The short about the pair who rides at night—around their suburban town. They’re soul mates but they never meet somehow, always a block or more away from each other. Then they eventually do meet and one is killed by a car—for having deviated from their established route. Shot on 16mm film.
From Ran’s ‘Dropping Out’ essay via e-beats article:
“It’s funny,” says Ran Prieur, whose influential essay ‘How To Drop Out’ still gets 2500 hits a month on his site, www.ranprieur.com. “The 21st century used to mean flying cars and now it’s looking more and more like the fall of Rome. I think future historians will see this as the century when industrial civilization broke down, so it’s a great time to learn different ways of living. Specifically, the money economy will never again be as dominant as it was in the late 20th century. In the future, as in the past, success will be measured more often by direct useful actions than by the ability to go out and earn tokens. Many of the tasks that are now being done for money will disappear and the people who did them will have to learn stuff like how to grow food and repair bicycles. So ‘dropouts’ who already have practice living at the edge of the money economy are going to be leaders.”
It will be about access to resources—having allies, having support networks. Heinberg:
without growth, businesses and governments are unable to service their debt.
In essence, the present welfare of the economy rests on debt, and the collateral for that debt consists of a wager that next year’s levels of production and consumption will be higher than this year’s. Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager, and its embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute history’s greatest Ponzi scheme. We have justified present borrowing with the irrational belief that perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from future generations so that we could gamble away their capital today.
[The glass ceiling of global energy production] My conclusion from a careful survey of energy alternatives, then, is that there is little likelihood that either conventional fossil fuels or alternative energy sources can be counted on to provide the amount and quality of energy that will be needed to sustain economic growth—or even current levels of economic activity—during the remainder of this century. (19) But the problem extends beyond oil and other fossil fuels: the world’s fresh water resources are strained to the point that billions of people may soon find themselves with only precarious access to water for drinking and irrigation. Biodiversity is declining rapidly. We are losing 24 billion tons of topsoil each year to erosion. And many economically significant minerals—from antimony to zinc—are depleting quickly, requiring the mining of ever lower-grade ores in ever more remote locations. Thus the Peak Oil crisis is really just the leading edge of a broader Peak Everything dilemma. We are at a historic inflection point—the ending of decades of expansion and the beginning of an inevitable period of contraction that will continue until humanity is once again living within the limits of Earth’s regenerative systems.
If humanity has indeed embarked upon the contraction phase of the industrial pulse, we should assume that ahead of us lie much lower average income levels (for nearly everyone in the wealthy nations, and for high wage earners in poorer nations); different employment opportunities (fewer jobs in sales, marketing, and finance; more in basic production); and more costly energy, transport, and food. Further, we should assume that key aspects of our economic system that are inextricably tied to the need for future growth will cease to work in this new context.
At the heart of this general re-education must be a public and institutional acknowledgment of three basic rules of sustainability: growth in population cannot be sustained; the ongoing extraction of non-renewable resources cannot be sustained; and the use of renewable resources is sustainable only if it proceeds at rates below those of natural replenishment. A case can be made that after all this is done the end result will be a more satisfying way of life for the vast majority of citizens—offering more of a sense of community, more of a connection with the natural world, more satisfying work, and a healthier environment. Studies have repeatedly shown that higher levels of consumption do not translate to elevated levels of satisfaction with life. (35) This means that if “progress” can be thought of in terms of happiness, rather than a constantly accelerating process of extracting raw materials and turning them into products that themselves quickly become waste, then progress can certainly continue. There may be temporary rebounds that take us back to some fraction of peak economic activity, but these will be only brief respites. Today’s civilization is global, and its fate, Earth’s fate, and humanity’s fate are inextricably tied. You need to maintain you’re role as a generalist. Avoid too much specialization. Look at all the dots to be connected and keep an eye an all sectors to make sense of what’s going on, Make sure you stand far enough back to see the whole (big) picture. We need more generalists!
Asking for corporate sponsorship amounts to using the old system as a resource with which to build the new system. There is absolutely nothing wrong or hypocritical about this. The problem arises when sponsors make specific demands and place limits on what you can say or show.
Label’ external links’ column
Add ‘current location’ in upper left corner.
