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Thursday 31 October 2013

Take Us to Your Leader


Halloween Visitors to the Oval Office. Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. , in the White House Oval Office
: photo by Cecil Stoughton, Office of the Naval Aide to the President, 31 October 1963 (John F. Kennedy Library / US National Archives)

 Letter from Paul Morton, City Manager of Trenton, New Jersey, to the Federal Communications Commission, 31 October 1938 (US National Archives)

 Letter from J. V. Yaukey of Aberdeen, South Dakota, to the Federal Communications Commission, 1 November 1938 (US National Archives)

War of the Worlds premiere, The Odeon, Leicester Square. Upturned car in Leicester Square gardens, surrounded by unconvincing alien destruction
: photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005

The Woking Martian, Woking, UK. Each leg is 17 centimetres in diameter: photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005

The Woking Martian, Woking, UK. The sculpture is the artist's interpretation of "a walking engine of glittering metal": photo by diamond geezer, 19 July 2005

Wednesday 30 October 2013



Female lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) [with wing-puncture marking], originally from southeast Asia, flying in a wind tunnel in Massachusetts: photo by Pepe Iriarte (josdiri), 18 January 2006

The non human
stares back across the final
at you, suburban
in thin miserable late October neon night mist
entering the Spirit Halloween outlet
on Shattuck
to buy stinking Chinese plastic
fright mask, chimerical
which bares
the hapless fear
of the violated constraint

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Indonesian Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus titthaecheilus), forearm 80mm. From Bogor, West Java: photo by Wibowo Djatmiko (Wie 146)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: a boy tries on Batman's costume before the Eid al-Fitr celebrations at a bazaar. The day of celebrations marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan: photo by Vincent Thian/AP via The Guardian, 4 August 2013

Captain America salutes the march down Broadway, East Village, New York City: photo by Jose Oqueno, 1 May 2006

Spirit Halloween 2013 store on Broadway and 49th Street, New York City: photo by Brecht Bug, 4 October 2013

Spirit Halloween 2013 store on 10th Avenue and 57th Street, New York City: photo by Brecht Bug, 4 October 2013


Spirit Halloween 2013 store on 5th Avenue and 39th Street, New York City: photo by Brecht Bug, 4 October 2013

Spirit Halloween 2013 store on 3rd Avenue and 57th  Street, New York City: photo by Brecht Bug, 7 October 2013

140/365. Taken at the "set" of a photoshoot I did today for my bestie/roomie/hetero life partner Liz. We were visiting the Spirit store (she got her Harley Quinn costume, I got this legit bowler hat for my Riddler costume) and we got some fake blood and went to town.
The good ones will probably be up on my dA and Flickr once we edit them and etc. etc. But until then, here's me being a creeper....Now I really want to watch The Shining...and Psycho...and Carrie. (You'll see why.)
: photo by Lauren Solinger (tomrocks), 10 September 2010


SuperTeam. Batman, Superman and Batwoman (or possibly Batgirl?) posing together in the hall after the Masquerade. I don't think most of them were actually *in* the masquerade, but they were good costumes, so I snapped a pic: photo by Alexx Kay, 19 January 2008

Tuesday 29 October 2013

D. H. Lawrence: Bat


The old bridge -- Ponte Vecchio, Florence: photo by Ben Thé Man (Ben), 14 August 2012

At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding ...

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno ...

Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.

And you think:
"The swallows are flying so late!"


Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop ...
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.

Never swallows!
The swallows are gone.

At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio ...
Changing guard.

Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Flying madly.

Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

Wings like bits of umbrella.


Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.

Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.

In China the bat is symbol for happiness.

Not for me!

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930): Bat, from Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems (1923)

Pipistrello, San Salvario (Torino): photo by Bruce Sterling, 21 December 2007

Bat in No. 10: photo by Danny Ayers (danja), 11 August 2011

Pipistrello al attacco, Maldives: photo by Fréderic Vienne, 21 August 2011

Sunday 27 October 2013

D. H. Lawrence: Man and Bat (Hung Out To Dry)


Roosting Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne: photo by Ruizhen, 14 December 2012

When I went into my room, at mid-morning,
Say ten o'clock . . .
My room, a crash-box over that great stone rattle
The Via de' Bardi. ...

When I went into my room at mid-morning
Why? . . . a bird_!

A bird
Flying round the room in insane circles.

In insane circles!
. . . A bat!

A disgusting bat
At mid-morning! . . .

Out! Go out!

