Wednesday, July 27, 2011


If it's abandoned, one nail away from collapsing, or choking in weeds, chances are I'm poking around. As an awkward, bespectacled girl in the seventh grade, I spent many weekends with a friend who lived on a farm - and she knew the ins and outs of every other neighboring farm in the area. On one particular plot of land, surrounded by overgrowth and obscured from roads, sat a long forgotten two-story home. The entire facade was ripped off, exposing each boxy room unit, like a life-size dollhouse. It appeared as though the home had been left behind in the 50s or 60s, judging by the old stove and refrigerator. For a twelve year old, (severely) sheltered in a rural Maryland town, this was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I hope for newer generations of curious explorers that this place still exists.

By the time I was seventeen we were living in Northern California, and I had a car to explore my own piece of the world. I was infatuated with abandoned buildings. In college at San Diego, I discovered an entire town of abandonment at the Salton Sea. I've visited abandoned amusement parks on the edge of cliffs in Los Angeles, small homes here and there all over the country. Empty stores and warehouses. Citrus packing plants in Florida. Generally, none of these places have ever frightened me. The things I worry about in abandoned spaces have more to deal with structural stability - and less about Leatherface.

I think often about what attracts to me to urban decay. On a surface level, there is a small thrill found in the fear of the unknown, in the spaces belonging to my trespasses. Yet I can't help but feel there is something greater with this fascination. Several of the buildings I visited have one thing in common: so many personal effects have been left behind. It doesn't matter if it's a small home or a giant warehouse. I have been to a packing plant with an unopened soda on an office desk and a cardigan draped over the back of a chair. I've seen pictures from other urban explorers of abandoned hotels with the beds still neatly made, after a decade of nonuse. Each place a musty time capsule. It's quite eery, and makes me wonder under what circumstances would someone leave so much of themselves behind?

I find much more comfort in decay than in newness. I'm still trying to figure that out. Generally speaking I love all things old and grungy. Maybe it's my own way of reacting to our culture? I won't try and take it too deep...but Americans tend to love the impulse of a new purchase. We tear things down and rebuild them to accomodate our modern needs.

Or maybe it's just my imagination wanting to create a good narrative of the past from a lot of little clues left behind...

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Last Stand

Miracle City Mall - there ain't much else.

Walk into the Miracle City Mall and at first breath you'll want to turn around and stick out the 96 degree Florida summer. The strong, overpowering, thick smell of mildew immediately whacks you in the face. It fills up your lungs and makes you cough for a few hours after (at least it does to me).

Putting it mildly, time has not been friendly to this building. The Miracle City Mall has exactly four stores: its flagship JC Penny's, GNC, a travel agency, and Dave's Hot Dog Stand. And um, this is a mall. All of the other stores have long since left. It's like a ghost town. No, it IS a ghost town. Like a scene from Dawn of the Dead, minus the zombies, thankfully.

As a newcomer to this area of Florida, I've always viewed this mall as a glimpse of what once was a booming, magical time for the Space Coast. When astronauts were revered like celebrities, and people actually knew where you were from when you said "Cape Canaveral". I guess in a way the mall is like a strange microcosm of this city. It is an old relic from a better time, somewhere struggling so desperately to hold on it, but mostly forgotten.

But like a small town, it has fascinating little stories about people who have stuck through the good and bad times. Like Dave's Hot Dog Stand. To a newcomer, it's a strangely amusing holdout in the middle of a nearly deserted building. Dave's is literally the last stand. My coworkers and I had lunch there today - Chicago dogs, nacho dogs, reuben dogs - and it was decent enough. This is nothing against Dave, it's just that hot dogs in general never send me into a state of tubed-meat nirvana. Conversely, I've never had a shitty hot dog. It can't get worse, but it doesn't get that much better. Just my opinion.

We sat at the counter and had our hot dogs, watching to our surprise several people come and go. Curious as we were to this strange scene, we asked Dave questions about the mall's past - and whether or not he was going to move his business if the mall eventually shut down. He informed us that his family had owned the stand for forty-one years. A hell of a lot of hot dogs. And no, he wouldn't move his beloved business if the mall closed. He was getting on in age, and by the time he would reopen, he'd be too old for it. We were even treated with an old photo of the stand, which pictured cheerful looking girls in fashionable mini dresses. Oddly enough, it looked like even then some of the stores were closed. Maybe in transition?

