Friday, October 15, 2010

Economic Crisis : Cars of Our Times . . .

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I had read a certain amount over the past couple of years about the economic crisis which has been hitting the United States fairly hard, but it wasn't until I got there, and got out on the streets that I started seeing real examples of where the crisis has driven many folks. People are driving older cars, waiting much longer before trading in their old cars for a new one. I saw many fairly ancient cars still in service. Perhaps a few of them had been resurrected from the dead even. Nevertheless, some of them were not without a certain charm . . .
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To quote the title of a favorite book of mine, Another Roadside Attraction, it looks like trash removal services have been cut back in many places, no doubt also a result of the crisis. Piles of car parts by the roadside were a common sight.
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I knew the housing sector had been particularly hard hit, and even today on CNN I read where foreclosure sales are booming in the USA, but some of the housing people were living in really surprised me . . .
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Yes, some cars parked by the roadside had definitely seen better days . . . this one is in the fixer-upper category. And I can't imagine things are going to get much better as long as the total US debt (as depicted on the Debt Clock site ) is at 54 trillion dollars and growing. As long as international finance continues to be conducted by major financial institutions as though they are playing in a casino. Crisis ? What crisis ?
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37 comments:

Steve said...

I love that trailer home. I'd love to have one of those permanently on my front lawn in fact - what a status symbol!

the fly in the web said...

So the cash for clunkers did not have universal appeal.

Eleonora said...

Wonderful series. Love the streamliner trailer...

Ciao from sunny Roma
Eleonora xx

...louciao... said...

It's all too frightening to contemplate or to look straight in the unwashed faces of gorging greed and starving poverty. Finding the backwards charm in the abandonned gives a more soothing soft focus to the disaster of a consumer society run amok. Your photos delineate the poetry to be found in the heart of the beast. Beauty in what most would deem garbage.

That rusted red car could be put in the middle of a gallery as an art installation, along with the pipes & mufflers, and the tin can trailer. Call it all art and sell it for a few million US green backs to help bring down the debt. haha

I feel that a good photograph cannot rely on the subject matter to provoke a reaction within the viewer; there has to be an art to it...in the colours, textures, contrasts, sharpness/softness...and the soul of the photographer-not just that of the subject- must be somehow captured in the frame. For me, this series manages to do that.

Artscapes said...

Yes louciao speaks my mind. And I think your USA trip photos can make a fantastic solo exhibition. And I haven't even seen a third of them yet.
Thanks for sharing a perspective not often seen,
Have a good week-end Owen
Cheers ELizabeth

Owen said...

Hi Steve, this might be able to be arranged... maybe even for alot less than you might think, perhaps just for the shipping charges... I spoke with the owner of the trailer home for quite a little while, he's a really nice guy. There must be a tramp steamer between the US and Liverpool harbor that would let us plop this down on their poop deck for the crossing, ay ? Ahoy there matey !

It would make a great play house for your boys !

Owen said...

Hi Fly,
I can imagine people get pretty well attached to their clunkers... Cash can't overcome sentimental value. Well, maybe it depends on how much cash...
:-)

Owen said...

Ciao Lola ! How are you ? It's been a little while, but I've been keeping an eye on all the good things happening in your kitchen, never fails to set my mouth watering... thanks so much !!!

Laurie said...

Owen,
Your BUMPER views are EXHAUSTING and make me TIRED. It also reminds me of the DOORS. Great stuff!
Laurie

Owen said...

Lynne, dear Lynne,
Your words are music to my ears, and you are in fine singing form here, I could listen to your lullaby while slipping into daydreams for hours and hours.

If these images work for you as art, as something higher level than just run of the mill documentation, then I am on cloud nine.

I know we've talked about the subject of how one could imagine to go about getting one's art out in the public eye for wider recognition... but between work and family and just keeping the blog going, I simply haven't been able to seriously consider spending more time trying to market myself. I guess I've been secretly hoping that the blog vehicle would serve sooner or later to get my work into circulation, if it was worthy of such, and into the eyes of people who might be able to make a difference in the future... so far that hasn't really happened. But what has happened has been also beyond my wildest expectations... for this blogging thing has led to meeting you, for example, and to a few other really wonderful people, a few of whom I've been lucky enough to meet in person even. Getting to go into some abandoned factories with Tom B. was a dream come true, for example.

