Granite Oddity

The photographs below were taken in the summer of 1965.

pearstone1sex  summer-65_00001summer-65_00003

Shot with a Contax IIIa. Other details long forgotten, but the film was Agfachrome, 35 mm positive. Kodachrome positives from those days have held up much better.  But Agfachrome could be faster and developed locally.

The sculpture measures 190 ft by 90 ft and is 400 ft above the base.

Recovered these photos from the closet not too long ago. Just takes some time to catalog stuff in moments when everything else is going well. But you can find several, more modern photos if you want to see how things turned out.

My first thoughts, upon seeing them, told me I had to go watch Hitchcock’s North by Northwest again.

Well, those instincts were not too far off base.

The location of the photos above is Stone Mountain, Georgia.

The same fellow that did Mount Rushmore in South Dakota was also involved with Stone Mountain: Gutzon Borglum. Borglum had difficulties completing the project that was being wackily financed and overseen by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Venable family.

The Venable family owned the mountain and was actively involved in the second incarnation of the KKK.

From the rebirth of the KKK in 1915 until well into the 1950’s, the mountain had been a meeting place for their oddities.

The State of Georgia bought the land in 1958 and completed the sculpture in the 1960’s. The three men in the sculpture are Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis.

I think I first visited the place in the early 60’s as a kid. Most of the kids in the family would run to the top of the mountain on the day after a Thanksgiving family gathering.

So, although the place is kind of hideous, it has a spot in my physical memory. Also a neat geological feature. Clamors arise from time to time to remove the sculpture, but even if I don’t like it, I don’t see the point of doing even more damage.


24 thoughts on “Granite Oddity

  1. I have two steel boxes filled with my father’s slides; I don’t know know how I ended up with them. I’ve considered having them digitized… But after hours looking through them, probably half are photos of orchids (one of his hobbies, as well as photography), and most of the rest are places and people I don’t recognize. He always carried around a Minox camera (I still have two of them).

    The downside of digital photography is that you can snap anything without cost. With film, there was at least an impetus to think and evaluate a photo, and not to waste the media. I have literally hundreds of bracketed junk digital photos for every one worth keeping. Lately, I’ve been carrying a slightly larger camera, however (Sony A-6000). That seems to have reduced the mindless snap-shooting.

    As for giant statues, I’ll admit to a certain fascination. But I also recognize that they’re really kind of bizarre. The Japanese are notorious for huge Buddhas, although the larger ones weren’t usually constructed in stone (quarry locations were too valuable). Some, however, are frankly quite ludicrous.

    I believe the Asian tradition goes back to the Longmen Grottoes in China. Some historians suspect that the largest Buddha in the main grotto at Longmen was constructed near the end of the Tang dynasty by the Empress Wu Zhao (late 600’s), featuring her own face. Makes me think of the practice as a way to elevate the image of a person into an article of awe (and of worship) — religious zealotry applied to politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like close-up photography.I am often surprised by the presence of a bug/spider in the photo. Anyway it takes a little thought to optimize perspective/DOF/in-plane resolution.

    If you don’t have one, next time you get a printer/scanner look at Canon or Epson. Some scanners sold by both of those brands allow you to scan 4 35mm positives at a time. The Canon hardware is a little nicer, but the Epson software is a lot nicer.

    The Venable family were quarry ownwers.

    Indeed, if you are not familiar with the titles used in the power structure of the KKK, it can be amusing at first….Grand Dragons and Imperial Wizards and such.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a good Canon scanner (presently buried under tax documents). It has a slide feeder, but I’ve never tried using it.

      I read up a little on Stone Mountain. Fascinating. Not super familiar with much more than the generic history of the KKK. “Dragons” and “wizards”… interesting. Though the reality doesn’t seem to have been so amusing.

      BTW… Thanks for suggesting Audacity. I downloaded a copy onto my laptop. I’ll have to spend some time sorting it out before I try to seriously record anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would not want to scan thousands of slides that way, but hundreds is doable while your doing other boring paperwork or just tidying up. Those home scanners support 4800 or 9600 dpi for 35 mm positives. That is overkill for old positives, but might be interesting for some Kodachrome or Fujichrome. There was a film called Anscochrome, that has not held up well after 50-60 years — colors way off. But the story of that film is interesting — originally US based, then bought by German concerns, then confiscated during the war.

    Interesting to play with various filters, compression, equalization, limiters, noise reduction in Audacity to achieve something you might want. It does take some fiddling to work out a processing order that you are happy with. As with most activities the technical standards of being an amateur have risen quite a bit, but one still has to have an eye or ear.

    Fear mongering and minority persecution seem to be a part of protectionist politics no matter what the time or age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dad used Fujichrome, and also did some portraits with Fuji Velvia 50 negatives. I remember the negative film because I had several rolls stored in my refrigerator for years. I recall that getting the stuff (properly) processed was rather involved.

      I had an Ansco film camera when I was young. Good camera, but it got dropped on the top of a mountain and never quite worked properly after that. Seems to be a pattern with my cameras… Pentax film SLR, early Toshiba compact digital, Canon digital SLR, high-end Canon compact digital… I’ve learned not to get too attached to cameras.

