Friday 11 March 2011

State Lines

Two postcards that feature communities divided by state lines. Above is a classic main street view with a difference. In the city of Bristol the line between Virginia and Tennessee runs down the middle of the main shopping street creating two Bristols that coexist side by side in their separate domains. A symbolic elevated sign spans the street in the distance and celebrates the anomaly. It was on this very street in 1927 that Ralph Peer rented rooms and made pioneering recordings featuring little known Appalachian performers (including the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers) that would catapult country music into the commercial mainstream. A 5 disc box set of the entire Bristol Sessions will be available soon in a luxurious Bear Family package at a very serious price. Texarkana (below) is likewise divided into twin cities but if you want to stay in Texas, you’ll have to take your chances at the Hotel Grim. R.E.M. recorded a song titled Texarkana on their 1991 album, Out of Time – any connection between the lyrics and the city of the same name remains a mystery. In the imagination of science-fiction writer, Walter M Miller, Texarkana was elevated in status to one of the two most important centres of population on planet Earth in the third millennium – sadly, in a blow to local pride, Miller later arranged for the city to be obliterated in a fictional nuclear attack (A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1960).

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