Make sure that ‘return to main’ links for stage one go where they’re supposed to The Joy of Infinity For 2nd version post:
The joy of infinity is of course a reference to the open-ended design of the larger illuminated thread project as well as structural elements within the piece itself: the audio track that loops within the piece, or the place that sound goes as it quiets away beyond our hearing. Or it could refer to some of the clips—specifically the first—the sunrise as a clear horizon/vanishing point also refers to the infinite. The infinite is always referred to, or pointed in the direction of. Shots from stage two (worth working with):
Best of the unused footage—montage. Sunrise over SF bay 3/29
Tanker with smoke 3/29
Santa Clara gas station
Exhaust stack steam (multiple) 5/26
At the Diablo Canyon fence 4/06
Border field onlookers 5/28
Water tower sunset So you may want to be picking out things within each scene to be linking them with their neighbors. For example: the freight train has a cell phone tower in the background that can be linked to the cell phone repair guys. Something for the advanced audience to look for. Cell tower > freight train
Freeway dust > moon clouds
Onlookers with pigeon > roof with gulls This piece is stage two’s version of Sonata 38 [link]
[un-messed with audio recorded in an empty water tower]
I wonder if you could stage the exit from the tower as sort of dropping through the hole. I like days that I can recall the events of clearly, months later—days with substance and richness.
Entries for stage three can be shorter while maintaining quality and insight—just a few sentences is all that should be required.
Images from Erin:
Jet Ski—maybe use for (end of growth article) Maybe go see what the source of all that midnight racquet is.
A contemporary romantic train encounter.
Play this song while you think about it—MP3 download. Edits: Police helicopters that circle incessantly, or Block after block of riteaids and what? Sea bees caption “can do” or another motto Move the chocolate down to cheap. $100? Where I’d spent the night and most of the morning The passage part two:
Perhaps shoot others making the passage—their first trip through. You could recruit people (craigslist post) you think could handle it. The transitions between shots could be blended to create a continuous flow of individuals down the rope and through the opening—then the piece looped.
Regarding the donation gifts:
By being life detritus its project/artistic detritus—it’s the remnants—the cast-offs—the leftovers.
‘Human remains’ vs. ‘human detritus’ for entry heading
It’s interesting that that Jenner girl interpreted the project as having a science fiction component—then not long after you’re making a direct reference to Close Encounters. YES!
Southern California Posts: Living Off the Clock
Living poor/jobless in Southern California
Including an account of its effects on your psychological wellbeing
Odd jobs—night at numbers could go here On riding the train
Long list of notable train interactions going way back--
As Kunstler put it recently, “we’re not through torturing ourselves with epic traffic jams yet.”
A Contemporary Romantic Railroad Encounter
On meeting both Jessica and Erica
Include little highlights of other good and bad train experiences create your own niche theory
I’d almost certainly still be doing it if the economics part of the experiment hadn’t been a failure.
Santa Barbara Delivery Service
Numbers geisha Chasing the Neon Blue Toilet Dragon
On why women should be into this—on evolving to become an efficient biker—and the desirability factor. Dad starting the process.
Could be part of a larger post on human evolution—selecting for traits useful in the post exuberant age—good bicycling—the need for fewer resources—smaller bodies—less prosthetic—etc.
Mom had dating in the dark on… going through their cars Transience and personal relationships
On gauging the health of one’s relationships
On dating younger girls Skills Posts: Could put all these together
Most people assume that its only ok to spend the night in certain designated places. This is because we assume all places are “owned” and that to occupy a place where we haven’t been given permission to be there is trespassing. Well, it is. However, the relatively low likelihood of being charged for trespassing is worth the risk. Choosing sites where you’re unlikely to be discovered further reduces the risk.
While Joe and I chose most of your sites with stealth in mind, the opportunity to spend the night at an abandonment should not be passed up. Both images taken from above—set up at the base of something tall you can climb in the morning. Why not have your oatmeal at the top of a Shitting Outdoors: The Bidet Method Living off the Bike: or, Keeping all your shit together or love the objects you’re surrounded by “Do you have a coffee card?”
“would you like to start one?”
“they’re free—are you sure?”
“Yeah I’m sure, I’m not into carrying ‘em around.”
“Because I don’t wanna open my bag and see the card and be reminded of something as addicting as coffee. Now I gotta deal with a craving when maybe I’d rather be without one.”
