I love hole-in-the-wall diners. The coffee is generally weak, the food semi-average, but the decor, the patrons, the chats, and the traditions that diners invite beckon me.
Logan and I tried to go to Paul’s Pancake Parlor, which apparently is amazing, but it was packed beyond belief. We drove a block and found Ruby’s Cafe, which hasn’t altered its interior decor since the 1970s, or so it seemed.
I love places that don’t budge. The Uptown Diner in downtown Missoula recently closed, and that was a big blow to the budget diner scene here. I love going places where a good chunk of the patrons are regulars, where the goal isn’t to be hip or new. Diners are a part of Americana that don’t respond quickly to changes, and there is comfort in that. You walk in, sit in a booth, and know that the menu will have the usual options (pancakes, sausages, hashbrowns), and that the coffee, as mediocre as it may be, will be hot and full of caffeine.
I insisted that Logan come to the fair with me. The fair is a microcosm of American culture: It’s big, colorful, gluttonous, loud, and silly. Children can shoot fake enormous guns that look scarily real from rough looking carnival employees. One can buy deep fried Oreos in large quantities and people watch. Rodeo visitors dress up in their best cowboy boots, hats, and belts. Men with large stomachs wear their largest belt buckles. The exhibition hall houses goats, rabbits, chickens, cows, and sheep, all for purchase or viewing.
Old people walk past children’s carnival rides decorated with busty women, hyper sexualized characters in skimpy outfits. Everywhere there is inescapable mud and dirt, in sharp contrast to the shiny neon and the lights. Food trucks line the parking lot, and one can devour anything from pork chop sandwiches to roasted corn to funnel cakes.
And I found a roll of 35mm film in a film shop in Bozeman that I hadn’t picked up, scanned in the negatives, and found all of this waiting for me. What an odd, marvelous late gift to myself.
I have written of my love for Butte a few times. Granted, I do not live there, but every time I drive over the winding passes to go there, I am delighted by the sheer amount of history. I am always tempted to buy a historic property and fix it up or somehow insert myself into Butte’s thread of history.
Butte has been hosting the Montana Folk Festival for quite a few years now. It was my second year going, and I was excited. I drove Ella’s coworker there in the trusty Subaru, and we had both packed rain jackets and beer. Butte has no open container law, a rarity these days. Kristin and Jon were taking their time getting back from Bozeman, so I met up with some of Ella’s other coworkers. It rained, hailed, and was windy on and off all day, but it didn’t dampen the good feelings that everybody had that day, even if we were all covered in specks of mud and cowering from hail hiding behind buildings. Montana weather is notorious for being mercurial and you must simply take it in stride.
The Folk Festival is 100% free, but volunteers walk around with donation buckets. You can put in as much or as little as you like. I put in $20, because the event is so well put together. We got to see incredible artists from all over- deep from the mountains of Kentucky, from as far as Brazil and Afghanistan, all there to do one thing: make music and share it with us in an old mining town.
We stayed very late. I was very tired when it came time to drive home, but satiated with sound and experiences. Although I am not sure where I will be next summer it would be wonderful to be back for the Festival, mud or rain or sunshine.
I hope you enjoy some of these frames- my camera actually is no longer functioning, and this was one of the last rolls of film it processed correctly without overlapping frames or not taking any images at all. I’ve since had to retire the poor workhorse of a Minolta, rest in peace dear little machine.
I am slightly infatuated with Kodachrome tones, saturated skies, cateye glasses, and the feeling of mid-century Americana that absolutely saturates and charms in Paul Rule’s photographic archive (Flickr set HERE, all photographs sourced to there).
I don’t know any of these people, and a large majority of the photographs haven’t been labeled very specifically. It’s this sort of anonymity that makes it possible to love these vintage slides even more. You can easily imagine pulling out the dusty Kodak Carousel projector and sitting there, hearing the satisfying click, seeing another image from the past come to life in front of you.
While I merely click ahead on my laptop, and while these people are strangers, I still feel wonderfully transported on their adventures grand and minute. I hope you feel even a whisp of the whimsy I do!
“Paris Street Vintage Slide”
“Russian Metro Vintage Slide” (P.S. How did these people make it into Moscow in the late 50’s?)
“Grand Imperial Hotel”
“Frying Pan Wallpaper”
“Does This Hat Make My Head Look Big”
“Blue Skirt, Black Dog, Red Bug”
Road in Maine
I apologize for the lack of “real-time” posts. School has begun. Most of them are wonderful, I’m taking a course in 20th century art that seems to be promising, taught by a fiesty Bulgarian woman with enough knowledge to saturate our brains for the semester. My Spanish class is going well, though I’m a bit rusty, as I expected. I was in an Economics course, but the moment I walked in I felt so lost. There were curves, and charts, and the lecture hall was far too large to warrant any great personal increase of knowledge. I instead transferred into a Women’s Studies course- I am a feminist, and taking any sort of Gender Studies classes has always appealed to me.
Now, on to the actual visual aspect of the post! Edward Hopper is Americana goodness. I’m more of a German/Swiss/Europe in general art lover, but something about Edward Hopper’s brushstrokes and his use of color really feels so American. It’s realism but it’s not totally realistic, and it’s marvelous. He paints landscapes that could only belong on the East Coast and characters that feel more American than any I’ve seen. His portrayal of summer evenings, private moments, and urban happenings are perfection.
While browsing Flickr, I stumbled upon a guy named Paul Rule. He is in the process of scanning over 30,000 slides to make a kind of Americana (and sometimes international) collection of photographs taken in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I’ve just spend over an hour going through them…so fascinating!
It’s rather unfortunate that the locations of a lot of the slides isn’t noted.
Poppies and white wood siding- what more could one want?
Old abandoned school house.
I love this Americana decay kind of feel one gets with the slides.
These are at gardens in British Columbia, I think?
What is really cool is the slide collection has a lot of interiors and typical post-war ranch/suburbia houses, so you really get a feel for what it was like in decades past.
One of my favorites.
The slides also feature cities like San Juan, Paris, London, etc…at first I thought that this was Paris, but I’m thinking more Spain-ish the more I look at it…
I love the layering and scale of this one…you can see all the additions over the centuries for these castles. I think this is a French castle, or possibly British…but it is pretty obvious that some parts are older than others. Way back then you would only build what you could afford. The Tower of London started in the 1100’s and was added on to until the 18th or 19th century, I believe?
Here’s the link to the Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulrule