|...in the bottom drawer|
|I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.|
|currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London|
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November 16, 2004 || 3:11 am
I still struggle, either here or in my letters and emails to friends, to really describe what the Black Belt of Alabama is like. I think that the longer I am here the more mundane and ordinary I make it sound, when in fact it is so strange, wonderful and worrying in equal measure. I suppose I have got used to G.B's Mercantile Store selling Stage Planks and Fig Newtons and bacon cut to order, and the battered trucks pulled up outside it; the fact that my 'studio' is an old barn clad in rusting steel which is freezing in winter and boiling in summer, and leaks when it rains; that my 'home' is a car repair garage, a huge, naked, abandoned space; that the 'downtown' of Greensboro contains no inhabitants other than the Rural Studio students who live in palatial lofts above shuttered stores; that the local nightlife consists either of the black bar or the white bar, and at the former I do feel uncomfortable; that most people live in second-hand mobile homes and work at the catfish plant for $6 an hour or claim disability benefit because it is the only social security available. That the better-off white families make-believe that this is 'normal', mowing their front lawns on a Saturday. That I can't buy a national newspaper unless I drive an hour, but everyone has CNN. Fertile fields lie empty, used only for hay, and rectilinear catfish ponds stretch out as far as you can see along certain roads, reflecting a blue sky and endless egrets and herons. The county clerk at the courthouse is called Gay Nell Tinker.
I don't know how to describe it, but it seems very far, yet very like what America is meant to be.
Up here we have chicken houses.
|I'm an urban designer and regeneration consultant with my own practice. At other times I like playing the fiddle, eating and writing.|
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