Category Archives: photographs

Election Day

Without coffee, this would never have been possible: yet there Rachel and I found ourselves, tumbling out the door at 5:50 A.M. to go vote. Our neighborhood in Huntington is best described as “sleepy,” even in bright sunlight, and the dim pre-dawn light wasn’t helping: trees loomed, streetlights flickered and buzzed, and we gradually grew aware of other people joining our pilgrimage.

The community center in Huntington is infamously hard to find, and we live about 500 feet from it.  Neither of us even noticed the place in our first three months of Huntington residency; it’s buried in the center of a long block of lush yards and tidy homes. This dim November morning, the alleys leading to the center had cheerful, G.I. Joe stenciled wood signs pointing the way. (We followed.)

Big, sleepy trees and backyard fences funneled us towards the community center and our chance to vote. Turns out the entrance we’d picked had been turned into an exit that day, with an arrow guiding us to the other side of the building. One guy in front of us followed the detour with fully-extended airplane arms. He was startled by our chuckles.

Even the Beltway’s muffled roar was subdued at mumble-mumble-o-clock in the morning, but there was little that could be described as “subdued” about the turnout. A line of at least fifty people yawned along behind the center, with another few dozen closing fast. After securing our place in line, I took a few photos at arm’s length, mostly out of surprise.

Huntington 2
Huntington 2 Click to enlarge. Copyright 2008 Chris Combs.
 
 

It took about half an hour to get up to the center. No telling how long the line got behind us. On the way, we met more of our neighbors–a guy from Tennessee; a guy living in the expensive and sparsely-occupied new condo high-rise; a guy who’d just had open-heart surgery for his sickle-cell anemia. The time passed pretty quickly, with only one solicitor offering us a sample, pre-filled ballot. One tent of cheerful Obama people in fancy clothing was being manned; three other guys with fancy clothing and three-ring binders sat next to the entrance of the community center, looking intimidating and shifty. But they didn’t actually do anything, as far as we could tell.

And before we knew it, in the community center we found ourselves.  “Anyone A through L?”  Woosh, forward, through the sheep-gates and into the voting center. Sorry, new friends, see you later. A flash of the ID, a monotoned recitation of our full legal names, and an all-important question: “Paper ballot?” Oh, yes. I scribbled in my bubbles and fed the paper to a machine, and five minutes later we were tottering back home in the steadily brightening daylight.

Fort Hunt

Seen downtown

More from Hains Point

Hains Point - Southwest Washington, DC
Hains Point – Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Wine with that?

in a hotel room you can do whatever you want

You can sit on a bed - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
You can sit on a bed – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

You can sprawl on a bed - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
You can sprawl on a bed – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

You can investigate your bellybutton - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
You can investigate your bellybutton – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Brandon 1 - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Brandon 1 – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Brandon 2 - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Brandon 2 – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Brandon 3 - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Brandon 3 – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Brandon 4 - Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Brandon 4 – Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

On the Gowanus at 5PM

Park Slope-ish, Brooklyn, NY
Park Slope-ish, Brooklyn, NY Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Authorized Parking Only - Brooklyn, NY
Authorized Parking Only – Brooklyn, NY Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Nightflowers

“Awakening” to Sleep: Public Sculpture, Private Owner

The Awakening - Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC
The Awakening – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

“The Awakening” is set to move.

Hains Point, a mile-odd-long strip of land located at the convergence of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, has long served as a sort of recreative refuge for Washington residents and savvy tourists. Though boasting a golf course, a three-plus-mile scenic cherry-tree-lined waterfront walkway, a recreation center, and a grassy field surrounded only by water and views (of Washington, of Alexandria, and of the many planes taking off overhead from National Airport), Hains Point is also well-known for being the site of “The Awakening”: a metal sculpture of an apparently panicked giant trying to escape from the earth. (Err, from wood chips.)

Giant, indirectly - Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC
Giant, indirectly – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

The ground-bound beast was installed in 1980, temporarily – a sure sign that it would stay forever. But due to some skullduggery within the National Park Service, the sculpture has apparently emerged as the property of private developers, who wish to abscond with it to Prince George’s County’s new “National Harbor” development, across the river from Old Town Alexandria.

Though Hains Point doesn’t really need “Awakening” to secure its worth, the sculpture’s loss has aroused vehement protest, as it has been installed for so long that many consider it public property. The ugly truth of its ownership leaves an aftertaste of governmental failure, much as with Silver Spring’s initial “roll over” attitude when a private developer banned public photography in an outdoor, public space. In short – it isn’t going over well.

(I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to learn that “The Awakening” was sculpted by one J. Seward Johnson, also responsible for a gleefully tacky, poorly-received exhibition of three-dimensionalized Impressionist masterworks at the Corcoran. Though, it seems like the twenty-odd years have done good by Mr. Johnson’s technical skills – those who look critically at “Awakening”‘s giant might question the poor fellow’s proportionality.)

Oh, yeah, and the kicker? The Silver Spring photography ban and the purchase of Awakening were both committed by the same entity – The Peterson Companies, led by Milt Peterson. Perhaps local governments should hire this man to find their legislative weaknesses.

She’s a brave one – Hains Point, Southwest Washington, DC Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Hains Point

Rivers - Hains Point (Southwest Washington, DC)
Rivers – Hains Point (Southwest Washington, DC) Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 

Thinking Minnesota thoughts

Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota (2005-06)
Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota (2005-06) Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.
 
Up, up, away - Uptown Minneapolis, Minnesota (2005-06)
Up, up, away – Uptown Minneapolis, MN (2005-06) Click to enlarge. Copyright 2007 Chris Combs.