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Posts Tagged ‘race track

“There is a sociology of horses, as well as a psychology”*…

 

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Clubhouse Mezzanine

 

On a cool and sunny Wednesday afternoon in December 2013, I pulled into a massive parking lot in Inglewood, California. My plan was to photograph Hollywood Park Racetrack before it closed forever. At the time, I was a portrait photographer and had spent many years capturing the subtleties of facial expressions, watching carefully how happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and surprise unfold in the muscles of the face. The work of portraiture is exhilarating but also profoundly exhausting, and I was interested in shifting my attention to buildings, particularly buildings that had been lived in and well worn. I liked the idea of working with less, and also working alone, and I was curious, too. What does a building reveal? How is a building like a face?

Growing up in Los Angeles I had spent many evenings right next door to Hollywood Park. I watched Lakers games, basketball at the summer Olympics, and countless rock concerts at The Forum. Although the neighboring track was enormous — 300 acres, a capacity of 80,000 guests — I had never paid any attention until now…

Photographer Michele Asselin spent the next several days intensively documenting Hollywood Park…

It was almost impossible to stop taking photos, but finally, on December 22, 2013, at 11:00 p.m., my hand was forced. The crowd filed out for the last time as the loudspeakers played “At Last” and “Happy Trails.” Some people were crying, some were singing, some were nonchalant. Those trying to filch a little piece of history — a sign or a doorknob — were stopped by a security guard. When the last person exited the grounds, the gates were locked. The horses were loaded into trailers in the coming weeks and moved across town or to Oklahoma, New Jersey, or Kentucky. The auctioneers sifted through what was left, and then, in 2014, Hollywood Park was razed.

After 15 days of circling the grounds, hauling my equipment from place to place, I was 12 pounds thinner and had hardly seen my kids. I had taken 25,000 photos. It would be a year before I finished sorting through them. I wondered what I had fixed in time. The end of something? Evidence of its existence? The traces of time? I tried to keep in mind what an arborist had once told me — that it’s okay to cut down a struggling tree as long as another is planted in its place. I hope that the same is true of buildings…

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Jay Cohen. Bugler.

From Asselin’s introduction to her new book, Clubhouse Turn- The Twilight of Hollywood Park Race Track.  For the full intro and more of her photos: “Say Goodbye to Hollywood Park: Photographing the Twilight of a Racetrack” and her website.

* Jane Smiley (Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and horse owner/breeder)

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As we place our bets, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that the state legislature in Nevada legalized casino gambling in the state.  In fact, gambling had been legal in Nevada until 1909 (by which time it was the only state with legal gambling), when an earlier instantiation of the legislature outlawed it.

(Coincidentally, it was on this date in 1942 that Alfred G. Vanderbilt and number of horse racing luminaries established the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America.)

gambling source

 

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