Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The lower 48...Mission Accomplished!!!

December 31, 2014

About 5 years ago  Jackie and I set out to see America, or more specifically, the lower 48 states into which I was born, and in June of 2014, after spending about two and a half weeks traveling through Oregon and Washington State, the last leg of our trip, we did it, ending up in Seattle, and quite pleasantly surprised by the results.  If you were to sit home and watch the 6:00 news and/or read the New York Times or listen to talk radio/tv, you would have absolutely no idea what a wonderful country America is.  It is a wondrous place vast and beautiful, at times other worldly, and filled with warm welcoming people who exhibit none of those stereotypically un-American characteristics the media would lead you to believe about us.  True there is something quite ugly going on in the American airwaves, but I didn't see any of it at ground level.

So as I said, Mission Accomplished!!!  That's more than George W. can say with a straight face.  I retired a few years ago with the intention of seeing America, and we did it.  I don't always follow through with  things, but here we are, sitting in the SkyCity Restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle, celebrating our accomplishment.  Can't think of a more fitting place to do it and all in all, probably would never have done it without Jackie.  This is the view of Seattle from the Space Needle after 3 pretty good martinis.

The dinner was expensive, but also a lot better than than you would expect from a kind of kitchy tourist trap of a place.

That's Jackie at the Westlake subway stop getting ready to head back to the airport and here we are at the airport lugging our bags back to the plane for our trip back to Albany, but since we don't do selfies, you can't see us.  

This posting needs work but I am trying to squeeze it in before the new year, so it will have to do for now.  Its been a year of ups and downs, some important losses, but on the balance, things are well.  So happy new year and all the best.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Arthur Leipzig, A remembrance....

My teacher, Arthur Leipzig, the man who set the course for the rest of my life, uncovering the latent photographer inside of me that I never knew existed, died last week, 12/5/14 at the age of 96.  Among his immesurable accomplishments both artistically, and in terms of his influence on the lives of many soon to become Long Island photographers, was the fact that he took the best photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge ever taken.  No small feat, both in terms of the vast and iconic nature of the subject, and the failure of so many other important photographers who grappled with its immensity and failed in the attempt, case in point Walker Evans.

I include Mr. Leipzig's photograph here with no particular permission, so I hope I am not committing any major copyrite transgression.  It is atypical of his vast body of work which almost exclusively illustrates his fascination with humanity.  In fact this is probably his only important photo without people which is probably why it appeals to me.

A rambling remembrance...

My career as a photographer began as a lark in the fall semester of 1968 at CW Post College.  Having been a few credits short of being able to graduate on time, and with the Viet Nam war raging, a fifth year of college didn’t seem like a bad idea.  Looking back, a sixth year would have been good too, but maybe that’s just nostalgia talking.  Anyway, with only 8 or 10 credits to make up, I was at a loss for what to do.  A friend at the time said he was going to take a photography course up at the art center, and that I should too.  I had less than no interest in photography at the time, but he showed me some b&w 8x10s a friend of his had made that I liked, so I said ok and signed up.  What started as a lark quickly became an obsession.  I borrowed my father’s old Konica viewfinder camera that he bought on a trip to Japan in the late 50's, and immediately began to feel the sense of adventure and entitlement holding a camera in your hands provides.  It was license to trespass, explore, and intrude into the lives of others, something I was known to do anyway, but now I had purpose for being on the wrong side of town.

Day 1 began with great expectations, driving up the road to the back of the campus where there was this old run down mansion that was serving as the art center at the time.  The photography department was down in the basement, right opposite the print studio, and consisted of 1 class room, and a darkroom with 5 or 6 old Simon Omega enlargers, and one teacher, Mr. Arthur Leipzig.  The whole place had the smell of a b&w darkroom, the uniquely pungent aroma of a variety of noxious substances that transports me to this day.  My anticipation quickly turned to anxiety when I looked at this one guy who showed up with a  big Nikon and a camera bag full of SLRs lenses, flash attachments, filters, etc and all I had was this dinky little camera view finder camera with rings and dials on it with numbers that I knew nothing about.  I quickly found out what to do with the rings and dials, and the heavily camera laden guy never showed up again obviously finding it all too basic for him.   

