You spell desert with one “s.” Dessert, as I was told when I was little, is what you have after dinner and it’s so sweet, you’ll want double servings, hence the double “s” in its spelling. That’s how I’ve always remembered the desert – lacking of anything worthy of second helpings; of anything other than sweetness. It stained my memory of what a desert could be and of the potential beauty in nothingness. It provided me with a blinding bigotry for anything below 2,000 feet of elevation and made this particular trip that much more grueling as I sped up to escape its dusty grasp.
Anyway you map it you can’t bypass the deserts of the American West. Visually it’s porn for my lens, but emotionally I have no care for it. On each side of the highway, whispers of Americana hold on to their last breath. Rusted relics of this country’s past and the abandoned dreams of their inhabitants entertain our eyes as we inch across. And as we do, intrigue replaces anguish. The backcloth of the American West and its fractioned settlements lay victim to the cruel reality of circumstance. But today, I begin seeing the art in the remnants.
The barren bloodline of evaporated dreams and scorching desertion leave cars to rust and buildings to be shot at and neglected until finally falling to pieces of scrap and ash. I take a picture. And another. It’s a canvas of epic proportions and I find myself liking the one spot I despised for so long. And then we’d drive through – the cycle of boom and bust and the ever-changing ideals of the American Dream fade in and out of the dusty ground below us as we zip by at 70 and 80 miles per hour.
It’s not the recession. It’s not George Bush or Red versus Blue, but instead the raw elements of this place that are at play here. The forgotten landscape forces me to capture a brief moment before abandoning it myself. I drive faster, forget about it and search for higher ground. At least that’s how it started for me as I inched away from Los Angeles and into the Gut of America.
this time I’m east bound and down