Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things Fall Apart

We were driving through Coachella, taking some odd roads we've never heard of in search of the famous Salvation Mountain near Niland. Just before getting to the Salton Sea we saw some houses which were in advanced stages of decay, and garbage tossed about the sides of the road. Our first thought was, "God, what a shithole." Then we turned on the 111 toward Niland, and were shocked by what we saw. There were no gas stations, no liquor stores, no signs of life near the Salton Sea, a huge body of water which, from the car, looked sparkling blue and beautiful. From the distance we'd see a store, and think that maybe we finally had the opportunity to pull over and take a piss, but when we approached we'd be greeted with boarded windows and rotting walls. We knew nothing about the history of this place. All we saw was a wasteland. And yet, as we left town, I was hit by a strong urge to go back and see it again.

I have always loved photos of buildings, towns, and especially amusement parks in various stages of decay, with rot eating away at the polished exteriors and old memories falling away like chips of paint. I always felt a kind of comfort seeing weeds split open sidewalks, vines curling away and devouring walls, and rooftops torn to shreds by rain and snow storms. A quick search on the internet tells me that I am not alone. There are books showcasing dead American towns and buildings, and the market doesn't seem to be all that small. Most tourists want to see ghost towns, and things like the dead resorts of the Salton Sea are just an extension of this desire to see nature fight back. I'm no environmentalist, but I know what I like. Much like junk art, outsider music, cult films, and other things of questionable taste, the enthusiasm of nature to reclaim it's turf has a very strong effect on me. A building that's falling to pieces is vastly more beautiful and interesting to me than Hearst Castle, and I am not exaggerating.

Not near the Salton Sea, but still nice.

I can sit here and talk more about nature fighting back, the arrogance of man, and all that other politically-charged bullshit, but I won't. I just like certain kinds of ugliness. There are no political reasons for it. While I may not want to live in Bombay Beach, I would love to own land there and visit it, just to take a look around and see the surrounding areas being dragged down, piece by piece, into the artificial blob of polluted water that will eventually dry up and leave some very interesting treasures for that generation to examine.

1 comment:

Sarah Hall said...

Your story is complete and interesting! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! Yes, the Salton Sea is an amazing place to go, especially when you know its history! If you're curios, simply go to http://bigessaywriter.com/blog/top-30-the-most-terrifying-things-that-belong-to-nature to learn more about our world!