Cisco, Utah (Ghost Town)   7 comments

Melanie and I had planned our 30th wedding anniversary trip months ago — a trip to Utah / Arizona to visit five national parks and several national monuments and BLM areas over the first two weeks of October.  Congress forced us to change our plans, and one of the pleasant surprises while adapting to the silliness of closing those areas was a photo session at a mostly abandoned town in Utah called Cisco.  Most of the photos were taken with a fairly scary thunderstorm bearing down on us.  Truth be told, this added an aura of spookiness that would not have been possible under typical Utah sunshine and blue skies.

Below is Melanie’s writeup about Cisco and several of my photos.  The photos are heavily processed HDR images to accentuate the threatening clouds and dilapidated buildings.

In its heyday in the late 1800’s, Cisco was a “watering stop” for steam locomotives on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. It also became a livestock hub for cattle and sheep ranchers from the Book Cliffs, north of town. According to an online history of Cisco by Nancy Hazelet, at the turn of the last century, over 100,000 sheep were brought to Cisco for shearing before being shipped to market. Oil and natural gas were discovered in Cisco in 1924, and it became a drilling and mining center. But as steam locomotives began to be replaced by diesel and electric early in the 20thcentury, Cisco was no longer necessary as a watering stop, though the trains still ran through the town. 

Cisco also used to sit right along US Route 50 and US Route 6, major east-west highways that ran from California to Colorado and beyond. But between 1957-1970, Interstate 70 was built along a new route that bypassed Cisco (along with many other small “hub” towns), and Cisco began to slide into oblivion, though it was assigned its own zipcode when the new postal zipcode system came into effect in the 1960’s. The faded paint on the façade of the town’s abandoned post office is only faintly readable “Cisco, Utah – 84515” A small freestanding unit of modern locked mailboxes stands right outside the post office building, and it looks like there must be a few people who still get mail sent here.

In the early 1990’s, parts of the film “Thelma and Louise” were filmed in and around Cisco.

Despite the desolation of the town itself, there are miles and miles of brand new pipeline being laid here. Cisco has one of the oldest oilfields in Utah. Pacific Energy and Mining Corporation, an oil and gas company headquartered in Reno, Nevada, operates the drilling fields here, including 5 oil and natural gas wells that the company started in 2005..

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Posted October 20, 2013 by ~ Bruce in America in Decline, Architecture, Travel Photography

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People in the Park   Leave a comment

One hot summer morning, rich portraits of life in and around Washington Square Park in New York City.

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Posted July 25, 2013 by ~ Bruce in People, Street

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Urban Geometry   Leave a comment

Before this past weekend I had never heard of the High Line walk in New York city.  And I really had no idea what to expect when we set off across mid-town toward the 30th Street access point.  What a great photographic treat it turned out to be!  The High Line is a public park built on an old elevated freight rail line, a funky and fun walk above the streets along the lower west side of Manhattan.

The elevated platform is approximately a mile long and put us at rooftop level with numerous warehouses and apartment buildings all the way down to the Meat Packing District.  This allowed me to indulge in one of my favorite forms of photography — architectural details.  Or as I prefer, “Urban Geometry”.  Take me somewhere with bricks, graffiti, fire escapes, and a good dose of glass and I’ll find images worth photographing.

Here are some favorites from a 45-minute stroll on the High Line.  Next time I think I’ll walk it from south to north to see what I missed!

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Posted July 24, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Architecture, Street

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“Don’t f***in’ move . . .”   Leave a comment

“Don’t f***in’ move.  We’re not insured.”  The last instruction directed at five audience “volunteers” by one of the Tic and Tac twins, street performers in Washington Square Park, New York.

These guys are funny (unless you’re way uptight and offended by racial jokes), talented, and really good at parting you from your money.  “The average donation for a show like this is $20.  If you can’t afford $20, $10 will do.  If you can’t afford at least $5 . . . People, get a job and do something productive with yourself!”  That said, the show was easily worth the $15 we threw into the bag.  A bargain by New York City standards.  Can you see that giant T-for-tourist tattoo on my forehead?

