Looking back, it was like being zapped with a lightning bolt delivering the kind of electric jolt one could never forget. It was 1956, or maybe 1955 or 1957. Try to remember, try to visualize the popular recorded music of that day, some beginning to play on colorless TV. Big bands, Lawrence Welk, Jesse Crawford on the Hammond Organ, tuneful vocalists, Eddie Fisher crying O Mein Papa, Patti Page wondering How Much is that Doggie in the Window, Perry Como, and slow dancing only cheek-to-cheek allowed. All white, all lifeless, and totally boring to a fourteen year old wanting something more. Until, that is, a super-charged taser by the unlikely name Bo Diddley dropped a 45 rpm A-bomb on my, going nowhere, 78 rpm turntable that launched me into an unstable geosynchronous orbit where I've been pulsating ever since to the addictive Bo Diddley Beat. He died on June 2nd this year at the age of seventy-nine leaving behind 4 children, 15 grand children, 15 great grand children, 3 great-great grand children, and an enraptured orphan stranded in high earth orbit with original pressings of his early albums ready to turn and electrify again. Try a little thought exercise. Transport yourself to 1956, or maybe 1955 or 1957. Channel with Pat Boone, Dinah Shore, the Mitch Miller Chorus and the Hit Parade, Tex Ritter, Red Foley or Vaughan Monroe… Then, turn up the volume and start this video. His dying words were, "I'm going to heaven." And, he's sure to find an out of this world orbit uniquely his own.
Doctor HP Flowers Stone Mountain, Georgia Friday 18 July 2008
Fourteen feet three inches max in the middle. Eleven feet ten inches at the shoulder. MAX. That's the unmistakable message here at the Tuckahoe Run underpass. Each visit, on County Road 50 three miles south of White Sulphur Springs, I stop for awhile. With a chocolate crème filled cupcake and a big gulp of diet mountain dew I ponder the prospects. Will I fit. What are the chances of getting wedged in the tunnel backing up angry local traffic. Are the rewards on the other side worth the risks of passage. What would Marco Polo do. Finally, after expelling a resonant blast of esophageal gas I cinch it up, head erect, shoulders squared, and press onward into the great unknown.
Tuckahoe Run Underpass Greenbrier County, West Virginia Monday 6 June 1994
Glenville, West Virginia Gilmer County Saturday 3 June 2006
9:00 a.m. Paul stepped gingerly across the street favoring his left knee, leaning on a cane; an old construction injury. Before that, he spent 15 years in advertising with hands-on photography and darkroom experience. For those who know cameras well, my gear gets solid marks as a capable, reliable blue collar outfit. An early 80's Minolta x-570 with a Vivitar Series I lens - a heavy dude and sharp. It can take a licking. Paul noticed right away and empathized hearing that my new expensive digital camera had been fried by a thunderstorm yesterday. Not far from here. Paul operates a movie-video shop and sells his photographs crowded along the walls. Beautiful stuff. Familiar subjects with color substitution, infra-red with black and white filter effects, abstract and a bit surreal. Framed and matted, fetching handsome prices. Explaining his new artistic direction Paul erupted with enthusiasm, "After all, you can only photograph a daisy so many times." (At least one more time, hoped I.)