Well, ’tis the season for ancient airs and dances.
I was breathing the air of a forest, full of hemlock, cedar, and oak, and listening to alternative/indie bands from long, long-ago. The 1980’s – -90’s, mostly British and American. Especially Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Yo La Tengo.
When I tried to read about the bands, I kept finding that back in the day, critics often lumped them together as “shoegaze.”
We all like shortcuts and labels – – humans seem to be programmed to sort & categorize. But I really don’t get the usefulness of this “shoegazing” label, because the music is so varied – – sometimes dreamy electronica, or neo-psychedelic, sometimes kind of punk or metal-sounding. Maybe “shoegaze” was about critics concerned with clever-sounding snarkiness, instead of any real appreciation or insight. Apparently bands got tagged this way, because they’d perform standing still, and literally looking down at their feet. From the feel of the music, and videos, some of the musicians I guess were maybe introspective, lost in a groove, and concentrating on their sound. (I also read that they were using a lot of foot-operated effects pedals, to create a distorted sound.)
Anyway, the bands achieved some very cool music.
So…so what? what brought this to mind? you ask, perhaps in a puzzled, somewhat irritated manner.
These photos today are shoegazing shots. They were all taken looking downward.
(Do you still hear the expression “I’m down with that,” where you live? I looked it up, thinking it had a ’60’s or ’70’s vibe, but found it goes all the way back to the 1930’s!?)
So the album is downcast, but not depressing – – Watkins Glen, a park in the Finger Lakes, is beautiful in the fall and winter. Once cold weather begins, the stone pathway and stairs in the Glen are closed, so you can only walk around the top perimeter, looking down into the little gorge and the stream, and even then, you need to watch your step, the trails are often pretty icy.
You’ll find tons of great photos online – – during the summer, it’s probably photographed millions of times. I’ve walked through there many times during the summer, but always with out-of-town visitors, and haven’t ever tried to photograph the twenty-or-so falls in “good” weather!
But during the park’s “downtime,” it’s pretty interesting, in it’s own way.
Watkins Glen is a small village at the southern end of Seneca Lake.
NASCAR & Trans-Am, etc. fans recognize the name, because they’ve been racing cars there since 1948. The races used local streets and roads at first, until they ran over a kid, and then built a track. There’s also boat races on the lake.
Glen Creek runs down from the hills into the village, dropping about four hundred feet over a two mile distance. The original settlers, in the 1790’s, just saw that as water power, for grist and sawmills, etc. But on the 4th of July 1863, the day after the Battle of Gettysburg, the Glen was opened as a tourist attraction, and it’s been an attraction every since. Now a state park.
I’ve never visited the racetrack, but I’ve walked in the park many times, and never get tired of it, in any season. If you visit, definitely bring some headphones. “Water Music” to me means Handel, maybe Debussy, Ravel, but Cocteau Twins would also be a perfect soundtrack.