Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fat, Drunk and Stupid Is the Rockford Way

The thing about reality is we all see it differently. An example close to my experience is the city I live in, Rockford, Illinois. The national media has a good time making fun of Rockford as the nation's ninth most dangerous city and America's fourth fattest city. Fat, drunk, and stupid may not be any way to go through life according to Dean Wormer, but everyone would have you believe it is the Rockford way. Except for a contingent of local business people, artists, and Chamber of Commerce-type publicists who would have you believe it's all unicorns and rainbows in Rockford and the national media should mind its own business..

So, who's right?

Money Magazine ranked Rockford as The Worst City In America in 1996. Beating out strong contenders like Flint, Michigan, Gary, Indiana, and Youngstown, Ohio. Rockford citizens responded exactly the way you would expect: by burning Money Magazine. 



The Midway Theater. The roof collapsed this Spring. Still no one has fixed it.



A lot of people romanticize the decay and blight in Rockford. And I understand their point of view. Beauty degraded is a valid artistic statement. But I live within a stone's throw of the building in this photograph. I walk past it on a daily basis. And aside from the sadness watching a once beautiful structure reduced to a pile of rubble by a negligent, profiteering scumbag slumlord evokes in your heart, this building is a public nuisance and emblamatic of why Rockford is considered backward, corrupt, and worthy of scorn.

My series of Poem Photos has at its heart the way words and images can sometimes sit side by side and elicit exactly the opposite response than was intended. Words have meanings. Many people want to show you images of the way they want or hope things to look. But this is what Rockford looks like from my perspective. I wish it were different. My heart may even see it differently, but this is the reality. My series of Poem Photos documents different juxtapositions of images and words that somehow have exactly the opposite effect of what was intended. 
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