Parking Deck Shadows
The first visit to this parking deck a decade ago ended with a security guard’s escort.
Wielding a longboard, the plan was to carve all the way down to street level from the rooftop, but the guard caught me on one or more cameras climbing the stairs. After taking in the sunset, I turned around to find a beige, four-door Buick circa 1980 rounding the corner to the roof. He rolled down the window.
“You can’t be here. Sometimes people jump.”
“Can I ride down? You can follow.”
The man pulled a u-turn, then inched up behind. Rather than stand and carve leisurely, I opted to sit and shoot the curves as fast as possible. I pushed twice, sat down, then pulled my feet up. Gripping the sides of the board, I raced counter clockwise down around six floors. The creaky escort rumbled along, tracing my route. We made eye contact at the bottom as I crossed the sidewalk onto College Ave. He gave me a smile and a nod.
Nat Arnold Building
Black Rock Mountain Pkwy Shack
Built in 1932, Ducktown School’s original name was Kimsey Junior College, after Dr. L.E. Kimsey (who allegedly visited patients on horseback). The gothic style structure sat vacant for a few years, then became a local high school for Polk County. Enraged citizens believed construction funds should have been spent on upkeep and expansion of existing schools. Many graduates took vocational classes, then worked in nearby copper mines. Around 1970, until 2007, the historic building served as an elementary school.
The site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and more information is here.
White Dam and Eastern Bloc Blues
Remnants of incapacitated industry bring to mind contemporary interpretations of Eastern Bloc sounds. This first sample, produced by the Polish nu jazz duo Skalpel, offers hip hop beats occupied by Polish jazz samples scrubbed from the archives.
Igor Boxx, 1/2 of Skalpel, recently went solo with the debut album Breslau. Compared to the lush, polished sound of Skalpel, his tracks have a colder resonance.
“Fear of a Red Planet”
Aaron Funk is a Canadian electronic artist known as Venetian Snares. During a 2005 trip to Hungary, he produced the album Rossz Csillag Alatt Született.
The concept of the album came when Aaron Funk imagined himself as a pigeon on Budapest’s Királyi Palota (Royal Palace). Its third track, “Öngyilkos vasárnap” is a cover of the song “Szomorú vasárnap” (“Gloomy Sunday”) by Hungarian composer Rezső Seress, which has been referred to as the Hungarian suicide song. According to urban legend, Seress’s song has inspired the suicide of multiple persons, including his fiancée. The song was reportedly banned in Hungary. It has also been covered by many artists. Billie Holiday’s vocals are sampled in this track.
Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
White Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica
Mr. calla lily lives in the shadow of a cemetery in Valparaiso, Chile. His name comes from an Italian botanist, Giovanni Zantedeschia.
A group of artists tend this garden on the southwestern side of the cemetery. Beyond the lily grows an avocado, or “palta” plant. A sculpture dries in the sun.
Mentor and Apprentice
Much of the work here involves restoration of marble headstones and statues.
After exploring the graves, we discovered a stairway leading under the cemetery.
A Friendly Host
The cavernous, open-air studio consists of subsections for a variety of creative trades, from sculpture restoration, to mosaics.
Random curiosities like this mummified cat greet visitors.
Mummified Cat Biting a Dwarf
Valparaiso’s labyrinthian escaleras are an endless canvas for local artists.
Dogs and Cat
Graffiti Porteño, Valparaiso
Rickety funiculars cut the time it takes to scale Valparaiso’s steep hills.
The old funiculars are loud and rickety, yet strangely comfortable and familiar. Listen to audio within a Valparaiso funicular on its way down:
The following stream of consciousness is an old journal entry scribbled years ago about a quarter mile from the boulder above:
I joined a fuzzy patch of flourescent green on the north side of a beech half-submerged into the forest floor like a splintered bridge across an inlet of clover with miniature fuchsia rafts the shape of campy cartoon gloves from the 1930s.
Under lime green umbrellas occasionally polka-dotted with complimentary pink mites a black-brown salamander crunched through the forest floor when fifty yards north over a small hill a large brown face with a black mustache and well-trimmed beard grew out of the distance into a tanned beer gut carrying the rest of a shirtless man through the forest over fallen trees and wild onions directly toward the mites clover and salamanders here on a soft log below an azure hole punch through the canopy.
The man had a leather tool belt around his waste, or so I thought. Or maybe a pair of binoculars. He spotted me writing on a log. As his girth filled my field of vision, I realized that the faded leather strap submerged below his stomach held an old revolver.
While student teaching in a first grade classroom, Holden taught me that moss grows on the north side of trees. At the age of six, he had more energy than anyone I’ve ever met. He also knew that poison ivy has 3 leaves.
Tenacity near the derelict Gilman Paper Company.
The Gilman Paper Company was sold to the Durango Paper Company in 1998, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. Recent talk of turning the site into a swath of high-end condominiums along the St Marys River was hushed when developers realized the scale of environmental cleanup necessary after decades of pollution.
When my family moved to St Marys in 1989, the majority of people were either employed by the Navy, or Gilman paper company.
Who knew that my little sister would eventually go bowling with Mikhail Baryshnikov, thanks to Howard Gilman?
An excerpt from Forbes.com describes Gilman’s “pet projects:”
The Fall of The House of Gilman
by Robert Lezner and Tomas Kellner
$154 million spent transforming the White Oak Plantation in Yulee, Fla., which was acquired by the Gilman family in 1938, into a dance center for Baryshnikov and other noted artists, a conference center and a home for 60 species of endangered and threatened animals, including reticulated giraffes, okapis, black and white rhinoceros, and cheetahs. Howard played host at White Oak to U.S. presidents and celebrities and their families, often using the company’s plane to ferry them to White Oak. The guests were fed meals prepared by top-notch chefs. Bill Clinton played golf on Gilman’s private nine-hole course.
A high school friend told me that rather than ceasing to pollute the air 365 days a year, Gilman chose to simply pay the annual fines.
The kicker for our high school football team made considerable hazard pay at the Gilman Paper Company wearing a hazmat suit, climbing and cleaning scrubbers.
Concrete Slabs in a Toxic Pool
The greyscale stones are actually floating pieces of soiled styrofoam that shift with the wind.
For years, the air in St Marys’ historic downtown/riverfront area reeked of sulfur. A friend had a four foot mini ramp in his backyard right on the marsh, and some days the stench was unbearable.
Judging from singed stacks of annual profit and loss statements scattered around the ashes, this house once held an accounting office for Gilman. The shell of a home was later visited by anti-Christians, Crips, and squatters.