South St. Louis, MO
I live on what could be the very longest, uninterrupted alley in South St. Louis. It covers 6 blocks and a long cemetery, and no cross streets bisect it. The first time an “outsider” uses it as a shortcut is also the last time, as there’s nothing short about this unplanned commitment to endless pavement.
Luckily, I live near one end of the alley, so it’s not the Twilight Zone it must be for the people who live dead center of it. These people surely pack a thermos, and then flip a coin to decide which direction to go toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
But this Endless Alley also creates a special atmosphere, a unique sense of community. And since very few outsiders are brave enough to traverse it, the big-item trash we leave behind doesn’t get picked over and rescued at the same rate of other Alley Trash Boutiques.
It’s certainly picturesque, and there’s the added bonus of having the New York Doll’s “Trash” (“go pick it up”) soundtracking through my head as I catalogue this Sanford & Son wonderland. (Side Bar: The brand new NY Dolls album is a surprising triumph, and a Must Own for any David Johansen fans.)
The scene, above, is one of my favorites, as it combines dead retail history (a Venture shopping cart!), real estate and commentary on the homeless. It was editorial photojournalism waiting to be snapped. And for a few days, the alley was a swanky rumpus room (below).