Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sugar and Stone

From Heidi Waugaman-Page:


This sugar house is located on Route 9 in Antrim, NH. It doesn't have much life left after all the snow we got last winter. One day my husband, Brad, and I just drove around and took pictures of cool things we came across. He wanted me to take a picture of this place because he wants to maybe use it someday for a blues CD cover.

The sugar house is just down the road from a cool double stone bridge, one of five in the town.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goodbye Reef, So Long Bill

From Dave Brigham:

To Be Demolished?

Just a few years ago, this little strip was home to a dive bar called The Reef, as well as a chiropractor's office and some other small business. I went to this corner of Waltham, MA, near city hall, to take pictures of a different old building near the commuter train tracks that is likely to be torn down soon and replaced with housing. I didn't find that building all that interesting, however.

As I walked by this old brick building, it spoke to me. Although I drive and jog by this place regularly, I'd never been this close to it before (except when I parked nearby last winter when taking the picture for my January 7, 2011, post, "Trash Guitar").

I love the simplicity of the bar's entrance. I picture lots of skinny, old guys wearing tank tops and smoking in and around the door. I hear old country music leaking out the grimy windows. I smell pickled eggs on the bar.

The Reef

I got closer to the door and saw a dried rose hanging there, with a note attached, reading,

Still missing you.
Your wife & Michael"

Rose for a drunk

My first thought was that it was a tongue-in-cheek message to some guy who used to spend too much time at The Reef. But then the thought occurred to me that perhaps Bill had died and this note might actually be truly heartbreaking. Either way, I was amazed to find it there, and touched by its simplicity and grace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Massachusetts Tableaux

From Michael Cevoli:

shingled bldg

(Factory, North Attleboro)


(Factory, North Attleboro)


(Garage, Wrentham)

barn interior

(Garage, Wrentham)

broken stairs

(House, Wrentham)

bucket of nails

(Bucket of nails, Norfolk)

spiral stairs

(Factory stairwell, Franklin)

power lines

(Power lines, Norfolk)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Room With a Shower and a Movie, Too

From Joe Viger:

A few weeks ago I went to see the great Texas singer/songwriter Joe Ely. You know how it is...I overloaded on Ely’s music before and after the concert. Ironically, he didn't even play this song, but there’s a lyric from “Me and Billy the Kid” that’s been going through my mind ever since. It’s a story about two men vying for the same woman.

The narrator sets up Billy in a bogus heist and gets the girl. The last verse goes like this:

"Now my baby sings harmony with me, to 'La Cucaracha'
She winds her silver pocket watch and pets her new Chihuahua
I moved into the hotel, I got a room with a shower
We lay an' listen to that watch tick hour after hour"

That line about a room with a shower really struck me. He sings it like it’s as good as getting the girl. Our level of expectation has definitely risen. We don't want a room with a shower. We want two or three full baths in our 2,500 square-foot house.

When I travel for business, I’m annoyed if there isn’t a flat-panel television, let alone a room with a shower. Not long after this show, I went on a field trip with my son to a village of 1800’s homes and businesses. In the doctor’s house, ostensibly the best in the village, I noticed all the open copper piping in the kitchen and the big hot water tank in the corner and thought that would never do today. Things like that need to be finished and hidden even though there really was nothing unattractive or dangerous about the piping.

It seems nothing can be simple anymore. And that means nothing can be cheap any more either. Consumption and expense has been driven into everything we do.

And that brings me to the Playhouse Theater. I had the great luck to photograph this old theater, where a movie hasn’t been shown in 30 years. I’m sure it was a treasure to the little village of Kezar Falls, Maine, in its heyday. Not because of its architecture, but because it brought the community together and brought the world to this little Maine town through motion pictures.

This place is great and I wish its new owner, Silas Haggerty of Smooth Feather Productions, the best of luck in creating a new studio there. He's bringing this example of the backside to the frontside again.

I spent almost four hours in the theater one evening recently thanks to Haggerty's generosity. I was by myself and soaked the place up, making hundreds of images. The simplicity and utility of the theater was particularly interesting from the unassuming exterior covered in asphalt siding, to the simple wooden bench seats in the balcony. It was wonderful like a room with a shower. Compare this to your local multiplex, stadium seating, $14-a-head movie house.

