Okay! Happy day. It’s almost the end of the week, and that’s great, right? Time has passed again, grinding the days of summer in the teeth of its industrial shredder!
Let me start again.
Lovely day again, but the Tree Reaper passed by and drew more orange Xs on some neighborhood stalwarts. One of them I’m not surprised to see go; it has grown into an ugly Y as they’ve trimmed it to accommodate the power lines. It looks like a skinny person standing on his head doing the splits. The other is an ancient elm that must fall, as all elms must fall; age or beetles. I expect the whole street to be denuded in a few years’ time. The number of trees we’re losing to the Emerald Ash Borer is heartbreaking, and reminds you that Nature just doesn’t care. We’re not on the same page with Nature, and never have been. The end result of the insect will be a less beautiful landscape to human eyes, but that’s just our curse: we see the world through a subjective lens that judges for color, beauty, variety and so on just for the sake of enjoying the appearance.
I’d bet that our ability to see beauty in nature grew as our fear of it diminished. The more you’re insulated from its blows and its claws, the more you can appreciate it from an artistic standpoint.
Anyway, the bug that kills the trees is ugly, and while you may forgive it, for it knows not what it does, it will have a ruinous effect. We have an ash in the backyard that my wife wants to take down, because it’s not the most appealing tree, dumps junk all over, and is more or less a glorified, hard, weed. I am loathe to remove any tree before its time; it leaves a raw patch in the sky. There’s not a day I look north and remember the great elms that stood on the corner when we moved in, the way they loomed in the fog like old giants guarding a portal, boughs joining above to shelter the street below. They’re gone; the stumps are gone. The sidewalks have semi-circles to indicate where the trunks once stood. One of those things whose presence is remembered only by the things they affected. The sidewalk still rises a bit where the roots shouldered they way through the dirt. They’ll have to be replaced, eventually.
Someone could trip.
But you know, no one does.
This fellow is being pilloried in some quarters for not expressing sufficient admiration for a writer. He expresses admiration, just not rapturous admiration. His enthusiasm is qualified by his belief that the writer, whom he admires and likes, does not produce for him the same reaction it evokes in others. His nerve endings may feel a tingle, but not a soul-shaking galvanic charge. The piece required an eleven-point response that will do him no good, because he seeks to explain and expand, not retract. He writes:
For years now, I have argued that our professional writing class is not the bastion of debate and difference it represents itself as, but instead a self-aggrandizing coterie of unanimity and conformity, which uses professional and social pressure to punish anyone who upsets the apple cart. This strikes me as so obvious that it barely needs saying, but people rail against it. This is a good example of when the veil drops.
Right. I bring this up for this passage, which occurred in the original critique:
I think his work displays fine craft, but not genius. I find his writing often stirs me intellectually and emotionally, but it doesn’t move me to the kinds of ecstasy that it seems to move so many others. I find his essays interesting and engaging, but unlike AO Scott, I don’t find it as essential as water or air. Indeed though I’ve read things that have made me feel like the top of my head has been physically taken off my body, I’m afraid I have never felt, in my life, like an essay is as essential to me as water or air.
We’ve all that reaction, no? You read a passage that seems like a sharp crack with an illuminating flash that banishes every shadow. But that’s because you agree with it. If you don’t, the same passage seems bombastic, a balloon full of spit popped with a nail. You like it more if the author goes an inch or two farther than you’d admit yourself, and says something you’ve kept yourself from believing you believe.
Some authors that you’re supposed to find important and persuasive may fail to have that effect because you don’t accept the predicates. You walk into a house, and there’s no floor, and everyone else who went in the house describes the rugs in rapturous detail.
BTW, that applies to neither the author of this piece nor the one he’s discussing; just a general note. I’m always being told that such-and-such is a Brave Voice on something or other, and sometimes they’re good. But the honor usually falls to people who do the most lyrical job of describing something that’s bad, but isn’t your main concern, and you feel relieved of the burden of caring about it as much as you’re supposed to. Because that chap’s on the job. Could I help? Sure! I read it. Retweeted the link, too.
The final examples in the customizable Kelvinating Sustenance-Storage Chill-Bins. I like Scenic, but it depends what that picture is. Looks like a child's scrawl, the sort of thing you'd get spanked for.
The Country Store went well with the Honest Americana design, and apparently came with someone who brought to mind a genre of jokes that previously involved the daughter of a farmer, not a storekeeper.
Maybe you should take their word for it.
It would probably be more unnerving if there was just one door.
If you're curious: here. Them's good eatin.
They stamped these out by the hundreds in the early sixties. Pun not intended, but once recognized, left in.
I'll bet there's a plaque behind the bushes that says "1962." I like the attempt to liven it up a bit with the bricks, or rather lack of, on the right.
What do you mean, there must be a Wal-Mart somewhere around? I don't get it.
Why did they block up the windows? How many people said "damn, it's not crepuscular enough in here. It's keeping all the vampires away."
I hope this wasn't the first thing someone saw the day he finally got glasses:
Still in use, though, and they're using the windows above the windows, so applause all around.
Whole lotta post-original use repurposing goin' on for this senior citizen. Those doors on the left must have been required for something; perhaps they sold sofas? The work on the right side looks inexplicable
The top part looks like it was made in Minecraft.
The window almost looks like it's sticking out its tongue in faint disgust.
Hope the people in wheelchairs appreciate the curb cut and the fire hydrant placement. A longer view:
Only one entrance, so those must have bene showroom windows. Well, board 'em up, boys, nothing to see here anymore.
Never paint your facades with toothpast spit:
Curtains again. Based on these pictures, it's the kind of town whre you might expect one curtain to draw apart a few inches, slowly, as you drove through.
Technically, you could call this district "Historic."
I know it sounds as I'm being a bit mean this entry, but it's just depressing. I don't blame the townsfolk. How could you? Some places are just gone.
The town department store.
It went back a long, long way: Kamell Frank Cohlmia took over the store from his father, and Kamell died in 2005 at the age of 88 in a car accident that also took the life of his wife Dee Wadia Cohlmia. (If you're wondering, they were the descendents of Lebanese immigrants.)
A decade later, the store still looks as if it could open tomorrow.
That'll do; see you around. Tumblr's up again, and of course there are motels to help you revisit the days of low-slung mom & pop places and larger ones with aspirations that would be eroded by the slow grind of time. But in these pictures? All hope and promise.