Thursday, February 28, 2008

Red dirt road trip 2008

Last Sunday, M joined me for a trip north of the Red River. Our mission was to locate and photograph the old Santa Fe depot in Shawnee. We were successful, and we also found lots of other interesting stuff along the way.

There are few things M enjoys more than a display caboose. You think some wimpy little sign is gonna keep him off these things? Here he is, checking out an old Frisco waycar in Pauls Valley...

Santa Fe caboose in Purcell

"Slug-bug bug" near Lexington. If this was supposed to be a spider, it was missing a couple of legs...

Built in 1904, the Santa Fe depot in Shawnee was designed to resemble a Scottish lighthouse. In our opinion, it looked more like a castle...

a closer look at the tower

On display near the depot, we found the Beard family's log cabin -- the first building in Shawnee.

Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad # 4064 in Shawnee.

This is just the first installment of photos from our Shawnee trip. Stay tuned for more... we got lots of ghost signs and more trains...


np: Adam Carroll - "Cole"

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

last Friday in Saginaw

Stephen was in town for a few days last week on his way back to Memphis. On Friday, the sun finally came out so we went out to shoot a few pics before I had to go to work.

Nice catch! A modified former Santa Fe SD45-2 in the new scheme...

6737 still wears Santa Fe colors...

"Colony" stencil graffiti

"Ewok" makes an appearance...

Stephen is ready to GTS (get the shot).

Brand-new BNSF 9135 powers southbound coal loads.

This is the first one of the new 9100's that I've seen. You could practically smell the fresh paint...

viewed through the fence on the Meacham overpass.

On Sunday, M joined me for a trip to Shawnee, Oklahoma. Stay tuned for the trip report & photos...
np: Johnny Paycheck - "The only hell my momma ever raised"

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

last Wednesday in Saginaw

Isn't this special?

Last Wednesday (Feb 20), a UP engineering / inspection special was scheduled to pass through Saginaw on the Duncan Subdivision. I made sure I was in position to get a few photos. Plenty of other familiar faces were on hand to do the same...

Some hither, others yon...
UP 6936, the last operating DDA40X, powers the northbound special through Saginaw...

A Santa Fe caboose brings up the rear of a switch job.

My friend Stephen was in town for a few days last week. We got out on Friday for a couple hours to take some photos. Stay tuned for the next report...
Stop Draggin My Heart Around...
Would you believe I just got on itunes and purchased "Stop draggin' my heart around" by Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks? That is the first video I remember EVER seeing on MTV, way back in the early 1980s when the cable company in San Angelo first started to carry it. Holy smokes, that was 25 years ago... still a great song.
np: John Prine - "Let's talk dirty in Hawaiian"

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the Polaroid Project - 1

Recent news articles motivated me to get the ball rolling on a project I've been thinking about for a while. Polaroid recently announced the unhappy news that it will soon cease manufacture of its remaining product lines of instant film.

New York Times article:
Columbus Dispatch article:

My tribute to the Polaroid: a sequence of images from Sunday's trip to Cleburne, digitally enhanced to make them "look" like Polaroids.

Most of the younger generation has never experienced the magic of Polaroid photography, but anyone who's a "child of the '80s", or older, is probably familiar with them. Polaroid was instant photography in a world before digital; simply compose the shot, click the button, and "whirrr"... the camera would eject a small, square sheet of thick paper which would magically begin to self-develop. Within seconds, the image you just snapped would begin to appear like a ghost on the photo, very faint at first... but after a minute or two, it would be fully visible. (On the older cameras, you'd have to pull the photo out of the camera -- initiating the development process -- and then peel off and discard the emulsion layer. You'd be left with a nice print, approx. 3" x 4 " in size.)

Polaroid wasn't without its shortcomings: the square format was by no means suitable for every subject, the focus might be a little soft, and the exposure wouldn't always be dead-on... but for true "instant" photography, you couldn't beat it. I always enjoyed the compact and intimate nature of Polaroid photos. They were the ideal size and format for casual snapshots. The viewer would have to hold them up close to see them. And they were small enough that you could assemble a collage or a series of them to tell a story, and the finished project still would not be overwhelmingly large.
"Virtual Polaroid" view of Barnhart, Texas

It's somewhat ironic that digital technology (which was essentially the death knell for Polaroid and countless other traditional film and camera products) allows us to re-create "virtual" Polaroid images for the sake of nostalgia. By re-sizing and cropping a digital photo to a square format and pasting it on top of a frame of a Polaroid background, it's easy to produce digital images that look for all the world like the real thing. Just don't expect it to be quite the same if you actually print one out.

Stay tuned for more; I'll probably be assembling more of these when the mood strikes. Until then...


np: Scott Miller & Commonwealth - "Dear Sarah"

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Ghost signs & trains in Cleburne

M joined me for a short Sunday afternoon trip down to Cleburne to look for ghost signs and trains.

