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Sunday, 3 November 2013

America (Razor Sharp Cuts)


Untitled (Parkvile, Baltimore County): photo by Patrick Joust, 12 October 2013

As the shades of evening come down
The colour of the spattermarks seems to be changing
From golden autumnal red to a deep rich brown
Tone of old mahogany or teak.

Blood matures as it dries.
By tomorrow they'll have hosed
The telltale stains off the pavement, by next week
No one will remember what happened,

Still the next act of the dark farce will never be far to seek,
A tableau vivant
Waiting behind the billowing black curtain
Hung above the neon lit stage

That's actually a vacant lot
Rank with last summer's tall weeds
Behind a taller security fence:
The place known as America,

All anyone could ever want,
And hidden somewhere in its aching blue night
There will always be the longshot hope for a new morning
Until there's not.

Untitled (Hamilton, Baltimore County): photo by Patrick Joust, 13 October 2013

Untitled (Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, 12 October 2013

Untitled: photo by Patrick Joust, 21 April 2010

  Untitled (Hope, Providence, Rhode Island): photo by Patrick Joust, 1 August 2013

  Untitled (Woodlawn, Pawtucket, Rhode Island): photo by Patrick Joust, June 2013

  Untitled (Woodlawn, Pawtucket, Rhode Island): photo by Patrick Joust, June 2013

  Untitled (Auburn, Cranston, Rhode Island): photo by Patrick Joust, June 2013

Untitled (Walbrook, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Walbrook, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Northwest, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Northwest, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Northwest, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Northwest, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Linden Hills, Frederick, Maryland): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

Untitled (Enola, Pennsylvania): photo by Patrick Joust, July 2013

Untitled (York County, Pennsylvania): photo by Patrick Joust, July 2013

Untitled (York County, Pennsylvania): photo by Patrick Joust, July 2013

Untitled (Jackson Lick, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania): photo by Patrick Joust, July 2013

Untitled (Middletown, Pennsylvania): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013

  Untitled (Hope, Providence, Rhode Island): photo by Patrick Joust, June 2013

Untitled (Northwest, Baltimore): photo by Patrick Joust, August 2013


TC said...

Patrick Joust is a 34-year-old reference librarian, born in Oroville, California, now living with his wife and son in Baltimore, where many of these pictures were made. In a recent interview with the magazine La Maison Wertn, Joust was asked why he often takes photos at night.

"Sometimes it’s just because the evenings are when I have time to do a lot of shooting, but beyond that, the night has always been fascinating to me. As a kid I seemed to hold on to a fear of the dark for longer than other kids my age, so perhaps that explains some of my interest now. I love noir and “neo-noir” movies too... The general atmosphere that can pervade almost any place at night opens up a lot of possibilities."

Wooden Boy said...

That red horse makes for a curious sign of "longshot hope".

Our not remembering is a big part of our undoing, I think.

TC said...

Indeed, though I'd probably call the horse pink and the hope forlorn at best.

My friend the janitor from Oakland was tasked with hosing away the spatter.

Can't set cane to pavement these nights without the involuntary forensic research starting.

ACravan said...

Which came first, the poem or the pictures? I see why you chose Patrick Joust; thanks for turning me on to him. I visited his other work to learn more about him and to see whether moods like this are all he chooses to convey. He's very, very talented and these pictures reach me in part (only in part) because living near Philadelphia, I see scenes like these regularly. New England aside (and Rhode Island doesn't look so different from my part of the East Coast; Boston and its suburbs do, however), this is my part of the world and I think that Joust presents a remarkable view of the Slide. I wonder whether he and I would agree about the reasons for it, but that's not terribly important when you're sliding out of control. Did you happen upon Joust's wife's terrific comic book-oriented blog about her teaching life in Baltimore -- Glitter Beneath The Rot? Fascinating, to me, that he's a reference librarian. I've seen reference librarians do all kinds of amazing extra-curricular things. Curtis

BDR said...

The Red Horse is a locally famous steakhouse in Frederick on what is called "The Golden Mile" the same golden mile of fast food restaurants and Home Depots and Wal Marts that exists in most towns of 20K, though the Red Horse pre-dates all of them and was once, but for two gas stations, the west end of Frederick, on Route 40 - I remember it as a six year old's landmark on trips to the Mon Valley to visit grandparents.

TC said...


The poem came first, the experience was scary and compelling... too much of that lately.

Yes, as you've now seen, Joust has done interesting work in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as well as, obviously, in the Baltimore area.

Perhaps it's useful to consider his wife's comics blog and his photo blog as complementary projects, both in some sense traceable back to The Wire -- as is made plain by the choice of
title for the comics blog.

TC said...

BDR, many thanks for the helpful local knowledge.

Ed Baker said...

wasn't it called
The Red Horse Inn ?

we used to stop their on our way up to Harper's ferry and Charlestown, West 'By Gawd' Virginyugh.

My dad's side goes back into Bal'imore four generations..... Great Uncle Willie (Miller) had a combination grocery-licquor store
like the one in one of the photos.

there's more .... however, coffee and the
mind's myths-as-history

(I remember sitting on the marble stoops/steps of my grandmother's mother's house in East Baltimore,
long about when I was about 5 ( 1946) .... can "see" it-all
as though it was this/here yesterday..... now.


time's running out
with the sunset
- embrace it

ACravan said...

Kurt Schmoke's Guardian article is fascinating and certainly the most literate and thoughtful piece of self-penned (which I'm sure it is) television criticism by a former politician I've ever read. I like the fact that he doesn't overload the article with optimism. Personally, seeing Philadelphia up close and anticipating the negative developments that await New York City, I feel none. It's like, I can tell you some fine and wonderful things about Philadelphia and mean them, but it would distort the real story of the place they call, with good reason, Killadelphia. But the city fathers and the permanent real government captured and relocated the Barnes Foundation collection, so God is still in their heaven. Curtis

TC said...


