Friday, January 30, 2009

Art Travel and the idea of MEMPHQ

There are maybe three types of travel.

In business travel, you have clearly stated objectives and a tight schedule. You go from airport to business hotel to place of business and try to get something done. It is often exhilarating, and always better when you have time to explore.

In vacation travel, you go somewhere and do nothing. It sounds boring.

What I'll call art travel is a combination of both. You throw a dart at a map, then come up with a crazy schedule to cover as much ground and eat as much food and see as much music as possible. Your partner(s) are there for the same reason. All day long, you are seeing....framing shots with your eyes, shooting them with your camera, experiencing America in your lifetime. You bring home stories and thousands of images--raw materials for something you'll make later.

I am about to do about six weeks of business travel. The D50 now comes on all trips.

After that, though, it appears there'll be a scheduling gap before DS09, the most touted roadtrip yet. So we're thinking of going to Memphis for a weekend. Just check out this Google Map some guy made of all the BBQ joints there, and you'll be sold.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

F**k Outlook Webmail.

I'll reference this post from two years ago. Synopsis: you cannot send email if your account gets too big, and you can only make your account smaller by clicking a mouse 8,000-10,000 times.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Work-for-Food System Continues to Function.

Landlady promises a fried zucchini sandwich for dinner if I help shovel this afternoon. I love it.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

The Somerville DPW Snow Removal Circus

What else could you call three dump trucks, four pickups, two gigantic wheel loaders, a skid-steer loader, and a rubber-tracked sidewalk plow scraping up every bit of heaped snow in Teele Square at the height of rush hour?

Nimbly navigating obstacles... that people can finally enjoy ice-free sidewalks...

...for the day and a half before the next storm.

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A Word about Quincy

This week, I was working on an essay when I got stuck, wrote a post called "Go Back to the Suburbs and Die," and unwittingly initiated an internet shitstorm here in Bostonia (thanks to, also a locus of shit-flingin'). In my post I mention a conversation I had with a girl at a bar in Quincy.

Apparently that's enough to get you an STD. The funniest thing about the many vitriolic comments on my post is that all the references to Quincy, as city or suburb, are incredibly negative.

Quincy is a bizarre place. The more urban parts have the feel of my native Queens, but without the benefit of being part of a much larger municipality. That allows the deeply entrenched cronyism, corruption, and racism of New England--which may or may not be dying out in other cities--to seep in.

In Quincy, the 'poorer' residents are quarantined in the Germantown projects on a peninsula off another peninsula out in the ocean. The community college, the only city-operated community college in the state, occasionally loses accreditation, spends scholarship money on the president's vacations, and owes the city thousands in back rent. You have to love it. It's like the cover stories from the Herald happen there every day.

In a bizarre similarity to Queens, Downtown Quincy shows similar Asian influences as Downtown Flushing, though new buildings funded by Asian developers do not dominate the skyline. I've overheard white residents bitching about the ballots being printed in Mandarin and Vietnamese. And I've actually seen trucks from Flushing making deliveries in Quincy. I also believe that Fung Wah's Boston headquarters are in Quincy--another strange linkage to New York.

Quincy has cool industrial shit, like the giant animal fat refinery and the Mass. Water Resource Authority pelletizer plant. That's where your shit gets turned into fertilizer! I like these places because their existence is required in order for our society to function. You will never see infrastructure like that in the deep suburbs.

What am I trying to say? Quincy needs to be Quincy. A lot of bad happens there, and a lot of necessary happens there, and that's all I know about the city. Certain parts are very photogenic to me, and I get there when I get there.

We may not all want to live in Quincy, but we couldn't live without it.

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"Come on, spring!" shouts a voice from the sidewalk outside.

This is the snowiest of my nine winters in Boston, and I absolutely love it.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baked Buffalo Parmigiana!

My few loyal readers know that I am obsessed with two deeply american cooking traditions: barbecue (i.e. cooking with smoke) and making things buffalo-style. Since I don't have a smoker in my tiny apartment, I decided to create a serious buffalo chicken dinner.

I admit that a lot of thought went into this. I recently perfected baked, breaded chicken parm, made with doctored breadcrumbs. For the buffalo meal, I decided to go with panko breadcrumbs, which would absorb the sauce better. And the chicken breasts would get a topping of blue cheese before saucing (hence the parmigiana moniker). To improve upon my buffalo sauce recipe from college, I decided to start with a base of sauteed jalapenos. And what the hell, I'd microwave some green beans and make milky mashed potatoes while I was at it.

Here's what I done did:

My place has smelled like buffalo sauce for two days, and I'm about to eat the leftovers.

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"Go Back to the Suburbs and Die."

You can always tell which Red Line customers are going to go all the way to Alewife, get in their cars, and drive to their suburban fortresses. They carry trinkets and souvenirs from the most vacant and touristic attractions in Boston--Red Sox and Celtics paraphernalia, Loews Boston Common movie theater cups, tourist t-shirts, etc. As if the city were one giant mall whose homogeneity was just a T fare away (plus Alewife parking fee).

Last weekend I was in a bar in Quincy* when a secretary from the suburb of Abington, wherever that may be, tried to hit on me (or otherwise talked to me for some reason). She asked me where I lived. "Oh," she said. "There's some nice parts in Somerville, I guess." Like you would fucking know. For all these people, the city is the place they drive through or take the T under on their way to their own personal disneyland.