But yes, with encouragement like yours, which I can't tell you how much it means to me, obscure worker ant that I am, I may keep the dream alive of someday seeing some of this work on a gallery wall in Paris or London or New York, or published in a coffee table book... In the meanwhile I'll keep listening to the mermaid singing. Wasn't that the name of a lovely Canadian movie in which a photographer figured, by the way, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing ? I remember seeing it back in Philadelphia in an artsy foreign movie theatre, in 1987 or 88.

The title of which is of course a reference to Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", one of my great loves of a poem, in which can also be found a reference to the title of this humble little blog...

"And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

With great affection...

James said...

There's no need to fear because the printing presses and politicians are working night and day. Between printing trillions of dollars out of thin air,raising taxes and ObamaCare things should turn around any day now. Sorry for the rant and thanks for the reminder that I need to mail my absentee ballot. That old truck is so cool! :) Did you take any shots inside the trailer?

Owen said...

Elizabeth, that is very kind indeed... for the time being, the exposition is happening here, a little bit at a time... maybe someday it will happen somewhere else... who knows. Where there is a will, there may be a way. Where there is a collective will, the way gets larger...

Owen said...

Hey Laurie, now that is a bumper crop of puns there ! Take care...

Owen said...

Hi James, like I said, crisis ? What crisis ? I poked my head in the trailer door, but it was such a wreck in there that even my camera would have been able to make no sense of it... some things are better left alone...
:-)

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Have enjoyed your insider/outsider reflections on your US trip. Thank you for leaving a comment and deciding to follow my blog. I happily return the favor.

Jo said...

You know, there is something to be said for those old 1940s clunkers. They were solidly built. Just imagine if they had actually been maintained... The cars built today are just junk -- planned obsolescence. You might have noticed that on TV ALL the commercials are for automobiles. Newer, better, faster, safer ... newer. And every family has two, of course, and perhaps three. And every family has a land-line telephone and two or three cell phones. Big multi-national companies think up things we need and then they market them to us and convince us that we need them. And next year we need a newer and better one -- with more apps. It's like a runaway train.

What is happening, I think, is that the pendulum is now swinging the other way. Pendulums never swing to the middle, but all the way to the other side. So folks have spent all their money on things, and now everyone is broke.

We truly live in a world where the shareholders tell us what to do, how to live, what we need... The rich get rich and the poor get poorer.

I do love that trailer, though. ;-)

Deborah said...

Owen, I know you have a fondness for B&W, but the colours in these photos make them sublime.

Just an hour or so ago my FB got an email with pictures of what a fabulously talented welder-/sculptor has done with old car parts. Truly beautiful things - almost exclusively animals. I should send it on to you.

I have read L's comment and your reply - the same secret wish has spoken to me now and then, as I suspect it has to many of us. Your talent is real, and if that were all it took, you'd be on those city walls already. But that's not to say that some kind of lucky happenstance won't intervene and put you there in the future. Don't lose hope, and meanwhile do know that there are lots of us who are already fortunate to have been graced with your vision of the world.

The only thing that would be different about your wider distribution that you'd get paid for it, but the gratification that comes from touching 10 people or 100,000 really isn't very different. IMO, :).

...louciao... said...

It is a little known fact that a mermaid can be captured by sprinkling salt on her tail whilst loudly declaiming poetry by T.S.Eliot.

The Sagittarian said...

Oh isn't Louciao just the cats pyjamas! T. S. Eliot indeed.
I thought you might have had a Yuo Tube clip from The Cars on this post....
Love these old vehicles, the first one looks like an ol' grandpa jest aboot (he's Canadian) to tell us a yarn....

ρομπερτ said...

One might dare the adventure of connecting the pipes, receiving air to breath into another time. Crises, indeed life felt alike lately over here. People did start to cut on lessons, bread and expenditures for clothes.
Demonstrations nearly on a daily base ... maybe such a pipe will lift high.
A good Sunday for you all.

daily athens

Stickup Artist said...

We human beings have left way to big a footprint upon this planet. It's good to document the wasteful debris in these landscapes. Only you make the twisted metal junk look so artistic!

James said...