Oh yeah, these guys have their own website with an online merchandise store and a Facebook page.  Not exactly your average weekend buskers.

Here are some images from the show:

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(Above)  The drums sucked me right in, just like they were intended to do.

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(Above)  A few dance moves to warm things up and draw in a bigger crowd.

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(Above)  A couple of tumbling runs.  I set the camera at 800 ISO to freeze the action.  Most of the photos ended up at 1/750th to 1/1000th sec.  Plenty fast enough to freeze the action.

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(Above)  A no-hands head stand on concrete made me wince.

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(Above)  The split really made me wince.  No chance, not even in my younger days.  Ouch.

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(Above)  I couldn’t tell for sure but I think this guy did 3 full 360-degree one arm revolutions.  Unfortunately I’m not talented enough to photograph and count at the same time.

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(Above)  Another tumbling run.  In mid-air and eyes wide open.  I love this shot.

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(Above)  And another mid-air shot.  (Did I mention that these guys are really, really athletic?)

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(Above)  One twin spinning the other on his head.  Tough head, solid abs.

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(Above)  Final instructions for the grand finale.  The girl in the middle was a bit concerned.  “You are about to see something you’ve never seen before — a black man running at full speed and not being chased by a cop!  Don’t f***in’ move.  We’re not insured!”

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(Above)  With a landing on a hard concrete surface to boot.  Tough way to make a few bucks.

Posted July 23, 2013 by ~ Bruce in People, Street, Travel Photography

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Brother Joscephus & the Love Revolution   Leave a comment

Wait, what?  Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution?  That was my question when I checked out the band list for the city’s “Celebrate Lancaster” event on Friday evening.  The bottom line was that I had never heard of them, and I even wondered if maybe they were some local church gospel group or something.  I was not hopeful. And in the end, I could not have been more wrong or more pleasantly surprised.

Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution hails from Brooklyn and they are a high-energy, twelve-piece explosion of rockin’ soul music.  The energy on stage was palpable and connected with the audience like very few bands manage to do.  Combine outstanding guitar, keyboard, lead and backup vocals, with a lively brass section and more energy than a three year-old on a sugar high and you have an awesome musical experience.

Kudos to Brother Josephus and to the Mayor’s Office of Special Events for a fantastic Friday night show.  Here are a few photos that I hope hint at the fun and energy.  I wish I had arrived earlier and captured more images of the band.  But I’ve subscribed to their fan list, so maybe next time.

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Posted June 30, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Uncategorized

The World In 1957   2 comments

Thanks to the despicable invention miracle of Facebook, I have been noting the recent and inexorable parade of classmates’ birthdays.  Like millions of others I type in the obligatory, “Happy Birthday, your name here!”.  A somewhat heartfelt gesture and momentary delay of my second swig of coffee.  Actually, birthday wishes are deeply ingrained in my morning routine of finding ways to avoid doing actual work.  After all, if there are no birthdays on which to comment I must find another 5-second avoidance activity to fill the gap.  Come to think of it, it practically ruins my day.  This is why I never follow through on threats to drop Facebook.  I’d have to do more actual work.  (To all my friends and relatives to whom I have recently wished a Facebook happy birthday, it was a heartfelt gesture.  No, really, seriously.  Ah, hell.)

I digress.  So as we stare down the barrel of our 56th such celebration I can’t help but wonder what life was like back then (or way WAY back then as my kids would say).  This happens once a year, and I really have no control over it.  I do Google image searches (I’m too ADD to read the content) and click on whatever catches my eye.  This usually elicits a bevy of Holy shit! responses.  This year I have the urge to share those Holy shit! findings.  Sorry.

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The world was, shall we say, a bit nuclear obsessed in 1957.  The U.S. detonated multiple nuclear bombs in the Nevada desert and even brought in Marines for a little live-action training.  Many of these blasts were within 65 miles of Las Vegas, which in that great American free-enterprise tradition created . . .

