On Route 66 in Gallup, N.M.
Quick scene from the road. Ron took my picture looking competent with my guitar at the Rudolfo Anaya sculpture park on Route 66 in Santa Rosa, N.M., yesterday. The lighting was weird — hence the strange color — but I kind of like it. If you didn’t know better, you might almost be fooled into thinking I know what I’m doing. (You’d be wrong, but that’s why I’m posting a photo and not a video.)
If I ever get run over by a bus or come down with bubonic Ebola pox or something, go ahead and run this shot with my obit. It’s about the hippiest photo anybody has ever taken of me.
I’ve been dinking around with filters and layers for a design project I’m doing at work, and while I was figuring out a shortcut today, I ‘Shopped up a photo Ron shot of me yesterday at Daily Star Comics in Metropolis:
Don’t look too closely, or you’ll see where my lines got a little wobbly on a couple of spots I was trying to enhance by hand, but I think it’s still a fun photo. Way better than Bitstrips.
Too bad I didn’t figure out the shortcut before I spent 10 hours tracing posterized edges by hand to convert photos to cartoons. -_-
Here’s another photo I found in my archive as I was sorting it. I don’t think I’ve already posted this. It’s a long-abandoned grocery store we spotted one afternoon last summer as we were cruising Highway 51 in Southern Illinois:
If I remember right, this was just a little north of Cairo. I couldn’t resist shooting through the yucca that was blooming at the edge of the property. It was nice to catch a little glimpse of New Mexico in the middle of Southern Illinois.
On a completely unrelated note, I have been wildly productive today.
Despite blowing off a pretrial conference I’d planned to cover this morning in Illinois, I wound up filing two stories, finishing up the lifestyle section layout for Sunday, and editing and prioritizing all the local copy for one of our sister papers that operates out of our office. When I got off work, I picked up groceries, started a batch of yogurt, made hummus to take to work tomorrow, cleaned out the refrigerator, made a batch of red beans and rice and a Buffalo chicken casserole, and loaded the dishwasher.
The glory of digital photography is that you can take 30 shots to get the one you want, without having to worry about the cost of film or processing. The flip side is that you end up taking 30 shots to get the one you want, dumping ALL of them off onto your hard drive, and keeping them forever, just in case you might need them, as opposed to looking at prints and scanning only the keepers.
This is fine until you end up with so much crap on your hard drive that you realize it would take a full day to back it all up, so you just live dangerously until the inevitable happens and your hard drive goes bad, at which point you start using language that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush as you contemplate dropping the damn thing off the Bill Emerson Bridge on your way to pick up film and a new typewriter ribbon — except you can’t, because you pretty much have to order typewriter ribbons online. Kind of like how you have to download a slide rule app for your iPhone, because video killed the radio star. Or something. You kids get off my lawn.
Anyway, while I was rummaging through a flash drive last night in search of the one folder of images I was sure I’d backed up and absolutely could not stand the thought of losing, I ran across a keeper I’d scanned a little over 10 years ago, when I was still using 35mm:
Ron shot this during the weekend in 2003 when we repainted the sign at the now-shuttered Vega Motel on Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle. Last time I was through there, a little over a year ago, the sign still looked pretty good. It’s probably in better shape than some of the buildings at this point.
I forgot to post this at the time, but we spotted a Muffler Man just off Highway 51 in Macon, Ill., when we went to visit Ron’s family just before Christmas:
Based on the odd proportions and the non-standard hand positions, I think this guy is a latter-day variant and not an original M-Man. Awesome that he’s holding a giant fiberglass ice-cream cone. If you go see him, stop at the convenience store nearby, grab a snack and a drink, and pay your respects to the Macon Ironmen trophy.
It has been a full year since the last time I went to sleep in New Mexico.
I think we’re about to hit the upper limits of my patience, though. I’m getting fidgety and impatient and a bit frayed around the edges, and it’s starting to show in my productivity. Next three-day weekend I get, I’m throwing my guitar in the Dreamcar and booking it out to the Land of Enchantment. I need a cobalt sky, a night under the neon, and a chilly New Mexico wind to blow the clutter out of my mind.
Last time I took to the desert to clear my head, I drove down Tucumcari Boulevard, mentally updating my resume and dreaming of how I’d look coaching scholar bowl in Rattler purple, when a thought came to me — calm and quiet and in the second person, the way it always is when it comes from somewhere outside my own will — and the thought was:
Just wait. I’ve got a better idea.
It didn’t make any logical sense at all and was about as far from what I had in mind as it could get, so of course I listened to it, and of course I trusted it.
Three months later, I was organizing a 450-mile move in the opposite direction and feeling better about it than I’d ever imagined possible.
I haven’t had that kind of clarity about anything in a long time. I need the high desert and a few hours on the llano to ground me and remind me how to listen.
As far as I’m concerned, snow’s highest and best (and possibly only legitimate) use is as a subject for photography on blue highways.
With that in mind, as soon as the highway department got the main roads cleared this weekend, Ron and I grabbed the camera, hopped in the car and headed north on Highway 61 for a Sunday drive.
For my money, this little shrine overlooking the Blues Highway and the floodplain next to it is the coolest thing on 61 south of St. Louis, with the possible exception of that cool arch at the Arkansas-Missouri state line. I saw it for the first time when I was driving south on the Blues Highway from Ste. Genevieve to Cape to interview for my current job, and I fell in love with it immediately. It reminds me of Our Lady of the Highways on Route 66 near Raymond, Ill., although this grotto is a bit more elaborate than the one on 66.
Stuff like this kinda makes me wish I were Catholic. I’m not a huge fan of public displays of theology, but there’s just something reassuring about a roadside shrine.
So I made a quick run up to Carbondale this evening to pick up some stuff from the Co-op. On my way back, I came through Anna to discover this:
I have always loved this sign, but this is the first time I’ve seen them light the flashing arrow and the excellent googie bubbles at the top.
Sadly, this was the best shot I could get, because the property owners are weird about people taking pictures of the sign, so I had to roll down the window and shoot fast from a nearby driveway, then Photoshop the crappy Hardee’s sign out of the background when I got home.
One day, I need to pay them a visit and show them the kind of stuff I’ve been known to do for indie businesses in the past. We’ll see if they’re any friendlier after they figure out I’m good for free websites, free murals, free elbow grease, free bathroom renovations, and all manner of free design work.