May 13, 2007

AMERICAN HISTORY IS PARKING LOTS

I am finishing off Blue Highways a morsel at a time because I don't want it to end; I've parsed it's 400-odd pages to last five months so far. It's a reading revelation on par with Play It As It Lays, for me. It's a book hard packed with a seventies America still dotted with Gary Indianas--towns bearing the weight of slumping industry--a document of their last gasps before they got steam rolled into Wal-marted exurbs, humped by gentrfication and other fictions of progress. Or, in Gary's case, rotten and forgotten, immune to redevelopment plans and federal millions.

After all that Gary a few weeks ago, I am still up on the idea of me and JR and Burian moving there for a summer, welcome-whomever-else, or take a months long sabbatical, and produce a Gary zine:some languid prose, Burian on history detail, JR on Rail Cats game highlights. Or maybe it'd be a coffee table book. PS: There is, for the buffs among you, at the Gary library, a room thats just a collection of Indiana WPA materials, large and Gary specific. It's called the Indiana Room. Might be my summer hang. Taking the train to Gary with my bike might be my other summer hang. Totally TBA/idea in development.

Meanwhile, back on page 373 of Blue Highways, Least Heat Moon revisits Newport, RI--where he'd been stationed in the Navy 15 years before--it's since been reconditioned and gentrified, plugged with shops where the tattoo parlors used to be:

Where jacktars had walked with the sway of the sea teaches, now coeds from the Seven Sisters waggled their precious butts atop Pappagallos, and permanent press matrons, safe in tummy control Spandex, their triceps swinging in the wind, lugged purses the size of seabags.
I stopped for a beer. The bartender brought a Narragansett. I asked what happened to Thames Street. "Redevelopment for urban blight."
"How did it happen?"
"Navy cut back. Businessmen wanted tourists that would spend more than sailors."
"But the history."
"American history is parking lots."

Posted by Jessica at May 13, 2007 11:13 AM | TrackBack