“it’s four seventy-five.” how not to loose things see ‘plastic pencils’ why carrying a few well designed items is good—items you enjoy—objects with the right memories attached to them. Also its important that, if you’re sensitive to design, the items appeal to your aesthetic sense. Maybe include video with still frames of all the items you carry. Davis Doors:
Photograph the front doors of every place you lived in Davis (during college) every hour on the hour starting at 12. (In chronological order)
4:00—with the gay dude near stonegate
5:00—house with Karla
figure out how much it would cost—how many people it should be divided amongst then pitch it to all the men you’ve met. What? Three? You need to start meeting a few rich people.
article on the price of sugar to be added to Betteravia
think about entering a piece in the Stonegate artfest (sept.)
This piece could be considered stage two's Sonata 38. The audio was recorded in Davis on August 8 and both it and the video are more or less un-trifled with. Do your ears a solid and listen with some headphones. The goal is to make something of such quality that your audience wants to know things about it: how it was made, where was that audio recorded—and then further, to speculate on interesting possibilities.
Oh shit—girl with the nappy hair has amazing legs. Fucking really attractive—looks a little dear in the headlights—but not too bad. Gorgeous legs. Pretty arms—good skin. I wonder if they can tell I’m bothered: If it’s obvious. Probably not paying attention—and for good reason. Buy something—anything! Ice tea! You should have said something you, you… ridiculous human. All wrapped up in your fears and insecurities. This totally doesn’t go in this section—pretty out of place. So the Brea post has got to be done today—no excuses. Eye contact—you should go chasing after her when she leaves. Maybe not the best plan you’ve ever come up with but could be worse.
It’s probably good for me to have some kind of interaction with the pubic. CAFÉ
I like to make believe people are gossiping about me. That’s probably either really sad or really great. Probably both.
Great because it’s sad—ha ha
Hey lady, don’t you shame us for not socializing when you didn’t.
yeah in some ways the vignettes are designed to establish setting--not for a short film but for a coming age of dramatic deindustrialization. For this reason they're stronger as a whole-- as an archive-- because they all point in the same direction, collectively reinforcing and highlighting the aesthetics of an anticipated period of contraction. For eric’s film project—just arrive at the Café on the bike, all sweaty and oiled—shirtless. Roll up outside, blot your forehead with a handkerchief, throw a shirt on then come inside all nonchalant.
America’s fastest dieing cities: a.k.a. possible sites
Watching your shadow fade as you ride between streetlamps.
Picking out a different album each night and riding around town for its entire duration.
On trying to draw out or attract those ready to begin the process. To welcome instead of dread the coming age of austerity. To get others to drop out voluntarily—to begin the process of building alternative support systems and networks. My feral existence— in a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domesticationKunstler on the Automobile die-off
the first "die-off" of The Long Emergency will not be one of human beings but of our beloved automobiles. Personally, I think the car die-off will come on with stunning rapidity as a combination of factors merge to make these colossal traffic jams staples of nostalgia in decades to come.
By nutrition content I eat cheaper that anyone I know.
Budget: United States and Europe
Food: $30 per day
Shelter: (approximately one hotel room per week) $10 per day
Incidentals/repairs: $10 per day
Included: additional travel costs including airfare between continents
Occasional equipment upgrades—cameras, hard drives, software, etc.
$50 per day.
$1,500 per month
$18,000 per year
Provisions should be written in for emergency replacement of bicycle, laptop, camera, etc. in the event of failure/damage, loss, or theft.
Provision for unlikely legal fees or infraction bail amounts.
So I need 30 people donating $50 a month (they’re funding one day out of every month)
or 60 people donating $25 a month.
$10,000 dollars a year provision
(plus $2,000 annually for repairs, equipment upgrades, and air travel)
Approximately $27 a day Might be a good idea to begin the project description with a bunch of your favorite compiled quotes
Also, explain why it’s being filled in now. There are others who have the technical aspects down—what you have to offer is the romance, the beauty, the welcome home. So here’s a plan flow chart:
Stonegate office job > write grants
No Stonegate office > Santa Barbara > work > write grants
Q and A section of project description:
Why the Bicycle?
biking is just a more pleasant way to get around.
Human scaled speeds—take in more
Self sufficient makes it very post-AOE Are you worried you’ll die?
If I die I’ll have been doing something I was meant to do—much better than dieing in a car on the way home from ___, or dieing of cancer that was given to me by toxins in my landbase. Can I find you on any social networking sites?
