Friday, January 30, 2009

No time for the blog... (7)

... just more photos. I'm almost current again.

"Billiards and Pool" ghost sign / Coca Cola ad - a non-railroad photo I snapped in Wichita Falls, TX during a railroad-themed photo shoot.

Dr. Pepper sign / storefront - Venus, TX

Chris Berman helps us make sense of the Cowboys' final game. He left out the phrase "Jerry Jones is a &$#%-ing retard", but we were all thinking it...

The Gourds at Dan's Silverleaf (Denton) on Jan 15. Highlights included a cover of Neil Young's "For the Turnstiles" --> segue into --> "Clear Night"...

... another highlight was the "Lowrider" instrumental during "High Highs & Low Lows". Viva Dem Gourds!

Check back soon for more...


np: Corb Lund Band - "5 dollar bill"

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No time for the blog... (6)

... just the photos. Let's see what the kids were up to during the holiday season...

On December 22, I celebrated Christmas with the kids a few days early at Mom's house...

"L pose"

M's piano recital in mid-December.

I spent Christmas Day with Miss C's family. Thanks to everyone who expressed concern about me being "alone" for the holidays this year, but trust me, I had plenty of company and was well-taken care of...

Miss C's son got the present he wanted, an X-Box 360...

A few days after Christmas, M joined me for a train ride to Dallas with my friend Blair and his son.

Taking a spin on the local merry-go-round...

Climbing a tree at the park...

... and ready to start a militia with his friend, C.

Check back soon for more.


np: Fred Eaglesmith - "I shot your dog"


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Playing with Photoshop

... ok, Paint Shop Pro, actually... anyway, I've been doing some b&w conversions of a few digital shots I've taken (in color) during the past few years. First of all, kids, this has nothing to do with converting a color image to Grayscale. It takes a little more work to produce an image that at least resembles a finely toned black and white print. Some of my results were more successful than others; these are just a few examples. Anyway, enjoy... and let me know what you think.

Taken on a cloudy summer day in northern Oklahoma in 2006. (I was riding the Avard Subdivision with our track inspector and we had to set off to allow this eastbound train to pass). I feel that the b&w conversion "saved" this image... I liked the composition, but the color version was dull and flat. Now it's a work of "art".

New Mexico Rail Runner - near Isleta, NM - November 2008

Empty grain train leaving Amarillo - November 2008

Southbound at sunset - UP Choctaw Sub near Argyle, TX

Westbound vehicle train at Sandcut, CA - October 2007.

Freight car monikers - fall / winter 2008


np: Fugazi - "Waiting room"

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Monday, January 12, 2009

birthday benching

I had a birthday a few days ago. In the past, I've spent parts of several birthdays photographing trains and rail subjects. I maintained that tradition this year -- but with a twist. The primary target of this year's efforts would be freight car sketches and monikers. In fact, I didn't photograph a single locomotive. But I found some interesting stuff...

Colossus of Roads - "Hide & Cry" Earlene

Golden West squares & Colossus

Bookman - XXX NOLA

Whistle Blower - Pluto Demoted

The Solo Artist

This seems like a good time to plug my Flickr stream at You'll find lots of shots from my benching (watching trains, photographing monikers and graffiti) expeditions, an album of railroad logos, and more. My collection is always growing...


np: Public Enemy - "Move!"

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pac Man reefer

I'm not exactly a proponent of aerosol spray graffiti -- especially on railcars -- but every once in a while, I happen upon a piece so exceptionally well-done that it stops me in my tracks, so to speak. Here are a few shots of a car that I photographed in Ft. Worth on December 31.

"Sase" Pac-Man piece on ARMN 111183

As someone who no doubt spent many rolls of quarters on Pac Man games during the 1980s -- hell, I even used to eat Pac-Man cereal! -- this one really spoke to me...

the other end...

"Mr. Snafu" with a Ms. Pac Man theme

She brings back a lot of memories of Friday nights spent playing video games at the skating rink...

ARMN 11183: whole car


np: the Ministry - "Jesus built my hot rod"

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Friday, January 09, 2009

celebrating Deuce Seven

I didn't quite know what to make of the first Deuce 7 drawing I saw, on the side of a boxcar up in Roanoke a year or so ago. With its beady eyes and menacing mandible, it looked like the head of an ant -- but with parted and wispy hair. The number "27" (which at the time I did not realize was his signature) punctuated the sketch. A month or two later I noticed another one... and then another... each sketch was different from the last, but all were drawn in the same recognizable style -- a combination of street art, fantasy art, and hobo moniker -- unlike anything else rolling out there on the rails today.