Round and round and round
With a twitchy, nervous, intolerable flight,
And a neurasthenic lunge,
And an impure frenzy;
A bat, big as a swallow.

Out, out of my room!

The Venetian shutters I push wide
To the free, calm upper air;
Loop back the curtains. . . .

Now out, out from my room!

So to drive him out, flicking with my white handkerchief: Go!
But he will not.

Round and round and round
In an impure haste,
Fumbling, a beast in air,
And stumbling, lunging and touching the walls, the bell-wires
About my room!

Always refusing to go out into the air
Above that crash-gulf of the Via de' Bardi,
Yet blind with frenzy, with cluttered fear.

At last he swerved into the window bay,
But blew back, as if an incoming wind blew him in again.
A strong inrushing wind.

And round and round and round!
Blundering more insane, and leaping, in throbs, to clutch at a corner,
At a wire, at a bell-rope:
On and on, watched relentless by me, round and round in my room,

Round and round and dithering with tiredness and haste and increasing delirium
Flicker-splashing round my room.

I would not let him rest;
Not one instant cleave, cling like a blot with his breast to the wall
In an obscure corner.
Not an instant!

I flicked him on,
Trying to drive him through the window.

Again he swerved into the window bay
And I ran forward, to frighten him forth.
But he rose, and from a terror worse than me he flew past me
Back into my room, and round, round, round in my room
Clutch, cleave, stagger,
Dropping about the air
Getting tired.

Something seemed to blow him back from the window
Every time he swerved at it;
Back on a strange parabola, then round, round, dizzy in my room.

He could not go out,
I also realised. . . .
It was the light of day which he could not enter.
Any more than I could enter the white-hot door of a blast-furnace.

He could not plunge into the daylight that streamed at the window.
It was asking too much of his nature.

Worse even than the hideous terror of me with my hand-kerchief
Saying: Out, go out! . . .
Was the horror of white daylight in the window!

So I switched on the electric light, thinking: Now
The outside will seem brown. . . .

But no.
The outside did not seem brown.
And he did not mind the yellow electric light.

He was having a silent rest.
But never!
Not in my room.

Round and round and round
Near the ceiling as if in a web,
Plunging, falling out of the web,
Broken in heaviness,
Lunging blindly,
And clutching, clutching for one second's pause,
Always, as if for one drop of rest,
One little drop.

And I!
Never, I say. . . .
Go out!

Flying slower,
Seeming to stumble, to fall in air.

Yet never able to pass the whiteness of light into freedom . . .
A bird would have dashed through, come what might.

Fall, sink, lurch, and round and round
Flicker, flicker-heavy;
Even wings heavy:
And cleave in a high corner for a second, like a clot, also a prayer.

But no.
Out, you beast.

Till he fell in a corner, palpitating, spent.
And there, a clot, he squatted and looked at me.
With sticking-out, bead-berry eyes, black,
And improper derisive ears,
And shut wings,
And brown, furry body.

Brown, nut-brown, fine fur!
But it might as well have been hair on a spider; thing
With long, black-paper ears.

So, a dilemma!
He squatted there like something unclean.

No, he must not squat, nor hang, obscene, in my room!

Yet nothing on earth will give him courage to pass the sweet fire of day.

What then?
Hit him and kill him and throw him away?

I didn't create him.
Let the God that created him be responsible for his death . . .
Only, in the bright day, I will not have this clot in my room.

Let the God who is maker of bats watch with them in their unclean corners. . . .
I admit a God in every crevice.
But not bats in my room;
Nor the God of bats, while the sun shines.

So out, out you brute! . . .
And he lunged, flight-heavy, away from me, sideways, a sghembo!
And round and round and round my room, a clot with wings,
Impure even in weariness.

Wings dark skinny and flapping the air.
Lost their flicker.

He fell again with a little thud
Near the curtain on the floor.
And there lay.

Ah death, death
You are no solution!
Bats must be bats.

Only life has a way out.
And the human soul is fated to wide-eyed responsibility
In life.

So I picked him up in a flannel jacket,
Well covered, lest he should bite me.
For I would have had to kill him if he'd bitten me, the
impure one. . . .
And he hardly stirred in my hand, muffled up.

Hastily, I shook him out of the window.

And away he went!
Fear craven in his tail.
Great haste, and straight, almost bird straight above the Via de' Bardi.
Above that crash-gulf of exploding whips,
Towards the Borgo San Jacopo.

