Friday, January 10, 2014

Moment of Demolition

What a satisfying job it is must be to demolish a building. That’s what came to mind immediately. There’s a child-like gee in witnessing controlled destruction, a feeling I can only imagine is magnified in the person operating the machine.


The machine is called an excavator, a kind of back hoe, said the workers. Nice guys, take all the pictures you want. Had to stay a safe distance of course. The machine was brand new. It was doing the job.
Operating the excavator is probably difficult, safety first and all, but it must be fun and satisfying to move the controls and destroy. Destruction as a job of work; must be a rewarding feeling at the end of the day to have transformed an edifice into debris.

The former building was nothing special, a one story structure, made of cinder-block. Probably here on Christopher Columbus when the street was known as Railroad Avenue.
It was adjacent to a new Laundromat, a kind of super Laundromat more suited to a strip mall than our gentrifying inner-city. The Laundromat remained untouched, it was only the other building that had to go. The Laundromat was not always a Laundromat. Perhaps the two buildings once housed a single enterprise, there was still a garage door attached to Laundromat building, a link made of metal pieces that men separated from each other with a blow torch before the excavator did some more surgical destruction. Total detachment from the Laundromat structure resulted.

Dust clouds began to billow as the claws ripped into the exteriors, crushing and wrecking, turning what once was something into fresh wreckage. I can feel the particles on the edges of my mouth, which I cover with my scarf. I can watch destruction for hours. I’m fascinated, by the action, the force, the inevitability. The activity is so deliberate. Jagged pieces of building tumbling in spurts, falling haphazardly to the ground with a ragged thud. The claw crunches metal against old concrete. The reality being created is physical. This building was created, there was an architect design, pipes and walls and wiring. Livings were made. Somebody had an idea, it came to life. Painted, repainted. Years pass and now all those years, what do they mean, what is this life or was his life, now a pile of rubble, ready to be carted away.




But then another deal, another life, another investment and demolishment before that new idea become reality. Somebody bought a knockdown. Destruction precedes construction, just as sure as the turning of the earth.

The next day, entirely gone. A full afternoon of demolishing in the cold air of January. A freezing drizzle fell all day. Now just rubble, field of broken blocks and an old wood. What once was no longer is, what once was useful now waste. The excavator still at work, now picking up the remnants. Disposal follows destruction.

What they are going to build I ask. You know the answer. Condos. Right next to a Laundromat. New memories for other lives to create. I don’t remember what was here. I just remember watching the destruction, controlled disaster is one of the most enjoyable stages of the endless cycle of city life.





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