Then and Now

To an outsider like myself, it's an interesting story of local history. I am detached. To citizens of Titusville, this place is an icon. Dave's Hot Dog Stand has a facebook page with 2800 fans. Holy crap. People who have long sinced moved on still rave about it, and pine away for strawberry smoothies and hot dogs. A coworker of mine talked about how intertwined her own memories are with the place. Even if this mall is one year away from being another abandoned building, people still flock to this tiny stand.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ladybug, silver dollar, rabbit's foot

i'm on the home page! those canoes look familiar...

So very excited to announce that I am now featured on Poppytalk's Handmade Market! I have been following Poppytalk's blog for so long and have seen all of the talented artists featured. It's great to be a part of it.

So our street is the collective crazy cat lady of the neighborhood. We harbor several ferals, all neutered and spayed by some generous folks. Each one has a name, my favorite being Major Tom (pictured top left). They defy all the asshole strays that have ever hissed at you, crapped in your flower bed and ran laughing. And I plan on documenting each one because I love them all.

Finally....does a song ever get stuck in your head to the point where the only remedy is listening to it again? I have Guv'ner's cover of "Lucky Ladybug" going nonstop in my let me help you get it stuck in yours too!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Playing Tourist

at the cocoa beach pier

I am not a beach goer, but I live fifteen minutes away from the beach. In fact, it can be counted on two hands how many times I have been there since I moved to Florida three years ago. It might be my pasty white skin, the sheer terror of wearing a bathing suit in front of strangers, or maybe it's my irrational fear of rogue waves. Florida beaches are quite beautiful, however, and since people travel hundreds of miles to visit them, I figured I could drive a few minutes east.

I woke up early to meet a friend/coworker - maybe arrived around 7:30 am. Visiting Cocoa Beach any time after 11 am is a big mistake, as there will be no parking, and the beaches are already packed. Oh, and it feels like 100 degrees by 9 am.

We walked around Cocoa Beach, and went over to the Pier, which sadly I had never visited. It's not much, but I was in love with the bright colors on the pier - oranges, blues, greens. Also, Florida is a magical state where Fantasia Mickey Mouse waves his wand and all the crap that hangs in the air gets swept offshore (probably to Enchanted Plastic Bottle Island), so the sky is as vivid and saturated as the bright blue ocean.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I am DJ hear me roar

all alone with no one to give me awesome points...

And on the 5,943,231,438th day, was birthed from the loins of the intertubes, and yea, it was good. Yea.

James got me hooked on turntable this week. I haven't stopped the music yet. It is a thing of beauty, but more importantly, a huge waste of time. The two of us spend our evenings, side by side on the couch, and side by side on the turntables. Silence in real life, but our kitty cat avatars chatting in the Merge Records room. Nodding our heads in sync, like the pretentious indie rock jerks that we are. Not really.

is there a body under that canoe?

I've got a few exciting things coming up with my Etsy shop! The set designers from the upcoming NBC show Prime Suspect purchased my "Canoes" photo...I will be on the lookout for an itty bitty picture...maybe it will be next to a body. An undisclosed lover? A rich, crotchety old lady? It was the daughter! She had been cut out of the will. But damn! She would do anything for that photo.

Yeah, it's a little Murder She Wrote, I know.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shuttle Launch!

Wow. What a beautiful event to witness. I'm so lucky to work across the river from Kennedy Space Center, and since I've been here, I have seen many go up (as well as many scrubs). It's quite sad to know there will be no more after this, but I have hope that this country will go on to better and brighter things. Remembering how jealous I was of all the kids who got to go to Space Camp - after watching Double Dare - makes me a little nostalgic. Maybe future generations of children will also dream of going to space while watching game shows, too.

In the hours leading up to the launch, I walked around Titusville, camera in tow. There is something uniquely American about shuttle launches. It is a moment that brings all of us together, especially in trying times like these when we are so very divided. There were people from all over the country - all over the world, in fact - sitting side by side, waiting in anticipation for a mere 30 seconds of history to unfold. People who had been camped out here for days, knowing that the odds of a launch happening were against them. Amazingly the dark clouds held out, the sun peeked through, and the shuttle went off. The crowds at every park, every median and road cheered...and cheered...and cheered. For a little while at least, my usual cynicism disappeared, and I was so proud to be a part of it. It truly was a thing to behold!