Friday, June 10, 2011

Apples in Stereo -- "Skyway" (2007)


Fists loaded with a furious disdain
Your ferocity will be your shame
Fast motion like a curious flame
The best I can do is to turn my back on you

I went to Joplin last weekend.  (I used to say "Joplin, Missouri" when discussing my hometown -- unless I was sure that the person I was speaking to was familiar with Joplin.  I don't have to do that any more.  Just plain "Joplin" is enough now.)

After spending hours walking through the neighborhoods where the May 22 tornado wreaked so much havoc, I have only two simple questions:

1.  Why?

2.  Why not?

My first question is really "Why did the deadliest tornado of my lifetime strike the city where I grew up (and where my parents still live), plowing right through its midsection city, from its western border to its eastern border, as if it had been computer-programmed to do as much damage as it possibly could?" 

My second question is really "Why did it not destroy my parents' home, which stands less than 1000 feet south of houses that were completely wrecked?"

My answer to the first question is "I don't know."  That's my answer to the second question, too.

However, I do know one thing: no one else knows the answers to those questions either.

While I was in Joplin -- while I was taking long walks through my "half-erased" city (to quote an R.E.M. song written about New Orleans, but equally applicable here) -- I couldn't think about anything other than "Why?" and "Why not?"

My parents live at 2327 Alabama in Joplin -- their house is on the northeast corner of the intersection of 24th and Alabama.  Click on the "View larger map" link below  or simply click here for a larger map of their neighborhood -- everything north of 22nd Street on that map is gone.



Here's a picture of the house that is directly across 24th from them -- 2401 Alabama.  As you'll see, it sustained some roof damage, and perhaps some damage to the interior as a result of that roof damage.  (The residents of 2401 have written "Home is where family is" on the sheet of plywood that is covering up a broken window, and "Every day is a good day" on the roofing paper they are using to cover up what appears to be a badly damaged roof.)  My parents' house -- which was closer to the path of the tornado -- somehow suffered less damage.    


Here's 2209 Alabama -- only 8 houses (barely 1/10 of a mile) north of my parents:


Here's 2119 Alabama -- about a dozen houses north.  (Where that minivan is used to be a garage.)


Here's the next house (2115 Alabama):


Here's 2103 Alabama:


And here's 2102 Alabama, directly across the street from 2103:


Here's another house on Alabama -- sorry I don't have the exact address, but there wasn't enough left of this home to spray-paint four numbers on it:


I walked by these houses every day that I was in Joplin.  And each time I walked by them, I asked myself "Why?" and "Why not?"

I'm sticking with my plan of featuring songs from the Apples in Stereo's 2007 New Magnetic Wonder album in each of the next few posts.  Those songs really have nothing to do with what happened in Joplin -- if there are songs out there that somehow capture the essence of the May 22 tornado that killed over 140 people and caused an estimated $3 billion in property damage, I don't know what they are.

Having said that, the lines that are quoted above aren't a bad description of a tornado.

Here's "Skyway" by the Apples in Stereo:



Here's a link you can use to buy this song from Amazon:

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