As seen on Chicago’s west side. I guess even our city’s road crews aren’t above stealing sawhorses from other towns.
We’ve been exploring the ruined buildings of Gary for many years now. I think our first explorations, which were documented almost totally on film, date back to 2008 or so. One becomes deeply familiar with the buildings themselves, which start feel like old comfortable friends who might turn on you at any second just for giggles. So they are psychopathic friends, if you will.
Yet the more transient factors are the objects within the buildings. The chairs, the pianos, desks and curtains. Some times they turn up randomly as people scavenge them from abandoned houses and move them in as props for photo shoots, movies, and other more obscure and possibly sinister purposes. Even then those objects, when they last more than a year or so, become friends of a sort who move about and play hide-n-seek with you every time you visit.
This lounger is a great example of this. It was in the City United Church back in 2008, down on the ground floor and it was one of the first things you’d see upon entry. It also was a little more intact. The following year I walked in and it was gone; I was unsurprised until I got to the second floor and found it in one of the back rooms as you see here.
In 2010 it vanished. I went in looking for it, but it was no where on the property. We did our usual rounds of the city and went on our way. 2011 and 2012 came and went with many new to us buildings explored, yet we would stop in every year to the main attractions just to see how the buildings were faring. In all this time we never saw the lounger again and I assumed it had finally found the way to freedom.
Then this year we went back to the post office which we hadn’t visited for a year and a half. As I was checking the rooms you’d think the first I would have noticed walking in here would be the giant message on the wall. It wasn’t.
It is dirtier, more beat up and and rickety, but it is indeed the same lounger. Where it has been hiding for the past 3 years, I don’t know. It is just kind of nice to see it is still kicking around Gary and hanging in there.
What may be most remarkable about this feat of Roman architecture to American eyes might be just how accessible the walls are. We are fussy about our history, perhaps we haven’t as much of it as others. In Istanbul today, the Theodosian walls are as much part of the city as surrounding roads and homes. It’s not uncommon to see an alcove or former garrison quarters being used as a garage or storefront. In one case, a newer residence has been built right into a section of the wall.
Finally, we’re coming up to my favorite holiday of all. Ok fine, the only one I even remotely like if I’m going to be honest about it. Really I’ll just take any excuse to celebrate in the autumn, and Halloween it a great excuse for it. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler, the trees are decked out in red, yellow, orange and brown. My love of cheesy horror movies is granted a temporary pass by society (not that I care one bit, just ask Tabula Rasa who has, on more than one occasion, questioned my movie viewing choices.)
I love the idea of playing at someone or something else for a day. I love the pagan roots of the holiday, the celebration of a good harvest hopefully), a preparing for the coming winter, a remembrance of those who have passed away before us. The imagination is allowed free rein at Halloween, more so than any other holiday out there. I can pretty much skip the commercial aspects of it without a bit of care. Also, as an apartment dweller I get no trick or treaters and can just view them from afar.
That all said, some of my house dwelling neighbors who do entertain the trick or treaters still love the holiday as much as I do. Even the dogs get in on the show.
The photography equivalent of finding a twenty in the pocket of a pair of jeans you’ve not worn since May. I’ve recently found a batch of photos from a trip to Istanbul a few years back on a little-used laptop. I’m not sure if there’s anything great, but it’s all raw material I’ve not gone through and edited yet. Here’s a shot from St. Savior in Chora, built in Byzantine times when it was outside the city walls, and as such called St. Savior in the Fields. Subsequently it was turned into a mosque by the conquering Ottomans, and more recently into a museum (an arc that many ancient churches in Istanbul have followed). This mosaic was perfectly lit by the morning sun coming through the doorway.
Nighttime snowfall, Austin Boulevard, 2/2013
Honest to goodness, as seen in Gary Indiana. I have no clue what this store was other than it involved pigs and Pacific Islanders.
I’d say they did a pretty good job, considering.
…among other objects, of course. I believe that to be Grimace, the Morbidly Obese McDonald’s Mascot.
Things have been a little quiet around here, haven’t they? The project is almost done, so you guys will have that to look forward to some time soon. This weekend was a bit of a bust as it rained all day Sunday. I was stuck in a conference for work (well stuck makes it sound unpleasant, I actually had a good time and learned a lot.) Tabula Rasa, Bent Bottle and The Spaniard were supposed to scout a couple of new locations, but I’ve heard no word yet.
