"Free at Last"
West 4th and Cascade Street, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States
⠀ I took (#2) after taking what would have been my best pic of the day (#1) if the ISO setting on my camera had not inadvertently been set to ISO 65,535 (probably happened when I was fiddling with the menu trying to switch from auto to manual focus.) Usually I shoot at ISO 100. Having such a high iso is only for extremely low light environments so it caused the photo to be completely blownout. I tried to reduce exposure in post-production to compensate but no dice.⠀
⠀ It’s been awhile since I had inspiring dreams. In fact, I think it’s accurate to say that I caught more fish than daydreams in 2017. As a child, like this child, it much easier. Dreams came easy. We spend them liberally like dollar bills in a gas station candy aisle. Inspiration, creativity seem limitless. The world is a strange place full of excitement and wonder. This young boy playing in front of a foreclosed house in a neighborhood that had had a murder-suicide just four blocks away is blissfully unaware of the harshities of the environment in which he wonders but he is unusually well equipped with prudent gear for his bright adventure. Goggles to keep the dust and haters away, a faux flame-mohawk helmet to not only protect his head but also to help ignite other’s internal flames that have long been extinguished. Finally, although he most likely does not want to use it, he is armed, as a last-ditch defense, with a water pistol. A harmless but effective weapon to have as he rides his Goodwill mongoose bicycle. Despite my cordial efforts, he is one of only three I have a positive interaction with in that neighborhood today. Suspicion follows expensive camera gear in small towns. A brisk ten-minute walk later I come to the corner of a derelict parking lot (#2). The sign is under palliative care. Instead of displaying poorly designed marketing by some underfunded business it frames something infinitely more truthful: old dreams. Unlike the young boy with daringly exciting dreams, the dreams here have come and gone. Dreams of success that have been tenaciously and repeatedly brutalized with overwhelming failure over a decade. As we get older we become conditioned mental slaves to normalcy. Our slaves owners hold us in bondage using chains called “maturity”, “unproductiveness” and “professionalism”. Your hair will not be dyed green and you will repeat “How can I assist you today” a thousand times a day instead staring at the asphalt for ten seconds and wondering what's buried underneath.⠀
⠀ A white and red metal sign that refuses to rust attached midway at the base of the pole stands as a testament to the corporate-destroyer-of-dreams, warning any non-customers that they will be towed, attempting to inject fear into the hearts of individuals unwilling to purchase their banally unnecessary goods. The corporation’s wet dream is for us to hoard as many worthless trinkets in our tiny houses blocking the windows and blocking out the light. “You will buy from us or you will pay dearly” is the message it sends me. No. You will not tow me from here. You no longer own this land. You will not repossess our dreams nor will you corporately repackage our future. The trees and bushes seem to share my sentiment as they suffocate the sign indifferent to its authoritarian warning. Like an abusive father viewed through the eyes of a grown adult, you can no longer hurt us, your bribes and threats no longer have power over us. Infact it is your corporate control that will be towed form our minds. We are free now. We are free now.⠀