Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cats. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


I wasn’t planning to go to Trona at the weekend, but there I was in Ridgecrest, and Trona is just 24 miles down the road, and I couldn’t resist. 

It’s hard to say exactly what Trona is.   Officially it’s designated as an “unincorporated community” but that doesn’t tell you much.  It’s not a desert ghost town (though it kind of looks like one) because it has a thriving industry – mineral processing – which has been there in some form, booming and busting, since the late 19th century. Today Searles Valley Minerals run the show, extracting soda ash, sodium sulfate, and various kinds of borax and salt from the not quite dry lakebed.

Not a lot of people live there.  Most of the workers at the processing plant commute from Ridgecrest, but there is a small resident population; maybe a couple of thousand.  There’s something oddly suburban about the layout of Trona, a grid of neat streets, individual houses on small plots of land.  Some of the houses are abandoned, some are broken down, a few surprisingly intact. The one below is for sale - priced to move.  

I wouldn’t say that people were necessary proud of their gardens but a certain amount of ingenuity goes into some of them. Like this rock garden:

On a Saturday afternoon in November there were one or two people going in and out of the pizza joint, but otherwise the streets were pretty much deserted: a couple of kids playing football in the middle of the road, and one man walking along unsteadily in the direction of the general store.
      Some citizens had definitely embraced that whole “desert weirdness” thing, sometimes with their hood ornament:

And sometimes with their yard decorations; skeletons still in place even though Halloween was some way behind us:

As you walk around the empty streets you hear dogs barking at you, lots of them.  Sometimes they’re behind wooden fences so you can’t see them, though others are behind chain link and you definitely can.  Sometimes they’re small and yappy, sometimes they're large, angry and drooling.  In some cases their bark may be worse than their bite but I wouldn’t want to put it to the test.

And finally there were cats. I saw a couple of strays walking the streets, timid but free in a way that those dogs weren’t, and as long as the cats stayed out of the canine-infested yards they had the run of the place.  And you remember that thing in Spalding Grey’s Swimming To Cambodia where he can’t bring himself to leave Thailand until he’s had his perfect, transcendent moment? 

Well, in general I’m pretty skeptical about the need to expect, much less force, an epiphany, but I had just such a moment in Trona. 

          I saw just one cat at first, sitting on top of an air conditioner, and then one peering round the side, and then I finally spotted the third, looking out from inside the house, finally the whole trio looking out at me, looking in at them. About as good as it gets.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Cat owners walking to, or possibly from, auditions for the Corman/Poe movie Tales of Terror, c. 1962. 

Poe Walking High Bridge,  B. J. Rosenmeyer, c. 1930

Sunday, June 19, 2016


I think you probably know that as well as being a fan of walking, I’m also a fan of “street photography” - a term that admittedly seems to be becoming increasingly dodgy. 

Recently I have also become, very belatedly, and in a mild sort of way, rather fond of cats.  And I think my fondness for cats may have something to do with walking – in that you have to “take” a dog for a walk, whereas cats insist on walking by themselves.  My cat may follow me from one room to another, but the idea of “going for a walk” with her seems inconceivable.  This is her:

One of my favorite photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki, is a great deal more than a street photographer, but he certainly takes photographs in the street, and sometimes he takes photographs of the cats he sees while he’s out walking.  He also took an enormous number of photographs of his own cat Chiro.  Like this one:

Araki, I think we can safely say, has published more books that any photographer ever has – certainly 400 plus - and one of them is titled Living Cats In Tokyo (Tokyo Neko Machi).

In some of the pictures the cat is front and center, sometimes the cat is very small and distant and it becomes a matter of “Where’s Felix?”  But they’re all good.

 I can tell you that it’s all too easy to walk around Tokyo with a camera, snapping away, and thinking you’re a bit of an Araki, and certainly the cats in Tokyo present themselves left and right, in endlessly photogenic configurations.

I can’t speak for the whole of the city, but wherever I was, whenever I stopped to look at a cat – I never got as far as petting one - a Japanese passerby would stop alongside me and say “kawaii” (which is one of the ten words of Japanese I know – meaning cute), as did this woman on her bike.

 This Tokyo experience and Araki’s book made me realize that over the years, without thinking about it very much, I’ve taken quite a few photographs of cats while I’ve been out walking.  I make no great claims for these pictures, all I can say is, “Wanna see some pictures of cats?”  I understand that some people like that kind of thing.