THE OPEN ROAD: Shots From the Lost World… Words and Photos by Paul Vlachos

“The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today,
And that gent today
You gave a cent today
Once had several chateaux.”

I sometimes think of happier times. What is “happy,” though? Really, what does that mean? And were those times I think of happier than now? Was the extravagance of my wastrel youth really “happier” than the relatively minor wisdom and perspective of my incipient late middle age? Shoot me now for that sentence. I always come back to what my elders tried to pound into my brain – “be in the moment.” “Live today.” “Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery.” “This is all we’ve got, right now.” My best thinking got me to this place, so what do I know?

I just woke up from a strange dream. The main character was saying “I just keep showing up and worrying and working” as he tried to force himself to keep going and take care of business. The details were strange, very strange, and kind of ugly, but that’s what woke me up at 3:30 this morning.

I have been busy, worrying and working here in New York City as we hunker down. I have never heard so many people use the term “hunker down” before. I had thought I was an anachronism, as I have always used that phrase. Anyway I am dog tired. I was hoping to get good photos of a deserted city. If they let me drive around for the next few days, I may get my wish. Things are finally getting spooky quiet. It feels a bit like like martial law without soldiers. I saw an awful lot of NYPD out yesterday and they looked like they were getting ready to enforce something.

I don’t identify with the people who are staying home and losing their minds. I have so much writing to do, so many photos to edit, and so much good reading to catch up on that I’m fine. I would be happy as a clam if I weren’t so worried about friends, neighbors, local business owners, and about a million other things. A lot of people I know are suddenly out of work.

I don’t have much to say, but the disruption of daily life has become dramatic, my Zephyr deadline has almost come and gone, and I find myself returning to old photos, to scans of film that I took in the 1990s in what now feels like another world. Photos that old actually are from another world. Photos taken even a month ago are from another world, but I keep going back to these from 25 years ago.I’m just going to prop some of them up here on the window sill, step back a bit, and leave them for a while.

I wish everyone the best right now and love you all, whether I know you or not.

“Just think of those shocks you’ve got
And those knocks you’ve got
And those blues you’ve got
From that news you’ve got
And those pains you’ve got
(If any brains you’ve got)
From those little radios.
So Missus R., with all her trimmin’s,
Can broadcast a bed from Simmons
‘Cause Franklin knows
Anything goes.”

— With thanks and apologies to Cole Porter.

Kingman, Arizona – 1997

Kingman, Arizona - 1997

NYC Subway – 1997

NYC Subway - 1997

Key West, Florida – 1999

Key West, Florida - 1999

Detroit – 1997

Detroit - 1997 photo by Paul Vlachos

Homestead, Florida – 1999

Homestead, Florida - 1999

NYC tenement-style lobby – 1996

2 NYC tenement-style lobby - 1996

Gallup, New Mexico – 1996

Gallup, New Mexico - 1996

USA – 1996

USA - 1996
Paul Vlachos Author Shot
Copyright © Paul Vlachos 2020

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