Spring Cleaning (The Stories I Could Never Get To): The Return of the Shopping Cart Blog


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I’ve spent my pandemic quarantine deleting photos from my computer. There were over 18,000 images clogging my hard drive. I had to reclaim space. Anybody would have told me to get an external hard drive which I have but it’s full of video footage. Another one is not the answer. It can’t keep everything and move it around. Stuff has to go. My digital hoarder issues got real when I began getting constant messages about my start up disk being full. Let’s switch gears before this post devolves into a Mac Help Forum.

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If anyone asks what I did during the pandemic I’ll start talking trashed photos. I never got to the boxes of actual photos that need culling. Photographs pile up. Dealing with real photos is for another day or a future pandemic. I deleted thousands of photos. Many were duplicates from technological advances that transfer photos from my phone to my main computer. The computer also creates copies of photos I edit. Dealing with photo clones took time.

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Common photo themes included shots of old mattresses, abandoned TV sets, our chickens, impossible-to-photograph-with-an-iPhone antenna toppers and stickers in the shape of Oregon. Then there was my shopping cart obsession. If anyone can tell me what it’s about I’d appreciate it.

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There’s some grand statement I’m looking for, something metaphorical. I hoped that if I got the right angle I’d achieve a mythical image. Yet, there will never be much art in the banal. Andy Warhol might have disagreed. At the very least I’m trying to take a worthwhile photograph and document out of place shopping carts.

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Maybe I was trying to live up to the standard that was set when a friend called the Portland Orbit “the shopping cart blog.” I want to be THE shopping cart blog even if I only run posts about them once in a blue moon. I was overrun with shopping cart photos which has to be better than being run over by a shopping cart. The carts drifted into my North Portland neighborhood making them easy pickings.

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Since moving to SW, I don’t see neglected carts much. The one above appeared in the parking lot of the Barbur Transit Center empty due to the pandemic. Seeing shopping carts outside of their supermarket parking lot environment, I tend to forget they’re used by homeless people to cart their stuff around. There is a purpose in their relocations but it isn’t until they’re emptied and abandoned that their appearance hints at a deeper significance.

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I discovered the crown jewel of my shopping cart fascination at the Woodstock Trader Joe’s. There on a pole elevated into the heavens was a red shopping cart gleaming in the sun like a beacon. To me it honored all the world’s lost shopping carts. The sad reality is that it’s only there to show people where to return their carts.

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Pictures of shopping carts discarded on their sides have always pulled at my heartstrings. There’s drama in what I have to imagine is a kicked over cart left to transpire. I had to go for the added bonus of working the Mercedes insignia into the shot to make a high class/low class statement. This hardly seems fair because pushing a cart in a grocery store is not indicative of any class at all. I will admit that this was more than likely taken at a Fred Meyer’s parking lot where carts are expected to be returned not shoved on their side.

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My attempt to increase the art factor has always been to change the image from color to black and white. Again it’s a cart on it’s side heaving like a broken legged horse. It’s quite possible that any wayward shopping cart with a soul would beach itself a some point. It’s not easy being dragged away from a shopping center. That would be enough to make anyone give up.

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