Category Archives: Ephemera

Easter Parade

It was once a custom of people to get especially dressed up for holidays such as Easter. Easter is both a religious holiday and a celebration of Spring after a long Winter. When I was a tiny tot, Easter involved getting a new dress to wear to church, a new hat (courtesy of my grandmother, who was hat mad), and white gloves. Then there would be a feast that took forever to be ready. Later the new clothes would be packed away if I hadn’t ruined them playing with my brothers (while we waited for the food).

But on this Easter weekend, I enjoyed a different sort of parading about in finery, as on this weekend there was a local pow wow. (Confession: my friend M had guilted me into going even though I was busy).

First up were the Aztec dancers, a dance troupe which was celebrating the indigenous styles of Mexico.

There was a strong, freezing wind blowing, so the dancing was moved to a nearby tent. Every pow wow starts off with a grand entry of all the dancers in attendance. First to enter are the veterans carrying flags, then people in order of importance. These were the head dancers and tribal representatives. (Miss Gallup can butcher a sheep in three minutes, so don’t mess with her.)

So there is a lot of expected outfits, buckskins and beads, etc. but there is also room for updating things. So the dress is in a traditional style, but she chose to go with a manga style print which looked fabulous.

Your expected sort of Easter hat (like my white grandmother loved) often was garnished with ribbons and feathers to make a statement. But I have to say that this dancer out-does any typical Easter outfit, and it was eye-catching to watch the ribbons rippling in the breeze.

Then for my feast I stood in line for some fry bread, then I scurried home, as I said, it was freezing cold out there and I had expected Spring.

On Record

A friend had recently been gifted with a new bit of antique technology, so we were off to the place that sells both new and antique items, a record shop.

When I was a very young person I had a portable record player. It was in a square case (maybe 15″ x 15″) that folded open to reveal the mechanism for playing a single 45 (one song per side, with a large hole in the middle). One of my brothers used this to drive me mad by playing “The little white duck” a bazillion times in a row.

So there we were at a record shop, which also sold the antique technologies of cassette tapes, compact discs and DVDs. We were searching the bins to replace old favorite music that had somehow fallen by the wayside. And I also found these treasures.

I was talking about this record with one of my friends. She had been clearing out her mother’s house, and had found a similar album. We laughed about it a bit, and she said she made the audiophile who picked up the stereo system take this too (serves him right!).

I had recently met a blogger who writes about, and appreciates World Music, and I was thinking of her when I snapped this photo. What was most interesting to me was the sticker that labeled this as once being part of an Air Force base collection. I imagine the record is in pristine condition (but I didn’t actually look) and I wondered how on earth it had ended up here.

I have a copy of this music on compact disc, but not with this conductor. I took this picture because I loved the album cover.

Here’s another one that had a gorgeous cover, done in a style between Aubrey Beardsley and Margaret Keane. I have been to the opera, and can’t really say that I enjoyed it (although it was fun to get dressed up and spend lots of money for the ticket [maybe not that part]). But I was almost tempted just by the cover art.

But I succumbed to temptation with this record. What is it? I have no idea because I have never listened to it, I bought it solely based on the cover ($3 at my local thrift shop). Cover art on these old albums was an important part of getting one to pick it up and buy it. With the advent of compact discs, a picture was included, but it was so small as to be irrelevant, and with downloads there is no picture, or a very tiny one. But interestingly enough this shop also carried brand new vinyl of new music, and reprints of some classic rock albums for the hippest of the hipsters to carry off and listen to on their new/antique turntables. Maybe there will always be a place for vinyl (until the next new thing comes along).

March

So after a two year hiatus, the big event was on again. And I once again braved the murderous traffic to drive up north, and attend. It quite often snows on this weekend, but this time it was warm and sunny, so there were lots of people with the same idea.

This was the 46th annual event, and it is quite a show with dancers and vendors coming from far away to participate. And it has lots of things to buy that one can’t get anywhere else, like bits of curly-haired goat skins, sage, beads and bling. Plus t-shirts with characters like Pikachu and Yoda in tribal dress and assorted pop culture mash-ups. If one wants to stand in a very long line there is traditional food to be had (okay, it’s just fry bread).

The event is held at a sports arena that is most famous locally for the annual stock show in January (a stock show is where one brings prize cattle and horses, it’s a beauty pageant for animals, and winning means money and a chance to reproduce). It’s located in the shrinking industrial part of town (yes, even this part of town is becoming gentrified).

Just like the livestock show, this event is also judged. There are points for participation, decorativeness of the dance outfits, and dance style. (Not sure which is the most important, but there is prize money involved as well as prestige).

