Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Early July saw a significant rise in my carbon footprint thanks to my self induced, self awarded 2010 Amex Grant. Between 7/07-7/15 we put 2,960 mi. in nine days on our car rental, covering the vast expanses of: CA, ID, NV and Ut. Among the sights seen:

1) several amazingly scenic Nat'l State Parks (incl: Craters of the Moon, Canyonlands, Zion, Yosemite, Arches)

2) a Mormon sect wife who strode with the ample strides of a Bigfoot as her ankle length "prairie dress" swayed vigorously to and fro at the local gas station

3) late model, yacht sized pick ups with plastic (rubber?) balls (yes, as if in a scrotum) attached to the underside of  the vehicle towards the rear license plate (I kid you not) for the American male who has... everything(?)

4) an authentic 1960's nuclear submarine conning tower from the USS Hawkbill emblazoned with the number 666 rising from the potato laden soil of mid Idaho 

5) a horrific SUV accident somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert,

6) and an animal sighting directly beside the ever so bleak and barren Extraterrestrial Highway (IS 375) that was so truly stunning and magnificent, that only it's sudden movement jolted me into the reality that it was not (as first thought) someone's fanciful roadside monument to the animal kingdom (or heat induced desert mirage).

Among the trivialities discovered, I finally became acquainted with Sirius Radio, the audio version of cable TV, in other words, another pay for play mass media wasteland sans the visuals. Among its features: an all 60's music station which seemed like a little piece of heaven (until you realize it has a play list of 25 songs), an all-Elvis station ('nuff said), and a slew of stations featuring death metal bands such as Mastodon (of  smash hit Megalodon fame- but you knew that).

I also tried my hand at some Friedlander interior car landscapes to get a feel of how hard, or easy, or totally gimmicky his whole series was to shoot. Result: as expected, definitely not a gimmick and much harder than it looks to get a good composition.  Even though I didn't have his Hassy SWC (sigh!), my 20mm Nikkor sufficed nicely at the attempt- and BTW, one really has to be a bit OCD to keep the windshield clean of dead and splattered insects.

Of course, it was America we went to see in all its scenic, obese wonder, an America I once had so much hope for, and now...

I always thought down deep inside that it would ultimately prove itself a country of generosity and common sense, a country that given time, could only improve, if ever so slowly. And yet, the years have seen my illusory hopes vanish, and this country turn more vindictive and narrow minded- just as its physical assets become more depleted and despoiled. Much of the land we drove through was once the repository of wanton nuclear fallout from the atmospheric nuclear testing of the 50's, landscape often described as wasteland, despite its vast expanses of incredibly dramatic vistas filled with the starkest, most desolate beauty. Beauty in the eye of the despoiler.

 More photos to follow...


Sandy Wood said...

Love this post. I too hope someday for an AMEX grant. My VISA grant is almost used up!

Stan B. said...

Thanks Sandy- lemme know, I'll hook ya up

agentilcore said...

having just covered much of the same territory and witnessed American in all it's glory in Vegas I have to say that you have summed it up perfectly Stan! Love your writing and photos..and thoughts..keep posting.

Stan B. said...

Thanks, Agentilcore- it's amazing landscape and an amazing environment (with or without Vegas). And I'll take those harsh desert environs over pretty postcard lakes and meadows anytime (long as there's some AC about).