We were given a roll of film, shown how to develop the film, and sent on our way with the assignment “As you like it”, which basically meant take whatever you want, blow it up, and present it  to the class at the critique, which comprised the majority of our class time and became a strong competitive driving force to produce images that were striking, caught the eye of the other students, and won the praise of Mr. Leipzig, who was often demanding and stingy with a good word.  Looking back, this process had both good and bad sides.  It certainly provided the motivation to get good shots, but it also made the focus just  getting good shots, i.e. just looking for what we thought was a good photograph.  For years after that, I walked around with my camera looking for good images, never really thinking about what a good image was for me, or the thread, the organizing principle, that ran through my work providing it cohesion and thereby the understanding that every image did not have to be great, it just had to connect the dots in the thread that was my idiosyncratic take on life that I was trying to communicate.  Being the slow learner that I am, it took years to learn that there was an organizing principle to my work.

Unfortunately Mr. Leipzig was still new to teaching in '68, and took it for granted that all of us college students were smart enough to know how to load a camera so he didn’t show us.  After shooting the roll, getting back to the lab, and spending 20 minutes in pitch darkness trying to put the film in the spool,, I was ready to develop the film.  Five minutes in D-76, water rinse, 8 or 9 minutes in the fixer, and I was ready to wash my film and take a quick look at what I had.  Nothing, zilch, nada.  A blank roll of film.  What happened?  Of course I didn’t load it properly so it never advanced, which I didn’t realize as I was rewinding my first roll of film and couldn’t feel that nothing was rewinding.  So Mr. Leipzig was wrong.  I was not as smart as I looked, but that never happened again. 

Luckily, my first roll of film, much like my most recent roll of film, was devoid of people, just inanimate objects that don’t move or change over the course of a few days, or even a lifetime, so this time, with a properly loaded camera, I revisited my locale and basically reshot the roll.  Great relief at developing a roll full of negatives this time around.  The dark room assistant, Ricky Tropp, with whom I became instant and best friends for years after that, showed me how to use the enlarger, develop the print and get it into the wash.  Over the years since this first darkroom experience, my life has gone through more that the average number of moves, some voluntary, some not, a few upheavals that left scars, and the occasional escape by the skin of my teeth, but somehow, I am still in possession of my negatives, that very first print I made, as well as some of my other earlier work.  Looking at that print made in 10/68 and shots I have taken in the last few years, I realize that I have been taking basically the same photograph for the past 45 years.  If I had only come to that realization sooner!!!  Another realization I wish I had come to sooner, was that if you make a print that you like, make a few copies, because getting it right the second time is not as easy as you think.  And if you are an OCD perfectionist like myself, it will never be quite right no matter how you try.

I often think we photographers are outsiders, somewhat alienated people with our noses pressed up against the plate glass window of life looking in.  Somehow, the camera is a kind of psychological prosthetic devise that that enables us entry into the swirl of life that surrounds us.  While I did find Susan Sontag’s book “On Photography” somewhat overwrought, she did make the observation that photographers are tourists in other people’s reality, and that made sense to me. 

Mr. Leipzig was definitely a tourist in other people's reality.  He was a NYC street photographer, a photojournalist, and a member of the Photo League, an important collective of mostly Jewish, liberal leaning, socially conscious people who labored under the belief that photography could change the world by exposing the evils that resided there in.  Mr. Leipzig almost always took pictures of people, in fact if there were no people in the picture, for him it was not much of a photo.  Therefore Mr. Leipzig did not think much of my work, devoid of people who I saw to be nothing but a distraction, he tended to favor the budding photojournalists in our class.  He was crazy about Henri Cartier Bresson, the master of the decisive moment and possibly the world’s greatest photojournalist.  But Mr. Leipzig also introduced us to Edward Weston, in whom I found a true kindred spirit.  In spite of all this, Mr. Leipzig did take the best picture of the Brooklyn Bridge I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.                

As I mentioned, Mr.Leipzig was a member of the Photo League during the 1940’s as he began to actively pursue a career in photography.  There’s lots written about the League which operated from the mid 1930’s till the very early 1950’s when their quite liberal leanings, some might say socialistic, led them to run astray of the status quo during the McCarthy witch hunt era when these do gooders with cameras with names like Grossman, Hurwitz, Libsohn, Engel, Bernstein, Goldstein, and Leipzig, et al, came to the attention of the HUAC  and had the sense to quietly slid into obscurity, to continue their socially conscious do gooding sub rosa.  Interestingly, I graduated CW Post College without having ever even heard of the Photo League or knowing Leipzig was a member.  It was only years later that I began to see his photos showing up in articles and shows about the League that I put 2 and 2 together.  And it was years after that I realized that the reason for his sin of omission was that lingering, visceral fear of persecution both real and imagined,  something very real in the Jewish psyche that told him to keep his mouth shut.  He had seen careers destroyed, and while McCarthy was dead, his spirit lurked as the cold war droned on.

