April 10, 2005

Into Landscape

Into Landscape again, the Westside Story, sharp ridges, long valleys... For all its huge flat size, its ploughed fields, its two-lane black-tops and tractors, it's a mistake to think of the Central Valley as rural -- it's industrial. The industry just happens to be agriculture -- on a huge and intensive scale. This isn't farming.

Just off the Rosedale Highway, Bakersfield, CA (2001)The Rosedale Highway into Bakersfield, only a decade ago one of those classic dust-haunted stretches on the edge of Industry (oil, big agriculture), all powerlines, tumbleweed, sand drifts, refineries, swing-arm oil pumps in people's back yards or next to the road, scrappy little truck repair businesses, seedy bars, carnicerias and supermercados, clapboard houses with dead cars in dirt-lot front yards, huge clapboard churches -- all this now infiltrated and increasingly swamped by estates of three-garage houses, large malls, generic fast food outlets, shiny SUVs, tidy parking lots. This new version could as easily be Sacramento, or Denver, or Atlanta.

Bakersfield: Merle Haggard country, Buck Owens Blvd, Oildale, Weedpatch, Arvin, Edison... oil and agriculture, refineries and silos, a beautiful brooding backdrop of the Tehachapis and the Grapevine (both snow-covered at this time of the year).


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