In the way back I grew up in a railroad town with casinos, brothels, and trains. On summer nights, laying in bed with the windows open, you could hear the train whistles in the distance going somewhere else, somewhere different. Other nights the radio spoke stories of the world outside, sometimes the dit-dit-dah of shortwave or maybe the drifting sky wave of Wolfman Jack with his 50,000 watt Mexican transmitter.
When I was 7, I rode the Southern Pacific City of San Francisco across country with my father in a pullman car. My bed folded up into the wall the African American porter let down with a special key. There were few jobs for black people then, not like now when there are few good jobs for black people.
I remember waking up and having breakfast in the dining car crossing the Great Salt Lake, stopping in the afternoon in Green River, Colorado—looking to see if the river was indeed green, and the ugly, blackened brick buildings with dingy brown windows around train yards in the East. I was shocked by the blight there, coming from the West.
Railroads traverse edges, running behind the every day normal world. Views from train windows look different and exotic for some reason, more shabby, gritty, and industrial. Like sausage making, rail windows show the face of civilization without its makeup. Even the more scenic vistas are somehow different than the usual ones along roads and highways for some reason.
This liminal photo collection is from the Metrolink train running from Ventura, California into Union Station in DTLA—down town Los Angles. They are simple, raw black and white images from the camera shot through the filmy glass of the car window.