I spend a great deal of time walking downtown. You’d think that would be fertile soil for Argus posts, but to tell you the truth, after awhile it all starts to look the same. At a glance you can tell if someone is a tourist, a bum, or if they just work here. The tourists want directions, the bums want money, and the workers just want to get where they’re going without being asked for directions or money. To find something new, you need a different set of circumstances, a game-changer.
So in the pouring rain and failing light, I go for a walk.
The first thing I learn is that the gutters on Lexington Avenue suck. Every few feet they dump water onto some eye-level protrusion by the sidewalk, effectively making rain-grenades. But that’s okay. This is the kind of rain the great Geographic photographer Sam Abell was talking about when he said: “Bad weather makes good photos.”
And it’s true. You can’t just wander around the city when the rain falls in sheets. Bad weather forces you to commit. It also separates us into two groups: Those with umbrellas, and those without.
But pretty soon, everyone take cover, and the only one still walking around in the rain is me. I give up. Heading back to the car, I pass Carolina Lane. I’ve been around long enough to know that it ought to have a sub-header on its streetsign: The Darkest Alley in Asheville. But lately someone has repainted and added lots of street art to the effect of making one of the alley’s walls a tribute to the Black Mountain College. In the basement windows of one of the buildings, bizarre photographs show figures that look out at you as you pass by.
It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve been here at night, and now I see that the photos are transparent. They are lit from behind, blaring light out onto the wet pavement.
You learn something new every day.
Follow on Twitter: @DarkTopo
Other dispatches from the Asheville Argus:
Cats and Dogs
The Lay of the Land
Merry Christmas from the Asheville Argus
Birds, Part II
Birds, Part I
Eyes on the Street
The Public Space
Collected Street Portraits
The Day it All Started
Fog on the Top Deck
Introducing the Asheville Argus