In a Chicago carwash mural, a red Chevy Impala is painted against the black and sinister Sears Tower and the tapering Hancock Building. On a body-repair-shop facade in Los Angeles, another Impala was set against a red sunset, palm trees, and bungalows. On the wall of a South L.A. laundromat, another low-rider car is resting over an unfinished depiction of the Mayan calendar—a strange juxtaposition of ancient and modern.
In poor communities, cars become extra closets to ease clutter inside the home. The vehicle is sometimes used as an extra bedroom. On car roofs, I saw potted plants and cages with rabbits and chickens. I encountered an inspired monument to the demise of the automobile and the newspaper industries in the middle of a West Philadelphia vacant lot, overgrown by weeds: a bright-red, hollow SUV, overstuffed with bundles of newspapers. It seems to be vomiting them.
Rusted, damaged, and dirty, their headlamps and windshields broken, their rearview mirrors missing, these large vehicles still manage to surprise us. Some of the owners I spoke to expect to fix them and sell them as classics for a good price. To others, the cars represented memories of parents or absent children to whom the vehicles once belonged.
Long, low, and wide, these former vehicles of desire are sinking into the ground. And the grass grows around their perimeters.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War
Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough
So they added a little self-immolation.
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.