Monday, October 27, 2008

Watching Over

This appeared fairly recently along Ponce De Leon, by the old railroad bridge and looking down upon the street. I'm guessing (not much of a stretch) that it's from Paris on Ponce, the sort of funky/oddball antique shop just a little ways up -- it's behind PoP and probably on its property, and it has the same folk art feel as some of the other pieces (see ape on Eiffel Tower, here) on the store's grounds.

I'm not sure what it's supposed to represent -- there's a vaguely religious feel to it and my first thought was that it's a representation of Mary, but I think that's wrong -- the figure is protecting two children, and neither of them seem very Jesus-ish, though I'm not sure how you'd tell. In any case, it's pretty striking and a cool addition to the area.

This is what the figure's watching over -- a small stretch of the street that's forgotten and rather trashed, despite being between two heavily-trafficked areas (the Borders/Whole Foods/Home Depot complex on the grounds of the old Ponce De Leon Park on one end, Paris on Ponce and the beginning of Virginia-Highland on the other). I'm not sure what plans there are for this no man's land, though I have a feeling it'll be affected by the Beltway.

Paris on Ponce has a couple old Tyson's Furniture signs along the way, and I don't know if the owners just found them somewhere and thought they were cool, or if this building (it's a big ol' warehouse, painted a shocking orange) used to be Tyson's Furniture. I can't find any record of a Tyson's Furniture in Atlanta (there's one in North Carolina), but I haven't exactly done exhaustive research.

Paris on Ponce is one of those cool, rambling places that merits endless exploration. If you go there looking for something specific, you won't find it, but you will find fascinating stuff that you never knew existed. The last time I went there, I was looking for something to contain wooden spoons -- I didn't find that, but I did find a pile of 1970s Czechoslovakian movie posters (unfortunately, too water-damaged to be appealing to me, but still neat).

Just for reference's sake, this woulda been roughly the old third-base line in Ponce Park. Aren't you glad to know that?

After strolling over that way, I curved around and explored some of the area on the rise beyond Paris on Ponce, along Ponce Place -- behind the old right field wall, I guess, to keep that up. There's a stretch beyond Ponce Place's buildings where the trains used to run, and while it's close to me, I haven't walked over there in a long time (probably five years or so) -- in part because I took a bunch of pictures on a previous trip, partly because I knew it had changed a lot.

I was glad to see this building still around and still sporting the brick company sign, though an antique faded neon-making sign is now gone. An old electrician's building nearby (next to Paris on P) was recently torn down, and buildings surrounding this guy are being converted to help alleviate Atlanta's devastating loft shortage, so it's good to see it's still there. It looks like it contains something interesting -- the lobby looks like it's made to be a used bookstore, though sans books, if that makes any sense. But I'm not sure if it's a public business or private offices. In any case, it's pretty neat.

The last time I was over here, this was an abandoned loading dock for the old trains; some of the old signs were still there. Now it's unrecognizable (I'll have to dig out the photos from the last time I was there). I can't really begrudge them this -- yeah, apartments are more productive than an abandoned building, and these do look like pretty nice places. I just want some trace of the old stuff to stick around.

* * *

#46 -- "The Invention of Morel" by Adolfo Bioy Casares

After eating wings and fries for lunch yesterday, followed by three bowls of chili for dinner, not forgetting lots of beer, I didn't have the most restful sleep last night. At one point I woke up after a stupid dream, and unable to get back to sleep, read this one through (it's just over 100 pages, so it's not like I was reading "Infinite Jest" here).

I got this a while back, through one of those cool New York Review of Books deals where they sell a selection of a few novels for a slightly discounted price. It was an interesting and fast read, though with some flaws.

I can't talk too much about the plot -- doing so would ruin a lot of the book for anyone who might read it. Basically, a fugitive ends up on a deserted island, finds a few mysterious and abandoned buildings, then a group of mysterious people appear -- and our narrator is both terrified and fascinated by them.

It's not clear what's going on, and it unfolds gradually -- but despite this there's a clarity to the writing that makes the ambiguity all the more alluring. I thought I'd figured out what was going on pretty early; when you eventually do find out, it's rather ... wistful? Not sure that's the right word, but there's an element of trying to eternally preserve a certain point in life. If that makes sense.

The first half, two-thirds even is pretty much flawless. Unfortunately toward the end everything is pretty much laid on the table -- the narrator explains everything that's happened in the book in point-by-point form. Some of those points were decipherable by reading between the lines; others better left ambiguous. The urge to wrap everything up neatly obviously took over and the book is poorer for it.


Stewart said...

I think that in reading it a second time, having had Bioy Casares explain it all the first time, it makes the book a richer experience. I remember being a bit disappointed by the explanations at the time, but looking back, yes, they were helpful. While it begins as a mystery I don't think it was ever intended that it remain one.

gsdgsd13 said...

Hey, thanks for the note -- I'm glad someone's reading these things! Maybe I'll change my mind down the line -- I have a feeling "Morel" is something I'll feel compelled to reread -- but I thought having it laid out like that shattered much of the novel's subtlety. I felt I got a good sense of the book without having everything set down like that, and the explanations made it feel like the author felt compelled to tell me what was going on.