Jan 23, 2009

Apologies & the Beginning?

I must apologize for DHTWRITW's recent silence -- all my fault, young Ms. Violet has been diligently documenting the paper mache'd rock collection that is Durham's roads. I, however, have been too busy with what some people call "my real job" (sheesh, some people, don't they read my blog???) to post regularly.

I must, though -- however briefly, share some good news. Last night as I made my way home through a relatively mild evening in our fair city with my head full of banjo blues courtesy Otis Taylor and friends (and some killer organization called Duke Performs or something...) and as I pass an unusually dusty (even for Durham) street, I happened to look down the way and see much to my surprise a real live (so to speak) street sweeper!! Wow! I didn't know Durham had those; I mean -- normally the streets are covered with sand and gravel and newspapers from the 1800s (see paper mache above). But there, last night, in the relatively warm hours of midnightish -- I saw a street sweeper. I'm not going to prevaricate and say that I didn't almost weep -- my friends, I almost wept.

Could it be?? dare we dream? that DHTWRITW is already having a positive impact on the decrepit and neglected infrastructure of sweet Durham, North Carolina?

Friends, it is hard to believe but not improbable. At any rate, clearly persistence is the watchword of the day, and in light of that watchword, I bid you goodbye for now and give you this fine Violet Rumble photograph.


happy travels,
Ken & Violet

Jan 14, 2009

The Cradle Rocks Above an Abyss....

From a distance, it's hardly noticeable -- you wouldn't even notice that you weren't noticing it. Instead you're likely to be gazing at the fenced in, half-repaired construction site that is the Durham Athletic Park. You might be wondering, "Do my bonds equal a better Durham?" You might be thinking, "Huh, I wonder what's new at the Scrap Exchange?" You might be thinking about nothing at all, and you might not even notice this sign:


And that, my friends, could be your first, and last, mistake.

What, you're wondering, am I referring to? Is it that big puddle to the left filling a hole that could serve as a quarantine area for some of our larger aquatic mammals? Maybe the jagged line of concrete patches like some ghastly lace-work running along the edge of the road?


The cracks criss-crossing the pavement? the loose gravel scattered about the gutter? those examples of Durham's famous rocks?

No, friends, none of those significant but inferior blemishes. See below -- if you think you can stand it....


The abyss looks back, Durhamites, the abyss looks back!

happy travels,

Jan 12, 2009

Props to my A1 Peop.

This post is dedicated to my favorite wonder bean, Ms. Violet Colleen Rumble(stein), DHTWRITW's chief photographer, my daughter, fashionista extraordinaire, sign-maker, actor, artist, and keeper of Hercules.

She said to me the other day, "Dad, why don't you put down who took the pictures?" (While V is the chief photographer, I sometimes have to serve that duty since--for some reason--other people think she should spend more time in school than wandering around Durham's crappy roads with me and taking pictures. People, go figure.)

So I'm not sure that I'll be able to do that every time, so let's just put it this way -- Violet took all the good pictures. All the bad pictures, on the other hand, were the work of yours truly.

For example, see Ms. Rumble's fine work below:

This is the little road that runs off of Corporation up behind the Farmer's Market, and before I go further, I just want to say: "Durham, well done on the Farmer's Market! Little chilly in the winter, but keeps the lines short -- I like it, can't wait to see it in the spring/summer/fall."

Now it may seem beneath the usual high standards of DHTWRITW to pick on such a tiny little road, but truly, I ask, do not people, perhaps even yourself, drive on that road? Do you not, therefore have to suffer from the city's rampant neglect of its infrastructure? See this picture to get a sense of the scale (now if you take the picture below and paste my profile pic on top, you'll sort of know what I look like):

That is like the gaping maw of the Leviathan just waiting to swallow up some poor, little Kia that's just trying to deliver some fresh cabbage to the market -- why must it be so threatened??

Particularly this road is regrettable in light especially of the wonderful farmer's market it purports to serve. And I'm going to have to set aside more than a few moments at lunch time to deal with Foster Street.

In any case, if it is not already abundantly clear, DHTWRITW would be a sad, sad, example of the simple-minded obsession of one clearly deranged man if it weren't for the fine work of one amazing 9 year old. Thanks, honey.

happy travels,

Jan 5, 2009

Durham Rocks

Indeed, Durham does rock--with incredible, even legendary, bands such as High Master, Rainbow Pony Squad, Pepé La Douche, Def Sentence, Shipwrecker, Dom Casual, Midtown Dickens, Scene of the Crime Rovers, and many, many more (see this Indy article for a rough guide to the scene.)

But I, unfortunately, am not talking about rock and roll music. I am talking about rocks. Stones. Boulders. Pebbles. In short: Rocks.

All over Durham -- more than any town I've ever been in, and by a wide wide margin -- there are rocks just lying around. Big rocks, little rocks. Just rocks. All over the place. Take a look at the photo above? See that one to the left of the strip mine masquerading as a road? That thing was just sitting in the middle of the road a good several inches larger than my fist. It was a big damn rock.

And that's just the beginning -- does Durham have some bizarre magnetic force that draws meteorites to our fair burgh?

I mean, we're not living out in the woods, right? This is a fairly good-sized city, and it's just covered with rocks. Aren't there machines that like sweep up the roads or something? Do we not have those around here?

Here's another of Durham's fine rocks -- granted this one was on the side of the road -- but it definitely still had the stink of asphalt on it:


And this one too -- those are DHTWRITW's chief photographer Violet Rumble's boots to give some perspective:


I mean, where, exactly, are these rocks coming from?

happy travels,

Jan 4, 2009

Durham Has the Worst Roads in the World

Hello friends,

Welcome to Durham Has the Worst Roads in the World where I will document--in painstaking detail and at the risk, at times, of my own life--how awful the roads of otherwise quite charming Durham, North Carolina, truly are. I will document this awfulness with words, moving & still images, and--at times--recorded sounds.

Since the roads here are so bad and there are so many of them, I trust I won't run out of material any time soon.

A eternally insufficient thank you to my trusty, invaluable, talented assistant, Violet Rumble, Durham Has the Worst Roads in the World's chief photographer.

Why, you might ask, am I going to the trouble of documenting Durham's terrible roads? Because they are terrible. The picture at the top of the page would be called "just the beginning" usually, but how does infinity have a beginning? at what point does the universal have a middle? at what dark wall do you find yourself at the end of "everything"? What I mean to say is that that pockmarked crater, gaping gravel filled pit is a small, small piece of a web of truly terrible roads that make life in Durham, North Carolina, significantly worse than it otherwise would be.

I've lived in towns where one could ride their bike, talk on a cell phone, and drink coffee all at the same time! Here in Durham, riding a bike--with pothole after pothole and crack after crack--is merely standard training for a hot night on the mechanical bull down at Durham's own Shooters Night club (on, I might add, the abysmal Morgan St.)

I want to make it clear, despite all this, that I find Durham an extremely pleasant place to live; the people are friendly, it's small enough to feel comfortable, but large enough to get lost in, and beautiful old brick buildings--once tobacco warehouses--lumber block after block. I am a happy Durham resident whose happiness could reach ecstatic levels with a little effort on the part of the Street Maintenance Division of the Public Works Department.

So take a bumpy stroll with me, friends, down the worst roads in the world....

happy travels,

600 or so block of N. Duke Street.