Thursday, October 11, 2007


Anyone who lives in an urban area recognizes the stuff in this image. You find it scattered on streets and in parking lots in every neighborhood. Oh yeah. These cubes are pieces of shattered car windows, evidence of a break-in. If you live in a city, you've seen them, right?

There were certain parking spots on Mullen Avenue (in Bernal Heights, San Francisco,) where you could almost always find small pyramids of broken glass. You might be wondering who would park a car on a street renowned for the detritus of auto break-ins? We're talking about San Francisco where basically there is no parking, ever, period. If there's a parking spot, you just take it, and tell yourself that maybe the burglars won't find your car or won't be in the mood, or will see that the stereo has already been stolen.

My car was broken into six times while I lived in San Francisco, once after I moved here. It's a regular business for some people, and it must provide decent money, because it's a popular form of burglary. I had the phone number of the auto glass replacement store memorized by the time I moved away from San Francisco. A friend of mine regularly used this glass in her mosaics because it was always available.

I wonder if the ipod revolution is cutting into the stolen car stereo market?

I gave up my car about three years ago. Honestly I haven't missed it at all. DC is a horrible city to drive in, and fortunately we have excellent public transportation. I also subscribe to Flexcar. It works.

OK. I'll admit I do miss my car during a cold winter day with icy rain and a driving wind. Who wouldn't? Or I might miss it sometimes when I'm suddenly in a mood to drive out of the city, but - that happens rarely.

But today this pool of broken glass caught my attention when I suddenly realized that this stuff, this pile of clear aqua blue cubes, when stuck together, becomes the amazing curved mirror surfaces in which Capitol Hill gets reversed and distorted, and photographed. Interesting for me to think about while I stared down at the glass. Not so much for Jake who kept tugging on his leash until he could convince me to resume our walk.


Barbara said...

I found plenty of that stuff in the old green van (along with the $50 in coins on the floor and in every crevice). Shattered window glass is so very different from the shards that result when a wine glass breaks. Is that why it's called "safety glass"?

kimy said...

jake is a total are a pain in the ass.. good for you that you gave up ownership 3 yrs ago! I only embraced being carfree a year ago april - hopefully we are at the cutting edge of a REVOLUTION!

Gary said...

It seems you can create art with this glass no matter what form it takes.

I really love the top pic (not that I don't love Jake).

Anonymous said...

my car windows were always getting smashed in SF. what is it about that city? other cities i've lived in, even more dangerous ones, somehow car windows were spared. I just figured there was a band of psychopathic glaziers on the loose.

I love the magnified One of those "guess what this is" photos.

Reya Mellicker said...

If there's a city that would be home to psychopathic glaziers, it would be San Francisco, definitely.

Steve said...

Yep, I see it all the time, on the street in front of my apartment!

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm so glad people liked the first pic. It's not my usual frame of reference, but I like it, too. Aqua is such a soothing color and cubes are the most pleasing, relaxing forms, at least I think so.

Plus this pic includes a close up of the cobblestone with which this particular alley is paved. I love the pockets of cobblestone in DC. Makes it possible to pretend I'm in Rome...well ... sometimes.

mysticalfeet said...

Haven't seen that stuff in a while. It IS beautiful, if you don't think about what it means, how it comes about. Living in Sacramento, our cars were broken into on a regular basis; we just started leaving them unlocked, after awhile.

Is that a little elbow patch on Jake's leg? The left front one? He is such a gorgeous boy.

So glad you guys got rain, albeit a brief one.

lettuce said...

oh - i've got some pics of broken safety glass too! not as nice as yours though, gorgeous colours and textures.

we're car free too, and its so good. Cars can be very insulating from the world.