Jun 3, 2004

Testaments of tumbleweed

I'm buying a cardboard camera, the little box-with-a-flash affair they sell to tourists who weren't planning, and starting an album of dives.

Coffee shops, bars, diners. Laundry mats, factories, docks and bridges, bus stations and alleys. Places that advertise with a neon EAT sign, are frequented by Elvis and have tables waited on by failed actresses and bussed by tattooed illegals.

I want to find and take pictures of the dives, the holes the road calls home, where one throws away the bus ticket and moves into the rent-by-the-month hotel, getting a job washing dishes.

I only wish I'd started taking these photos two years ago, when I began to live and love the dives. I wish I had taken pictures of Gerite, the mannequin in the bathroom at Pollard Flat, the counter at the diner in Nebraska, the gas pumps in Alberton Montana, the dishwasher in Spokane, the saloon in Custer. But then some decree of the fates has me on this Sisyphean road trip. So I'll be back.

And I can start with the orange and white silos behind the airport and the graffitied shed in the alley and the boxing-watching bar tender in Cheltenham.

Years from now I'll have a shoebox of snap shots about how I loved places that reeked of crippled glory.