Because we were so different in what we saw as a good photo, I’m not sure exactly what impact  Photography 101 and 102 had on me or how it encouraged in the pursuit of my own ideocryncratic vision, although it did.  Mr. Leipzig could be a harsh critic at times, but here I am 45 years later still shooting and sitting in my little gallery/print shop at 321 Hamilton Street in Albany NY, surrounded by walls full of vacant people less photos symmetrically organized around a well defined central point of reference that please me greatly and provide a serenity and coherence I can live with.  About 5 years ago I went digital, although I swore I never would, and it resurrected my career, although I do miss the smell of the darkroom.  And, I am grateful for the enduring, life changing passion that Arthur Leipzig obviously instilled in me.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

9 Bleecker Street, NYC

Every and then, I need to devote a posting to a single photo, because it is special to me and/or it is an orphan that I can find no other place for and/or it is a great image.  9 Bleeker is one of those pictures.  I grew up on the subways in the city in the 50's and 60's and no longer live there, but when I do go back, I don't recognize the place anymore and wonder what I am doing there.  But every now and then, my meanderings will bring me to a place like this that take me home, if only for a minute and reminds me of the lovely squalor of the city in which I once wallowed, of a time when so much of NYC looked like this.

Is it hard for me to imagine New York City
without Schrafft's, full of Hadassah Ladies
fresh from a Broadway show and deciding
between the french toast or bagel and lox to
fortify them for the Long Island Rail Road trip
back to the suburban tedium we called home?

Not really (he answered with no small sense of
sadness over the inexorable ravage of time).
No harder than it is to imagine life
without my mother, without whom
Schrafft's would never have existed
as an object of mystery and reverence to me
ever present at the corner of 5th Ave and 13th St
across from the Graduate Faculty of 
The New School for Social Research where
I spent two years working to cleanse my mind
of the bourgeois ideas my parents worked so hard
two instill in me.

Two years, and never once setting foot inside,
never once imagining that this holy shrine I passed daily
and the city I inhabited, and that inhabited me,
could cease to exist.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

PaJ Gallery, Albany...

Imagine you could open your own museum!!!
I do,
full of things intriguing, fascinating, and important to you,
a sort of museum of the mind,
on display for all to see and touch and ponder...
in all it's joy and splendor 
wonderful and glorious things,
bought for a song or found along the way...
no monument to the grasping power of wealth, this...
no hastily gathered collection of
priceless things to be awed and gawked at,
 other people's souls bought by the pound
by some thick fingered tycoon restless to impress
to be catalogued and purveyed
by some shrill wire rimmed anglophile
foisting his woolfian pretensions on
an unsuspecting public eager to be educated...
$5 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and students,
and for those too young to see, 
FREE, Thank you.

Hannah Walsh's summer show at PaJ

A work in progress, stay tuned...


Athenaeum, Portsmouth NH...

I love the word athenaeum.  Like so many latin words and phrases it has such gravitas and a sense of importance to it.  So while I knew it was basically latin for library, when I looked it up I was hoping for something more... but that was it.  It derives from the old Roman name for a school for the arts, but there was none of the more mystical connotation I had hoped for.  Guess I have been reading too many Dan Brown books lately.  But the two athenaeums I have been to were indeed ancient and magical places that were surely repositories of secrets and treasure far beyond anything to found at your public library, and my visit to the athenaeum in Portsmouth NH did mark the first stop on our recent Maine/Maritime adventure after all.   Photographically the record is not complete.  Didn't know it would become a posting...for that matter you often don't know till later and then you just have to work with what you have.  Sometimes you can go back and fill in the blanks, sometimes you can't.  Portsmouth is nice, but don't feel the need to return.  But it is on the way to Portland Maine which I loved for so many reasons, and also need to get back to, so to be continued, but you get the idea.