Foster Drug - Cleburne, TX

Newspapers - Cleburne, TX

Cooper Wholesale Gro. - Cleburne, TX

the Burger Bar - Cleburne, TX

the Burger Bar in Cleburne
Cleburne is a railroad town if there ever was one. In the early 1900s, the Santa Fe constructed a car shop, locomotive shop, and machine shop there. Many of the shop buildings -- as well as the town's landmark smokestack -- still stand, looming above an aging residential neighborhood northeast of downtown. Santa Fe successor BNSF no longer uses them; some of the buildings are occupied by Gunderson Southwest, which uses them to house freight cars undergoing repair work. The smokestack and some of the other structures still display Santa Fe's old "circle cross" logos.

Despite spinning off the shops to Gunderson, the railroad still maintains a noteworthy presence in Cleburne; various switch jobs use the yard while, dozens of "through" trains roll through town each day on the main line between Fort Worth and Temple.

A BNSF coal train rolls through Cleburne on Sunday, Feb 17. The town's landmark smoke stack (part of the railroad shop complex) is visible to the right.

M checks out a couple of wood cabooses near the Cleburne shops.

enjoying the view from inside an old FW&D waycar

sunset over the Cleburne shops

np: Willis Alan Ramsey - "Northeast Texas Women"

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Warhol-esque, Ima stamp

Whiskey self-portrait series, February 2008
It started innocently enough. After shooting a series of self portraits, I converted one to gray-scale and then cranked the contrast to 100 percent. Next, I made several duplicates of the high-contrast version in a variety of different colors.

The last step was to paste them all together in a montage image, such as the ones above and below. Producing pop-art is fun and easy...

Whiskey self portrait series, February 2008

Meanwhile, buZ blurr was kind enough to take the time to subject one of the above self portraits to his stenciling process for stamp sheet production...

I'm proud to report that one of these very stamps bearing my humble likeness has already survived the mailing process, smiling its crooked smirk at every postal service employee between Surrealville and Whiskeytown. (Maybe all that exposure adds up to my "15 minutes of fame" that a well-known artist once promised.) Visit the following pages to see more of buZ blurr's stamp art and mail-art:
np: Fred Eaglesmith - "Wilder than her"

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monster Jam 2008

How we spent our Sunday afternoon ...

Last Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!, the kids joined me for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Reunion Arena in Dallas for Monster Jam 2008. "Props" to our friend BEK for introducing us to Monster Jam three years ago. This would be our first return visit since we went with BEK in 2005. If possible, we enjoyed it even more this time around -- we had better seats and the truck action was more spectacular.

Monster Jam 2008 - Reunion Arena, Dallas TX

The Sunday afternoon show began at 2 pm. After the emcee incited the crowd into a patriotic frenzy, saluting active-duty servicemen while the P.A. system blared Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA", followed by the National Anthem, it was time for monster truck mayhem.

a partial lineup of the afternoon's participants...

The festivities kicked off with a wheelie contest; each of the eight trucks demonstrated their abilities to achieve a near-vertical stance jumping over a small pile of dirt and a row of helpless, flattened cars.

"Captain's Curse" gets some good air...

Next, it was time for a series of elimination-style races. Between the truck events, other motor-sport activities were represented -- a 4-wheeler ATV race and a display of extreme motorcycle stunts. Finally, it was time for the "main event" we all came to see, Monster Truck Free-Style -- in other words, lots of jumping and smashing stuff.

A fresh victim for the hungry monster trucks... that van would be unrecognizable within 15 minutes!

"Bad Habit" free-style performance

"Bounty Hunter" loses a wheel and the crowd goes wild...

"Gravedigger" center-of-gravity exhibition

It was definitely a fun-filled afternoon. Maybe we'll make this an annual tradition instead of once every three years.

Satisfied customers - the kids modeled their "Gravedigger" gear after we returned home.


np: Jack Ingram - "Barbie doll"

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Granny's Tacos, No Problema

Out and about in the D-F-Dub last Friday...

This place on Long Avenue in north Fort Worth looked a bit questionable, but the Dallas Cowboys star told me they were ok.

There's something a restaurant whose kitchen is also a garage...

venta de coches usados, Irving TX
Coming next... Monster Jam 2008.
np: Austin Cunningham - Yankee Farm in Texas

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mockingbird yard

On Friday I made a visit to Dallas Garland & Northeastern's Mockingbird yard in Dallas. This was the first chance I'd gotten to shoot one of the SW1504s. Produced by EMD for export to Mexico, a handful of these bulky switchers have recently made their way back to US soil. Three of these units, now owned by Helm Leasing, are currently in service on the DGNO.

A typical view of west Dallas / east Irving: warehouses, chain link fences, and trains. CEFX 2575 idles at Mockingbird yard on Friday, Feb 8.

HLCX 1524 switches at DGNO's Mockingbird yard.

HLCX 1524 (SW1504) at Mockingbird yard.

DGNO 3800 at Mockingbird yard

Colossus greeting

np: Jim Lauderdale / Ralph Stanley - "Boat of love"

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