts wet darkroom shooting artwork color separations for screenprinting, I became interested in black and white 35mm photography. A class with Lawson Little at Fla. Keys Community College and hundreds of shots later I had my own darkroom and binders full of negatives, contact prints and enlarged prints.

Green Parrot Bar

Green Parrot Bar in the old days, Corner Caroline and Whitehead Streets, Key West

Fast forward to the digital age, past Hurricane Wilma and Key West’s inundation that went little noticed in the wake of the more horrendous landfall Katrina made in New Orleans. I’d already left Cayo Hueso to make a landfall of my own in Chicago, but not my heavier possessions: record albums, books, notebooks and negatives.

 Fru Sale, Clermont, Florida

After a fire, the water tower, steps and a gourd vine’s all that’s left of this abandoned hilltop citrus emporium. And of course a realtor’s for sale sign.

Salt water does a lot of damage. But silver negatives in protective sleeves turn out to be much tougher than anyone who hasn’t salvaged them might guess. Wiped and dried out, the binders hibernated for years in my office while I considered what sense there might be in a digital age, to again invest in an redlight darkroom. Then at the local library where I work,  like being hit between the eyes by a fast flying Junebug, i realized the workhorse public scanner had a 35mm negative reader tucked into the lid. Presto Chango.

Can't Step Back Clermont Florida, 1989

Can’t Step Back Clermont Florida, 1989. From the 20s through the late 60s it was common to see hilltop, roadside citrus fruit stands dotting highways throughout Florida. Typically they were surrounded by acres of orange trees rolling toward the horizon. Fruit, cold drinks, maybe real estate or a viewing tower and a multitude of souvenir tchotkes greeting travelers who stopped. These steps are what’s left of an abandoned fruit depot that burned down; citrus cropping in Central Florida has all but ceased due to disease and unpredictable winter weather.

A bit of a learning curve ascent plus trial and error mostly overcame a long gone manual and for the first time in 25 years those old negative can step back into the light; of a different wavelength, but illumination nevertheless.  The differences between ink and silver stand out in the new prints, but mashing up the two mediums has released multitudes of opportunities. And a little dance of ecstasy.

Gourd Tower, Clermont Florida

Nature indifferently reclaims what human enterprise abandons. This fruitstand’s ashes and all the work and memories shared within its walls erased except as held within memory, words, images. The hills beyond are crowned with rolling rows of orange trees that, in years to come will be frozen out. And if the pattern running up and down Highway 27 in Central Florida has held true to the course it was following at the turn of the 21st century, these rolling croplands will be sold off to developers, scraped clean and covered by planned communities featuring chic construction themes like Southwestern Adobe complete with concrete cactuses. Artificial Paradise.

And what I remembered about taking these photos, especially the series taken upstate, in the Central and North Central Florida citrus belts, which had undergone vast change even then, is the sense of a requiem. The Old Florida shown in these photos was vanishing when they were taken. It’s slipped away now almost entirely.

Photography is a medium where everything shown is in the past tense, and so the yearning for places, people and for a “sense of place” long extinguished comes built-in. Sally Mann, Stephen Shore and Frank Gohlke, among others  have written about the inherent sense of loss, yearning or exclusion that comes with landscape photography; the places or homes we can never go back to, that resist our attempts to re/connect with their  history and meaning. With their witnesses.

Evinston Florida, Sunlight Styling Salon 1989

Evinston Florida, Sunlight Styling Salon 1989. Florida’s time warps are almost always unexpected and defy cultural expectations. many attempts have been made to sell the states enchantment and mystery, few ever succeed.

Time shifted contexts are by nature disconcerting: same physical location, but everything known about it and assumed to be permanent fractures and dislocates. Frequently deteriorates. Certainly becomes denaturalized. This is one of the first poignant  lessons of mature adulthood: change is the only constant.

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image

Quicksnap with G4 phone during my evening walk yesterday when our air temperatures climbed briefly into the high 20s, before beginning their arctic descent.  -25 overnight with windchills to -50 through Tuesday. Upside is that the photogenic blanket of snow will be sustained and hoarfrost ice crystal formations are imminent, especially when fogs roll in as temperatures climb 40 degrees into mid 30s by this weekend. Patiently waiting & editing now while Mama Nature sets her stage

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I recently found an amazing archive of old Key West Photos at the Monroe Co. Library’s Flickr page. These shots of KWest from the 40’s – 70’s to me represent the “real” KW, before tourism took off and redevelopment took over and transmogrified the island into a simulacrum of itself; a place dusty, mellow, local and genuinely alive, populated by Bahamanian and Cuban Conchs, sailors, hippies, artists, refugees and scalawags of all stripe, who lived and let live. There was peace and more freedom there than any time or place I’ve lived since. And so I can’t resist taking these old photos and modding them to reflect the feelings they incite, deep within memory, dragged up from the depths of my heart.
Old Coke bottling factory on lower Simonton(?) Street, alley view, @ 1960. Credit for the original
to Florida Key’s Public Libraries http://www.flickr.com/photos/keyslibraries/Pld Key West Bottling Plant circa 1960

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