Nighttime is the Right Time

Alone with camera, one moonlit midsummer midnight, wandering the deserted lanes of my soon-to-be-former stomping grounds…

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I’ve always been a walker, and Crestview has been a not-bad hamlet for said — particularly those long, circuitous late-nighters when your heart is so heavy you start envying the dumb and the dead, and find the only thing that makes you feel even a little better is to move your legs. Conveyance purely for the sake of being kinetic is like a secret weapon against the bad stuff. Patsy was righter than I bet even she realized.

I know I’m not the only one who adheres to this ages-old spiritual liniment. On one of my last walks through Crestview, I heard in the near distance what sounded like a woman seized with either intense panic or epic orgasm (surprisingly hard to discern). It was enough to make me stop in my tracks and start scanning the nearby hedges. That’s when I saw her — a young cyclist tearing ass down the avenue ahead of me, gasping for air as she leaned into it like a two-wheeled Ichabod Crane; only no-one was in pursuit of her, nor was she outfitted in a fancy helmet or designer skinsuit which might connote bike nerd. I fancied her instead to be something like myself — another haunted kid trying to outrun her demons after midnight on an old Schwinn Collegiate.

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Crestview started out as a blue-collar neighborhood in North Austin, Texas with small, affordable lots for returning WWII vets. Many of the modest blockhouses built on on those lots still remain, (2 bed/1 bath), though most have been retrofitted with some kind of contemporary razzle dazzle to entice young, readily credulous renters to cough up $1500-$2000 a month for an 800 sq ft hovel with leaky carport and dying agave out front.

Talk to the veteran cabbies, and they’ll tell you how Crestview used to be THE place to score back in the day; heroin, mostly. These days, you might could score a Dr. Pepper (you’ll pay boutique prices for it, too).

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Years ago, whilst on a similar late-night stroll, I encountered a distraught pregnant kid plopped and sobbing on the curb, her distress due in part to having been tossed from a car by her beau just moments before. With some wariness, she approached me for help and cigs, though I could only oblige her the former. She was clad in a too-tight black bathing suit and flip flops and liked to swear a lot. With my humidified lick of forelock plastered across my forehead and my Murray’s Space Shoes, I’m certain I made an impression as well. Taking in both me and her surroundings, the first thing she asked was, “…this a rough part a town?”

Throughout the following years, I’d get hit with that same question by several newcomers and passers-through. I wondered myself upon first arriving. Despite the bike lanes and the churches on every corner, it’s still kinda got that look, especially after dark; like a scrappy kid with a brand new pair of laces in his boots.

Crestview looks considerably less dicey during the day, and by the day. You’ve got the pretentious cubist McMansions, with their shed roofs here and there, looking like misfiled coffee table books jammed in next to all the drab chainlink’d tracts. Then across from the ancient IGA you have the delicatessen where the DINKS go to enjoy eight dollar sandwiches with their designer breeds hitched to the benches out front. The reality is that you can walk around Crestview after midnight on any Saturday of the year in your bikini – male or female – completely unmolested (but be prepared for rape by your landlord or in the checkout lane).

Not a terrible place to collect your mail, Crestview. I’ll miss my lonely late night walks (the loneliest of which were not the solo outings).

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All (un-retouched) photos by g. edward weitl 2013

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