About Philadelphia, there's a terrific photographic portfolio done by Dick Swanson in 1973 for the EPA. In case you've missed that --

Dick Swanson: Diamond in the Back: Chain Links and Row Houses, Philadelphia 1973 (I)

Dick Swanson: Diamond in the Back: Chain Links and Row Houses, Philadelphia 1973 (II)

And back down to Baltimore... Ed, you've made me think of a classic song about that city.

Randy Newman performs his 1976 song Baltimore in Stuttgart, 2006

This is a song that can fairly be called prophetic, it has seen the future of an American city -- and of more than one American city, at that.

The city's dying
and they don't know why
O Baltimore
Man it's hard
Just to live--
Just to live

Nina Simone covers Randy Newman's Baltimore, with feeling -- accompanied by arresting images from the streets of the city c. 1969

And meanwhile, in the present -- listen up WB for the bus schedule data (urban ethnography) at 2:50 & ff., here:

Things People from Baltimore Say and Do

kent said...

I know that place. We call it Detroit.

ACravan said...

Will get into all of this, but the Dick Swanson shots are amazing. Strangely, those were the (relatively speaking) good old days. The city has markedly deteriorated since that time. Superficially, some might point to the ghastly post-1973 skyline creation, which utterly despoiled the city's heritage (n.b., Philly's skyscrapers are certainly the ugliest and most mediocre architectural structure in any major American city) as a sign of life, but they would be misleading you. Every business meeting I attend is within a 4 square city block area and the rest of town (the University of Pennsylvania/Drexel U area somewhat excepted) is utterly no-man's-land-ville. After dark, Center City (the business meeting area near City Hall with its beautiful William Penn sculpture sitting atop the building) is like Gotham City in the Christopher Nolan Batman films. It's really, really horrible, depressing and a testament to depredations inherent in eternal one-political-party rule. People always think of the dreadful Mayor Frank Rizzo as a Republican because of his Nixon cum Agnew cum Gen. Curtis E. LeMay affect, but he was also a Democrat. We do have very, very good pizza, however, and cheesesteaks and hoagies that can't be beat or had elsewhere. I love that Randy Newman song. Curtis

TC said...


Be sure to check out that William De Vaughn track. A piece of pure poetry I'll always remember that city, and that time, by.


Around here it's called Oaktown.

Though when it comes to urban ruination, your town is always going to be a tough match.

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Your poem stands, tall and frightening, alone, but the Patrick Joust photographs sure illustrate magnificently. Yes... blood on the sidewalk. Des Moines, 1986-87: some unknowns were gutting large dogs on the sidewalks in lovely residential neighborhoods... ho ho ho... the meat later (allegedly) served in a near-the-Drake-campus restaurant. Large dogs taken from backyards. Well-tended large dogs. One Drake faculty whiz made the local newspaper for acquiring and showing-off a guard goose. Yes... a goose in the window is worth.... And the rural is no less desperate-Americana.

TC said...

We are not alone... the ghost-dogs and sacrificial-gooses are barking and honking all around us. Maybe it's this sharp northerly.

When the photographer says "The general atmosphere that can pervade almost any place at night opens up a lot of possibilities," I hear the voice of a man who is used to finding his inspiration on the Night Shift

Ed Baker said...

this Commodores piece.... brings tears to my eyes.... got me up and
in place with MT (various) "Jackies

from Phillie 1956-59 and BOY could she dance: Joyce Polin !
and from Balt'more, Maryland: Doralyn

also, could dance.... both from Phillie... Joyce lived up on Drexel Road

Dorrie went to that school with Bill Cosby
before moving to B-more.

there was NEVER anything since
via the music and dancing
since the 50's and 60's and 70's and 80's (until Ronald Reagan when we all went
as a culture ...brain dead..

the only girls faster than those of Phillie in the 50's and 60's were the girls in Balimore, Maryland...

D. C and Phillie and Balimore girls had Moves.... on and off the dance-floors...

and THEY taught the guys.....[everything]

Wooden Boy said...

Re: Baltimore bus services. It seems the 35 ends up at some place called Blind Industries (where they're helping us learn to forget).

The sequence of the photographs - the plastic surgery clinic following the horse. Can't shift it from my head.

TC said...

That patch of sequencing required a sort of shift at that point, which accounts for the pink/red horse finding its way into the bluish tent of the night.

I had feared the possibly toxic fumes from the industrial stacks in the picture below might drift upward (as sort of percolation let us say), pick up minute chemical particles of dermal tissue substitute, and deposit those in such a way as to jeopardize the welfare of the pink/red horse.

Merely another of the uncalled for anxieties that accompany blindness; I hadn't at that point yet noted that the horse is made of plastic, and such a horse could probably endure anything short of WMDS, and even perhaps some of those, for limited periods.

About learning to forget, it's strange to admit that the one pop song line that has continued to most pester the mind, over the centuries, is "Learn to forget", in one of Jim Morrison's lyrics. There always seemed a ripe aporia lurking in the arras of that line.

Once one has managed to learn to forget, what happens the next time one needs to remember to learn to forget?

It's repeated four times as the refrain at the end of the second verse of Soul Kitchen.

Ed Baker said...

these days not necessary to remember much more than a one-word-key to throw at GOOGLE & POWOW !
everyone, believe it or not, is an instant "expert" ....

an "authority" is born in stantly.

Damn few of us left
who have forgotten more than most people ever knew.... via experience?


my concern
to pin down

Who Wrote the Book of Love

especially the middle chapters.