(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Americana

“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

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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 (Roughly) Daily

September 15, 2019 at 1:01 am

“It’s no accident that my first novel was called ‘Americana'”*…

 

Appleton, Wisconsin

Award-winning photographer Carl Corey has spent years roaming and documenting his native Midwest.  The results are a fascinating collection of shots that simultaneously celebrate and interrogate nostalgia for small town life…

Northern Kentucky

Hudson, Wisconsin

See more at “Americana” on Corey’s site, and keep up with the additions on Corey’s “photo column” on Medium.

* Don DeLillo

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As we hit the road, we might spare a thought for Henry Charles Bukowski; he died on this date in 1994.  The “laureate of American lowlife,” Bukowski discovered his muse as a young teen, when a friend introduced him to drinking (as recounted in Ham on Rye).  “This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time”, he later wrote, describing the genesis of what was chronic alcoholism– or, as he saw it, the genesis of a method for making his way through life as a writer.

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human

– “Beasts Bounding Through Time”

In the end, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. As Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker observed, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal… [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

 source

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Wherever you go, I don’t care where you go, just send me something in the mail from where you are”*…

 

 

Just one of the hundreds of postcards from the J. Smith Archive that one can enjoy on the “virtual road trip” that is Cardboard America.

* Wallace Berman

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As we hit the road, we might sing “Happy Birthday” to Mildred J. Hill; he was born on this date in 1859.  She wrote the music:  In the early 1890s, she composed the tune which (with lyrics by her sister Patty) was called “good Morning to All” and was published in 1893 in Song Stories for the Kindergarten.  In 1912, her music was appropriated (with lyrics by an unknown author) and published as “Happy Birthday”– which has gone on to become (according to the Guinness Book of Records) the most recognized song in the English language.

Famously tied up by copyright (to wit the rarity of its appearance on TV or in movies), Hill’s estate still receives royalties from it performance.

Mildred (left) and her sister Patty

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 27, 2015 at 1:01 am

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