Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part VI

Here's the final installment of Graffiti Week. On a recent trip to Manhattan, Chris St. Cyr made some sharp observations about tagged, and often empty, newspaper boxes -- Ed.

Free Voice AM NY

The side effects of the declining print publication industry are not only out-of-work writers or editors or art directors. Another tragedy of this once vibrant medium is the neglect of the iconic publication boxes that line the streets and populate bus stops of our great cities.

Chelsea Now Dhint

They’ve become the burnt-out cars and vacant buildings of the print publication world. These empty vessels are the latest blank canvases of the Backside of America’s favorite artists -- taggers.

Daint Voice The Onion

In the hands of these visionary artists the publication box is reinvented into a kind of box-like Christmas tree that’s been decorated with United States Postal stickers, tags, and images. So the next time you see one of these empty boxes celebrate the Backside of America and tag it!

Kosbe Empty Onion

To see the rest of the posts from Graffiti Week, check out:

Part I, which features shots taken at the snack shack on an old ski hill in Weston, MA

Part II, which features some tagged barns in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Part III, in which contributor lostlosangeles features wonderful images from L.A., New Orleans and Detroit.

Part IV features three shots by Joe Viger from the West Coast, and three by Mick Melvin from the East Coast, all of buildings that seem beyond recovery.

Part V, in which we feature shots of trains and train tracks.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part V

Trains and tracks attract graffiti the way manure draws flies. In today's installment of the Graffiti Series, we feature shots from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

If you've missed other parts of this week's series, check them out below:

Part I, which features shots taken at the snack shack on an old ski hill in Weston, MA

Part II, which features some tagged barns in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Part III, in which contributor lostlosangeles features wonderful images from L.A., New Orleans and Detroit.

Part IV features three shots by Joe Viger from the West Coast, and three by Mick Melvin from the East Coast, all of buildings that seem beyond recovery.

Cutler Park #13

(Photo by Dave Brigham: Tunnel under commuter rail tracks, Dedham, MA)

Box cars #3

(Photo by Dave Brigham: Somerville, MA)

Tunnel Graffiti Graffiti into the Dark Orange Graffiti Fancy Graffiti

(Above four photos by Mick Melvin: Hartford, CT)

Plantcasting

(Photo by lostlosangeles: Burlington, VT)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part IV

In today's installment in our Graffiti series, we feature three shots by Joe Viger from the West Coast, and three by Mick Melvin from the East Coast, all of buildings that seem beyond recovery. Don't miss the first three posts in the series:

Part I, which features shots taken at the snack shack on an old ski hill in Weston, MA

Part II, which features some tagged barns in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Part III, in which contributor lostlosangeles features wonderful images from L.A., New Orleans and Detroit.

SaltonSeaBeach-16.jpg SaltonSeaBeach-10.jpg Salton Sea-131.jpg

(Above three photos by Joe Viger: Salton Sea, California. For more on the Salton Sea, check out May 24, 2011, "The Salton Sea.")

Graffiti Station

(Photo by Mick Melvin: Windsor Locks, CT)

Graffiti Garage

(Photo by Mick Melvin: Hartford, CT)

Old Storefront

(Photo by Mick Melvin: Manchester, CT)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part III

Here's the third post in our Graffiti Series, from the guy who goes by lostlosangeles. In these three pictures he shows us how graffiti speaks to decay and rebirth in the cities of Los Angeles, New Orleans and Detroit. If you missed the first two installments, check out May 21, 2012, "Graffiti Week, Part I," and May 22, 2012 "Graffiti Week, Part II" -- Ed.

From lostlosangeles:

LOS ANGELES...CITY OF DREAMS

Los Angeles...city of dreams

When photos have text incorporated into the picture, I tend to name them based on that text. This is often due to my tendency to shoot graffiti that makes a commentary.

Some friends and I were hiking in Griffith Park in LA. This is perhaps one of the best vantage points of LA in all it's splendor: chaparral, steel, concrete, and smog. This graffiti perfectly frames the conversation.

NOLA RISING

NOLA rising

It's a lot harder to explore abandoned Six Flags New Orleans these days. At least that's what the urbex rumor mill tells me. I was clearly quite lucky this day. The park was wide open and the storm clouds hung overhead, adding to the ominous atmosphere.

One thing I noticed about graffiti in New Orleans was that it often spoke of hope and inspiration. For me, this is a welcome departure from the usual narcissism.

BAROKEN AND YET

Baroken and yet

Walking down the hallway, passing blank room after room, I was suddenly struck by the burst of color coming from this long broken window. The fall colors lay an intense contrast against the cold concrete and graffiti. New life, just outside this dead car plant. This new life in turn being fed by death. Just outside the window and in the roots of these trees, a cemetery.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part II

Here's the second post in our Graffiti Series, focusing on barns. Whether you consider them artists or vandals, there's no denying taggers' creativity, boldness and affinity for a method of communication that few outside their domain understand. We hope you enjoy this series, or are at least provoked by it. If you missed the first installment, check out May 21, 2012, "Graffiti Week, Part I." -- Ed.

Tobacco Barn Graffiti

(Photo by Mick Melvin: Tobacco barn, Suffield, CT)

Peeling Graffiti

(Photo by Mick Melvin: Bloomfield, CT)

Graffiti barn #2 Graffiti barn #4

(Above two photos by Dave Brigham: in the Webster Conservation Area, Newton, MA)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Graffiti Week, Part I

After more than two years in business, the Backside Gang is gonna shake things up with some themed posts. Some of them will be solo posts, like the one below; others will combine images and words from more than one member of the gang. The first series, which will run for the next week or so, is all about graffiti. There will be other themes as the year goes on, interspersed with our regular posts. -- Ed.

