Sunday, November 12, 2006

When the Seasons Circle Sideways Out of Turn

I think it's comforting for people who used to live in Iowa City to come back to town and find that very little has changed since they left. I have friends who worked at George's almost twenty years ago, and they're quite certain that if they walked behind the bar and opened the cooler, without even looking they could grab a Miller Lite because things are still exactly as they left them in that bar. George's still has a working Hamm's beer sign - the kind that produces the illusion of water flowing downstream.

Because of the constancy of the Iowa City landscape, I was slightly jarred when I was driving home from the Co-op on Saturday and noticed something askew at the yellow ghetto. If you lived in Iowa City in your late teens or early twenties, chances are you've probably been to a party at the yellow ghetto on Washington Street. And if you were like me during college, your memory of those parties is probably a little hazy.


The yellow ghetto is in the process of being painted a tan color. Those apartments have been the same stained, stale urine color since I first moved to town in 1983. It seems almost wrong to try to pretty them up. Plus, the tan ghetto doesn't have the same ring to it.


If you were worried that they were also going to take the time to fix things and replace the old steps, fear not. Like everything else, when you look closely enough, you can still see the rot just underneath the exterior.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I'd check out the old sorority house that got ruined during the tornado. It received a lot of news coverage, and I even put this picture up on the old blog, but I hadn't wandered around to see what it looked like after they demolished the building.

Well, it looks like this. The driveway leads to a hole in the ground that needs to be graded. There's an orange plastic fence that's supposed to keep people out, that I foolishly crossed and there's a gas grill leaning to one side but still standing over where the deck used to be. I haven't heard whether they're going to rebuild the sorority house or if this corner will soon be home to a new apartment complex.

If you're looking for a pile of twisted chainlink fence, you should stop by here. I can't imagine why they didn't haul it away with the rest of the sorority - unless it belongs to the white houe next door. I went over there after I was done photographing the absence of the other structure and ignored all the No Trespassing signs to take pictures of the damage in that building. Maybe I'll charm you with quaint photos of the diseased innards of that house later this week.

17 comments:

julie in l.a. said...

Oh, woe...I miss that Hamm's beer sign at George's. I'm so glad to hear that it is still there. As for the sorority house...I'm sorry that people had to experience sadness and loss, and not to make light of the situation, but I have to admit that in a momentary lapse of reason, I pledged that very house one year. When I realized it wasn't for me and decided to "de-activate" (they make it sound like you're a bomb about to go off), one of the girls ripped my pin off my sweater and threw it across the room. I wonder, if somewhere in the muck and remnants, it is still there. I think I see it glittering among the chainlink...could you, um, go and pick it up for me? Just kidding...

Churlita said...

That's so funny that you pledged there. When the girls were little we lived next to the Chi Omega house on Lucas Street. Coadster was very gregarious and would yell, "Hi sowowity giwls!" whenever she saw them outside. They usually weren't as amused as I was about it.

Maybe I'll go back tomorrow in search of your pin. I did find a half-full (I'm optimistic like that) bottle of Sunkist soda on the ground by where the house should have been. Was that yours?

Anonymous said...

I got FUBAR'd a few times at the yellow/taupe ghetto. I know I've been in a couple of the apartments but I can't remember what they look like. Must have been a great party.

Margaret said...

I don't really see you being ask to photograph "come visit Iowa City" brochures..

a said...

oh my god the yellow ghetto is not - this is almost as tragic as the day the dome on old capital burned -

Churlita said...

Matt,

I can't really remember what the insides of those places look like either.

margaret,

It does seem strange that the city doesn't ask me to prepare their tourist info. I've got some great pictures of decay and tornado damage. I can't imagine why they wouldn't want that. Hmmmm.

Churlita said...

A,.

The Old Capital burned right around this time of year too. Maybe there's some connection. At least when the old capital burned, I got to stand outside during work and watch it.

booda baby said...

Oh you went and made me all ... not nostalgic, but something else. I had to go and blog about it.

I would love you to (oh no!! I'm pretending you take requests!) take a photographic tour of the sweet spots. Never mind. If I can't get my lazy ass back there, I don't deserve any pictures that would make me so happy. (:))

By the time I got to IC, my radar was firmly set to: Steer Clear of All Things Sorority. I think I was talked into that Airport/Airplane/Air Hockey whatever-they-called-it-bar once. As they say, one time too many.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

Holy crap! I can't believe that the yellow ghetto's being painted. Hilarious. Maybe the landlord got, "Oh, you mean YOU own the yellow ghetto?" one too many times at cocktail parties...

Churlita said...

Booda Baby,

I can't wait to read your blog. Tell me what you want to see, and I'd be happy to take some pictures for you. It would be a perfect excuse to take some more.

Sarah,

Can you imagine telling someone that, "Yeah, I own the yellow ghetto"...Or just as bad, "Yeah, I own Black's Gaslight Village."

Rhea said...

Great photos. Glad I discovered your blog. I need to learn more about Iowa.

Churlita said...

Rhea,

Thanks, although I'm worried that I may give you a rather skewed view of the Hawkeye state.

booda baby said...

nonnononoonononono. You're supposed to stay away from migraine-igniting stuff. You must never ever be even a little be eager to read my blog.

Really, I'd never want you to go out on any photographic mission, but if you were, say, in the vicinity of those little houses in the triangle betwn. Burlington and Muscatine (Lower), the ones that look like Disney houses, I like those. And I like the cemetery (but you've already stuck up the Black angel, haven't you?) And the good bars, of course. The deadwood, too. And the EePeeBeePee building (What's the real name. English Philosophy)which is utterly unphotogenic but accounted for many hours sitting in the student union doing the crossword puzzle because Eugene Maleska got better when you were cutting classes.

And lots and lots of other joints. Damn. I guess it's not a good plan.

I bet greg was better there than he was here (although he put us on the guest list, so even if it wasn't his best gig, who's complaining?) Do you ever go to see Joe Price? And Vicki? They're really good pals o' ours and (can you believe I'm saying this, based on a BLOG?!?!) I can't believe you wouldn't love each other.

So. Apparently I felt like writing a letter. Sorry.

Churlita said...

Soon, I'll make the rounds. I think I had a class with Joe. He has a brother who used to live in town too, I think. Whichever one has the daughter who just started high school - that's the one I know. And he is a nice guy.

It's funny you should mention those houses. I was just thinking about going around and snapping some pics of stone houses. So, I promise I'll get these out. I just have to work around all my daughters' activities.

julie in l.a. said...

You found my bottle of Sunkist! I wonder if the vodka mixed in with it is still good...

Churlita said...

It tasted a little stale, but it still got me drunk.