I've loved old postcards for a long time now, enough to start collecting them when I was ten, (the first one found in the desk in the living room, one sent to my Mom, of a New Jersey amusement park). Enough to fix some into my sketchbooks, enough to use them as backgrounds in my earliest shadowboxes. At first I loved the backs, with their old stamps and postmarks, the idea of being the latest in the chain of ownership, to have caught something first sent out in 1909 or 1914. There was never anything interesting scratched in old ink next to the names and addresses, just snips of vacation itineraries and "missing you". They were like paper airplanes, in a way, sent out into the air and caught, sent out and caught. I started collecting them later for the pictures, not for their nostalgia, necessarily, but for their distortions, the way they seem more like memory than document, the way they seem to take real places and make them stranger, taller, softer, higher, lonelier.
Before the internet, I wasn't exactly sure a place like this could actually exist. But it does. Though not as impossible in recent photographs, as it seems to be here.
Thirty Rockefeller Center seeming taller and narrower than it should, my favorite skyscraper to this day,
My college, long long before I wound up there,
Amusement park rides the way I think we want to remember them, like the glowing skeletons of benevolent dinosaurs left to spin us and toss us around.
The dark and quiet corners,
and Zombie Houses.
Later I fixed on night scenes, unlike any night scenes I had ever seen, with moons like spotlights, turning real places into stage sets:
and almost always, one boat, out there alone,
One house, out there, across the falls, (Would they hear you, if you were caught in the current, would the two lit windows be what your eyes fixed on, your last solid safe sight, before the water claimed you?)
Four, (or five, or six?) featureless people sailing the lake,
something like a painting by Albert Pinkham Ryder,
with all its heightened enigmatic night, its whys and wheres left completely up to you.