No, operating under these corporate sites, I give up control over the aesthetics and functionality of my posts—plus, they advertise. In addition—they would create a redundancy. Facebook search vitamin M
Other site tweaks: Current financial need including % of goal for support-upper-left?
Final stage two post—specific thank-yous
Image/map for main-upper-left?
Update and add CV
Sleeping in peculiar places post
Get spelling errors form Lauren
>>> then launch it out into the world in a big way.
artdirector at adbusrters.org
editor at adbusters.org
The rest of the U of C mailing list
Big Dick Tom
Rick at The Waterboy
The authors of the two urban explorer texts
Have an interview series at the end of the next few stages: Daniel Quinn in Houston and JHK in Upstate NY.
Plot ‘fastest contracting cities’ on US map
You’re getting better at self-critique—essential for post grad school work
Stage 2 site descriptions for project description page (since removed): Richmond Shipyards
The most productive ship building center anywhere during WWII. Decaying semi-subterranean walkways border each of the facility’s five slips or "quays."
San Francisco Naval Shipyard
The base was entirely closed in 1994. It's been very much left to decay on it's own because of the extraordinary cost of cleaning up the toxins left behind by a cocktail of industrial processes.
Moss Landing Power Plant
Twin 500 foot stacks make this natural gas burning plant difficult to miss.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
The first of two nuclear power plants on the itinerary, this one is surrounded by a buffer zone described as, "thousands of acres of land controlled by [PG&E's] paramilitary type security force." Recognized as one of the strongest structures on the face of the earth, this place will be around for some time.
Betteravia Sugar Plant
Officially closed since 1993, this sugar beet processing facility boasts two enormous hermetically sealed silos rumored to possess supernatural acoustic properties.
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10
Built at the beginning of the American effort to explore space, SLC-10W is basically an abandoned spaceport. Completed in 1958 for the U.S. Air Force's IRBM Testing Program, the complex was later adapted for space flight purposes. It's last launch was in 1980. There's nothing like a space flight to reinforce the illusion of limitlessness.
Here they've been tearing up the landscape to get at the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. The chalk-like sedimentary rock is used as a filtration aid, a mild abrasive, an insecticide, and an ingredient in dynamite among other things.
Built to process crude from a nearby oilfield that, at its peak, produced 90,000 barrels a day. Now abandoned, the complex is rusting slowly in the dry Southern California climate.
Stage three planning: Fullerton to Houston via 190/193
Palm Springs, Phoenix, El Paso, Austin
35 days @ $27 per day is $945 (round up to $1000)
45 days @ $27 per day it $1,215 (round down to $1200)
sites: Santa Susana Field Laboratory This facility has a fascinating history of research initiatives involving rocket and nuclear technology. It also has a horrifying accident record including meltdowns and radioactive fires. Southern California Logistics Airport
Company logos removed or covered immediately to preserve an image
Another example of the desert's propensity to accumulate unwanted things, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville is currently providing "transitional parking" for around 200 commercial jetliners. Kaiser Steel Plant Site, Fontana, ca Note: you should visit the plant’s new site in China
Stage two’s first site visit was to the Richmond Shipyards. The steel used to build hundreds of WWII liberty ships at that location was produced at this one. Mostly ruins remain after a Chinese firm bought the operation and shipped it back to China in 1993. The final battle with the T-1000 at the end of the second Terminator film was shot here.
One of the largest steel plants in the world once stood at this site in Fontana. The plant was originally built here in World War Two, to supply steel for Kaiser's wartime shipyards, which produced hundreds of ships on the west coast in just a few years. The plant, built inland from the coast to stay out of the range of enemy fire from the sea, was upgraded and modernized after the war, with a new 23 story high, $287 million plant built as recently as the 1980's. After three years of use, this most modern plant was bought by the Chinese at bargain basement rates. A team of 300 Chinese workers came to Fontana in 1993 to disassemble it, and ship it to China, where it was reassembled. Kaiser is no longer in the steel business. Portions of the site have been redeveloped, but portions of the old plant remain as ruins, mostly concrete slabs. Part of the site was turned into a major racetrack called the California Speedway, and part of the steel plant is still producing steel, operated by California Steel Industries, which processes steel that comes in from South America and elsewhere. Though a fraction of the tens of thousands that worked at Kaiser Steel in the old days, at 1,000 employees, this is still one of the largest steel operations on the West Coast. As one of the few remaining heavy industry sites near Los Angeles, the site is a common filming location. It was used as a location for the film Black Rain, and for the Schwarzenegger showdown with the cyborg in Terminator II. The film Pearl Harbor was refused permission to film at the site because the current operator of the plant, California Steel, is partially owned by Kawasaki Steel, a Japanese company.
