Twenty four pop machines, a whale skull, and convenience store under the roof of the court




There’s really no sense in pretending

These machines are useful for vending.

     I don’t really know

     Why they’re out in the snow;

In the winter, no one is spending.

One soft drink vending machine holds no visual interest unless it’s out of context.  Neither do five or six.  Eight pop machines in context but viewed from the proper angle can be made visually interesting.  Twenty-four soda sellers like these is visually striking even if photographed in context.

One vending machine emerging from a melting snow bank is out of context and has the potential for being a good photograph.  Twenty-four Coke and Pepsi machines, divided into two lines of twelve each, makes such a visual impact that they generate their own context, then everything around them becomes out of context.  I have no idea why those machines are there and why they would have stayed there over the winter.

These things don’t come in by rail,

The boaters use paddle, not sail,

     A trophy, a prize

     A skull of this size

Could only come from a whale


On Sunday I took a walk over to the Heritage Center.  The Inuit around here refer to themselves as the People of the Whale; the rhythm of life here in Barrow revolves around subsistence whaling.  This year they brought in 14.  The best year that people can recall they got 25.  But they don’t remember exactly which year in the calendar it was, they remember “the year we got 25 whales.”

The spring whale hunt is conducted from the sea ice for bowhead whales.  The whalers go into the water in a locally made skin boat called an umiak.  The harpoons are mostly handmade.  They approach the whale hunt with the same religious reverence the Acoma  approach deer hunting. 

I had no idea the size of a whale skull till I stood next to one.

Please don’t laugh and don’t snort

If there’s a storm there’s a port

     Here is the proof

     For under one roof

There’s the Quick Stop, and then there’s the Court


I had heard of a convenience store close by the hospital, and I’d walked by the courthouse several times.  I hadn’t realized that the store was in the same building as the court.  I’m sure there’s a statement, but I don’t know what the statement means.

Contrast is still the essence of meaning.  



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One Response to “Twenty four pop machines, a whale skull, and convenience store under the roof of the court”



    Get a sno-cone as you go pay your fine,
    There won’t be a very long line,
    Some say it’s too cold, and it’s not for the old,
    But youngsters really don’t mind!

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