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. . . Atomic Blast Weekends in Las Vegas!  (Note mushroom cloud in background).  Yes, you too could pay premium rates for a room facing the test grounds on a scheduled blast weekend!  Radioactive fallout worries?  Wimps.  Go to the Jersey Shore if you can’t take a little radioactivity.

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But wait!  It gets better.  America had a “Miss Atomic Bomb” in 1957!  Her name was Lee Merlin, a Copa Room showgirl complete with cotton mushroom-cloud bathing suit.  Hah!  Take that Soviet Union!  You may have conducted 4 atmospheric nuclear tests in April alone, but our Miss Atomic Bomb was surely better than any furry-hatted Kremlin babe.

On a side note and as a photographer, I really appreciate the camera angle and use of perspective in this photo.  I mean, not only is “Miss Atomic Bomb” much more shapely and beautiful than anything the communists could conjure up, but she is apparently 300 feet tall and designed to strike fear into the hearts of every living Bolshevik.  Take that, comrades!

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Speaking of beautiful women (this is where I switch over to saying “beautiful women” instead of “babes”, lest my wife point out the error of my ways), just like today they were used to sell cars back in 1957.  Except, you know, with more clothes on.  A lot more clothes on.  And pantyhose.  And goofy poses.  Come to think of it, what the hell?

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On April 13th (Hi Denise!) the US Postal Service temporarily halted Saturday deliveries because of . . . wait for it . . . lack of funds!  On April 15th Congress appropriated $41 million (hah! chump change) and Saturday delivery was restored.  And who says history doesn’t repeat itself?  In the words of Yogi Berra (who was still with the Yankees in 1957), “It’s deja vu all over again.”

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In 1957 the schools in a place called Little Rock were desegregated.  As we all know (or should know), President Eisenhower sent several thousand National Guard soldiers to Little Rock to assist the kind citizens of Arkansas in complying with federal law.

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But in other news, Elvis decided to renovate Graceland and installed this metal music gate.  Because, why not?  When you’re Elvis, it’s what you do.

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Speaking of music and 1957, these guys were in a band.  It was called The Quarrymen.  Anyone else think McCartney looks like Alfalfa from The Little Rascals?

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And some guy named Ted Geisel published a book.  One that thankfully was the beginning of the end of the excruciating “See Spot run” method of teaching reading.

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But we were still a cranky nation because of things like this.

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So we held parades in Washington D.C. to show that we had things that could fly, too.

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And because we were really afraid of this . . .

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. . . and of looking like this cheerful bunch . . .

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. . . the House Un-American Activities Committee held the author of this play in contempt of Congress for not ratting out his friends.  But he probably didn’t notice . . .

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. . . because he was married to this woman at the time.  I mean, God bless America!  Amiright men?

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But all’s well that ends well because we had a new toy called “The Pluto Platter”!  Of course those heathens in 1958 ruined it by rebranding it as the “Frisbee”.  But we 57’ers know the real name.

Happy Birthday, (your name here!) to everyone else born in that golden year of 1957!  The good ol’ days?  I’m not so sure.  And Holy shit!, do I feel old . . .

Posted April 12, 2013 by ~ Bruce in Signs of the Times, Uncategorized

Hula-Hoop Girl   Leave a comment

Hula-Hoop Girl braved the cold wind this morning and did her thing in Penn Square, downtown Lancaster.  This was my first sighting of HHG this year.  It is not uncommon to see her set up pretty much anywhere in the city.  Music, hula-hooping, awesome smile, and just pure pleasantness.  As a by-stander said this morning, “Hula-Hoop Girl rocks!”

Good friend Joe Devoy tells me that Hula-Hoop Girl will be putting on her show at Tellus 360 in the near future.  There is a whole lot more to Lancaster than outlet malls and all-you-can-eat restaurants along Route 30.  Get yourself into the city on the first sunny and warm spring day.  Hula-Hoop Girl and the street musicians make it a pleasure!

 

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Posted March 23, 2013 by ~ Bruce in People, Street

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