A tale of three cities: Austin, Wharton, & Toronto in photos

“The space that homogenizes thus has nothing homogenous about it. After its fashion, which is polyscopic and plural, it subsumes and unites scattered fragments or elements by force.”

—Henri Lefebvre

My home is scattered across three disparate communities. Fortunately, I am able to spend time in all of them on a regular basis. Traversing these spaces has underscored for me their commonalities and departures. In the photos that follow I have tried to capture some of the distinctive elements that are relevant to my own life. Click the images to see larger photos.

AUSTIN

A_austinI spent half my life in Austin. Although my intuition tells me that Austin’s heyday was probably in the 1970s, it was as good a place as any to live. During my recent trips to Austin I have noticed a deep ambivalence among my closest friends regarding the recent transformations of the city. Change is inevitable but change is also marked by multi-directionality. Built environments are arenas of class struggle. There is an unmistakeable flow of composition-decompositiom-recomposition in urban landscapes. The fixed spatial systems created by capital in the past must be overcome by capital today. The first time I noticed these dynamics was when Austin decided to shutter Liberty Lunch to make way for Silicon Laboratories. The process of overdevelopment has only accelerated since then. Thus, Keep Austin Weird has an air of desperation about it. If Austin really is the Live Music Capital of the World then it’s quickly become a colonial capital. Austin’s acclaimed music festivals seem to confirm the city’s open embrace of neoliberal values, of self-serve all-you-can-stand buffets of hyper-commercialized non-local music. Nevertheless, Austin is still home to some of the very best people in the world as far as I’m concerned. As long as my friends and favorite haunts survive part of me will always remain in Austin.

A_death

Death by condo

A_piano

In another life

A_howareyou

Resisting overdevelopment

A_tower

The tower

A_eyes

Can’t see the forest

A_UKSubs

Subvert City

A_spiderhouse

Office hours

A_skyline

Congress Avenue Bridge

A_sewer

Sanitized

A_rooster

More metal than you

A_records

Vinyl library

A_pricklypear

Prickly pear

A_pricklybloom

Prickly pear bloom

A_paramount

The Paramount

A_noTV

If only

A_littlefield

Littlefield

A_gotham

Kruger’s

A_goat

Handlebars

A_frame

Another dimension

A_fluterock

Flute rock

A_cityofaustin

Survey marker

A_chickens

Herding chickens

A_capital

Dysfunction

WHARTON

W_courthouseI enjoyed growing up in sleepy Wharton. Over the years I’ve met many people who speak disdainfully of their hometowns and their high school years. This was never the case with me. I relish every opportunity to return home for a visit. In some respects Wharton is on the opposite pole of the same pattern of accumulation mentioned previously. With stores like Wal-Mart and Buc-ee’s outside the gates and Houston looming ever closer, there’s not much left in the way of economic opportunity. The process is visible to the naked eye, even at Gulf Coast Medical Center—an institution so near and dear to my own family. In another sense this town seems to stand still for me. Stillness hangs in the air. Somehow the downward economic slide and the anachronistic are reconcilable in small towns like Wharton. The courthouse itself seems to personify this contradiction with its nostalgically beautiful exterior and its inoperative interior. Whatever. I never really left this place either.

W_basketball

Dreamy

W_wall

Against the wall

W_dinopark

Dinosaur Park

W_noguns

We’re all going to jail then

W_fish

Fish eye

W_squirrels

Eat pecans

W_tomatobug

Tomato tomato

W_stadium

Where we said goodbye

W_roots

Waves

W_fledgling

Fledgling

W_jungle

The Colorado

W_inch

Inch by inch

W_bridge

Still standing

W_brains

Cypress brains

W_bagworm

Home is wherever

W_anole

Eye liner

W_lake

My original autonomous zone

TORONTO

T_skylineWhen you move to a new city there is sometimes a temptation to disparage the place you came from. You build a narrative for yourself to validate current circumstances. As I have settled into Toronto the urge has gradually subsided. The past is past and Toronto demands my immediate attention. I’ve never lived in a large city like this before. My life here is something like a perpetual adventure. So many people. So many differences. So many corners. On the weekends I try to see something new. I am nowhere near exhausting this place. However, the same flow of composition-decomposition-recomposition is unfolding here as elsewhere. I’m just not as emotionally invested in Toronto yet. I’m not bothered by the immanent demise of Honest Ed’s or the shifting waterfront landscape. But I recognize the struggle. In the mean time I’ll just keep exploring.

T_white

So soft

T_jelly

Jellyfish

T_dandelion

Dandelion

T_clarabara

All smiles all the time

T_sparkles

A jewel

T_seahorse

How are these things even real?

T_purplegreen

Bud

T_lighthouse

Lighthouse

T_pinkgreen

Delicate

T_waterfront

Waterfront

T_roundpurple

Perfect

T_orangered

Stamen

T_4th

The 4th

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>