The more bling, the better.

I saw this sticker on a car in the parking lot (and you know how I love stickers). I thought it was funny, and I think the crowd on hand agreed with the sentiment. And that’s why I like to go, despite the traffic, the crowds, etc.

A Face in the Window

I don’t really spend a lot of time in my car, but, driving is generally boring, and I find my attention wandering at times (okay, I am usually looking for hawks). Stopping one’s car most often involves parking in a lot (I can parallel park, but why bother?). And you know how much I love looking for the ways that people personalize their vehicles. So the newest thing seems to be pictures in the window, like someone or something is riding around with you enjoying the scenery.

I had popped down to the new location of the art supply store, when I noticed that I had parked right next to this sloth. Said sloth seems to be friendly, and happy to be in the car.

I had been to the gym when I noticed this active person, perhaps the driver was at the gym as well, punching or kicking something (must have been upstairs).

Okay, so it’s a not a realistic window sticker, but it was super adorable, so I couldn’t resist the face. It brings to mind a phrase that I was fond of when I was a young person (perhaps it’s from Alice in Wonderland?) ” a cat can look at a queen”.

And there she is looking a little weather-beaten, but it is undeniably the Queen of England, so perhaps this is parked here for cats (and random passers-by) to admire on this beautiful spring day. Or this car could belong to a lost royalist, waiting for the return to kingdom. And I must remember to keep my eyes on the road in spite of the hawks.

Reflections

Fast away the old year passes

Well it’s that time of year again, when one is inundated with recaps of the past year (in case one has forgotten being there). And today I am also giving in to the impulse, but, being literal-minded I am including some of the reflections of things that I photographed over the past year (you do remember how much I like reflections and shadows?).

January, 2021. I was at the local market and I was inspired by how lovely the clouds looked. It must have been quite cold, as I just took the picture by my car. That is the car’s roof reflecting the tree and clouds.

This was in June, when the local art on the street program kicked off. I seem to remember that one could visit each bit of art, and perhaps get a prize (this assumes that one could find a parking place near each of the new pieces). I had decided that this was the only new thing worth seeing (price $80K to buy), and here it is also reflecting the new courthouse addition and jail.

August, and this reflection was taken in my car window. I had gone over to a friend’s to drop off some delicious, perfectly ripe peaches, and there was this lovely peach sky.

October. I adore the reflections in this spot and have photographed it several times over the years. The contrast between the 60’s modernism of this annex and the Victorian splendor of the other is always worth a picture or two.

More October. The real trick of photographing reflections is to avoid having the photographer appear as well. So I was considering this as I lined up the shot of this temporary exhibit of elephant statues.

November. For some reason I was parked on the street. It was a mostly overcast day, but there was this break in the clouds that illuminated a distant quarry on the side of the mountain, and I thought it beautiful. Tis the season for reflections, and this is how I remember it.

Signs

Signs are rather mundane bits of the landscape, they tell one, where to go, what’s up ahead, what something is. And as you know, I do like to take photos of the many varieties of signs, especially when they are somewhat cryptic.

Like this sign here, it is indicating that one can fall, or that one should run in a new direction? Someone has removed part of this sign, perhaps that was the instructions.

I have never heard of such a thing, but it is no doubt helpful if one lives in a city.

This doorway of death seemed to be clearer, there is no smoking, and a giant arrow will kill whosoever enters. Thanks for the warning pal, I will not be entering (Or is this some sort of riddle like Tolkein used in “Lord of the Rings”? I shall ponder this.)

This one is a sort of generalized warning, and is temporary and unofficial. But the pterodactyl seems to be giving this consideration (as that’s what happened to them).

But this venerable sign, carved into the stone of this church, has the best general warning of all: “Commit no Nuisance”. And I think this would cover falling down a shaft, climbing up the side of a building, entering the doorway of death, or causing the climate to change, so this should be universal advice.

Speak

At the flats I stay at, there is this place. I kept walking past the door, but one day it was open….

Well, as it turned out, it was a semi-secret pub, and was very popular with a sort of trendy young person. It was a facsimile of a speak-easy, those American drinking establishments of prohibition (January 1920 to December 1933). Of course my only knowledge of these sorts of places comes from old gangster movies. (Although my great-aunt Julia was married to a bootlegger and died of the drink).

True to the historicity of such places, one rings the buzzer and a face appears in the little window asking one for the secret code to enter. I said “Howdy” and the Russian at the door said “what is this howdy?” So I said “it’s American for Hello”, which was good enough to get in (I had not booked a table). And inside a small, dimly lit room, lots of young persons were sucking down drinks in this theme boozer.

