Sawtooth Reflections

“A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere. This was the sort of resident who was content to do nothing but sit in his over-priced apartment, watch television with the sound turned down, and wait for his neighbours to make a mistake.”
― J.G. Ballard, High-Rise

Downtown Dallas, Texas

When I moved to Dallas, many moons ago, in 1981 – the city center was in a building boom (one of many). Reflective glass hi-rise buildings rose all around me as I walked from the bus stop to my work everyday. I’d go out onto the streets for lunch, eat greasy Chinese food in a little park (if the weather was bearable), and look up at the construction high overhead.

I was fascinated at how many glass hi-rises had curtain walls that were sawtooth-shaped. It easy to figure out why. That shape gives a large number of corner offices – which are loaded with prestige and command a premium price.

For the proletariat eating their egg rolls on the street – they also have cool reflections.

What Does the Beauty Of A Building Mean To Us Now?

“…Originally everything about a Greek or Christian building meant something, and in reference to a higher order of things. This atmosphere of inexhaustible meaningfulness hung about the building like a magic veil. Beauty entered the system only secondarily, impairing the basic feeling of uncanny sublimity, of sanctification by magic or the gods’ nearness. At the most, beauty tempered the dread – but this dread was the prerequisite everywhere. What does the beauty of a building mean to us now? The same as the beautiful face of a mindless woman: something masklike.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

Downtown Dallas

Hard Rock New Orleans Ruins

“The Earth is God’s pinball machine and each quake, tidal wave, flash flood and volcanic eruption is the result of a TILT that occurs when God, cheating, tries to win free games.”

― Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Ruins of the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, over a year after the collapse.

I left my son’s apartment on Poydras Street, downtown New Orleans, and walked to Canal Street on Rampart Street (don’t ask me what direction – the compass is all screwed up in New Orleans – for example the West Bank is actually East of downtown – although it is connected to the Western Half of the United States) I walked up on to the ruins of the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.

It happened over a year ago – a disaster that took the lives of three construction workers – two bodies remained in the wreckage for ten months. It is a giant eyesore right in the heart of the city – a terrible reminder of the fragility of life. I didn’t realize when I read about it that the actual collapse of the steel superstructure was so high up in the air – sitting on top of eight stories or so of concrete floors.

The Google Maps Street View from Canal still shows it pre-collapse.

I walked past on my way to the French Quarter. The locals ignored the now-all-too-familiar sight while tourists gestured and offered up theories and speculation.

Paddlewheeler

“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Everywhere else is Cleveland.”

― Tennessee Williams

Paddlewheeler – idled by the virus on the riverfront, New Orleans

After a lot of driving through Texas and Louisiana I’m home again. Working on some writing and some photography.

New Orleans was odd – because of the pandemic – down in the quarter the ratio of crazy street people to visitors was a lot higher than usual. A lot of places are closed. A lot of places that I have loved over the years are no more.

But it is still New Orleans.

A line of paddlewheelers and other tourist transport ships are lined up, empty, unused, along the Mississippi riverfront. It’s sad to see.

I hope they are all moving and crowded again, soon.

From two years ago – Natchez Paddlewheel, New Orleans

Cities, Like Dreams, Are Made of Desires and Fears

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Dallas, Texas

Perforation!

“Perforation! Shout it out! The deliberate punctuated weakening of paper and cardboard so that it will tear along an intended path, leaving a row of fine-haired pills or tuftlets on each new edge! It is a staggering conception, showing an age-transforming feel for the unique properties of pulped wood fiber.”

Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine

Perforations in the roof of the Pavilion in Pacific Plaza Park, downtown Dallas, Texas

The centerpiece of the new Pacific Plaza park in downtown Dallas is the Pavilion. Designed by HKS it is an elliptical metal ring suspended in the air – giving much needed shade. I wondered what the story behind all the holes was.

From a D Magazine article:

The design team punctured 58,290 holes in the pavilion canopy, a subtle, morse code tip of the cap denoting the names of 337 stops along the Texas and Pacific Railroad.

Pacific Plaza Park, Dallas, Texas

 

Congealed in the Dark Arteries

“Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
Old veins
That hold Glamorgan’s blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.

Rhondda Valley
Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems

 

Downtown Dallas, Texas

And the Moon Rises

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
Anton Chekhov

One of my favorite bicycle rides is the Full Moon Ride – put on most months by the fine folks at Bike Friendly Downtown Dallas. The idea is for a group to meet downtown and to ride down into the Trinity River Bottoms and watch the full moon rise over the buildings of downtown. here and here It’s a lot of fun – especially since the trails in the river bottoms are a blast to ride at night – but it’s not exactly a place where most folks feel safe riding alone in the dark.

I struggle with a desire to take photos of the moon rising over the city – or of the folks riding their bikes. It’s a struggle – the lighting conditions are not good (it’s dark) and I still have not figured out a good way to carry a decent tripod on my bicycle.

There was a ride last month, on Friday the 13th, and thinking about it – I went out and bought an inexpensive portable tripod. Unfortunately you get what you pay for and the thing was not sturdy enough for timed exposures with my heavy DSLR. Only one shot – taken before the sun had completely disappeared (and before the moon appeared) was even good enough to stave off deletion.

Downtown Dallas from the Trinity River Bottoms – click to enlarge

I see there is another full moon this weekend. Here are the details via MoonCalc. I might skip taking my camera this time and simply try to enjoy myself. That is always the problem with carrying a camera – you can get so caught up in taking a photo you miss the fun of life itself.

On the other hand, I need to take my good tripod out and practice night photography. Once I get the bugs worked out and some skills developed maybe I’ll give it a go again.