Southern California Logistics Airport (partially abandoned), Victorville, ca This is an interesting airport, emerging from the remains of George Air Force Base, which was closed down in 1992. Much of the former base is abandoned and in a state of slow decay, but as many of the buildings were constructed during the 1970's and early 1980's, they are still in good condition. The city of Victorville is developing the base as the Southern California Logistics Airport, and some local businesses have begun moving in. The runway area is used for aircraft storage by major airlines, as at Mojave Airport. Before being slated for closure in 1988, it was home to a tactical fighter wing, and employed around 5,000 people. A new federal prison was built in 2000 across the street from the main entrance.
There’s also a prison and what appears to be power plant nearby.
Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc. Scrapyard
This 15-acre site is the movie industry’s source for aircraft chunks. A bizarre collection of cowlings, fuselages, jet engines and other fragments lie baking in the desert sun. An aviation parts yard, with an unusual collection of aircraft hulks and fuselages, used primarily by the movie industry. Pieces from this yard have been trucked all over the country and used in over 300 feature films, including "Speed" and "Hero." This 15-acre site is Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc.'s largest yard, though the company owns other properties.
El Mirage Flight Test Facility—violent technology
Predator drones, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military for reconnaissance and attack missions, are tested here. The scary looking aircraft fly out of this modestly sized airfield almost continuously.
This small airport is used for flight testing related to the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's), which are small, remotely operated aircraft used primarily for intelligence gathering (though also for weapons delivery). Facilities consist of small hangar structures, support buildings, and a runway, adjacent to El Mirage Dry Lake in the Antelope Valley. Owned by the Aeronautical Systems division of San Diego-based General Atomics, which developed the Predator and Gnat UAVs. The company also recently purchased the former McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Gray Butte Radar Cross-Section facility, located south of El Mirage.
Predator drones fly out of this relatively small airfield on an almost continuous basis.
Lockeed Rocket Test Site (abandoned), Beaumont, ca A large abandoned rocket test site once operated by the Lockheed Corporation. Former rocket test facility, operated by Lockheed. Clean-up of the site was delayed due to a potential threat to the federally protected Stephens kangaroo rat. It remains a vast, closed-off area, with a few test stands and industrial areas, unmanned and abandoned.
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Array
The world’s third largest windfarm (number one and two are also in California), the twelve square mile site…
The 4,000 or so windmills on these twelve square miles of land produce energy for about 100,000 homes. Though an impressive site, it is actually the smallest of the three major wind arrays in California (others are at Tehachapi Pass, and Altamont). This is still the third largest windfarm in the world.
Salton City, Salton Sea A 19,000-acre planned community on the western shore of the Salton Sea. Its 250 miles of suburban roads connect far fewer homes than its developers intended. Apparently water skiing through rotting algal mats just isn’t that fun. The Salton Sea is an example of changing environmental conditions spoiling the plans of developers…
Salton City is a planned community, which never fully developed as intended. In the late 1950's, M. Penn Phillips and the Holly Corporation built 250 miles of suburban roads on a 19,000 acre site on the western edge of the Salton Sea. The Salton Bay Yacht Club and other resorts were popular, until flooding, algae blooms, and increasing salinity made the sea a less desirable vacation and retirement location.
Westmorland Chemical Waste Facility When you produce a substance so toxic it has to be buried out here…
Not surprisingly, Safety-Kleen, the hazardous waste handling outfit that operates the landfill, did not make Fortune’s ‘100 best companies to work for’ list.
A major chemical waste disposal site, that accepts contaminated soils, filter cake, and other non-fluid toxic industrial wastes. The material is placed in plastic-lined pits, or "cells," and covered with soil. When it is filled, a cell is visible as a raised rectangular mound. It is one of 11 landfills in North America operated by the hazardous waste handling company Safety-Kleen, which bought several landfills recently from Laidlaw, including this one. Westmorland is one of four similar facilities in the southern half of California (the others are Kettleman Hills, McKittrick, and Buttonwillow, all of which are in the southern San Juaquin Valley).
