October 21, 2012

The "Two Americas" Shuttle: Endeavour's Voyage Through South L.A.

There has been almost universal agog over scenes of decommissioned Space Shuttles in and over cities near you. I had a different reaction, though, to the LA Times slideshow of the Endeavor being hauled through South L.A., home to some of  the city’s poorer neighborhoods. In general, streets that would hardly ever show up in the media served like curiosities, especially as the Shuttle passed by L.A.’s kitsch landmarks like Randy’s Donuts.

If you consider the larger picture though, what you can also see is the parade we never had for returning veterans, service members confined to limbo for a war that made no sense. The woman saluting and crying above is veteran Sharon Landers, the t-shirt behind her speaking of monuments and shrines.

I also see a brilliant visual example (click for full sizes) of the stranglehold fast food companies hold over urban neighborhoods:

I see Americans eager for something to cheer about, especially in this election year.

I see deep irony in this paragraph that accompanies the spectacular-of-a-slideshow. Before the feature was updated, this was the only copy accompanying the images:

The 12-mile route, which includes major thoroughfares such as Manchester, Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, looks radically different than it did months ago. Power lines have been lifted and trees have been removed. Nearly 2,700 steel plates were placed on streets to better distribute Endeavour’s weight and protect the century-old infrastructure underneath.

Yes, amazing how money can get freed up for civic investment and infrastructure … for one trip to the museum.

What I mostly see, though, are two Americas:

(photo 1:Wally Skalij/LA Times caption: Veteran Sharon Landers cries as the shuttle Endeavour moves along Crenshaw Blvd. photo 2: Don Kelson/LA Times caption: The space shuttle Endeavour travels north on Crenshaw approaching Florence Avenue en route to the California Science Center. photo 3: Brian van der Brug/LA Times. caption: Esteban Zaiyas, 7, right, waves a flag along route of space shuttle Endeavour as it moves along Crenshaw Blvd. photo 4: Wally Skalij/LA Times caption: People in cherry pickers take photos of the space shuttle Endeavour as it moves along Crenshaw Drive in Inglewood. photo 5: Luis Sinco/LA Times caption: The space shuttle Endeavour is illuminated under a night sky as it moves slowly through the Crenshaw district on its way to the California Science Center on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. photo 6: Wally Skalij/LA Times caption: Traymond Harris, left, and Ryan Hudge play basketball as the space shuttle Endeavour passes by on Crenshaw Avenue in Inglewood. photo 7: Rick Loomis/LA Times. caption: People watch as the Endeavour Space Shuttle makes its way toward the California Science Center. linked image: Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters via Atlantic.)

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Michael Shaw
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