(Roughly) Daily

“Another Roadside Attraction”*…

 

supper club

Big Fish Supper Club, Route 2, Bena, Minnesota; 1980

 

The culture of the American road has been much celebrated — and much criticized. Lawrence Ferlinghetti saw the rise of the automobile and the construction of the interstate system (which began in the 1950s) as a new form of punishment inflicted on the populace. Driving in their cars, “strung-out citizens” were now

plagued by legionnaires
                                false windmills and demented roosters…

      on freeways fifty lanes wide
                                                        on a concrete continent
                                                                spaced with bland billboards
                                            illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness

The architectural critic and photographer John Margolies (1940–2016), on the other hand, saw there could also be home-made beauty in the buildings and signs locals built on the American roadside. For almost forty years, he documented the most remarkable examples he found, publishing some of his discoveries in books and consigning the rest to an archive, which has now been purchased by the Library of Congress who, in a wonderfully gracious move, have lifted all copyright restrictions on the photographs (though art works shown in some photographs may still be under copyright)…

south of the border

Billboard, near Dillon, South Carolina; 1986

More at “John Margolies’ Photographs of Roadside America.”  Browse the entire collection at the Library of Congress.

* a marvelous novel by Tom Robbins

###

As we peer through the car window, we might spare a thought for Thomas Clayton Wolfe; he died (at age 38 of miliary tuberculosis) on this date in 1938.  But in his short career he wrote four lengthy novels (including Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again) as well as many short stories, dramatic works, and novellas– and earned  William Faulkner’s praise as the greatest talent of their generation.

Wolfe’s influence extends to the writings of Beat writer Jack Kerouac, and of authors Ray Bradbury, Betty Smith, Philip Roth, Pat Conroy and many, many others.

250px-Thomas_Wolfe_1937_1_(cropped).jpg source

 

Written by LW

September 15, 2019 at 1:01 am

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