Press "Enter" to skip to content

The ghosts of old efforts

Discovery Trail
September 11, 2014

Ah, Port Angeles. The anal polyp of the Pacific Northwest.  1 million gallons of untreated sewage were dumped into the harbor over the day after Labor Day. Pump malfunction. The swimming hazards were lifted today. I don’t know what’s more troubling, the sewage, or that it’s normally treated. What is this, catch and release?

The Discovery Trail is truly generous. Composite park benches, water-jet engraved with the names of trail patrons. Small burnished micro-memorials like bronzed cinderblocks heaved from the back of a moving maintenance cart. A giant elevated shit-pipe running trailside along the entire length of the marina. Then some patriotic bunting on a solitary bench, forgotten since the 4th of July as if beyond scope as the city reduces its workload with the waning tourist season. It’s the summer version of the ghostly Christmas decorations that are up downtown year-round, Wal-Mart lights ganged together, sapling to sapling, with green Wal-Mart extension cords. Is it more civic-minded to report these ironic flourishes, or leave them alone?

Never mind the Superfund site- there’s an transplanted chunk of a World Trade Center girder overlooking it.  In its small white-washed plaza it looks like a lawn sculpture toppled by drunk frat boys into a drained swimming pool. The small memorial plaque look like it was framed with welding slag. Something to stick in the corner, a conversation piece that has little to do with itself. More interesting for the oddity than the sentiment. Still, every city should have one. If for no other reason than it must be insanely difficult to just scrap the pieces of that day.  Makes sense to spread out the burden.

A little further along the trail I was mesmerized by this bench in the photo above, and not only because the trail starts to repeat itself every 20 yards at this point. And not because of the water hazard, high tide and a rockery right at my heels. An elderly couple stopped to watch me set up my weird old wood camera. Ostensibly because the bench faces a harbor view and they could unobtrusively watch the show from behind, but maybe a little because these days I’m convinced I look like a pitchman setting this thing up in public, and it’s difficult to shake the feeling that I have some undetectable body language similar to the posturing that usually heralds the barking of patent cures or the lives of saints. ‘Just bear with me a sec folks, and I will transform your lives.’  Then I pointed the camera at the bench instead of the harbor and the couple  started walking in opposite directions and coughed into each other’s armpits.  As for testimonials though, all I can manage is these stoic and dessicated 5×7 negatives, but that’s too hard to externalize. Just irreducible earnestness.

Do people advertise their dead? Is that the take-away from these scenes? I admit that phrase circled the skull for a while. The Memorial, is it irreducible too, even encased in composite,  casual scenes, and gull crap.