Hello again Owen. I'm back to answer your question.
With fingers crossed and high hopes that I won't be derailed by a strike I'll be in Paris next weekend thru Wednesday then off to Brussels where I'll meet my wife then Lucerne and back to Paris. Hopefully I'll squeeze in a few day trips too.

Let me know if you have time to shoot a few rolls/memory cards.

Owen said...

Hi Oakland,
It is always a pleasure to discover new blogs which are pleasing to the eye, I just wish I had more time to exploring the blogosphere, as there remain many fine secrets to be revealed I suspect. You are very welcome...

Owen said...

Dear Jo,
I could only nod my head while reading your thoughts here. It is indeed like a runaway train, and the brakes have failed. The pendulum is swinging. It just seems so flagrantly obvious to me how much is terribly wrong with our world, and not moving in the right direction at all. Just more of the same and worse. Yet people seem so totally oblivious, and are out there buying ever bigger pickup trucks. As though it can go on forever like this.

But it can't. And it won't. The adjustments are not going to be easy. The train is racing down the tracks toward a deep, deep canyon where the bridge is out. Ever hear of the Kinzua Bridge in Pennsylvania ? Sort of like that. A magnificent old bridge, but a severe storm blew it down a few years ago. The corporations won't be able to fix that bridge in time...

Best to hole up in an old trailer somewhere until the storm blows over...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Deborah,
I would love to see the sculptures you mentioned, please do forward the info on where they can be found on the web ! You can send to : owenmart333 at gmail.com

And you are certainly wise, I really honestly don't know if it is a good thing to seek or desire wider recognition or "success", as there are many downsides to it now doubt. And believe me, I am already amazed and thoroughly pleased that there are even a few good people dropping in here from time to time. Guess time will tell... Although when time will tell is another question.

Owen said...

L., I have salt shaker in hand and shall begin declaiming at the stroke of midnight under the next full moon... isn't that the best time ?
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Saj !
She certainly is the cat's and the raccoon's and the llama's pyjamas all wrapped up in one !
:-)

I thought you might like these old clunkers, I have not forgotten the lovely one you sent me a copy of ! Hope the grog helped clear up the ruddy doze...

Owen said...

Ah Robert,
I think that is a fabulous idea to start connecting all those pipes to make a sculpture and a passage for fresh air from somewhere. I should have stopped there longer and tried to fit some of them together. May just have to go back with some welding equipment one night, in the morning they would come out and find a work of art assembled from the chaos. Yes, that is a very fine idea you had, you have a rare imagination I think.
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Stick-em-up...
You can say that again... and the big foot that left that humongous footprint is in the air, and is going to come back down on us all one of these days... I'm hoping it is not too late already, but honestly don't know... Be well...

Owen said...

Hey James,
That's fantastic... I certainly hope the strikes will be finished by the time you get here, hard to say how long they are going to go on. If it's possible for us to meet up at some point here in the Paris area, that would be fantastic... If you could send me an email to: owenmart333 at gmail.com , we could take it from there. Next weekend I'll have a three-day weekend, Saturday through Monday, so there may be an opportunity there... for me it's mostly memory cards these days...

Roxana said...

the blue car amidst the autumn forest is breathtakingly poetic!!!

you have managed to leave me breathless with a car post, this is truly something you should be proud of :-)))

Owen said...

Dearest Roxana,
I shall be proud then, and there are many more cars to come, so count on being breathless for some time to come... we can arrange for extra oxygen on the blog...
:-)

Will be happy to take you for a drive in one of these dream cars to see the autumn countryside...
:-)

nathalie said...

What an amazing collection - and yes, there's every reason to be worried. I can't see bright days ahead.

alterdom said...

Pourquoi les vieilles voitures sont elles tellement plus belles que les neuves?

;D

Owen said...

Hi Nathalie,
Guess it's up to us photographers to find as much brightness as we can then, while we can... It just astounds me with all the magical light around us in this world, people just don't see it.

Owen said...

Hi Alterdom,
Celle-là c'est une très très bonne question !
:-)

Karine A. said...

Une magnifique vieille dame pour illustrer l'entrée de ton blog.
Nous sommes ravis qu'elle ne t'ait pas échappé !
Il n'y a que toi qui les trouve, ces splendeurs...