Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Urban Decay

The sky was not characteristically dark, tortured or roiling with the distant anger of erstwhile gods. A cool, rejuvenating wind blew from the east, a voiceless throwback to better times. Midmorning shone with soft golden light upon the streets. In the silence of the day, an invisible morass stalked the city.

Missing were the everyday noises of regular urbanity. The noise of cars, people, pets; the vital rumble of habitation; they did not exist, here, now, in this time. So silent was the deserted city that the gentle reverberation of the wind filled the ears. Tumbles of dust swept the roads, tiny molecules beating against the sides of tenements, shearing past used newspapers flying aimlessly with the air's motion. A lone car, proud in its exalted vintage, was parked beside a kerb, on a double yellow line, a blatant disregard of the message printed in bold warning on a nearby sign. A piece of white paper struggled wildly, given spirit by the gentle wind, wedged uncomfortably between the windscreen and its wiper.

The sidewalks provided little indication of habitation. Broken, cracks in the tiles exposed dry grey cement, powdered. Occasionally a gust would sweep these particles into a frenzied, tearing dance, gouging microlevel trenches on the tar roads. Half-collapsed stairs would lead to a seemingly undamaged door, antique, heavy, but not without a certain peaceful candor. But the heavy glass would not conceal the dust-covered, spiderweb-ridden realities of the interior, a veritable ghost-house of popular reckoning.

So, quietly, the city stands, aloof, unyielding against the light wind. Apartment blocks rise out of the concrete-covered ground, sometimes, with tops irrevocably altered by some force, jagged, broken, with electrical wiring and steel skeleton jutting forth, naked, exposed, in the bright sun. A train, stationary, still in the middle of the elevated track; like some image from a postcard, the entire scene projects an air of being eeriely mundane. Stained by dirt and the silent processes of decay, however; this train is hardly any qualified representative for pushing the city's image. Windows, mostly intact, do not hide the emptiness inside; where empty ice-cream cups, a handbag, clumsily disposed coke cans litter its floors, reminiscent of the bygone perpetrators of such antienvironmental villany. More distant, the missing tops of once-beautiful skyscrapers are indicators of the roving decay. But, even with pinnacles ending in chaotic, geometric barbarity, these buildings yet glimmer in the midmorning sun, yet project a semblance of their former majesty.

Hear the penetrating silence, broken only by the lonely call of the wind. See the broken tops of buildings arrayed in a vast field around you. Wonder at what agent of entropy could have brought such a thing to be. The silent removal of the life of the city brings about the edifices of its present condition. Without the mantaining energy of its inhabitants the city goes into decay. Decay caused by the destructive processes of inevitability.

Above the city, a silent peal of laughter can barely be heard, laughter that strafes through the growing wind.

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