Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby, it's icy outside!

This winter morning, my neighborhood looked like an outdoor skating rink. I slid with every step even though I was wearing my Sorels. It was miserable. Likewise, I look at the ice cascading out of the windows in this Vergara photo, and I feel the cold. Taken in the Henry Horner Homes in Chicago in 1995, this photo speaks to the dead cold of winter as it turns to spring. The ground around the building is mostly ice-free. The ice coming out of this abandoned building's windows is the coldest of the cold. There's movement, but not the kind you can see, at least not before the ice crashes to the ground in its final resignation. I hope my Bronx neighborhood sees this moment soon.

It's been a couple of posts since I've mentioned Vergara, but whenever I research urban exploration photography that I admire, it often begins with me Googling his name. This is how I found the above photograph, from a short Slate blog post from January 15, 2010: "American Ruins: Nature is taking back these buildings." Truth is that a small Vergara slideshow of this sort is nice - in spite of the now often-seen images of the Packard Plant and former Michigan Central Railroad Station -- but I really hope that somebody is shooting for an extensive book of nature taking back buildings. I could look at those photos all day. Would that still be ruin porn or would it be something else? Hmmm...

My Google search also turned up another 2010 Vergara media reference, this one from December 27th in a Times blog post titled "What was your worst travel experience of the year?" Urban explorers often have fantastic stories about unexpected things that happen while they're out in the field, so to speak. But the ruins are an urban explorer's destination. Vergara's awful travel experience is quite pedestrian. Here's an excerpt:

Realizing we were really stuck the driver let us off in a place I could not identify because of the snow, the wind and the cold.
As I got off my feet sank almost up to my knees and the wind blew snow on my face. I could not read the street signs.
I learnt how difficult it is to carry a suitcase and a heavy bag full of Christmas presents when there is a foot of fresh snow on the ground.
Suitcases don't roll on snow.
Hands freeze when uncovered.
On my hair snow turned to ice.
And I didn't know where I was going.

Stay warm, everybody, unless you want to be cold!

Photo caption: Henry Horner Homes, 2051 W. Lake St., Chicago, 1995. Photo by Camilo Jose Vergara.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

word seeks, yes, word seeks

I can't help it; I love the Word Seeks puzzles. Yeah, it's kind of mindless; yes, I should be writing. But during my 25-minute train ride to work, I'm lucky if I'm not sleeping.

So, imagine my surprise when I came across Puzzle #69 in the Super Word Seeks issue dated October 15, 2010. The name of the puzzle is "...Towns". "Abandoned U.S. boom towns are monuments to the rough-and-tumble days of the Old West. Among the most famous of these ghost towns is Virginia City, Nevada, which had been a mining metropolis in the late 1800s." Funny, I hadn't thought of Virginia City and Jerome, AZ as the precursor to Detroit and Gary, Indiana. OK, well maybe I had, just a little bit. Print out the photo from above and search for the words "deserted", "ruins", "explore", and "tumbleweeds"!

For a listing of ghost towns around the country, visit the fine website Did you know that ghost towns were this common?!