Behind the Facades

It’s always worth a look behind the facades to see what’s happening in the alley. These images all came from a one-block section of alley in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Florida. In addition to the now-defunct “Golden Apple” dinner theater, they show the backsides of a few of the city’s finer restaurants, a brand new parking ramp, and some graffiti on the back wall of the Opera House, where they often sing in Italian. Of course, there was much more to see there, too.

So next time you want to get to know a town, spend some time in the alleys.

l'Hiver a Monte Carlo

l’Hiver a Monte Carlo

One Flag?

One Flag?

The Weight of Concrete

The Weight of Concrete

The Man Behind the Blue Tarp

The Man Behind the Blue Tarp

Door to the Other Side

Door to the Other Side

Laundry Production

Laundry Production

The Fallen of Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island on Georgia’s coastline may be best known for it’s historic district and the Jekyll Island Club — a retreat and playground for the country’s wealthiest elite in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Established in 1886, the Club was frequented by the Morgans, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and others of their class.

However, there is another feature worth seeing on Jekyll Island.

“Driftwood Beach” on the north end of the island shows the ongoing work of erosion. It is humbling to stand amid the ruins of the great trees that have fallen to the steady beat of ocean waves and current. And there is some sadness looking behind at the majestic oaks just off the beach — some already salt-scarred — that will soon be the next to go.

While erosion along these barrier islands is a natural process, rising sea levels are sure to hasten it. And we have yet to see whether man’s attempted interventions, like the rocks placed along the shore further south, will slow or further speed its progress.

The Fallen

The Fallen

Next to Go

Next to Go

Lightworms

Lightworms

The Way It Is

The Way It Is

Thunder by the Bay

Every year the City of Sarasota hosts “Thunder by the Bay” — a motorcycle event and charity fundraiser in the heart of downtown along Sarasota Bay. Thousands of motorcyclists and spectators crowd the streets.

Of course, there are always a few residents in the high-end high rises who complain about the music, the partying on the street, and especially the “thunder” from the motorcycles. But everyone else seems to enjoy the excitement, the crowds, the noise, and the motorcycles. This is their chance to shine.

And shine they do. The colors, shapes and designs — while constrained by the laws of physics and rules of the road — are as varied and evocative as any art. And that thunder is just a part of how they speak. We don’t all have to be the same, do we?

Red Thunder

Red Thunder

Cycle Samba

Cycle Samba

The Power of Green

The Power of Green

Swamp Magic

I’ve often wondered what it is about Southwest Florida’s tropical landscape, its swamps and tropical foliage that gives its natural areas a feeling of mystery. Is it simply that the landscape is unfamiliar to those of us from other places? Or is it the density and lushness of so much life packed together — along with a sense of the things that lie hidden just beneath the surface.

Whatever the source of the mystery, it is a landscape worth saving.

Swamp Magic

Swamp Magic

A Single Leaf

A Single Leaf

Veterans Day, 2013

It was Veterans Day, and in the park where the speeches were given, stood the Salvation Army truck — symbol of the only real help many veterans will receive.

The parades and other patriotic events offer little for many who they supposedly honor. Instead, the parades seem to glorify wars past, promote the jingoism of war, and praise the children destined to become the veterans of the future.

Meanwhile, politicians cut veterans’ pensions and other benefits for those who have suffered disabling injuries — even though many find it impossible to successfully return to jobs, family, and a functional life. So despite the parades and the speeches, there is no help or honor for some — only a desire for the vets in trouble to disappear from sight.

Is this any way to honor and thank those who served? Wouldn’t justice for them, and the promise of peace be better?

Veterans Day, 2013

Veterans Day, 2013

Honor to the Flag

Honor to the Flag

Vietnam Vet

Vietnam Vet

Childhood's End

Childhood’s End

Draped in the Flag

Draped in the Flag

Messages from the Garden

There is so much to be learned from a garden — just by looking and listening. The swelling flower bud is ready to burst with life and color, the orchid invites us in, while the bamboo sends some symbolic message for us to take home to decipher. Each plant has it’s own voice and the messages change with the seasons.

Bud

Bud

Open

Open

Bamboo Semaphore

Bamboo Semaphore

Channelling

Channelling

Feeling a Little Fuschia

Feeling a Little Fuschia

A Rising Asphalt Sea

Mostly empty, its parking lot free of cars, this suburban mall is in foreclosure. But do not worry. Plenty of money was made, and the risks and debt shifted off onto others.

And for the shoppers, the good news is that an even larger new mall will soon be built nearby, where another chunk of woods and wetlands will slip beneath the rising asphalt sea.

The Virus Spreads

The Virus Spreads

Ghosts from the Past

Ghosts from the Past

Papered Over

Papered Over

Suburban Wasteland

Suburban Wasteland

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