Thursday, July 30, 2009

Form and Function

Ironically, I had just dropped my cell phone when I looked down and noticed this relic from our country's wired past. You can find early to mid 20th Century Bell System manhole covers like this almost everywhere in the United States -- but isn't it beautiful?

16 comments:

Shanna said...

Certainly synchronistic! Is there a message for you here? Of course there is.

pasadenaadjacent said...

I have a digital folder dedicated to manhole covers. I'm a fan

Judy Williams said...

I'm one of those weirdos who was sad when our phone system went from Southwestern Bell to AT&T, like an old friend was lost forever. This round cover is wonderful and I like how you off centered it. With the cracks and scored lines of concrete, it almost has the feeling of a mosaic.

Yakpate said...

So beautiful and art deco for something we step on. WHEN did industry completely sacrifice form to function? Apparently AFTER this beauty was manufactured!

By the way... you are one beholder who always finds beauty!!!

Trish said...

BEAUTIFUL pic Laurie. I spent many a day sitting with friends at various places around town staring at or tracing the lines of these covers. You know how kids just plunk down where they are to talk, play jacks...whatever.

And Yak---I suspect these relics went into demise when covers like this went from hand made to mass produced---it also costs "less" to produce something plain, than with some detail work.

Anton said...

Eye of a fly
From shadows flew
Buddha’s lens
Comes around to you…

Yakpate said...

Anton... This image IS rather like the compound lens of a fly's eye... and what a beautiful poem, reminding us of the sublime beauty in what we dismiss as "mundane."

Anton said...

Iron iris
Always open
Much to learn
More than coping
I see the dusk
But fear long gone
I am awake
I also…
see the dawn

Laurie said...

Oh, I'm loving this poetry...

Trish, I marvel at the utilitarian things of the past that were designed so beautifully. I have a digital file of images of simple, everyday things -- hinges, doorknobs, light fixtures -- that are gorgeous AND functional. Outside of Apple computers, most stuff now is low on design elements, IMO.

Mister Earl said...

The colors and the design remind me of some mosaic floors they've uncovered in archeological digs in the middle east.

Written from a well-designed Apple iMac.

dbdubya said...

Our cities are losing their infrastructure art. Old bridges, street lamps, and even sidewalks were often artistic and contributed to the culture of a community. I especially miss the imprint of the sidewalk contractor that used to be printed in the concrete at each corner. South Pasadena still has a few where you can see when and who installed the sidewalks. Sadly, they are rapidly disappearing as the ADA handicap access ramps are being installed throughout the city.

Laurie said...

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, everyone. Until tomorrow...

Shanna said...

Well, thank goodness South Pas. is complying with ADA. Sad, yes, to lose those imprints, yet happy that the physically challenged can get around and enjoy everything that is still there!

Have people considered that everyone - at some point in their life - will be physically challenged?

dbdubya said...

The point, Shanna, isn't that they are installing ADA ramps. It's that there are no contractors willing to put their name on their work anymore. The improvements are needed. It's just a shame that the work of former concrete artisans is being replaced with new work that doesn't have the charm or history. It could be done, but I guess the contractors save a few dollars by leaving it out.

TheChieftess said...

I believe that it is for the very reason of our rapidly growing generic and sterile infrastructure that world travel has such a draw to so many Americans...there's a big difference going to a city like LA versus a city in Europe...in LA we have to search for the historical beauty and structural design interest where in other cultures (not just Europe by any means...) it abounds...We have lost much in our striving for technilogical gain over structural design/beauty...
Yet, when I travel up the coast in California and throughout the states and view our natural environs...I am amazed at the raw beauty of our beautiful country...

Shanna said...

By the way, y'all - I've been to Paris and to Florence and seen history that we cannot even imagine here.
And the very best solutions for living , challenged or not are known in the field as "European". And there is NO stigma attached.
They have a history of solving problems which they do beautifully. And I am guessing that it is with no ADA to make them comply.

We have so little history here, such lack of beauty and education that I just want to leave.