Lost America, which showcases the work of photographer Troy Paiva. Paiva specializes in night photography. His preferred subject is what he calls "the abandoned west." Using elaborate lighting and exposure techniques, he takes haunting shots of the abandoned motels, junkyards, brothels, military installations, and houses that dot sleepy desert roads. I've wasted many hours over the past few years looking at his images.
Of personal significance to me is his treatment of the ghost ship S.S. Independence, a once grand luxury liner. The ship was built in 1950 for long distance ocean cruises. But like everything else in this world, she became outmoded and too expensive to operate. She spent her last few years of service making cruises of the Hawaiian Islands. I had the fortune of going on one of her last voyages in the summer of 2001. The events of 9/11 collapsed the tourism industry and the old ship was destined to spend several years rusting in San Francisco. Imagine my surprise when I saw the ship posted on Paiva's site. He photographed several rooms which I distinctly remember, though they didn't look nearly so spooky at the time.
For those who want to see more of Paiva's work, his Flickr feed features hundreds of additional images. Of course, not all roadside kitsch has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Roadside America is a great guide to hundreds of tourist traps and offbeat destinations across the country. Many of these quirky attractions are reminiscent of Paiva's subjects, except that they have avoided closing their doors despite the decline of our driving culture.
Vintage Roadside, the t-shirt site which I mentioned yesterday, features a resource list of other cool sites about the American roadside. One neat site I discovered from Vintage Roadside's list is Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions, dedicated to the strange tourist traps that used to line the highways of the Citrus State. Of course if you get hungry on your virtual road trip, you can always stop at Diner Hunter, the blog of a guy who is obsessed with vintage roadside restaurants.
I'd like to close this entry with a mention of a news story that caught my eye. In a previous posting, I mentioned the abandoned "feral houses" of Detroit. Well today, Detroit has an ice house. Two artists spent weeks spraying an abandoned house with water as some sort of blunt metaphor about the foreclosure crisis. While the metaphor may be clumsy, the effect is cool.