      Heading back to Japan next week to try to finish up some business there (new dwelling). I’ll be taking my laptop. Hopefully, I’ll have a little time to mess around with Audacity. I presently have Cubase also installed, but I’ve decided that it just doesn’t do what I want. I think it’s more appropriate for MIDI/DJ type recording, and it’s plumbing the limits of my patience getting it to work properly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just a friendly comment from the left coast on a rainy night in front of the (fake) wood-stove (actually natural gas with a remote control)… watching something, and somehow thought you might like it. Looking through some recent videos of a few of the female musicians I’ve followed in the Japanese music scene over the last fifteen years for something I started writing, I ended up going back to some videos from when I first saw them. Interesting to see how a bunch of female punk-rockers have “aged.”

    At any rate, I also came across this clip and thought you might appreciate the talent. Absolutely beautiful… but I’ll leave it to you to sort out the old rockers on the stage:

    BTW – Do you recognize the instrument at the very start?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cool. Thanks.

      I think the instrument may be a like a mandocello strung on a banjo head or some similar sort of head. I have a mandolin like that. Made in Turkey. Really loud…outrageously loud…get away from me loud.

      Travelling back home in a few days after some road travel through the mid-South.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe I should try making something?
      David Gilmour (originally from Pink Floyd) seems to be able to play just about anything quite well… from drums to anything stringed, keyboards including the piano, saxophone… He even sings. And he plays in styles from rock and jazz, blues, country… So it wouldn’t surprise me if someone handed him some home-made thing created with bits from a mandocello, a banjo and a pressure-cooker and he found a way to make it sound cool. He’s one of my all-time, very favorite musicians, and certainly among the most talented. Really an interesting, and decent person too.

      Enjoy your travels!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mountain dulcimer is a pretty robust design for a starting place. They can take a lot of abuse. It would be fun to change the standard fretting. Inherited two of those and they are easy to play for simple stuff, but of course there are experts….

    Best memory of David Gilmour was driving this stretch…… of road in a thunderstorm at 1AM and listening to a cassette back before the road became a bit tamer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Listening to David Schnaufer playing, I was thinking that would sound really good with some delay. Blasphemy, perhaps… but Googling “electric dulcimer,” I see that they’ve been used to fair effect in some heavy metal.

      Pink Floyd marked my first serious introduction to music outside that within which I was raised. Much of Meddle, Obscured by Clouds, and Dark Side of the Moon was permanently imprinted into my neuronal connections during some incautious moments of youthful experimentation.

      Probably explains a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As suggested somewhere, I leave a bit of fluff of surrounding ambiance. Anyway, this is my commute complete with a good fraction of the instruments in the house.

        The road is much better than last observed.

        I usually try to learn a song or two after a pop star passes away. Poems too with poets.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fluff away… thoroughly enjoyed. d(^_^)
    Beautiful territory. I really like the scenery around the two-and-a-half-minute mark. At the lower elevations on the west-slope, there are some dense semi-deciduous forests that are a little like that. But I think it’s probably colder and less wet here in general. For some reason, I think I know approximately where you are (a state, and which general region of the state).

    You have a wonderful voice. When I read things from people who don’t post images of themselves, I don’t tend create much of an image of them in my mind. Voices, however, that’s entirely different. You have a very cool image in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you.

      Most of the surrounding land is wooded and claimed by a large chemical concern for extracting clay for adsorbent/catalysis use. Historically though, shade tobacco (cigar wrapper) was a big deal post civil war. Biggest trees on my place are magnolias and live oaks. Many others of course but a live oak will dominate 1/3 acre if you let it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Went for a motorcycle ride to get away from the tourist chaos today. If I’d have made a video of the local area while riding back in this afternoon, it could have gone with a punk-rock theme. The traffic, combined with the ludicrous amount of construction over the last few years has combined to make the local summers rather less than… pastoral. A little down the road from my old house (I downsized and moved across town two-years back) is the latest Palace of Versailles. A whole section of shoreline forest was mowed down, two-years of blasting and pile-driving, and several hotel sized steel-frame structures have now gone up.

        It’s a long story how I ended up here, but I’ve been considering whether it might be time to move on altogether.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes in the above, there is not another vehicle encountered in the entire 6 minutes. That was this morning. Not uncommon at all. In fact, it is common practice to wave to another driver or just to stop in the middle of the road and talk. Ain’t nobody else coming…doesn’t matter. Most conversations with male neighbors occur in the middle of the road.

    I have enjoyed living in an urban environment in which I could walk/bicycle to everything. Short term rentals are satisfactory for me.

    I think if the property values are going up fast, one can probably find another fun place.

    Alaska is a little too far north for me, but I’d like a twin of this place somewhere cooler with fewer reptiles. But there’s always problems to solve.At some age after 75 or so, warm weather becomes much more attractive again as the heart gets weaker.