Kezar Falls Theater 22.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 23.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 21.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 25.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 24.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 28.jpg
I love how the Office of Insurance Commissioner has been X'd out and retitled as Department of Public Safety.
Kezar Falls Theater 29.jpg
That small box of rods on the left, are essentially welding rods. They are the source of the light in the theater's projectors. They create so much heat, they're vented outside like a woodstove.
Kezar Falls Theater 14.jpg
Kezar Falls Theater 13.jpg

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rebuilding the Lost City: UPDATE

From Dave Brigham:

The most seriously blighted property I've written about is finally being demolished. For 70 years, the Haartz Mason factory in Watertown, MA, made roofing and auto-top fabrics, before closing in 1993. For the last 18 years, the site has been a haven for vandals, graffiti artists and homeless people.

I posted pictures of the site last summer (see July 5, 2010, "Rebuilding the Lost City") and speculated that a future developer would include retail space on the property. According to the Watertown Tab, Criterion Development Partners plans two apartment buildings on the lot, along with retail space and a parking garage.

I often jog on the bike path directly behind the property, and have long been fascinated by the state of ruin at this old factory. Now, with the demolition in full swing, I'm equally fascinated by the amount of graffiti on display inside the buildings. I'm sure the demolition and clean up will go on for quite some time, given that Haartz Mason made coated fabrics, which I suspect means loads and loads of chemicals in the soil.

I'll post more updates as this new project gets under way. I'm excited that this blighted stretch of Pleasant Street will soon have new, vibrant life.

Haartz-Mason Demo #1

Haartz-Mason Demo #2

Haartz-Mason Demo #3

Haartz-Mason Demo #4

Haartz-Mason Demolition #7

Haartz-Mason Demolition #6

Haartz-Mason Demolition #8

Haartz-Mason Demo #5

(The one site that may be more blighted and polluted than this one is the former Watertown Arsenal munitions burning facility. The extent of the mess at that site is difficult to gauge from the road. See May 19, 2010, "Nuclear Dump Playground?")

Friday, August 5, 2011

Water Damage

From Lostlosangeles:

(I'm pleased to introduce a new member of the Backside Gang. He goes by the name "lostlosangeles," and he takes great shots of cool places -- d. brigham.)

Cautious reminder

This water tank is located in a small room off a stairwell at the abandoned Dixie Brewing Company in New Orleans. As I was climbing to the roof, I noticed the strange textures in the paint. It was like a unique form of decay that I had never discovered before and so I had to stop and shoot it.

The Dixie Brewery was shut down as a result of Hurricane Katrina when it was submerged under 8 - 10 feet of water. 10,000 cases of beer were destroyed. Although the owners had planned to restore the facility, it continues to sit empty.

For more of lostlosangeles's work, check out this Fluster magazine feature.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Life On the Tracks

From Dave Brigham:

For the past four years, I've ridden the Cape Cod Central Railroad with my son, Owen, in July during our family vacation. Owen is a subway kid at heart, but he still enjoys riding the passenger cars on the two-hour round trip from Hyannis to Sandwich.

During the narrated trip, passengers learn about how train service used to split off at the Yarmouth Wye (former location of the Yarmouth station) and head east to Provincetown; about how Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape and home to a glass museum and an extensive boardwalk that was rebuilt after Hurricane Bob in 1991; and all sorts of things about the Cape Cod Canal, such as the fact that it's the widest man-made canal in the world.

The ride is relaxing, even in the non-air conditioned car we rode in this year. You can bring your lunch and buy beer and wine. It's a bit pricey, but worth it.

I don't pay much attention to the narration any more. I prefer to snap pictures out the windows. Many of my shots were blurry or didn't quite capture the scene I was trying to get. But sometimes, as you'll see below, I get a little lucky.

Junked trains

(Trains used for parts)



Blue and pink

(I didn't see the car when I stuck the camera out the window, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it when I downloaded pics to my laptop)

Cranberry bog

(Cranberry bog)


(Crossing Signal)

Power lines

(Power lines along the canal)