And now, at evening, as he flickers over the river
Dipping with petty triumphant flight, and tittering over the
sun's departure,
I believe he chirps, pipistrello, seeing me here on this terrace writing:
There he sits, the long loud one!
But I am greater than he . . .
I escaped him. . . .

sghembo! (Italian): obliquely
pipistrello (Italian): bat

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930): Man and Bat, from Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems (1923)

Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), roosting at a daytime camp near Allora, Queensland: photo by Bruce Thomson, 23 September 2008

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A small group of Black Flying Foxes (Pteropus alecto): photo by Justin A. Welbergen, 18 June 2003

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Groups of Black Flying Foxes (Pteropus alecto) resting in a tree: photo by Justin A. Welbergen, 23 April 2003

Black Flying Fox (Pteropus alecto), seen on a walk around Florence Falls, Northern Territory, Australia: photo by Jon Clark (jonclark2000), 18 January 2013

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Roosting Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), New South Wales: photo by Justin A. Wellbergen, 13 August 2009

Baby bat burden back again. Grey headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), carrying pup, North Parramatta, Sydney. I appeal to all to recognise that dangerous climate change is already here. On 18 January 2013 Sydney experienced its highest temperature in recorded history -- 46'C (115'F). These bats (especially the babies) are at extreme risk of dying from heat stress at temperatures over 43'C. 500 bats (90% were pups) died on this day in one colony alone (Parramatta). These "babies" are getting so big it is hard for mum to stay aloft! Bat babies get it good (but not in this heat!) -- suckling mumma's milk while getting carried everywhere: photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 18 December 2012

Black Flying Fox (Pteropus alecto), Parramatta, Sydney.  I appeal to all to recognise that dangerous climate change is already here. On 18 January 2013 Sydney experienced its highest temperature in recorded history -- 46'C (115'F). These bats (especially the babies) are at extreme risk of dying from heat stress at temperatures over 43'C.  500 bats (90% were pups) died on this day in one colony alone (Parramatta): photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 18 January 2013

Thirsty bat on a very hot day, Sydney. Grey headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), Parramatta. Get home quickly without spilling too much!
This is the way that bats drink -- dunk their hairy chest in the river, fly back to their roost, enjoy a cool hairy drink by licking their fur. She really needed this drink after a 40'C day, and there was hotter weather to come: photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 8 January 2013

Ka-sploosh! Dunking the chest for a cool drink back at the branch. North Paramatta, Sydney
: photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 8 January 2013

File:Male grey-headed flying fox, suffering from heat stress.jpg

Adult male Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), suffering from heat stress, Emu Plains, New South Wales: photo by Justin A Welbergen, 18 January 2013

File:Cluster of juvenile flying foxes dying of heat stress.jpg

Cluster of juvenile Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) dying of heat stress, Emu Plains, New South Wales: photo by Justin A. Welbergen, 18 January 2013

Flying foxes will commonly use wing-fanning to cool themselves. As temperatures rise further they will seek shade by coming down onto the trunk of the tree under the canopy. Thermal imaging has shown the trunk to be significantly cooler than the surrounding air. When these strategies are no longer adequate, panting and licking can be effective but the loss of body water is significant. At this stage they face death. There have been several mass deaths in the last decade where up to 8000 animals have died in one day.

Climate change and the impacts of extreme events on Australia's Wet Tropics Biodiversity: Dr Justin Welbergen, Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University (2013)

The nursery. Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), North Parramatta, Sydney: photo by: photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 18 January 2011

Over the past 100 years, the global average temperature has increased by approximately 0.74±0.18°C and is projected to continue to rise at a rapid rate. Changes in climate are significant for natural systems as they can affect population abundance, shifts in species range distributions and the number of species invasions and extinctions. Recently, extreme weather events have gained in importance relative to gradual climatic trends as mechanistic drivers of broad ecological responses to climatic change.

Temperature extremes that exceed physiological limits can cause widespread mortality, as evidenced by the 2003 heat wave in Europe that resulted in more than 15 000 human fatalities in France alone. However, very little is known about the kinds of effects that temperature extremes have on natural systems. This is a matter of increasing concern now that current climate models predict a dramatic increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of temperature extremes, through the combined effects of a shift towards warmer and more variable temperatures.