    Yes, tourism is kind of anarchic; that’s probably the attraction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I missed my little leased apartment in downtown Vancouver for quite awhile after I let it go. It had become a home. Tokyo can become overwhelming. I was lucky with my apartment there, but the immediate area has changed greatly over the last ten years, and I’ve decided to let it go. Seattle… too gloomy. Curious culture there as well. I never did feel quite at home.

      ChiangMai… I only recently understood what motivated me to decide to stay there, and to stay in Phnom Penh, even after my Thai graduate project there collapsed. It was a re-start. I had become accustomed to having too much, and needed to purge myself.

      Unfortunately, too much is an easy habit to fall back into.

      I’m familiar with this area from from my youth. Back then, there were still a lot of little A-frame vacation cabins dotted through the town, and perhaps 1,500 year-round residents. It was remote enough that, up until about ten-years ago, there were still clothing-optional beaches along the hike-in shorelines a little to the south. Nowadays, the town is a weird mix… hardly any small places left. Across the street and down a couple of houses is a little barn-roof cabin from the old days. Right next door, a second-generation house was suddenly torn down last summer, and a new 7,000 square-foot, 3-story is being built on the ground-coverage. I think my neighbors were surprised that I didn’t tear down this place after I bought it.

      Lousy tourist town — It’s become overcrowded in summers, no public beaches in town, just a small local ski area, poor transportation, and expensive. So many people have discovered the hike-in beaches that the cars parked along the road obstruct traffic. And listening to the power boats echoing off the lake all afternoon, kind of like relaxing next to an expressway.

      I’ll have to video the bike path some morning this week, before the swarming hoards arise — maybe I can strap a camera to my head while I go for a run? Or maybe take a sea kayak out…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Where I was in the UK was like that. Ton’s of southern Europeans and Japanese took over the town every summer to get some kind of official credit for having learned how to speak English there. It was a mammoth scam that fed the town, but made summers odd.

        But people love/hate crowds. That is probably unavoidable. I am often struck by the gregarious nature of folks that live in really isolated places.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Despite the normal serenity displayed in the video, there are periods (not moments, but extended periods of weeks) in which is it not so serene. Takes a while to calm down the children of a new arrival. to the community. I get pissed off because I don’t wish to get entangled in some needless lawsuit about hitting a seven year old riding an ATV on a muddy road.

        I commiserate with the power boats, but my local noise is prepubescents riding ATV’s. My neighbor looks like a cross of Ichabod Crane and Gregg Allman; he can usually put the fear in them and is not hesitant about calling the law when necessary. I’m more bashful, but maybe a bit more intimidating.

        Anyway, no need to rant.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Prepubescents riding ATVs… I’m picturing little kids on scooters in Thailand. Sometimes, it was three or four kids.

    I avoided driving in Thailand, but I had a motorcycle. As a foreigner, if you were in an accident, it was automatically assumed to be your fault. A friend of a friend ran down a drunk guy who wandered onto a dark road one night… killed him instantly. The police decided that he owed the drunk guy’s family the equivalent of about $5,000 (about 2-years’ salary for a professional) for lost income, or something like that. He paid the man’s family and apologized to the man’s wife, explaining that there was nothing he could have done to have prevented the accident. The man’s wife said that she understood, and actually invited my friend’s friend to the funeral.

    Such is a society without lawyers, I guess. But I was always careful not let on that I had access to any kind of resource. As far as anyone knew, I was living off a sketchy income from teaching English.

    ChiangMai was a strangely liberating place. But then, I was something of a refugee at the time. Maybe it’s just age, but world seems to be running out of refuges lately.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I spent too much time in hospital hallways in the 70”s to really appreciate motorcycles. Too many guys on gurneys.

    However, I did drive a Yamaha 350 vintage 1974 or so for a few nights. I must admit it was fun. Had a roommate that could creatively acquire any motor vehicle of that vintage. He had more recreation than I did, but I got tempted from time to time. Later he piloted F-15’s.

    I don’t understand criminal justice at all; just seems like a total cop out most of the time; “we don’t have any better ideas, so we will lock you up.”

    But there is a bright side; I really like cycling in silence with just the wind…sans helmet. It is a cool sensation on a hilly country road. I’d bet that an electric motorcycle would be intoxicating enough for me to do occasionally. I wonder how the weight distribution works in such a beast.



      I was an ambulatory visitor during my sophomore year of college. At least until the surgery.

      Nowadays, I wear a full Aramid/carbon-fiber helmet, back protector, armored leather jacket (I also have a summer jacket made with Kevlar and titanium — I understand the titanium makes pretty sparks if you slide in one), knee and shin armor under my pants (if I don’t wear leather), and a really nice pair of Daytona boots. I figure all the gear will help keep most of my parts in one place for when the paramedics finds my donor card.

      Never been into the “Harley” thing. I’ve always liked the feeling of a quick, light motorcycle. I discovered Italian motorcycles when I was in college.

      Something of an addiction. I took a video while riding through town and along part of highway this weekend. Actually, the last few years I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to keep riding. I can tell that I don’t have the same processing or reaction-times as when I was younger. And I’m not looking to finish out my days sans any body parts, whether left on the road or in use by some new owner.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s