Thursday, January 6, 2011

RETURN TO SNAKELAND - Nineteenth Fragment

* This is a fictionalized account of some shit that actually happened. All the names, locations, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. – JG *

No one seems to know when “AWL-GRAIN” went out of business and the grain elevators that eventually became Snakeland were abandoned, but before they became supposed eyesores they were regarded as architectural marvels. Around the turn of the century when famed architect Le Corbusier first visited the grain elevators of what would become the American rust belt he declared them to be “The first fruits of the new age!” A critic of the pillar-and-arch decorative forms, Monsieur Le C was amazed and impressed by the huge silos because they were simple as well as functional for the people who would directly utilize them. German architect Erich Mendelsohn wrote that he’d seen “stupendous verticals of fifty to a hundred cylinders, and all this in the sharp evening light, everything else now seemed...only a beginning,” after visiting the same grain elevators that had so impressed Le Big C. Of course, as architectural tastes changed the grain elevators came to be regarded very differently, and once the series of them located in Kenton stopped being used by the Awl-Grain company they became a concern that would grow until Snakeland was destroyed in 1994.

But nature hates a purposeless thing. The elevators, stark and imposing in that same sharp evening light that so captivated Mendelsohn, must’ve struck the first kid at that Also-Sprach-Zarathustra-2001 moment with the “Bom-Bom-BOM” of “That would be a perfect place to party as well as worship the devil!” In the late 70s/80s kids still prowled, still had to look for places to get away from parents/cops/siblings, and didn’t have the option of disappearing into the grain elevators of themselves provided by social networking, iPods and serious gaming systems (you could disappear into an Atari 2600 as much as you could picture yourself as a blocky pixilated man-blob swinging on a vine over rectangular “crocodiles”). With prowling came the railroad tracks, the viaducts under bridges and yes, the grain elevators. Anything abandoned, anything underused could be appropriated for partying, for fucking, for anything. A couple borrowed bolt cutters later and we were all in business. Broken ladders, broken glass, depressions filled with rainwater, floor holes hiding nests of snakes – strange mysteries, bad magic.