In this study, we examined the effects of temperature extremes on the behaviour and demography of Australian flying-foxes (Pteropus spp.). The grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) and the black flying-fox (Pteropus alecto) are among the largest species of fruit bats. Pteropus poliocephalus is endemic to coastal southeastern Australia and it extends into higher latitudes than any other pteropodid. In northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, P. poliocephalus shares colonies with P. alecto . The range of P. alecto extends from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia into the forested areas of northern NSW along the east coast of Australia. At night, both pteropodids forage for nectar, pollen and fruit, and during the day they roost in large aggregations (colonies/roosts/camps) that may contain thousands of individuals. They provide important ecosystem services, including pollination of wild and cultivated crops and seed dispersal. However, they are exposed to threatening anthropogenic factors, the most serious of which are ongoing loss of foraging and roosting habitat, direct killing of animals in orchards and harassment and destruction of roosts. The species are listed as Vulnerable on the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (P. alecto and P. poliocephalus), and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (P. poliocephalus). Because flying-foxes roost among the exposed branches of canopy trees, they are particularly sensitive to the effects of extreme temperatures, and therefore are convenient indicators for assessing the impact of temperature extremes on the natural environment.

On 12 January 2002, weather stations in coastal eastern Australia recorded maximum temperatures that were up to 16.5°C higher than the 30-year average mean daily maximum. This single extreme temperature event was associated with the death of thousands of flying-foxes, providing a unique opportunity to assess directly the effects of a temperature extreme on large terrestrial vertebrates.

Our main study site (Dallis Park) is occupied by a mixed-species colony and is located near the southern end of the zone of range overlap between P. poliocephalus and P. alecto. The colony has been the subject of an intensive ecological study since 2000. On 12 January 2002, we documented individual behaviour, thermoregulatory responses and changes in roosting patterns, commencing at 06.00 hours until approximately 15.00 hours. At approximately 11.30 hours, the behaviour of animals started to depart notably from normal. Observations were supplemented by time-coded photographics.

On January 13 and 14, we systematically searched the Dallis Park colony and adjacent areas for corpses, and classified a total of 1361 bodies by species (i.e. P. alecto versus P. poliocephalus)...


As the temperatures were rising in the Dallis Park colony on 12 January 2002, both P. alecto and P. poliocephalus showed the following sequence of behaviours: (i) wing-fanning (start: approx. 10.00 hours), (ii) shade-seeking (start: approx. 11.15 hours), (iii) panting (start: approx. 13.15 hours) and (iv) saliva-spreading (start: approx. 13.45 hours). Later, individuals began falling from the trees (start: approx. 13.53 hours). Fallen individuals became increasingly lethargic and died within 10–20  min.

The behavioural sequence displayed by both species closely resembled that reported elsewhere and seems adaptive for maintaining body temperature (Tb) against increasing ambient temperature (Ta). Wing-fanning facilitates thermoregulation by forced convection and shade-seeking lowers Tb by reducing direct radiation absorption from sunlight. When the Ta exceeds Tb, wing-fanning and shade-seeking are no longer adequate for heat dispersal, but panting and saliva-spreading can still reduce Tb by increasing evapotranspiration. The loss of body water will be significant, however, and animals should deploy this strategy only when Tb has risen close to lethal limits.

Animals started dying approximately 1 hour before the temperature at the nearest weather station reached an all time high of 42.9°C, which was 3.1 s.d. higher than the average monthly summer maximum (35.3°C), and a 13.8°C departure from normal. The same weather station recorded 40.2, 40.7, 40.9 and 41.2°C in summer 2002, 2001, 2004 and 1994, respectively, without any evidence of mortality.

The minimum number of bats that died in the colony on 12 January 2002 was 1453 (approx. 5–6% of the bats present). Mortality was significantly higher among P. alecto than P. poliocephalus (10–13% versus less than 1%...). This suggests that P. alecto has lower species-specific physiological limits for coping with high temperatures than P. poliocephalus.

from Climate change and the effects of temperature extremes on Australian flying-foxes: Justin A.  Welbergen et al.: Proceedings of the Royal Society (Biological Sciences), vol. 75 no. 1633, 22 February 2008

File:Three juvenile grey-headed flying foxes suffering from heat stress.jpg

Three juvenile Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) dying of heat stress, Emu Plains, New South Wales: photo by Justin A. Welbergen, 18 January 2013

Temperature extremes have caused the death of tens of thousands of Australian flying-foxes in the last decade alone causing some of the most dramatic mass die-offs ever to have been recorded in mammals. Such extremes selectively affect the effective breeding population and recruitment of the species, which further exacerbates their impact. Since temperature extremes are expected to increase in the future, mass die-offs will become more frequent and widespread, and will occur at lower latitudes than previously. This will undoubtedly increase the threat to the survival of the species in addition to the anthropogenic factors that have already been identified.