My first sighting of a Deuce 7 - Roanoke, TX on the UP

A search through a few of the flickr pages devoted to freight car graffiti and paintstik sketches revealed further insight into the art, style, and modus operandi of the enigmatic "Deuce 7". Not only is he an accomplished artist; he's also a train-hopping advocate -- one who enjoys the freedom of ticket-less travel aboard freight trains from city to city to practice his "art", which includes oilbar drawings, aerosol paintings, and other mixed media, usually -- but not always -- applied to the steel and aluminum canvases of North America's railcars.

Wizard's Gang - dated 10/08 (just two months before I saw it)

Most of his sketches and paintings depict fantasy creatures and structures, elaborately drawn with clean, crisp lines and recurring patterns, sometimes with a cubist influence. Stingray shapes and the faces and heads of insects and crustaceans appear repeatedly, as does an expressed passion for travel and transportation -- by rail in particular, but also by air and sea. The work of M.C. Escher appears to have been a source of inspiration in some of his sketches of buildings and structures.

A fairly typical "Deuce 7" oilbar sketch

"Relaxing with oilbars in Petersburg, Virginia"

Enid , Oklahoma

a rare catch? A Deuce 7 drawing on a tank car

Deuce describes his work in the video documentary "Reefr Madness" (viewable on Youtube)...

"My style of painting is geared for all types of people, mainly hippie mushroom girls trippin' in the woods."

Keep up that unique style, Deuce... I'm not a girl, I'm not into 'shrooms, I ain't trippin' in the woods... but it should suffice to say that I dig your work, man... and I'll be watching the rails, hoping to see more.

Visit Deuce 7's flickr pages here at the link below; you'll find that the scope of his work runs far beyond freight car sketches and aerosol graf.
Deuce 7 on Flickr

Or check out another Deuce 7 "fan" site here:
MD11 Forever - Deuce 7 gallery

"Reefr Madness" on Youtube (part 8 of 8, includes about 2 1/2 minutes of Deuce footage beginning at 03:00)
Reefr Madness - Part 8

Enjoy... keep an eye out on the rails... and if you a Deuce painting or drawing, send me a photo.


np: Minor Threat - "Out of Step"

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

return from west Texas

Still working through the November backlog... today I have 5 more shots from November 13, as I worked my way back to Fort Worth from Slaton...

Santa Fe depot at Snyder

Santa Fe circle-cross emblem at Snyder

Bodine Bros Drive-In Dairy near Colorado City

7-up fading ad near downtown Colorado City

BNSF 1733 on the Texas & Oklahoma Railroad in Sweetwater

On November 17, M joined me for another short trip to Argyle to try my luck at another silhouette shot at sunset. (See January 4 entry) A southbound arrived at just the right time...

Fourth time's the charm, as well... UP southbound near Argyle at sunset on November 17.

Check back in a day or two for more...


np: Led Zeppelin - "Bring it on home"

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Monday, January 05, 2009

return to west Texas

Thursday, November 13. I had spent the previous night in Slaton, and woke up to clear skies and a nice sunrise. I'd spend the morning between Slaton and Post on the BNSF Slaton Sub, and then head down to the UP Toyah Sub west of Sweetwater in the afternoon...

Sunrise at Slaton. A westbound coal empty is ready to depart, as a westbound freight enters the yard in the distance.

I had wanted to catch an eastbound heading down through the cuts along the edge of the Caprock at Buenos...

... but all I got were two westbounds.

The second westbound: BNSF 7396 at Buenos.

I headed to Colorado City to start the afternoon on the UP Toyah Sub. This Z-train was the second of six westbounds I'd see that day.

Westbound Z-train leaving Colorado City.

I raced the Z to the overpass near Coahoma for another shot... I was lucky the highway department had the outside lane of westbound I-20 blocked off!

Back at Colorado City, I set up for another westbound.

Westbound stacks approaching Roscoe.

I burned the last hour of daylight getting a few shots of the TXOR (Texas & Oklahoma) SD9s, tied down on the line to Maryneal south of Sweetwater. The BNSF 1733 looks like it's seen better days. But I wonder how it SOUNDS! Maybe someday I'll catch them running...

BNSF 1733 on the TXOR south of Sweetwater.

Coming next: finishing out the month of November, and a quick December re-cap...


np: Stevie Ray Vaughan - "Voo Doo Child"

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