Roadside Prison


There are so many things I have done here, am guilty of here, I don’t know where to end. For sure, the dozens of times I have passed this edifice at the slumped mountains’ feet, I have wondered about who would be watching me if I pulled over to the shoulder of the highway, and walked onto the grass, having climbed over the rolled razor-wire fence. But that could be, or is, beside the point. I could have cranked the attributes of this photo much more, made a much cleaner ‘shot’ of it. I could have tweaked the highlights, contrast, details, saturation, vibrance, and vignetting, and so forth (much more and with much more finesse) very easily and made it into some sort of horribly wrong pastiche of unintended irony in very poor taste. This I have certainly done while shaving my beard off my face several times already in my life, passing through the usual cast of characters from Vladimir Lenin to Frank Zappa, as these shavings rituals go. But from what I have learned from men I spoken with who’ve served time in my life, most of the men behind bars, they got there for having done some pretty stupid stuff, mostly out of ignorance and desperation that lent itself to that. From what I’ve learned, they’re usually not arch villains, public enemies number one. I’d probably get picked off pretty quickly if I tried to sneak up to it. No matter which way you look at it, though, as we speed along the highway in our cars to work and home, fully immersed and involved in our lives, it’s still a pretty weird and unsettling juxtaposition of seeing the lavender beauty of the mountains reaching toward the rich sky blue sky, below which, nestled in the foothills, are hundreds and hundreds of common criminals living in that brick red prison for years and years for their various crimes.

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