The feeling grows within me that what I see out my window here is increasingly relevant to nothing other than itself. This would not necessarily be a bad thing if I were delivering a sermon at your church, but in this case it releases the impulse to communicate, applies the dynamic brakes, and with an imperial whine, the train of thought comes squealing and creaking to a halt just short of absolute stop. And then it waits for God’s red eye to turn to green, and if not to green, then hopefully to yellow over red.
Nothing to do then but stop, and stop, and stop, and then look around, and not say much, not say anything at all. A picture is worth a thousand words and all. But that cliche flaps in the wind like a fallen flag.
I want my Milwaukee Road back. I want my Soo Line back. I want my Chicago & Northwestern back. I want my Wisconsin Central back.
Nothing in sport proceeds as you expect it to. Even if you’ve got it right, and the team you thought would win actually does, there still are bits of the proceedings that neither you, nor anyone else ever considered. It clatters and roars past you like a fast freight and when the FRED blinks blinks blinks over the horizon and into the night, and then, silence, the thought occurs to you that this was not what you expected at all.
Today’s match between Everton and West Ham, for example. I expected a reasonably high scoring game. It was. I expected West Ham to win. They did. But….and but….and BUT…..I did not see Everton taking a 2-0 lead with only 10 men after Kevin Mirallas was sent off for a second yellow card early in the 1st half….but they DID. Once that happened, I did not expect West Ham to claw their way back late in the 2nd half given their run of play up to that point, but they did. Antonio scored, Sakho scored, and Payet put the frosting on the cake. Hammers triumphed at Goodison Park and will head back to London in 5th place with a 2 point lead over ManU(re) for the Europa League spot.
There’s a truth in railfanning that you should expect a train on any track at anytime. And the other day, though I expected a train eventually, I didn’t expect it when it arrived. The filter setting on my camera wasn’t ready for it.
I’d been photographing some gondola cars on a siding near a lumber yard on the far south side of Milwaukee. I got some colour shots, then applied a mood filter and took some more shots, including that of a dead deer that also wasn’t expecting a train to come by either. When I’m walking along the tracks, I always look back every 5 steps of so. And that’s when I saw the headlights. I still had the mood filter on. And by the time the lead unit came into view, a freshly painted Kansas City Southern SD70ACe, I couldn’t get the filter off in time. So…I left the mood filter, and well….by the time I could snap off a shot, the diesels were down the line. What the hell….film is cheap, so here ya go.
You just have to take my word that that KCS unit looked mighty sharp in its Belle paint scheme blasting that westbound CP freight through East Lake at 59mph.
There is an equally confounding conundrum inherent in Social Media® these days, or rather, from the very first day of Social Media®. How beautiful and liberating it can seem to speak to the rest of the world and have them listen, respond, and validate your existence. Big Social Facespace as the lads who write The Fiver football column at THE GUARDIAN like to call it…..Twitter….Instagram, and all the rest of that can give you the feeling of being part of something big…bigger than you, bigger than your family and definitely bigger than the group of lads you hang out with down at your local boozer.
But despite the sense of freedom, the seeming openness of all this media, it is actually a prison of someone else’s devising. A closed system. A closed system with the illusion of open communication. A prison system that you can be incarcerated in without ever committing a crime.
Once you settle into your cell ((Facebook page; Twitter handle)) you’ve given away the keys to your life. That might a harsh and dramatic way of putting it, and I guess it’s most apropos of Facebook, but their is no more privacy for you, no mystery, and nowhere for you to hide.
When I joined Facebook to check it out back in, I believe, 2009 or something, I didn’t (*redacted*) because I wasn’t willing to place my trust in the nerds that developed the system1. And I’m glad I (*redacted*). Glad, despite the nagging suspicion that because of (*redacted*) I don’t really exist anymore. Glad, despite the certainty that if my family wants to say something to me there, they might as well instead just go and piss into the wind. Ditto any friends and acquaintances who know that (*redacted*) is (*redacted*).
Language and communication developed and evolved naturally. A group of little college fucks who couldn’t get girlfriends any other way didn’t just sit a campfire one night dream up a language. The process of communication was a common knowledge, and a real community of fire, bears, monsters and gods. In modern parlance it was open source. A oral tradition of stories, maths, myths, and families.
And here lies the conundrum. The way Social Media® is constructed and contrived completely alters the nature of communication. Twitter forces you to communicate in short little outbursts of 140 characters, not words, characters, and who the fuck can actually do that and WHY would they want to?2 Facebook forces you to reveal all, and even you don’t, just by being there you’ve revealed all…there is no real privacy…but far worse is the way its system (and other Social Media systems) has convinced people that this constitutes real communication in both form and function.
If I bought into that, then I would have shared these photos on Facebook, or Twitter or Tumblr or Pinterest and so on. But no thanks…I’ll share them on my own terms.
And so I have.
This picture pretty much says it all, I’m afraid. If we can’t get on the ball and step our game up, we going to be relegated. We have some good players, mind, but only 3 or 4 of them at most are of Premier League calibre.
I would add Aston Villa to that deer carcass as their haplessness continued with a 4-0 drubbing by Man City at The Etihad. But that would be piling on.
There’s hope for Norwich City yet. But that hope is growing dimmer by the day.
There has to be a happy ending to this morose little essay you must be thinking, yes? Well I’m sorry to disappoint you a bit. It was cloudy on the 26th of February 2016, the day of the shoot. Bands of light grey and white clouds coated the sky completely. But it wasn’t unpleasantly overcast. I got the colour shots I wanted. I got mood shots that pleased me3.
Of course, when I get off on a tangent, it’s hard to jump off. If you hop a freight, you’re pretty much obligated to go where it going….you’re along for the ride.
I could have simply said:
“Social Media (Facebook) sucks, so here’s some train pictures I took last week Friday. Norwich lost and Chelsea drew, Did I mention that Facebook sucks?”
And then called it a day.
Which I will do right about now, I suppose.
The feeling grows within me that a cold beer would be relevant and what do ya know….the train is coming to a stop again. Time to jump off.