Off the keyboard of RE
Featuring the Photography of Johnny Joo
Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 28, 2014
Discuss this article at the History Table inside the Diner
When events and changes occur slowly over the period of a human lifespan, you often don’t notice them occuring while they are happening, it is only when you look back in retrospect that you can see the changes that have occurred.
A typical example is the growth of a child. If you put the child up against a doorjamb to mark the day’s growth, you won’t see any difference. However, if you do it once every 3 months during a growth spurt, the changes in the interim are easily measured.
Similarly, as you age, each day you look in the mirror to shave, you don’t look a whole lot different than you did the day before, but when you go look at a picture of yourself in one of your sister’s photo albums, it becomes shockingly clear how much you have aged.
The spirit of this is reflected in the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from “A Fiddler on the Roof”
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
As we walk around, or in many cases in the 1st World drive around, it’s not usually apparent that today is so much different than yesterday, it’s only when you look back in retrospect to what things were like a few decades ago versus how they are now that you become shockingly aware of how far down we have already come on the Collapse Highway.
Some people don’t notice it at all, in fact I think most people willfully shut out seeing decay, and also of course so much of the decay is inside the great cities of yesteryear, places like Detroit and Cleveland, so the only people who usually witness that daily are the few impoverished people that still live there.
A few days ago however, I ran into the video at the top of the page chronicling the decay of the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit.
This is what the Pontiac Silverdome looks like today, in 2014
At the beginning of the video though are some clips from the Silverdome, vintage 1980s or so. That’s pretty much how I remember the Silverdome, since in those years I still followed dumb ass sports like NFL Football, and watched the Detroit Lions play the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving Day. In those days, the Silverdome looked more like this:
In the space of a mere 30 years, the Blink of an Eye really in Civilization terms, this behemoth of a Stadium, which took $Millions$ to build now is just a decaying wreck in a decaying city that doesn’t even have the resources around to demolish it.
Following the links from the You Tube page led me to find the rest of the work of the photographer who made that video, Johnny Joo. Johnny has a website Architectural Afterlife with many more links to his portfolios and albums, dropped around in repositories on the net. Many of the images are absolutely stunning, and when you view all of them together, you begin to get a much more visceral understanding of the Collapse going on all around us, as we speak.
Although Detroit is of course the Poster Child for collapse, you can find it almost everywhere if you don’t shut your eyes to it. Johnny Joo doesn’t shut his eyes, instead he opens the Camera Lens.
Once Upon a Time, people lived in this house…
Once Upon a Time, people worked in this Factory
Once Upon a Time, people watched Movies here
Once Upon a Time, children learned to read and write here
There are none so Blind as those who will not See
-Little Donnie Dark, “Butterflies are Free”
Many if not most people do not see the decay surrounding them, and they will point to all the Great Advances we have made to demonstrate the continuing and to their eyes unstoppable Progress forward of Industrial Civilization. The Carz, the I-phones, the BRAND NEW Cities being built in China, soon to be the next Empire/Superpower to rule the world.
Sadly of course for the Chinese, they showed up a Day Late and a Yuan Short to the great Industrial Keg Party, and the Beer has about Run Out now. The cities they are building will never even get the chance to experience the Glory Days of a Detroit or Cleveland.
Frank J. Hecker Mansion. Frank made his fortune building Railroad Cars in the late 1800s
That is one of the few that have been preserved here, a more typical example is the Ransom Gills House, built in 1878. Despite some refurbishment to the exterior, no buyer has been found.
For the brand new cities in China, they are ALREADY Ghost Cities, and there will be no Glory Days for them.
What reflects whether a civilization is growing or declining is not so much what new stuff is being built, but what is happening to the old stuff?
If you have plenty of resources around, you don’t let old structures decay, you Demolish them and build new ones, or you Refurbish them. It’s the fact that we are leaving behind here a long trail of abandoned and decaying structures that is the Signature of a Collapsing Civilization.
For a long time, really going back as far as the Toba Cataclysm 75,000 years ago, there has always been somewhere new to GO, and more energy to exploit along the way as well, building new cities, rebuilding some old ones, keeping up the maintenance on the infrastructure as it were.
What is evident now however is first that we are fresh OUT of new places to Pave Over to Put Up a Parking Lot, the Asphalt is too expensive to Pave with, the population cannot afford to drive to the Parking Lot, and Sears, JC Penney, Radio Shack and numerous other retailers are all set to go straight Outta Biz here, leaving a whole lot of Empty Strip Malls for Johnny Joo to photograph in the future.