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Phound Fotos: Skinny Bud

Once again, but not for the last time, we delve into the first of seven photo albums purchased at Two Jacks Pawn Shop, located just east of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Eureka Springs lies in Carroll County, and Carroll County has two distinctly polar personality nodes. The bridge over the King's River serves as corpus callosum; the causeway connecting the county's disparate hemispheres.

East of the river we find Berryville and Green Forest. The Berryville ecconomy turns on the local Wal*Mart Supercenter and a Tyson Chicken Plant. Green Forest houses the local stock yards. Extending the brain metaphor, it seems easy to cast that part of the county which lies to the east of the river as the prosaic left hemisphere, particularly when compared to Eureka Springs and Holiday Island, the two Carroll County population centers west of the King's River. Eureka Springs bills itself as "America's Authentic 19th Century Victorian Mountain Village," and it butters its bread with seasonal tourist dollars. Behind tourist attractions like the Ozark Mountain Hoedown and the Great Passion Play lurks the other Eureka Springs, the arty, organic, gay-friendly, crunchy granola blue state oasis in an otherwise red state sea. Eureka Springs serves as the County's creative right hemisphere.

Holiday Island, north of Eureka Springs, wreaks of rich old folks and their money. Lots of money. I wouldn't call Holliday Island a hotbed of left-leaners or any sort of Mecca for non-linearity, but its denizens certainly seem citified in their sensibilities when compared to their stolidly agricultural counterparts over in Berryville and Green Forest.

Without fear or hesitation, I'm calling the people depicted in this series as residents of eastern Carroll County.

Here we see Bud, the focal point of this chapter, leaning on the tailgate of a friend's truck. Having worked myself into this exact situation, I can tell you that Bud and friends drove down onto one of the many gravel bars on the banks of the King's River for a day's recreation and then got hopelessly stuck in the gravel when they tried to leave. Notice how the truck's back bumper rests on the gravel and how the rear tire has dug itself a nice hole in which to rest. Given that the photo depicts events nearly two decades past, we can safely assume that nobody had a cell phone on hand with which to call for help.

As I have already mentioned, I selected the photos for this entry because they each depict Bud, a skinny kid who seems to do a lot of leaning and watching. We see Bud at the party, leaning against the trailer, watching Dave fill a cooler with ice. At the river, Bud probably made some genuine efforts early on to help expidite the stuck truck, but I imagine that they quickly turned into token efforts when he deemed the situation hopeless. As the saying goes, "I feel much better now that I've abandoned all hope." Once Bud realized that they would most likely be spending the night at the river, he slipped into an attitude of cheerful amusement as his friend continued to struggle with the situation.

Obviously, I'm working from fragmentary data and leaping to wholly unwarranted conclussions here, but I'm willing to characterize the young Bud depicted in these photos as somebody who has yet to realize the rewards that come from total commitment to a task, though he has started to catch the occassional glimpse of the riches that lie obscurred behind the veil of habitual teenage slack and disengagement.

Here we see Bud and a friend working on some project in a garage-turned-workshop. Notice the t-square, vice, wrenches, clip board, cassette tapes, muscle-building device, and magazines (or are they catalogs?) in the workshop? Someone regularly uses this space for the exercise of the sort of talents usually only given recognition and encouragement by shop teachers and vo-tech councilors prior to high school graduation, and it is here that I imagine Bud experiencing the first of a series of awakenings. Bud and friend seem wholly engaged here, working on some collaborative project (the exact nature of which seems unimportant given my line of speculation), and it is this total absorption... this loss of himself in a challenge demanding extended concentration but which also reinforces concerted effort with tangible rewards and a sense of accomplishment which propels Bud through the early stages of his transformation.

In this final photo, we see Bud floating in the blissful afterglow of an early encounter with the experience of total absorption. Someone pointed a camera at him and said, "Hey, Bud!" This salutation only half-roused Bud from his reverie. Prior to hearing his name spoken aloud, he had been re-living and re-viewing his recent activity and in so doing, he had re-experienced the unexpected rewards that the task had yeiled. Bud had wrapped the tip of his left index finger in plaid shirt-tail and used it to wipe the corners of his eyes. The pressure of finger tip on eye-ball had sparked an explosion of color in Bud's mind which propelled him deeper into this newly discovered realm, and it was from this deep well that the photographer had inadvertantly pulled young Bud. The interval between hearing his name and seeing the camera flash amounted to less than a second, but that interval seemed nearly an eternity to Bud. He felt as if his consciousness (a word that Bud had actually never uttered at that point in his life) had been pulled back to his body across endless alien vistas and over immeasurable distances. In this frozen instant, we see Bud on the threshold, having only just returned from that far-off country to the familiar yet now seemingly ill-fitting world of his everyday teenage concerns.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2005 12:00 am (UTC)
That was beautiful!

Feb. 21st, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: That was beautiful!
Thank you for the links, I had not seen the other installments.

Very, very good.

Feb. 21st, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: That was beautiful!
I'm glad you enjoyed them. Thank you for the feedback.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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