Christmastime, 2014. They decorate the swamp at the edge of town here, in Indianola, with a Santa sled and a gingerbread house.
Far Brooklyn, late one night last winter, the terrible winter of 2013. I only say “far” because it’s the part of Brooklyn that is far from where I live. And I suppose I suffer from that unfortunate xenophobia that some long term Manhattanites possess, namely the feeling that, the farther you are from Manhattan, the more alien things get. I feel much the same way about Yonkers, where I grew up, which is as far from my current home as is this location in Brooklyn. When I was younger, I would hear the adage “you can’t go home again,” but I did not believe it until I got older and realized that they were talking more about time than distance.
There is a directness and beauty in billboards that I find pleasing. Not to say that there is no dishonesty or disingenuousness there, either, nor messages of hate or intolerance. But there is a directness of message. You have to grab somebody’s attention in a few seconds, after all. And the beauty often comes from being in the elements, being painted over, being forgotten and abandoned.