The suburban townies are all terrified of the city. They stick to the safest bets and pray that they don't get robbed on the T. When I see these people clutching their pathetic souvenirs, blocking the doors when they're on the train, and not letting people off the train while they're waiting to board, I think about robbing them.

The suburbanites remind me of the hollow, rich losers I went to Tufts with. Back then, a night out in Boston meant going to the Galleria, because going to a mall was all anyone knew how to do. I hate this culture of the suburbs, where everyone is above average and no one tries to do anything new. A land of people with eyes but no vision, people with big backyards but no curiosity, people with educations but no thirst for knowledge, a culture of lazy fucking idiots whose ignorance remains blissfully unchallenged.
The post title, one of the most memorable quotations that I've ever overheard, was uttered at a grindcore concert at a Providence loft called The Sickle in the spring of 2003.

*Note, 1/26. I was at the birthday party of a friend who lives in Quincy. I don't actually hang out there.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

UP #195: Accomodations in Marquette

UP #194: Functioning Ore Dock at Sunset, Marquette Upper Harbor, Mich.

UP #193: Abandoned Ore Dock Reflection, Downtown Marquette, Mich.

UP #192: Former Pier, Downtown Marquette, Mich.

UP #191: Abandoned Ore Dock Detail, Downtown Marquette, Mich.

Monday, January 19, 2009

UP #190: Abandoned Ore Dock, Downtown Marquette, Mich.

UP #189: Abandoned Ore Dock, Downtown Marquette, Mich.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

UP #186: Imploding Storefront, Negaunee, Mich.

UP #185: Russo's Market (Abandoned), Take One, Negaunee, Mich.

UP #184/Dignity Hunt XX: Bored in Negaunee (unedited)

UP #183: Mid-Towne Apartments, Negaunee, Mich.

UP #188: Negaunee City Police No. 3, Negaunee, Mich.

UP #187: Negaunee City Police No. 2, Negaunee, Mich

UP #183: Hard Rock Bar, Negaunee, Mich.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

UP #182: Weeping Pasty, Negaunee, Mich.

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UP #181: Gramma T's Pasties and Subs (Subs No Longer Sold), Negaunee, Mich.

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UP #180: The Incumbent Pasty Defeats the National Fad of the Submarine Sandwich

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UP #179: Destroyed Pasty Mosaic, Negaunee, Mich.

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UP #178: Superior Auto Parts, Negaunee, Mich.

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UP #177: Stop Hammer Time, Ishpeming or Negaunee, Mich.

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UP #176: Oshkosh Plow Tractor, Ishpeming DPW, Ishpeming, Mich.

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UP #175: Ford Dump Truck, Ishpeming DWP Streets Div., Ishpeming, Mich.

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UP #174: Ishpeming Police No. 1, Ishpeming, Mich.

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UP #173: Dan vs. Big Gus, Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Ishpeming, Mich.

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UP #172: Big Gus, Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Ishpeming, Mich.

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UP #171: Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Ishpeming, Mich.


Images from 9-day art trip, June 2008.

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Dale Watson's "Dreamland"

may be the best album I have ever heard.

People in New York should see him at the Rodeo Bar this week (two free shows).

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Last Red Line Train inbound from Quincy

This is what my brain looked like around 1am.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now that I know that all the plane crash victims are alive,

I am annoyed by how many "citizen journalists" are being exploited for their images and videos.


Massachusetts Super Transit Authority?

Check this out: State Senate would create transportation superagency.

Via UniversalHub. You'll want to read the comments. Only recently have I realized why the Globe previously did not allow comments, well after its parent NY Times did: townies! The battle on this article is not so bad, but I've seen others go horribly wrong.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

DS09 Idea

The time that the rental vehicle spends on interstate highways must be absolutely minimized.


ABBQ #71: Austin Western Railroad Switching Fuqua Limestone, Elgin, Tex.

I like this.

Don't forget: we still have about 150 or so Upper Peninsula images that I promised to blog.

P.S. Dan and I keep adding DEEP SOUTH placemarkers to the map in the post below and every time you refresh this page, you'll see the new ones.

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Monday, January 12, 2009


After great success with roadtrips to the Near South, Western Canada, Kansas and surroundings, the Upper Peninsula, and Central Texas, Dan Meade and I are planning and hosting DS09: Deep South 09.

By hosting, I mean that you're invited. We're thinking early June to beat the heat. Trip will likely be 9-10 days, as was U.P., so we can really get into the character of the places we visit and photograph.

Some potential tour stops:

View Larger Map

If you're interested, join up. You have a few months to think about it.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Liftoff! (Southwest 737 departing OAK)

I was annoyed that the people on the left side of the plane had a perfect view of San Francisco in its entirety when I noticed that this scene was about to happen directly below me.

Found on Lombard St.

From the San Fran set.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

24 Hours in San Francisco

I think of San Francisco as a place where things, both good and bad, end up. Hopes, dreams, midwesterners, poverty, people with a flair for social justice, ships, fog, centuries of immigrants, diverse culinary traditions, etc. Everything is packed into this postage stamp of hilly land where nothing makes sense. The city is chaos.

In keeping with the general theme of my life--improbability--I like to end up in places where I don't really belong. I can't tell how anything else in San Francisco belongs in San Francisco, so I like it there. I visit about once a year, and I had the opportunity to drop in on the city this past week.

I chose 50 or so images from a day of riding buses around the city on a borrowed Muni pass. Please have a look below, and note that there are photos of more than just taxis. More information about each photo is available from my Flickr account, which you can access by clicking on any photo below.

Rock on.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

The inland ports of the California Delta are fascinating.