from The grey-headed flying-fox, Pteropus poliocephalus: Justin A. Welbergen, Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Cambridge 

Colony of Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus), roosting, North Parramatta, Sydney: photo by: photo by Peter (snowed under without any snow)(pppumpkine), 18 January 2011

Friday 25 October 2013

Wislawa Szymborska: Discovery

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Lesser short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis), newborn (captured within 12 hours of birth): photo by Anton Croos, 20 September 2013

I believe in the great discovery.
I believe in the man who will make the discovery.
I believe in the fear of the man who will make the discovery.

I believe in his face going white,
his queasiness, his upper lip drenched in cold sweat.

I believe in the burning of his notes,
burning them into ashes,
burning them to the last scrap.

I believe in the scattering of numbers,
scattering them without regret.

I believe in the man’s haste,
in the precision of his movements,
in his free will.

I believe in the shattering of tablets,
the pouring out of liquids,
the extinguishing of rays.

I am convinced this will end well,
that it will not be too late,
that it will take place without witnesses.

I’m sure no one will find out what happened,
not the wife, not the wall,
not even the bird that might squeal in its song.

I believe in the refusal to take part.
I believe in the ruined career.
I believe in the wasted years of work.
I believe in the secret taken to the grave.

These words soar for me beyond all rules
without seeking support from actual examples.
My faith is strong, blind, and without foundation.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012): Discovery, from Poems New and Collected 1957-1997, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

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 Greater short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx), Batticaloa, Sri Lanka (seen in daylight while it was moving branch to branch): photo by Anton Croos, 11 March 2012

Thursday 24 October 2013

Out of the Past


Untitled (Dodge, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 16 January 2009

Samuel Beckett on involuntary memory

The most successful evocative experiment can only project the echo of a past sensation, because, being an act of intellection, it is conditioned by the prejudices of the intelligence which abstracts from any given sensation, as being illogical and insignificant, a discordant and frivolous intruder, whatever word or gesture, sound or perfume, cannot be fitted into the puzzle of a concept. But the essence of any new experience is contained precisely in this mysterious element that the vigilant will reject as an anachronism. It is the axis about which the sensation pivots, the centre of gravity of its coherence. So that no amount of voluntary manipulation can reconstitute in its integrity an impression that the will has–so to speak–buckled into incoherence. But if, by accident,  and given favourable circumstances (a relaxation of the subject’s habit of thought and a reduction of the radius of his memory, a generally diminished tension of consciousness following upon a phase of extreme discouragement), if by some miracle of analogy the central impression of a past sensation recurs as an immediate stimulus which can be instinctively identified by the subject with the model of duplication (whose integral purity has been retained because it has been forgotten), then the total past sensation, not its echo nor its copy, but the sensation itself, annihilating every spatial and temporal restriction, comes in a rush to engulf the subject in all the beauty of its infallible proportion.

The most trivial experience -- he says in effect -- is encrusted with elements that logically are not related to it and have consequently been rejected by our intelligence: it is imprisoned in a vase filled with a certain perfume and a certain colour and raised to a certain temperature. These vases are suspended along the height of our years, and, not being accessible to our intelligent memory, are in a sense immune, the purity of their climatic content is guaranteed by forgetfulness, each one is kept at its distance, at its date. So that when the imprisoned microcosm is besieged in the manner described, we are flooded by a new air and a new perfume (new precisely because already experienced), and we breathe the true air of Paradise, of the only Paradise that is not the dream of a madman, the Paradise that has been lost.
But if this mystical experience communicates an extratemporal essence, it follows that the communicant is for the moment an extratemporal being. Consequently the Proustian solution consists, in so far as it has been examined, in the negation of Time and Death, the negation of Death because the negation of Time. Death is dead because Time is dead. (At this point a brief impertinence, which consists in considering Le Temps Retrouvé almost as inappropriate a description of the Proustian solution as Crime and Punishment of a masterpiece that contains no allusion to either crime or punishment. Time is not recovered, it is obliterated. Time is recovered, and Death with it,  when he leaves the library and joins the guests, perched in precarious decrepitude on the aspiring stilts of the former and preserved from the latter by a miracle of terrified equilibrium. If the title is a good title the scene in the library is an anticlimax.) 