From Dave Brigham:

I shot these at the end of a hike at Cat Rock Park in Weston, MA. I went there to take some shots of the old ski hill. As I was heading back to the parking lot, I glanced one last time at a piece of old ski lift machinery, and looked up the hill into the woods, and saw this old snack shack.

Snack shack Bad word Dude Peeking inside Looking through Evidence

Friday, May 18, 2012

Aqueduct, My Friend

From Dave Brigham:

I've written about aqueducts before, but they are such a part of the landscape in Boston's western suburbs (if you know where to look) that I can always find more to say (see November 11, 2011, "History Flows On, Part I").

Over the years, I've driven past this stone marker in Wellesley numerous times, and wondered what it was.

1848

One day in late winter I finally found the time to investigate, and boy was I pleasantly surprised.

Just past the marker there's a path that leads up a small hill, in between an office complex on the left and an apartment building on the right. The path then goes down a short, steep hill and opens up onto this.

1848 bridge

Actually, the path continues over this beautiful bridge and, if you so chose, you could then hop over a short fence onto Route 95/128, stick out your thumb and hitch a ride south to, oh, I don't know, Rhode Island. I've driven this section of the highway countless times in the last 20 years, and never had any idea the Charles River and this segment of the old Cochituate aqueduct were right there. Since discovering this scene, I drive by on the highway and spot it and just shake my head. It's been there since 1848!

As if the scenic bridge wasn't enough, there's also a nice walking path along the river that cuts pretty close to the highway. There's quite a bit of trash on the embankment leading up to the highway, as well as this tire about 120 feet from the road.

Tire

The little trail is the Charles River Path, part of the Wellesley Trails network, which itself is part of the Charles River Link, a 16-mile regional trail. On a gray, drizzly day, it was nice to see some color.

Psychedelic well

By the way, the marker is from the former aqueduct's gatehouse, which no longer stands.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Advertising Ghost

From Pete Zarria:

Its Better to Buy STRICKLERS...

A reason to cruise the alleys. Marshalltown, Iowa, on the Lincoln Highway. Well, behind the Lincoln. This is truly the backside of America. Along the Lincoln Highway, back in the alley, a once-proud brand proclaimed by a once-proud merchant. These old paintings, "ghosts" of the advertising past, made the hard sell. In doing so, they left of a glimpse of the past and brands no longer found. A style of decoration rarely done anymore.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Wildcat

From Dave Brigham:

Took the tram up New Hampshire's Wildcat Mountain with my wife and kids and found this.

Wildcat abandoned Wildcat abandoned #2

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stanley Works

From David Burke:

Stanley Works was founded in New Britain, CT, in 1843, and has grown into a global manufacturer of power tools, hardware and security products. In recent years, the company has laid of thousands of workers, including at its plant in New Britain. Employees there work in a new facility, but are surrounded by the old, abandoned factory. For an exhaustive history of the company, read this -- Ed.

Windows Smokestack

The Stanley Works, New Britain, CT.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lazarus

From Peter Arnemann:

Looking at the pictures Peter took of a burned-out house in Standish, ME, it's hard to believe this place could be saved. But Peter tells me place has been rehabbed and now houses several business -- Ed.

Check out his pics here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The High Life

From Joe Viger:

This sign reminded me of when beer was a simple proposition. My dad was fond of Schlitz and Budweiser. The corner store cooler didn't stock much more than those two brews, Miller, Pabst and Schaefer. Some nights you let it be Lowenbrau, but rarely Heineken...at least not where I grew up.

A Sunday Drive

Somewhere on some road in Maine

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cash and Carry

From James M. Surprenant:

We're glad to welcome another new contributor to the Backside, James M. Surprenant -- Ed.

Cash and Carry

Broadway & Canal Streets, Lawrence, MA

My hometown, Lawrence, Massachusetts, was on the leading edge of the American Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. The city was literally carved out of the existing towns of Methuen to the north and Andover to the south along the Merrimack River, which was dammed to power the mills of the new manufacturing city.

Lawrence became a leader in worsted wool production. The city led the way in uniforming our GIs during World War I.

Both of my grandparents worked in the Lawrence mills and I've always had a strong appreciation for my blue collar heritage.

By the mid-20th century the good manufacturing jobs found in these giant brick buildings moved first to the South and then overseas as the greedy capitalist owners looked to cheaper and cheaper labor to pad their bottom lines.

Over time the vacant mills and warehouses were re-purposed. Today's occupants include self storage space and flea markets. Several mills stand vacant, and many others were torched and burned to the ground. Century-old, oil-soaked floors make for spectacular blazes.

This warehouse building still stands today and the CASH AND CARRY sign has been familiar to me since my childhood in the 1970s.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Graffiti Greenway

From Dave Brigham:

I love how many rail trails there are in Greater Boston. I'd noticed a short one behind the Watertown Mall last year, but only got around to checking it out recently.

Right now, the path goes for only about a mile, but plans call for it to extend further along an old rail bed, and eventually on into Cambridge.

There's a lot of graffiti along the trail, mainly on the back walls of small businesses and auto shops, but also some on low stone walls. Ron Paul gets a shout-out:

Ron Paul for President

Barack Obama, not so much:

Obama=Bush

Who knows how long these cars have been here, or when they'll ever be gone:

Jalopies

I couldn't resist this little guy:

Boo!