Paul Vlachos is a New Yorker who understands The West. And he is a New Yorker who understands New York. Wherever Paul goes, he finds signs of life…
My team of dedicated professionals was looking through my photos, trying to decide what to send in to the Zephyr Photographic Department, located in the famous Canyon Country Zephyr International Tower, in the heart of Los Angeles, and they couldn’t make a decision. I was originally going to do a piece on Moab, but my photo editor was not thrilled with the photos I got there last September. Next time, I’m going to have my personal helicopter pilot fly lower over town so that I can get better shots. So, we kept looking and, while we saw a lot of good photos, we could not make a decision. That’s where we’re at these days. I sent them all home.
Then, I stumbled upon the photos from a night in Green River, Utah. I had actually been looking to stay in Moab that night, but Moab’s success has been its undoing – at least for me and my nightly search for lodging when I’m not living in my luxurious Ford E-350 mansion-on-wheels. There was NOTHING that night in the old uranium capital of the free world. NOTHING. For no amount of money could I stay there. I did NOT have my Ford E-350 mansion-on-wheels and I did not feel like sleeping in the back of my luxurious Toyota somewhere above the rim. On top of that, Moab was teeming with people – the sidewalks were jam-packed and, not only was there no place to park, but there was no place to walk. The old town was inaccessible due to the sheer number of people who had come out in search of nature and solitude. It reminded me of Greenwich Village, another formerly glorious place that has become overrun with crowds and a mere parody of its former self. I’ll leave that story for another day, though. I had to find a place to stay and I had to find it quickly.
I remembered Green River, a town I have often gassed up in, but never really explored. I made a quick phone call, told the pilot of my personal jet to go park at Canyonlands Field and wait for further orders, then hauled my butt down the highway to Green River.
There are many gifts you can get as a photographer, but one of the rarest and most rewarding is to roll into a town at dusk when a massive thunderstorm is approaching. All you can do is pull out your camera and shoot as fast as you can before the rain hits. I’m not going to caption each photo, but I’m going to make this column my “Green River Edition” and would like to thank the good people of that town for not shooting me on sight as I slowed down and attempted to document their lovely corner of heaven.