Samuel Beckett: from Proust (1931)

Boat (Cadillac, San Francisco, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 23 October 2008

From an interview with photographer Christopher Hall

I find your work to be almost instantly recognizable by the tones, mood, and atmosphere of your shots.  Was this a sort of vision you worked to achieve or is it more natural than intentional?

I think it was a happy accidental discovery, which I now doggedly pursue. I prefer the muted light you get on overcast days, and it’s a look that comes through in most of my photos. I almost always wish for gloomy weather. When it comes to photography, I’ll usually just stay home if it’s bright and sunny outside.

A large percentage of your work is focused on the automobile and its place in our environment.  At some point was that direction a conscious decision?

I think the automobile really defines the American way of life. For better or worse, our entire country has been (re-)designed for the benefit of the automobile driver. On the one hand, the strip malls you used to find in so many places were such horrific creations, yet they were a by-product of the suburban neighborhoods I grew up in and where I felt so safe during my childhood. Eventually, the strip malls were bulldozed so they could build an enormous Wal-Mart, with a huge parking lot where you can park your car while you buy stuff. That’s probably a good starting point for understanding the love/hate relationship I have with the automobile.

I have noticed in comments you have made, that the automobile itself is not particularly a point of passion for you, yet you seem to use it as a starting point for something larger – as if it becomes an ingredient for something more telling.  Could you comment on that?

Well, I think the car is a key ingredient in the casserole, but I don’t really see my photos as being just about a car. That’s really secondary. The scenes are all “found,” never arranged, but I like taking an approach to composition that helps make things seem just a bit implausible. Sometimes it’s because everything seems trapped in a time capsule -- in others, there’s some unbelievable color coordination happening that people suspect is staged. I like that my photos can convey the idea that things aren’t quite what they seem. There’s also a good deal of processing childhood memories involved. I had a happy childhood in the suburbs, and everything seemed perfect to me at the time. Dad went to work, Mom was a housewife, there were always meals on the table, and I spent my days in school with the other kids. But the 60′s really weren’t that happy when you think about it. The Civil Rights movement was a source of tremendous turmoil; we were bogged down in a war in Vietnam; tensions were often high because of the Cold War; and one assassination followed another. But there we were, enjoying our happy life in the suburbs, and gas cost 34 cents a gallon.

I think my photos mourn a place that probably never really existed, except in my own mind. Everything was fine, but only because I wasn’t old enough to know better. There are traces of that time that you can find even now, if you look hard enough. But was it really the way you remember? Did it even exist?

Christopher Hall, from an interview in American Elegy, 1 May 2011

Untitled (Chevrolet, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 25 October 2008

Odd Fellow (Dodge Dart Swinger, Vallejo, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 9 December 2008

West End Town (Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 2 February 2010

Untitled (Ford Thunderbird, Berkeley, California).
While I was shooting this, a neighbor came out and told me about the car. It's owned by Miss Ruthie Witherspoon, who bought it new in 1956 and has been driving it ever since. That's Miss Witherspoon's house in the background, too: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 10 February 2010

Untitled (Ford, Oakland, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 19 February 2010

  Everything's gone green (Camaro and Lincoln, Oakland, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 24 March 2010

Untitled (Oakland, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 28 March 2010

Untitled (Plymouth, Oakland, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 1 April 2010

Untitled (AMC Ambassador Wagon, West Oakland, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 20 May 2010

Curtis and Addison Streets, Berkeley
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 15 August 2010

Untitled (Saab, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 23 September 2010

Untitled (16th Street, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 5 November 2010

Untitled (Volvo, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 28 December 2010

Untitled (Potrero Hill, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 1 May 2011

Untitled (Cadillac, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 1 May 2011

Untitled (Ford Falcon, Emeryville, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 8 December 2011

Florida Street (VW Bus, Mission District, San Francisco, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 21 January 2012

Untitled (Ford Thunderbird, San Francisco, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 22 January 2012

Untitled (Plymouth, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 3 February 2012

Untitled (Ford Galazie 500, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 12 February 2012

Union and Jones (San Francisco, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 7 June 2012

Untitled (Lincoln Continental, San Francisco, California)
: photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 14 December 2012

Untitled (Richmond, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 21 January 2013

Untitled (International Travelall, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 8 February 2013

Untitled (Berkeley, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 2 May 2013

Untitled (Ford Falcon, Alameda, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 2 September 2013

Untitled (San Francisco, California): photo by Christopher Hall (Dead Slow), 9 August 2012