Transient – mesmerizing, primal, inspirational, humbling, freaking incredible. Filmmaker /photographer Dustin Farrel spent the summer of 2017 traveling 20,000 miles around the United States of America capturing lightening strikes at 1,000 frames per second.
“There is peace even in the storm” – Vincent Van Gogh
Involuntary elation is a thing of beauty. We all harbor exhilaration triggers, a uniquely personal, undeniably human emotional response to unexpected experiences. One of my earliest childhood memories is an emotional response to severe weather. A oppressively hot summer afternoon dotted with ritual counting of seconds between lightening strike and thunderous percussion. Inclement perfection culminating in the mother of all thunderstorms. To this day every hair on my body stands in awe of stormy punctuation.
Roadside attractions cling to a simple request, please stop and look around. Undaunted by Interstate highways, freeways or GPS assertiveness, roadside attractions thrive along paths less traveled. Secondary highways, rural routes and country roads are peppered with roadside treasures capable of tickling curious minds.Rarely a destination, roadside attractions are discovered by those willing to stop and look around.
It never occurred to me roadside attractions could be anything other than serendipitous. Something discovered along the way, chance encounters, emotional tugs, split second acceptance of hopeful invitation to stop and look around. Never a destination until this image entered my life. One unshakeable glimpse at Hand of the Desert catapulted roadside attraction atop life’s bucket list.
The Atacama Desert covers 1,000 kilometers of Chilean coastline. A barren plateau situated in a rain shadow courtesy the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The driest place on Earth receives less than a millimeter of annual rainfall, weather stations in some regions record decades without a single drop of rain. Cloudless skies, absence of light pollution and high altitude explain why Atacama is home to ALMA, the largest ground telescope observatory in the world.
The coastal city of Antofagasta approached sculptor Mario Irrarazabal to create a work of art in the emptiness of Atacama. In 1992, Hand of the Desert invited travelers to venture an hour south from Antofagasta on Hwy. 5, keep right at a fork in the road to stay on 5, watch sharply for a sign saying Escultura then follow a path to the right. Admission is free, don’t expect ice cream or souvenirs.
Four outstretched fingers and a thumb rising 11 meters above parched landscape in one Earth’s remotest places redefines roadside attraction. Hand of the Desert can’t be stumbled upon, finding it requires purpose. I like that. Nothing could make me happier than an opportunity to stop and look around the Atacama at Hand of the Desert.
Lavender Superstar, Lemon Idol, Rosy Starlet and Fruity Pin-Up promise to “keep nasty smells under wraps”. Fear not vacant fembots, choose one to V.I.Poo like a V.I.P. That’s right, V.I.Poo. The commercial opens with an exterior widescreen view, cameras flash, the marque reads Magic Wanda. Cut to Wanda-
“Even Hollywood’s latest sweetheart needs to punish the porcelain occasionally, to avoid embarrassment I give every bathroom the V.I.Poo treatment. Spray generously before taking a seat and V.I.Poo forms a protective layer trapping the icky smells of your devils doughnuts. So, no red face in front of your boss, Hollywood’s hottest director. Even a VIP needs to V.I.Poo ”
WTF? Punish the porcelain, devil’s doughnuts? Magic Wanda? Wanda?
Clearly Wanda is not a modern woman, so why is her Hollywood bathroom unisex? Why is Hollywood’s hottest director portrayed as a greasy caricature of Harvey Weinstein? Are men entitled to punish the porcelain with impunity, mark their territory with odorous devil’s doughnuts to show who’s boss? Why starlet, pin-up scent designations? Is Wanda supposed to be a porn star? Film star? Barbie Doll? Did V.I.Poo miss the memo on #MeToo? Is this supposed to be funny? Relevant?
On the off chance Air Wick set out to create a viral revenue generating video they failed miserably. I’m being generous, V.I.Poo marketing strategy banks on antiquated stereotypes, the duty of women to politely fart, burp and poop in the shadow of a man’s world. Shame on any woman fool enough to tuck V.I.Poo in her handbag.