Tom Hardiman, director, talking to Lynn Crocker, member and book binder in the gallery on the first floor.

This is the first floor gallery, but where are the books?  Need to get back to finish the job!!!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

What ever happened to Brian Ermanski?

Was editing my blog the other day and came across this long forgotten photo of Brian Ermanski  that I took during a shoot down on Elizabeth Street in 9/04 (see posting...) and got wondering how things turned out for him.

The photo was taken on the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets in the heart of SOHO on one of those magically warm early September mornings when you can feel the air, the streets are quiet, and all seems well with the world.  As we got talking, Brian introduced himself as the self proclaimed "Prince of Elizabeth Street" who appeared to be a passable artist and I think writer, still early in his career, with delusions of grandeur and a funny, playful manner that reminded me a lot of myself when I was young and a student in NYC.  He was lying on this discarded couch on Prince Street with his signature top hat on his knee.  When I asked if I could take his picture,  he said "sure, for a dollar" which I gladly gave him, saying it was a bargain at that.  After we talked for a while, he took me to some cafe to see a few of his paintings which were OK.  I bought us each a cup of coffee, we talked for a while longer, and that was that.

Googling him, I found that he has developed into a much better artist as well as a master of self promotion, which is no sin as Andy Warhol would be the first admit, and has done quite well for himself it would appear, especially in the area of performance art, his greatest creation being himself, although he might disagree.  Funny, but Prince and Elizabeth have always been a touchstone for me as well, a place I return to frequently and am always rewarded.  If nothing else there is always a great cup of coffee at Cafe Habana

or a slice at the Prince Street Pizzaria between Mott and Elizabeth, one of the few pizza places in New York still run by Italians who understand the concept.  Was there a few months ago and found a most extraordinary NYC tableau across the street from the cafe on Elizabeth, which has been waiting for a spot to be posted (but where?), so this posting has worked out quite well...

If not a prince, its always good to be at least a flaneur at the corner of Prince and Elizabeth.


Spent Thanksgiving in a suite at 48 Lexington Ave. with Jackie's family who spent the morning shivering out on 5th Ave watching the parade.  Used that time to head downtown.  The subways were quiet, the streets almost empty, and there were few cars on the street to block the view.  Stopped in the Habana for a coffee or two and got a couple of good shots of the two meat markets across the street from each other on Elizabeth, a few doors north of Prince.  One still kind of active, the other in tact, but now being used as an art gallery, with the meat hooks still in place...
By the time I got back, Ben's Deli was delivering our Thanksgiving banquet.

209 Elizabeth St. South of Prince

While there is nothing intrinsically special about these last three photos beyond their location, they are important because places like that don't really exist much in NYC any more.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Enemies to the North!!!!

Dateline:  Halifax, Nova Scotia, 10/24/14....

We Americans continue to have our heads up our asses.  We seem to be obsessively preoccupied with the Mexican border, as if those hungry, tattered, God fearing people knocking at our door, who only want to pick our lettuce and tomatoes and generally make our lives better by cleaning our houses and hotel rooms and cutting our grass pose some kind of threat to our national security and overall well being.  What???  They just want to send a few bucks home to their starving families doing the jobs Americans won't touch, and we treat them like shit.

Just got back from a tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, a hotbed of subversive monarchist activity, and I'm here to report that if you are looking for trouble, look north my friends.  It is those pesky Canadians who are biding their time, and if economic conditions continue to evolve in the present trajectory they will be a power to be reckoned with and may just be dreaming about making the USofA their 9th or 12th province or whatever.  Just spent 3 or 4 quite eye opening days in Halifax Nova Scotia and it wasn't a pretty picture.  In their ongoing celebration of the war of 1812 (1812!!!) at the Old Burial Ground, where many of the soldiers of that war are buried,

 they are beating the drums and celebrating the war that they see as the reason that "We are not Americans".  On this day, that I passed up the opportunity to go to the public market with Jackie,  opting to attend a commemoration  honoring and praising British Major General Robert Ross, the guy whose troops sacked Washington, and did a pretty good job of almost burning down the White House.  He was killed in battle a few weeks later, his body was embalmed in a barrel of rum and he was shipped back to Halifax for burial in a crypt like this one.  I'm sure he would have preferred his rum employed more tastefully like in a Mojito or maybe a Daiquiri, but c'est la guerre.

