Like Orpheus of Greek myth, we descend into an underworld, impelled by our own dark longings and melancholy. Unlike the ancient hero, we have no lyre with which to soothe and pacify what we may find in Hell, and we know that our Eurydice will never come home with us. We hope only to capture what we see before the lights of the inferno dim and the gates slam closed behind us once again.
…being what can be had with a stage, an open skylight, and an adequately collapsed upright piano.
As always, there are slight qualms about authenticity whenever we shoot in well-trod locations. This particular shot is from the Methodist church in Gary- the place to see in town if you’re just dipping your toes in the urbex waters. Consequently, the place is always changing: debris cleared here, new graffiti there, and leftover B-movie props laying about. The stage pictured here looks much different from the first time we saw it, when the original canvas backdrop was still hanging and the stage was littered with costumes. Ultimately, I try to adopt a Taoist approach to these things (though my partner the Idiot Photographer can’t help but disdain them), and just accept these sites and their inevitable changes as they are. After all, if someone thirty years hence likes this picture (should I be so lucky), they may appreciate it for its composition, and not worry too much whether the chair in the foreground was dragged there by an art school student with a vision. C’est la vie.
Most of you that check in on this blog regularly read the news earlier today that my coblogger, the eponymous Idiot Photographer, lost her entire photo collection due to a computer crash. We’re hoping that with some help, she’ll be able to recover much of what’s lost. In the meantime, I feel like the clown that has been pushed out into the ring to entertain the crowd while the acrobat’s gruesome compound fracture looms in the background. Nothing to see there, folks! Look at me. Yuk yuk yuk!
And so, I present the next stop on our tour of Detroit: the Eastown Theater. Opened in 1931, it was one of the city’s movie palaces, then later a live music venue hosting major acts such as Cream and Jefferson Airplane. Since finally being shuttered in 2004, it’s decay has been rapid, hastened by a fire which took out a section of the building. This is the view that greets the interloper who walks through the lobby into the theater.
Life and Thought have gone away
Side by side,
Leaving door and windows wide.
Careless tenants they!
All within is dark as night:
In the windows is no light;
And no murmur at the door,
So frequent on its hinge before.
Close the door; the shutters close;
Or through the windows we shall see
The nakedness and vacancy
Of the dark deserted house.
Come away: no more of mirth
Is here or merry-making sound.
The house was builded of the earth,
And shall fall again to ground.
Come away: for Life and Thought
Here no longer dwell;
But in a city glorious –
A great and distant city -have bought
A mansion incorruptible.
Would they could have stayed with us!
–The Deserted House by Alfred Lord Tennyson
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. -William Shakespeare