Slipping Away

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.





      1. Well, if you poke around my older work from the days when I lived there, you’d notice that my way of working for myself is exploring every nook and cranny. I’ve probably been to all their locations at least three times.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like ATL is turning like NOLA everyday. You can’t keep your streets working either. 🙂 We only think the saved the sign. The City of ABQ is very tricky. We separated our trash into all sorts of things glass, xcans…you know. One day I happened to go to the city dump. Every truck went to the same place. Sheesh. BTW, there is nothing like a 24 and an 85 on the street. 🙂


      1. Oh no…I’ve heard that same story when we lived in the D.C. area. All the carefully cleaned and separated recylables collected each week from the curb and all dumped in the same heap. Maddening. I still can’t put a plastic coke bottle in the regular trash – it kills me. I think we’re stuck with this madness. 🙂


      2. We have no recycling in New Orleans. Mostly people just throw stuff in the street. Even for big stuff. You drag your old broken down couch to the curb. An hour or so later it will be gone.


  1. I have no problem at all with adding filters or textures or whatever. In fact, I like what you did with this image. It says retro or historical to me. I also love that quote “if you want better pictures stand in front of better stuff.” I keep looking for better stuff but you can’t beat Route 66. From California to Arizona is the furthest I’ve gone. But we are planning- well, talking- about driving all the way to Chicago on it one of these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know all the great ones controlled their pictures. Ansel Adams is probably the name everybody knows. He created an entire system of exposure, development and printing to get what he wanted from an image. Better stuff… it depends on where you are based and where you want to go. I’m never satisfied here and I live in New Orleans. Think about this, I can say “I think I’ll go wander around the French Quarter after dinner,” and not be satisfied. 🙂 People come from all over the world to do that.


      1. Tell you what. You go wander around the French Quarter, I’ll head on down to the Vegas strip. The secret is to treat your home territory as if you’re a tourist. Whenever I’ve done that, I’ve come up with one or two good shots.


      2. Gee, after 40 years of doing this I would have thought… 🙂 but, I come from the Magnum, Agency VII nexus. Doing that is exactly backwards for me. I want to get to the heart of things. I did tourism a long time ago… I try very hard not to do that even when I am traveling.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I agree with you about the tourism comment. What I meant to say was look at where you live as a stranger might.


      4. Okay. Not for me though.The idea is to get is to get inside, not look at a place from the outside. Why don’t you make a picture that shows us something that isn’t about the “glitz.” May I suggest something deep inside that huge Chinatown?


      5. Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve been on the strip in over a year. I like going out into the desert more. But Chinatown does sound like a possibility.


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