Still a British Colony at the time, Canada provided the northern staging ground for the British invasion of the USA, and while the red coats were ultimately unsuccessful, Canada remained Canada, for which they appear to be eternally grateful, and given the present state of affairs in the world and the ugly state of American politics, they are probably justified in feeling that way.  But even now, that slumbering giant to the north seems to be using the Old Burial Ground to muster the troops...

But is the CIA on top of this?  Given their recent history of ineptitude in dealing with the subtleties international affairs, I doubt it.  If you are in the area, don't miss Halifax or the Old Burial Grounds, and if you see something, say something, comme ont dit...


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Piatto Pizza in Charlottetown PEI

But first some background:
Last time I was in PEI was during the summers of 1978 and 1979 when I was young, brave, and could withstand the rigors of the excruciating 25 hour train trip from Ottawa to Cape Tormentine NB,  take the ferry to PEI and bike around the island for two weeks pitching my tent among the dunes, or on the bluff behind the now vanished Stanhope Inn, gorging myself on wild berries and life, and discovering, among other things, that the earth is not flat.  Many unexpected adventures and unusual circumstances found me back then at a time when I was still a young swarthy curly haired sight to be seen on a bike, that even the mention of which here would be distracting to the subject at hand.  While PEI was recognizable, much has changed over the past 35 years, most of all me.  Over the years I have amused and intrigued Jackie with tales of the road, and seeing the PEI of myth and legend was mandatory for her on this trip, so here we are.  Took few photos though.  Didn't find much to see.  The early autumn weather was mostly moist and overcast while my youthful memories all glow in a warm, radiant maritime sun, bathing the red clay roads and fields of clover flowing down to an awaiting sea that engulfed my still young soul.   But all was not lost.

Jackie on the ferry from Nova Scotia to PEI beaming with anticipation.

As readers of this blog know I am a man in search of the perfect pizza, something that is becoming a more and more rare and elusive commodity.  People don't know how to make real pizza anymore, and hardly anyone seems to know or care, so it is the perfect storm.  As I have said many times, A GOOD PIZZA IS MORE THAT JUST THE SUM OF ITS PARTS.  It requires a visceral understanding of the dynamics of the thing.  You can't just bring your cousin Habibi over from the middle east, provide him with a store front, ready made balls of dough, a can of sauce, and a lump of mozzarella like material and expect him to produce anything more that a round, undercooked cheese covered object that vaguely resembles a pizza.  You can count on one hand the number of pizza places in NYC still run by an Italian who knows what he is doing.

So imagine my surprise to find one of the finest pies I have ever eaten in Charlottetown, PEI.   Piatto authentic wood fired pizza, right there on Queen Street.

I ordered the Margherita pizza, the true test of things, pure and unadorned, with no place to hide.  The crust was thin and crisp, the sauce was generous, mildly herbed and very tasty and the cheese was light, fresh, and applied sparingly to produce a crisp delicious pizza with a zero glop factor.  If it looks a little too well done, I like it that way and the pizza chef was quite accommodating in allowing me to supervise the cooking time to meet my tastes.

It tastes as good as it looks, a work of art.  Would return to Charlottetown for this alone.  
If your tastes run toward thick, gloppy, undercooked pizza topped with bbq chicken, too much rubbery cheese, and a swirl of ranch dressing to top it off, this place is not for you.


Friday, August 15, 2014

WallPress is stealing my work!!!!

Some ass holes at WallPress and some other pirate vampire sites are stealing my photos and putting them up on their sites to be downloaded for their own gain (for wallpaper???@#%$#!!! of all things).  Too bad the web is full of dishonest parasites like that with no moral compass to help them to distinguish between right and wrong, or probably they really just don't care.  Hope they haven't stole it all yet.  Who knows, so I pulled it all down for the time being.  Its a jungle out there.  Makes life on the road seem like a picnic, which it is most of the time, since you know who you are dealing with.

Be back soon.  Have been looking into some imprinting apps that will mark the photos, not that it is so important in the grand scheme of things, but its just the point of it.  But to hold you over, here's one I just took in Oregon for my Canadian friends and family if you are still looking in, including the band over at "the Hobo Travelogue".



