Thursday, December 10, 2009

blue christmas

Highland Park is sprouting a lot of Christmas lights - or, being Highland Park, more likely they are Holiday Lights. Some houses have lights strung tidily round every edge, like a gingerbread house; others have shudderingly nasty inflatable Santas; others red and green twinkly illumination; others silhouetted white reindeer standing on their front lawns. And opposite, there are these blue and white lights, that look like a very sinister setting in a David Lynch movie - an effect accentuated by the fact that the people in the house have their television on - all the time. There really isn't anything festive about this - but the competition makes be grateful that we're not looking onto a blinking light show.

And there's something about this sparseness of this which seems appropriate for this particular holiday season. Usually, the Zimmerli is a most excellent source of little Christmas gifts - but the display was startlingly sparse today, as though I'd got the date wrong and called in on December 28th. I asked the women behind the cash register about this, and they said that it was just like in the malls: the suppliers were afraid that they wouldn't sell their wares, so they weren't supplying. Quite apart from their own personal slump in profits - always assuming that such vendors are keeping afloat at all - this marks a very visible sign of the recession. Way back in the Writing and Photography class in the spring, we talked about documenting the recession in photographs - it's hard, though, to consider how to show not absence, not emptiness, not shuttered stores, but just a kind of somber paucity.

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