Aztec Motel

Once upon a time.

This place existed. It was one of those old motor courts located on Route 66, or Central Avenue, in Albuquerque. New Mexico. In fact, it was the oldest, being built in 1932. It was one of the five most important historical motor courts on Route 66.

In later years it fell on hard times. It became sort of a group of studio apartments. All sorts of folk artists lived there. You could walk through the courtyard and make hundreds of pictures of all sorts of different things. If the artists got to know you, you could photograph them. I was invited inside a couple of the motel rooms/apartments. It was minimalistic living before that became a thing. Cooking? Outside on all sorts of little barbeques and camp stoves. When I lived in the city, I would pass by about once a month just to see how things had changed. Yes. It was that fluid.

Then, I read that it was being torn down.


It needed about a million dollars worth of work to bring it up to code. It wasn’t worth it. So the motel was demolished in 2011. The sign was deemed historical, so it remained. Until 2015, when it was moved supposedly to be restored under a Route 66 cost share grant because the sign, itself, was deemed historical. As of 2015, nobody knows where the sign went.

The newly cleared land? Well, it’s now something really important. A parking lot, in a section of town where nobody needs one.

You know what Joni Mitchell said about that many years ago. “They paved paradise and put in a parking lot.”

The picture. Oh, I made it probably in 2011. Just about the time the motor court was torn down and just before I left for the swampy climes of New Orleans. After all, who needed my dry alligator skin, when I could have real alligators?

I tinkered with the image again. As usual. Because somebody I know is going to ask. First, I bleached the picture. Then I brought the color saturation down. Then, I brought the red up slightly. I added a rust-like filter. I added a folded gray paper filter. Then, I re-desaturated it and added a little corner darkness.

If you want to know why I did all these things, ask me. There really is a thought process behind it. It isn’t about just adding filters to make a bad picture worse. I see that all the time on Instagram. Always remember, and never forget, it starts with the subject itself, And, as buddy of mine says, “if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.” He single-handedly turned a little town in Kansas into an arts mecca.