Sunday, May 20, 2007


in '82, Bruce Hellington and i hitchhiked to the midwest. he stopped in Indianapolis and i continued on to Des Moines. i brought a bunch of stencils for peppering all my old haunts with rude graffiti. afterwards KC caught the bug and continued with a classic stencil of JFK's face with the caption NATION OF HYPE (a response to all the hype over the twentieth anniversary of the assassination.) but the one that caught on was DEAD MOINES, a photo of which was printed in the Des Moines Register. it was sprayed onto a plate-glass window, prompting the resourceful photographer to place something in the background, out of focus, to give the pic a creepy effect.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Locust II

gettin' a bit more of Locust Avenue in these two shots by JOHN VACHON 1940, and by CHARLES CUSHMAN 1958. (clicking on Vachon link will take you to an excellent collection of color slides presented by the Library of Congress, wherein reside hi-resolution jpegs of photos by John Vachon, Jack Delano and others)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This picture reaches back into my memory: My old man takes me to the tavern on the left (with the HAMM's sign) for some quality time with his pool-shark buddies, some of the best in the midwest. Beyond the SCHLITZ sign one can barely read the SKIG's sign. Ol' Skigarelli serves up the slime while we utilize a large speaker magnet to guide the pinball to high scores, thus securing free games.

Eleven year-old punks, Miller and I ride our bikes through this former downtown Des Moines long-since eclipsed by the shiny new business district across the river. The city closes down at business-dusk so we ride through the emptiness, longing for something, finding nothing but the romance of our own limitations. Maybe we traverse the tracks looking for something come in on the rail... probably nothing. It was always nothing. KC coins it: DEAD MOINES.

I had hoped this was a photo of a genuine, old-school hobo come in on the rail, but was then let down by the revelation it was actually JOHN CARRADINE walking sadly through a bit part in a 1967 low-budget movie shot on location in Des Moines called THE HOSTAGE (oh, how the mighty have fallen). But spirits were raised by the realization I could perhaps procure this shitty movie gem on the world-wide-web and take this nostalgic trip to the next level, provided there were a few more revealing shots like this one.