I did get a little camera time on Sunday night after the rain finally quit. I found that dead cicada on my back porch among other things. I also met up with a very surly dumpster bandit while walking the dog.
Gary Light & Gas building, photographed 3/13.
As seen parked on the tracks, running.
I love my new 10-20mm lens. Getting to fit more in a shot has been a revelation, especially in urbex, where I try to frame as much of a space as possible. At 10mm, you do get some distortion, which I’ve been trying to get better at correcting. Here, the shot has been stretched and pulled until I got the pesky walls straight(ish).
This Sunday was quite the trip, and I came home in the filthiest condition I’ve been in since I was a child. We only hit one location, and it was a repeat at that, but we spent a good 6 hours there and completed a large portion of our little project. We’re not near finished on it but I’ll give you a little hint.
One can feel the rush of great waves and the mad whirl of brownian motion in the middle of a room which is
Hope everyone had a good holiday!
Part of mine was spent planning for this Sunday, we’ve got a bigger than usual project planned that may take a little time to see it come to fruition but it is going to be hilariously fun in execution, even if the final result isn’t as good as I think it will be.
Yes, I’m being a tease because I’m not going to tell you exactly what is up. I am however going to give you a bit of hint as to what cockamamie scheme we’ve concocted. Wish us luck!
From Harajuku, Tokyo, January 2009. The bunny turned out to be a profoundly ugly man. Nice legs, though.
I’m working on making a few changes around here, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed the new header photo, but I’ve also updated the “About” section recently. This blog has come a lot further and lasted a lot longer than I ever expected it to, and I never expected to have regular followers or commenters. A big thank you to everyone who checks in regularly!
I’m still working on a simply way to let you guys know at a glance if it is myself (TIP) or Tabula Rasa posting, we’ll see. For the moment we’ve got all of our posts from the time I invited him to blog with me labeled by category, so you can search the archives by photographer. I really need to get this sorted out soon, as the third member of our little group, Bent Bottle, will be joining the blog shortly as well. Some years ago (2 or 3, I think) Tabula Rasa named our group “The Sublime League of the Holy Lens”. At this point, once Bent Bottle joins us, I may consider changing the blog name to that, though I will be keeping the URL as it is for the time being. I’m also considering moving to paid subscription so you all don’t have to look at all those ugly ads every time you stop by.
Other things I am considering include offering a limited run of prints of my work, so if you’re interested please let me know in the comments section. If you include a link to the post along with a description of the photo, well, I would find that very helpful. I’m not sure how many people out there are interested in having photos of ruins on their living room wall, but I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one.
In other news Tabula Rasa and I will be doing a week long road trip in October so there will be a week with little to no updates. Our plan is to explore in the St. Loius area for a few days and then head up to Detroit to visit friends and explore the Packard Plant for a couple of days. Knowing us we’ll get sidetracked pretty quickly and find some other random places to poke around in. I have the bonus of having a co-worker from Detroit who knows several locations so that should give us wealth of photos to share through the long, cold winter. We love Gary, but need to take a break since we’ve explored pretty much everything there.
In September we have a couple of weekend trips we’re considering, including a visit to Cleveland, looks like I need to get my research going, since I don’t think I’ve seen anything from that area before.
We’ve got plans for winter exploration in Gary as well, I want to go back to Grief Brothers after a big snow, among other things. Here is to hoping the weather cooperates with us!
I want to thank each and every one of you for stopping by to share in the stories of our adventures, we would still do this without an audience but we really appreciate that you’ve taken a moment to stop by and take a look.
As of today we now have a Facebook page, The Idiot Photographer. Look for us!
The Bosphorus is a slender waterway that connects the Mediterranean with the Black seas. It also a continental boundary, Europe being on the west coast, Asia on the east. Istanbul (née Constantinople), once the capital of the Ottoman empire, straddles this waterway, making it the only (to my knowledge) city to span two continents. The shore is lined with the distinctive Turkish villas that were often the townhomes of distinguished nineteenth century Pashas. The view here is of the Asian side shortly before sunset, in the January of 2010.