September 14, 2014:
Dateline Halifax, Nove Scotia

As you can see in the above photo, I have solved the piracy problem, or so I like to think, by figuring out how to put that copyrite thing in the lower left corner.  I know they can outsmart me, but I am willing to accept the certain degree of false confidence this security measure provides.  Do I have delusions of grander that the stuff is worth stealing, maybe, but as I said, it is just the point of it.

Was in the Old Burial Grounds of Halifax today at a ceremony commemorating the War of 1812 and particularly General Ross who was responsible for the sacking of Washington D.C. and the burning of the White House.  They are thankful to General Ross and his armies for all they did to prevent Canada from being captured by the U.S. and becoming the 51st state.  The way things are going in the U.S. of A, perhaps they did dodge a bullet back then.   Poor General Ross was killed a few weeks later.  His body was stored in a barrel of rum and transported back to Halifax.  I'm sure he would have preferred that rum in a coke or maybe a mojito, but ces't la guerre.  Took this photo in the Old Burial Grounds this morning,, right before the ceremony.

It is a sarcophagus quite similar to the one General Ross is interred in.  That is not a painting on the side, but mold and decay.  Nature's paintbrush as they say.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

The last days of Hoffman's Playland's in Albany...

Closer to home the news is sad.  An anachronistic little amusement park that has changed little, and done nothing but bring joy and amuse people since the 1950's is being torn down.  Apparently it has become an irritant to those who look at it and can only see the money  being wasted on what turns out to be on an increasingly valuable piece of real estate that has relegated Hoffman's Amusement Park into becoming a public nuisance, an impediment to progress,  and a speed bump on our community's head long lunge into a dubious future.  Therefore Hoffman's must be destroyed in the name of all that is progressive and profitable, and destroyed it will be on September 9, 2014, having outlived its usefulness as the one and only amusement park in Albany.

Why people are afraid of clowns!!!

It is small, lo tech and does not rely on mammoth gut wrenching artiface to get your attention.   And soon it will have outlived its usefulness.  Too bad.


Addendum June 2015:

My cynicism was for naught.  A large local discount store at the edge of town stepped in, bought the park lock stock and barrel as they say, and are moving all the rides to the empty lot next to their store and will have it up and running by the beginning of the summer.  Disaster averted!!! 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shamrock Texas, Highway 83

Covered most of Highway 83 in Texas this time around, with a few Route 66 side trips along the way, but had trouble knowing where to start reporting on this leg of the journey.  So after months of indecision, here I am, at the nexis/cosmic convergence/belly button of the American Highway system, where those two mythical roads, the Highway 83/road to nowhere and the Route 66/mother road meet, in Shamrock, Texas which was the focal point of our trip after all.  This is a factoid that would be of interest to only a select few for whom this intersection would be of interest, but if you are one of those people, here we are.  I have dreamed of this moment for years, staring at maps, planning, scheming, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before (with apologies to E.A.P).  Letting my mind run wild with speculation.  Would 2 days in Shamrock even be enough?  Jackie said it would be more than enough, and as always, she was right.

Its always good to have a marker of where you are, and the folks in Shamrock obliged, well aware of their significance.

The next group of postings, starting in Shamrock will cover the trip, but in no particular spacial or chronological order.  Tried that before and it was stifling so will just follow my nose.  Like all historical towns we have visited, Shamrock is a shadow of what it was both functionally and as a practical entity. At one time, anyone heading west on 66 passed through Shamrock, ate, slept, bought gas and provision and communed with fellow sojourners for a precious few hours.  Now interstate 40 has rendered Shamrock invisible and irrelevant to all but the true believers.  Now its all Taco Bell, McDonald's, Holiday Inn/Hampton Inn/Motel 6 et al, at the outskirts of an eviscerated downtown pocked by empty store after empty store, clustered around a Dollar General, which is nothing more than a downsized Walmart.  

That's Highway 83 running through the middle of town...

The ubiquitous Dollar General, at the center of all small towns, providing minimum wage to the thankful otherwise unemployed who they put out on the streets when they sucked the life out of local small merchants and then held themselves up as saviors providing shit jobs selling cheap chinese shit at cheap prices.  Pay them low wages, sell them the cheap shit they can afford, and everyone is happy?

The Conoco station.  Now a visitor's information center and the reason most people stop here.

And finally, this fantastic grain elevator.  I was not disappointed with Shamrock as you might imagine reading this.  It was just as one might expect in this day and age, and I have now seen it after all these years.