Note that even the bear is wearing a blindfold, everything that happens in here is a secret.

I was reminded of a time, probably close to fifty years ago, when I had gone to a similar place. Me and my friends were home for Christmas, there were the obligatory family things, and then there was adventure. I was the youngest person in our group, but I had a fake ID so I could tag along. My friend L was older than me, and I thought she was very glamorous. She had grown up in a mansion, gone to private schools, then university and she was living a bohemian life as a street vendor. She wanted to go out and about and I was fool enough to follow her anywhere. She had a privately printed pamphlet listing gay clubs in the area. So, off we went, driving in her parents’ big sedan.

We were looking for this place across the river, in an almost abandoned urban area (it had made the list for most dangerous cities in America, and it’s still on this). Once upon a time it had been a prosperous place, with businesses, stores and jobs, but that time had long passed. And there we were in a cold, dark street, looking for a place without a sign to announce it’s presence, hoping to not be murdered (it was famous for this, after all). Then we found a door, with the requisite little door for the bouncer to scope out potential customers. I can’t imagine what we looked like, but we must have somehow passed muster, or maybe we had to pay money to enter and there we were, at a drag club, possibly the only females in the place.

To say that I was out of my depth is an understatement, but we went in, sat down and ordered drinks. It was a dive, probably last redecorated in the 30’s when it opened. Many of the patrons looked to be military from the nearby Air Force Base. There was a tiny raised area that served as a stage, and that was where the ladies lip synced to popular tunes. We were sitting on the left side and could see into the dressing area, which was just a flimsy curtain covering a small boxy area. It was fascinating watching a rather ordinary looking soldier turn into a prom queen with big hair and a massive sparkly dress. We on the other hand, looked like the young hippies that we were, we always used lots of eye makeup, and I’m sure that we had on jeans and pullovers of some sort. After a performance, she invited the artist to come over for a drink, and of course I don’t remember any of the conversation, I probably said nothing beyond “howdy”. Then it was time to go, and we made it out of this decaying town and back to our own side of the river.

Altogether it was a much more exciting experience than the modern speakeasy, located as it is in a good part of it’s town (possibly this is also the good side of the river there).

New artist

So now you might be wondering, what was the recent gallery opening about? And why did I feel impelled to go?

This piece was the first one created by this artist for the local “art on the street” project , and it has always been my favorite (I actively hate some of the work of other artists). It has been here for a couple of years and I am amazed by the number of my friends who have never noticed this and don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, the statue was vandalized by some jerk last year, and this is actually the second version. The artist came to town to fix this, and decided that he liked the place so well, that he and his family moved here from Korea. So now I guess that makes him a local artist.

This is this years’ selection for “art on the streets”. And because one does not have to put any money in the parking meters on Sunday morning, I was out and about to take this new photo of these amazing steel Betas. It was rather breezy and they were moving in the wind, as is proper for fighting fish.
So besides making massive sculptures, he also does smaller pieces, like this tiny tree (it did not have a tiny price tag). This tiny gallery is the perfect sort of place to show small art. (Not sure if it is the perfect sort of place to sell art). But there we all were, seeing and being seen, drinking cheap wine and admiring the art.
I did love this piece, and after a glass of wine I had a few fangirl words with the artist (and I hope that he understands English, or maybe it’s better if he doesn’t).

I had found out about the gallery show from an article in the local newspaper, and this mentioned that the missus of the artist did fiber art. Well, so do I, so I wished to meet her. But we do very different sorts of things, and I guess I am not a fangirl, but I definitely approve of following one’s muse. I hope that she and the family like this town, and that they continue to be local artists, because we need great art for the streets (wait a minute, that brings tourists, so maybe not).

More signs

I do love the whimsy of signs, just a brief announcement of something, anything that gives one a snippet of information or direction. Now that proper gallery openings are allowed, I had popped in to see the show of a new resident (more later). By proper gallery opening, I mean there were nibbles, cheap wine and no masks, just what one expects. And signs.

This was the entrance to the gallery, referencing a rap song from the past, so I would guess the gallerists to be in their 40’s.

Rather useful information, and I am sure the persons inside got tired of repeating this to passersby.

This looks to have been posted by a trout, or perhaps a friend. I am unaware of any fish actually living in the creek. And like many signs, it appears to have been ignored.

This sign was the best of the lot, as well as being the most cryptic. Walking on the sidewalk is what one does, I suppose this indicates to walk one’s bicycle, the other two images were more mysterious, but I eventually decided that they referred to skateboards and rollerblades. I doubt if this is legible or obvious as one rolls along, but it’s an interesting graphic. Nice try, city.