Friday, July 08, 2005

Behold My Power / Archival Photos

Heh. So, a few hours after I completed yesterday's paean to my genetic predisposition to pine for rainfall, last evening around dinnertime the skies opened up and we got ourselves a nice little downpour. Actually, up in my neck of the woods it was only raining with any urgency for about 5 minutes, followed by 15-20 minutes of drizzle, distant lightning, and low, grumbly thunder. According to Ray, however, central Austin got deluged.

My powers are formidable, it would appear. I must remember to be careful in the future.

I had just finished eating my dinner when we heard the first rapid slapping of the large drops hitting the pavement of our patio. In a flash I was up and standing at the window, and seconds later I had stripped off my shirt and was standing in the rain, getting drenched, cool water running down my chest and dripping from my fingertips. Within seconds the temperature of the air dropped by what felt to be at least 15-20 degrees. It was heavenly.

The kids looked at me like I was crazy at first, but then they decided that a headlong rush to grab umbrellas and rain boots was in order. We caught raindrops on our tongues, pooled rainwater in our hands and threw it at each other, and spun our umbrellas as I taught Miranda the words to "Singing in the Rain."

Crazy? They think walking around in the rain without a shirt on was crazy? If the sun hadn't of been up, I doubt I would have stopped at stripping off the shirt. Alas, I live in the suburbs and I don't need to get shit from the neighbors. And besides, I have no doubt my kids would have told my in-laws....

So now the "Days Since It Rained" calendar has been re-set. It could be weeks, even months, until we see real rain again. But I feel renewed in the strangest way. I don't understand it, I can't explain it.

But man, that rain felt So. Damn. Good.


Today, my friend Lee posted links to two of the best sites I've had the pleasure of seeing recently. They are:

Ratt's Freak Show


Least Wanted's Photos

The freak show site is perhaps the less savory or "tasteful" of the two, but I've always found archival photos of circus and carnival freaks to be simply fascinating. Yes, these people were exploited, but in many cases the photos show so much humanity, even dignity, in their faces, their postures, their expressions. Perhaps it's the fact that typically the whole person is shown, portrait style, their face and hands and clothing as much a part of the image as their deformity. It's not clinical, doesn't dehumanize them in the way a black rectangle covering their eyes tends to, or dismember them with selective cropping, removing their identities and focusing attention on the result of some capricious genetic error or unfortunate viral infection.

And the archival mug shot photos are just terrific. I find myself paging through them, one after another. Who were these people? Where did they come from? What were their crimes? What ever happened to them? Questions and suppositions cascading through my mind. Lack of context coupled with the burnishing effects of time creating layers of meaning. If you've ever spent some time in an antique store, going through old photos or other people's diaries, the effect is similarly fascinating. It's an odd form of voyeurism, I'd say: Intellectually titillating, simultaneously sad (why have these memories been discarded and sold?) and sweet (the act of perusing discarded keepsakes is a way of remembering these people, even if it is without context).

Thanks, Lee! Wonderful Stuff.

Mood: Kinda giddy
Now Playing: Brian Eno & David Lanois, "Apollo"


Karl Elvis said...

Freak show hell, that's my family album!

Lee said...

Long overdue, I know but yer welcome!! Glad to know others enjoyed those sites as well.

The Least Wanted guy still adds to the collection almost daily.