Sunday, June 20, 2010

Forgot about Gary

I have been meaning to post pictures from the day Chris and I visited Gary, Indiana for almost a full year. It seems like the rest of the world, I just can't help but forget about Gary.

Here's some of our fabled pictures:

We couldn't figure out how to get off the train when we got to Gary. Seriously. It was confusing. So we ended up overshooting our trip, and spending an hour in Miller, Indiana. This is what Miller looks like:

Then we got to Gary and watched a baseball game. There was a Bennigan's in the ballpark that seemed to be getting at least as much attention as the Gary South Shore Railcats. Nobody at the park was from Gary proper, apparently, because once the game was over, they all got in cars and drove to other parts of Indiana/Illinois/other blank places. Chris and I walked over to downtown Gary. It was completely deserted on a summer Sunday afternoon. We saw about two other people during the hour and a half we explored, and they were unsettled by our presence as we were by theirs.

Here's a garbage can I found to be really horrendously poignant. "City of the Century." Of course, that refers to the 20th Century. Even Gary's slogan acknowledges that its best days are over. How heartbreaking is that? Answer: a billion heartbreaks. Also, the town logo is the entire earth being coated in steel. We're happy Gary's proud of its resources but they do say that there can be too much of a good thing. And smothering our planet with steel crosses the "too much" line.


We couldn't figure this pavilion out. There was no explanation. It was just celebrating 1998, I guess. And why not? The Lunar Prospector was launched that year AND Hello Nasty came out. There's a reason they call it 199-Great. They being me, and probably some other cool peeps.

We found some weird lifeform near the train station. Likely just a fungus, but could've been an alien. We poked it with a stick: no change.

This is the first house built in Gary, and is allegedly a museum, though it was so dilapidated, unprotected and generally sad-looking that even two Canadians could've easily broken in. We didn't though. We're Canadians.

And finally this. This. This was the coup de grace:

It reads: "To the man who works, the man who sweats, the man who pounds and rolls the iron, who plows the fields, and sows and reaps the golden harvest, the clerk, the student, the schoolteacher, the mechanic, the laborer, in fact to the millions of toiling men and women of the earth, who hope to rest their weary bodies in the great afternoon of life on something better than blasted hopes and vain regrets this wall is dedicated."

That should hit you where it counts no matter how or where you read it. But if you read it in an American town that boomed, then busted, and currently seems to just be aching for something else to happen before it's reclaimed by nature, and if the poem's presentation itself is painfully emblematic of the city's own historic arc, barely legible due to decades of neglect but clearly once spectacular and widely admired, and if the energy and optimism encased in the words are desperately at odds with the fatigue and hopelessness of the city it's supposed to represent - if you see it like that, you're allowed to tear up a little, or you are if you are me.

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