New River Terminus
Bombay Beach I won’t be the first artist to have photographed this trailer community sinking into the Salton Sea. Its decline was triggered by the same changing lake conditions that sabotaged Salton City: rising water levels, increasing salinity, and pollution. flooded/abandoned trailer community, Salton Sea
A partially-flooded trailer community with a few hundred homes, on the east shore of the Salton Sea. Once a popular water skiing and fishing location, Bombay Beach has suffered a decline, due to the rising lake levels, the increasing salinity of the Sea, and related pollution and bad publicity. It is a remarkable looking place, as evidenced by the increasing number of contemporary photographers who have photographed the slowly rotting trailers on the edge of the sea.
North Shores Yacht Club This is where all the vacationers and retirees that never materialized were meant to spend their leisure time. It too is abandoned, a fate that epitomizes the Salton Sea region. Architect Albert Frey, the father of desert modernism, designed it.
Designed by the Swiss-born Palm Springs modernist Albert Frey, the building is abandoned and very scenic.
Hinds Pumping Plant This is the westernmost of five pumping stations along the Colorado River Aqueduct. The water it moves must travel 242 miles from Lake Havasu to Lake Matthews in western Riverside County before it can be put to use rinsing suds off Camaros at Good Tyme Car Wash in Pomona. Hinds is the last of five major pumping plants along the Colorado River Aqueduct, which is one of the three major aqueducts that bring water to Los Angeles. The aqueduct was completed in 1941, and carries water 242 miles from Lake Havasu, on the Colorado River, to Lake Matthews in western Riverside County. Each of the remote art-deco style pumping stations has a small village to house the operators of the facility and their families.
Palo Verde Nuclear Power Complex, outside Phoenix, AZ—violent technology
Online since 1988, the three reactors at this site west of Phoenix have a combined capacity of 3,663 megawatts: enough electricity to power the televisions and toasters of four million people. The complex took twelve years to complete at a cost of nearly six billion dollars. Word on the street is we’re too broke to build any more of these. Largest nuclear power complex in the country and the 12th largest in the world. The facility cost nearly $6 billion, and took twelve years to build, with the last reactor completed in 1988. With a net capacity of 3,663 megawatts, the three reactor units generate power for nearly 4 million people, and the complex is a major source of power for Phoenix and Southern California. It is operated by the Arizona Public Service Company, which also operates the Cholla and Four Corners coal-fired plants.
Something interesting in Phoenix—regarding sprawl
Abandoned subdivisions and retail space
Civilian aircraft boneyard
Asarco Mission Mine One of the largest copper mines in Arizona, 100,000 tons of ore are pulled from this pit every year. It’s two and a half miles across at its widest point and 1000 feet deep. This part of the country is big for copper mines—here’s the first stage in the process.
One of the largest mining operations in the United States, the Mission Complex is a copper and silver mining network, with an underground mine and two open pits: the Mission pit, and the smaller, adjacent San Xavier North pit. The mine is operated by Asarco (which was purchased by Mexico's largest mining company Grupo Mexico in 1999) producing around 100,000 tons of ore a year, with an expected 510 million tons remaining. The main pit is 2.5 by 1.5 miles, and 1,000 feet deep. In 2000, Mission was the third largest copper mine in Arizona, the state that produces 65% of the nation's raw copper.
Sierrita Copper Mine
Titan Missile Museum—violent technology
A decommissioned Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silo now run as a museum.
Currently the only Intercontinental Missile (ICBM) silo complex in the country that is open to the public. Most of the hardware is still in place, including the 110 foot tall Titan II rocket. The facility consists of three underground structures, connected by tunnels: the control center; the silo; and, in between them, the blast lock structure, which contains the access portal and the stairwell that brings you 35 feet underground and through the blast door into the facility. This site is one of 54 Titan II silos, in use from 1963 to 1984, and located in three separate silo fields: this field of 18 silos, in the vicinity of Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson; another 18 near Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas; and another 18 near McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kansas. The Titan II was the largest ICBM ever made by the USA. The last Titan II silo was decommissioned in 1987, replaced by more advanced Minuteman and MX Peacekeeper ICBMs, deployed in 1,000 silos across the Great Plains. Many of the Titan silos were sold to the public at auction, after the Air Force detonated the launch duct and salvaged reusable equipment (the access portal and control centers were left intact and some are used now as storage, and in some cases even as homes by their new owners). The Titan II rockets have been refitted and used for satellite deployment. There are still around 500 currently active Minuteman ICBM silos, located mostly in the great plains states.
