Car Sick: The View From the Man on the Street

By Damon Chetson. Mr. Chetson is an Attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Leicaphilia readers know a different Tim from the Tim I know.  Until recently, I didn’t know Tim took photographs with an old German camera and called them art.  Or at least debated about whether they were art, depending on whether he saw a photo he took as a kid 40 years later on a poster advertising an exhibition in Brno, Czech Republic, or assembled them in a book where, as best I can tell, the central complaint, among much praise, was: too grainy. On that point, said critic and I agree. Too grainy.

Since Tim has been sick I’ve made a point of visiting him often. It was the least I could do, fellow criminal defense attorney he is ( I am what the current elected District Attorney in Raleigh claimed in recent campaign against me to be a “Sex Attorney”). Often I bring Peruvian chicken, which Tim likes, and which he says washes down well with whatever beer/whiskey/calvados he happens to be drinking in that moment. In gratitude, Tim has given me a copy of Car Sick.  He also gave me a stack of unreadable books, including James Joyce’s Ulysses. Said they wouldn’t be needed any more and I might learn something from them. My thoughts: 1) No way am I reading Ulysses, and 2) surely a Nikon digital camera takes sharper pictures than the questionable ones that constitute Car Sick;  He needs to get one of those.  

Tim calls me a Philistine.  Tim blames the graininess on the emulsification process.  I tell him that I want the world represented wie es eigentlich gewesen.  Blaming your failure to render the object as the subject viewed it on your inability to mix chemicals just right seems a poor excuse. 

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Picture quality aside, Car Sick is my kind of book.  It tells of a country in decline, where the storefronts are boarded up, where American Jesus will not save you (which is not to say that Jesus will not save you, but that’s for another blog), where looming out of frame is the specter of liberal capitalism that lays waste to whole communities and downtowns and storefronts and other places where people once gathered and communed. I do wish he’d have fixed the crack in his windshield though.


This is why Tim and I get along, and why Tim is the most human type of liberal subject.  He is curious, but not so curious that he doesn’t take stands, whether when he’s taking photos or when he’s taking a testifying cop to task for failing to properly do his job. He’s a guy who recognizes there’s a System, but who knows there are times when you need to kick against the pricks.  Tim is a consuming American who understands what his consumption has wrought, and it’s there in the pages of Car Sick.  


I keep telling Tim we’re all going to die.  Tim says the life-death issue is a little more pressing for him.  Maybe so, but he has and is living a life worth living.  And if you live in our neck of North Carolina, and you bring over some Dogfish 90 Minute IPA (not the 60 minute stuff), he’ll tell you about it, but he’ll also have the patience to listen to your stories and try to understand you.  And maybe he’ll give you a copy of Car Sick.  Because you’re certainly not getting mine, a book of grainy photos I will always treasure.

[Editor’s Note: I’ve asked Mr. Chetson for his book back, as my second run has already sold out].

4 thoughts on “Car Sick: The View From the Man on the Street

  1. Dan Newell

    Even though “wie es eigentlich gewesen” is preferred, but the book is “wie ich es will” and appreciated….mission accomplished.

    Reply
  2. Kodachromeguy

    A country in decline, so true. I see it everywhere in the South. Grainy pictures of decayed strip malls are so characteristic of so much of the hollowed out heartland. Well done.

    Reply
  3. Rob Campbell

    The new Utopia appears to reside in the Far East.

    I’ve watched several documentaries recently of city developments there, and they seem to be flourishing on a massive scale, with a degree of architectural fantasy I wouldn’t have been able to imagine. Unlike the Arabian versions, they have hinterlands capable of supporting farming, and all that signifies to future sustainability.

    Reply

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