Photo Essay

Bombay Beach, Forgotten But Not Gone

There's a scattering of broken buildings as I approach Bombay Beach. I stop to photograph a cinderblock structure with an ominous burn mark on the side. Some wooly-assed desert honcho must have leaned up against the wall and combusted. Yep. There's no other possible explanation.

The word "Beach" looks hypothetical on the "Wecome To" sign, surrounded as it is by dust and scrub. The fact that the Ski Inn references water rather than snow skiing doesn't make it any less abstract.

There's water out there somewhere: At one point it pitched an apocalyptic hissy fit and flooded the town. How can the residents bear to be surrounded by the trappings of what this place used to be? It's not that there's no need for boats and bait shops, but the frivolous illusion of Bombay Beach the Aquatic Wonderland is difficult to maintain when you're looking at the 5th scorched shell of a doublewide you've driven by in the last half-hour.

Oh gosh, I'm being judgemental, and that is so totally uncool. Next thing you know I'll be having opinions. A tumbleweed the size of my car bounces off my car. Hmmmm.

Bombay Beach ... it must be a construct; an Alternative Americana Amusement park. Yep. There's no other possible explanation. They should put a frikkin' turnstile at the entrance and charge admission. And pipe in some David Lynch sound effects to augment the wind-battered awnings and the random nicotine-induced hacking that erupts periodically from some of the intact mobile homes. Oh yeah, there are still people here, but you can practically hear the population dwindling. Note to self: "Dwindling population ... great addition to the soundtrack." I must have my people give Bombay Beach a call. We'll make a fortune off the Europeans.

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