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Sunday, 3 March 2013



16 degrees and all is well: Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
: photo by dv over dt (Tim Anderson), 2 January 2013

Again we were welcomed to wary motels by means of inscriptions that read:

"We wish you to feel at home while here. All
equipment was carefully checked upon your arrival. Your license number is on record here. We reserve the right to eject without notice any objectionable person. Do not throw waste material of any kind in the toilet bowl. Thank you. Call again. The management. P.S. We consider our guests the Finest People of the World."

In these frightening places we paid ten for twins, flies queued outside at the screenless door and successfully scrambled in, the ashes of our predecessors still lingered on the ashtrays, a woman's hair lay on the pillow, one heard one's neighbor hanging his coat in a closet, the hangers were ingeniously fixed to their bars by coils of wire so as to thwart theft, and, in crowning insult, the pictures above the twin beds were identical twins. I also noticed that commercial fashion was changing. There was a tendency for cabins to fuse and gradually form the caravansary, and lo (she was not interested but the reader may be), a second story was added, and a lobby grew in, and cars were removed to a communal garage, and the motel reverted to the good old hotel.


Vladimir Nabokov: from Lolita, 1955

'tis the seasons: Seasons Motel, Washington state: photo by mighty grand poova (Jeremy Quist), 10 December 2012


Thunderbird Motel, Reno, Nevada: photo by Happyshooter, 20 May 2012

Mecca Motel, Colorado Springs, Colorado: photo by RocketDog 1170, 18 January 2013

Apache Motel, Moab, Utah: photo by jimsawthat (Jim Good), 7 June 2012

That'a way to the Apache Motel, Moab, Utah (this sign is on the highway but the motel itself is buried on a side street)
: photo by jimsawthat (Jim Good), 7 June 2012

Rustic Inn Motel, Moab, Utah: photo by jimsawthat (Jim Good), 7 June 2012

Bel Aire Manor Motel, Springfield, Illinois: photo by plasticfootball (Darren Snow), 23 October 2010

California Motel, California, Missouri: photo by plasticfootball (Darren Snow), 7 June 2012

Skylark Motel, Perry, Florida, at sunrise: photo by anomyk (Mike Wingate), 9 March 2012

One block over: Creation 1 Inn, Quincy, Florida. (The fact that air conditioning and a "ballroom" are listed among the amenities here gives some insight into what decade this motel probably checked in its last guest. Not surprisingly there was nothing to be found over on the next block.)
: photo by anomyk (Mike Wingate), 30 October 2012

Lazy S Motel, Grand Junction, Colorado: photo by Sam Scholes, 14 April 2012

Motel Cafe, Cimarron, Colorado: photo by Sam Scholes, 14 April 2012


Anonymous said...

I was looking about the origin of the word......the descrition of Nabokov is very interesting...



Hit the road, Vladimir -- "16 degrees and all is well."

"We wish you to feel at home while here. . . . one heard one's neighbor hanging his coat in a closet"


light coming into fog against invisible
top of ridge, bird slanting to the left
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

in it, that is committed to
being close to before

lines on white paper, white
around it, “in sound”

grey white of sky to the left of point,
whiteness of gull on tip of GROIN sign

Wooden Boy said...

I'm afraid the acidic colours from the photographs are corroding the occipital lobe. Brilliant series; took them for the work of one photographer at first glance.

"...a woman's hair lay on the pillow..."

Delicate and abject image.

TC said...

Of course Nabokov's numerous extended transcontinental auto junkets (he was always the "wingman", as 'twere -- appropriately for the lepidoptery) always occurred in summer, but still...

And yes, it's the motel room hair that may be the "defining image" of this grand democratic nation.

The title of the post sprung from mixing the thought of the Mecca Motel, Colorado Springs (home to NORAD), and VN's usage of the term, with the thought of Doughty's Arabia Deserta.

Perhaps it takes alien eyes to get an accurate view of alienation.

Everyone has their Early Motel Memories I suppose. For me the initial impactful moment came sometime in the late Forties. In two stages really. The first occurred in Mexico, Missouri. I woke up very early in the morning, eager to taste this exotic new place: the Ozarks. And then the next night, Tucumcari, New Mexico. Beyond the motel parking lot, a view of the mountain with the big "T" on the side. The West, this had to be. They hadn't had hills that large in the Ozarks.

TC said...

Of course it was also hard to miss the transition in cultural geography -- if that's what you'd call passing from a part of the country where people lived in shacks with their washing machines (and any other sizeable domestic appliances) on the front porch, to a part of the country where the domestic appliances remained unseen, though one knew they must be there, because the big boxes were visible along the highway -- Indians lived in them.

And about the acidic colors, striking -- evidently that is the inevitable fate of metal, paint and rust joining forces over the decades.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Wayside Assignations

Ah, that devilish blend
Of motor and hotel

Designed to drive
Its occupants to hell.