Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cracking Up

I often hear people complain about the cracks in South Pasadena streets and sidewalks. It's always the same cranky discussion with adjectives like outrageous and unacceptable. I guess I can see their point. I mean, nobody likes to trip over a sidewalk crack. In fact, my daughter gave herself a loose tooth stumbling over one on our street when she was three. But other than that, I'm a little fuzzy on all the consternation. I suppose driving over uneven pavement could make your car CD player skip, or test the validity of your automaker's claims of great suspension...

Yeah, I'm being a smart ass.

I happen to love the cracks, the same way I love the patina of my old leather jacket and the crazing of my antique teapot. I love the weathered history of those cracks. I love it that those cracks reveal the way trees have woven their roots under and around our town in a kind of latticed embrace. I love it that on streets with cracks, lead-footed drivers can't possibly speed as fast as they would in, say, San Marino -- where the roads are as smooth as a stretch of new laminate flooring.

Recently, South Pasadena repaved this street, evening out the undulating curb. I'm sure many homeowners are happy about it. I'm sure parking on those uneven surfaces was a challenge. But to me, it's a little like removing original, wooden, double-hung sash windows and replacing them with dual-paned vinyl. Actually, it feels a little like masking a lifetime of expression with Botox.

"It's through the cracks of our brain," Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote, "that ecstasy creeps in." I know we can't ignore function in the admiration of form. I understand repairs are sometimes necessary for safety reasons or drainage issues. But progress, unfortunately, is rarely very romantic. And in Southern California where new is regarded with a kind of religious fervor, I love the old stuff. Cracks and all.

14 comments:

Judy Williams said...

Did you use a vignette? This is OUTSTANDING.

I'm with you. The cracks have character and the idea of the trunks under the pavement weaving an embrace will stick with me all day. I love that you see the small stuff and appreciate how wonderful it is.

Happy Hump Day!!

Mister Earl said...

Interesting take on cracks and things aging, Laurie. I suppose that most of us who live in small old towns, or in old parts of large towns, prefer the old to the new. Old houses, old cars, old sidewalks. On the other hand, I almost went over my handlbars from a crack on El Centro on time.

The "cracks of our brain" reminded me of this line from Cream's Tales of Brave Ulysses:

"And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body,
Carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind."

TALES OF BRAVE ULYSSES

Anonymous said...

I like the cracks, too. The main streets are all smooth as they should be but the cracks along residential streets add character. It's not like potholes that are dangerous. The cracks are just texture. Some people would complain that heaven was too sunny and mild, too.

Sally

Dixie Jane said...

Oh, Mister Earl! Amazing how a cracked street can bring to mind such a romantic quote.

dbdubya said...

I agree, the alligator cracks and speed bumps caused by tree roots add to the charm of South Pasadena. The cracked sidewalks are dangerous, though.

Mike said...

I wish they would repair the sidewalks with cement rather than asphalt. I have avoided calling for a repair in front of my place because I don't want black asphalt sidewalks. But I agree, Laurie. I like the streets the way they are. They are charming. Huntington is smooth and that's all that matters.

Cool photo today, as usual.

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Love the Botox reference!

ben wideman said...

Love the look of the cracked streets, but as a cyclist, they are extremely hazardous! When your primary source of transportation is the beloved bicycle, you get a bit fussy about the smoothness of your pavement. And in a weird twist on cars vs. bikes - potholes can be avoided, but cracks can eat up your front wheel.

TheChieftess said...

Love the Botox reference!!! But for some reason, seeing the lines and cracks in one's face, or street in a photo is far different from seeing them in the mirror or tripping on the one in the sidewalk!!! While I don't and won't do Botox...I understand the desire to do so...

Petrea said...

I think they're beautiful, too, as long as they're safe. Cracks in sidewalks might be tough if you're in a wheelchair, but cracks in roads aren't a big deal.

Although when I lived in Chicago in the '80s, the roads were so bad I was ready to send my car repair bills to City Hall...different town, different story.

Sumi Ko said...

"Cracking up" over...masking a lifetime of expression with Botox!

It's fascinating that an old, beat-up street inspires the seeing eye to imagine and create something new and exciting. I like today's post!

Laurie said...

Thanks, everyone!

In my passion for these lovely cracks, I'll admit I didn't think of the obvious: bikes and wheelchairs. Ben, DB and Petrea are right about those things.

But I still maintain, as long as those cracks are there, I will love the way they look. Sometimes decay is beautiful.

Thanks, everyone!

Brenda's Arizona said...

We have driven the OLD OLD parts of Route 66. Some of road has become one lane, cracked and sad. I love your comments on these types roads - and Mister Earl's reference is cool too!

Trish said...

I recognize the street...and the cracks...that have been there since I was riding my bike down that lane.

I have to agree that for those getting around, the creases and bumps are dangerous, but they sure do make for a pretty picture---the photog in me just oozes a smile at the pics you find Laurie!

And Earl...got me again. ;-)

When I was a youngster, one of my mother's friends complained about the lines on her face. As a practical kid I said "But Mrs so&so, that just means you've spent a lot of time smiling or laughing, I think those lines make you look happy and pretty!". I'm not sure I've ever been hugged that tightly by a woman crying ever before or since.