309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a.k.a. “The Boneyard”
This 2,600-acre site near Tucson stockpiles surplus aircraft from all branches of the US government. A few find post-retirement work in the air forces of foreign governments but most just sit, are parted-out, or scrapped. If you were here in the mid-90s, you’d have witnessed a 13,000-pound guillotine chopping B-52s into pieces. Illustrating the incredible excess of the world’s most well funded military, the facility maintains 4,400 aircraft including 700 F-4 Phantoms originally purchased for an estimated 27 billion dollars.
meant to store excess Department of Defense and Coast Guard aircraft, but has in recent years been designated the sole repository of out-of-service aircraft from all branches of the US government.
Tucson's low humidity, infrequent rainfall, and alkaline soil. The hard soil makes it possible to move aircraft around without having to pave the storage areas.
sold to friendly foreign governments.
Asarco Copper Smelter The most conspicuous feature of this 123-acre plant site is its 828-foot sack. That black line in the satellite photo is the towering structure’s shadow. One of two copper smelters owned by Asarco (the other is in Hayden, Arizona, closer to the company's mines in Arizona), El Paso has a 828-foot-tall stack, at this 123-acre plant site. When operating at full capacity the plant employs over 400 people. Phelps Dodge also operates a copper refinery in El Paso.
El Paso Copper Refinery Employing continuous-casting methods, this sprawling complex is one of the world’s largest electrolytic copper refineries.
The Phelps Dodge Mining Company's refinery in El Paso is one of the world's largest refineries of electrolytic copper. At this plant, which employs about 280 people, the copper is refined and formed into a continuous-cast rod, which can then be turned into electric wire and cable.
Sierra Blanca Sludge Ranch If you took a shit in Manhattan between 1992 and 2001, there’s a good chance it ended up at this remote 80,000-acre property in West Texas. What’s likely the world’s largest sludge dump is currently idle. Between 1992 and 2001, as many as 45 train cars per day brought sewage sludge from New York City to this 129,000 acre West Texas property, where it is spread out on the ground like peanut butter. The waste site is a former resort called the Mile High Ranch, and is owned by a Long Island New York company, Merco Joint Venture. The contract with New York City was terminated in June of 2001, and the sludge ranch, possibly the largest in the World, is now idle.
Houston Petrochemical Patch From Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us: The Industrial megaplex that begins on the east side of Houston and continues uninterrupted to the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles away, is the largest concentration of petroleum refineries, petrochemical companies, and storage structures on earth. Several of the country’s largest refineries are located here as well as…
I’m well into the planning phase for stage three (Los Angeles to Houston) and will begin raising funds in September. The route is 1,600 miles of desert and loosely follows Interstate 10, passing through Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Austin before reaching the Gulf. Major side trips include a northward jaunt out of San Bernardino to visit El Mirage dry lakebed, as well as a loop around the Salton Sea.
Scattered throughout the Southwest’s vast tracts of wide-open land are places long forgotten. Some of what the desert keeps out of sight and out of mind would be problematic placed closer to population centers and its arid climate and seismic stability are ideal for the long-term storage of everything from hazardous waste to aircraft. 65 percent of the nation’s raw copper is produced in Arizona and I expect to see much of the industry’s workings.
Logistically, the leg will be the most challenging yet. There are several remote stretches, greater than 70 miles, where neither food nor water will be available. Trees and other natural windbreaks are few and far between. In such a depopulated part of the country, the psychological effects of prolonged isolation will not go unnoticed. It should take just over a month to reach Houston but I’ll budget for 45 days. See about the project page for the official waypoint list. What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.
For there are two deserts: One is a grim desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable heat... visualized by those children of luxury to whom any environment is intolerable which does not provide all the comforts and luxuries of a pampering civilization. The other desert -- the real desert -- is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the fearful soul of the cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance, and understanding. For those the desert holds rare gifts.
The board-up company in Chicago spray painting their logo and phone number on the wood panels used to secure doors and windows. Advertising on top of the carcass of a dead business. Capitalism at its finest. People often joke that the last businesses standing will be the ones servicing the ones who have already died.