by Jason Bruner
Frankie J’s Cadillac caught my eye. It was an early 2000s model, fading from an ivory roof to a gold-flaked champagne at the bumpers. (“I added those gold flakes myself,” he would later tell me.) I asked if I could take his picture.
“Hell yeah.” Life was tough, but it hadn’t been better, not in the 62 years he’d lived in the Valley. “But, this place, this place is home.”
“I bet you’ve seen a lot of change in 62 years,” I said.
“Ain’t a thing here the same. But that don’t matter. You can change your clothes every day.” He paused, lowered his chin so he could look me in the eye over his sunglasses, eyebrows raised to make the point.
“This place gets in you. I go to L.A., Chicago. . .people see this, they say, ‘What is that?’”
“This?”—he bowed his arms out, inviting me to take him all in, from his clean white high-tops to his gold-trimmed hat.
“This is goddamn Phoenix.”
These photos were made as part of my ongoing street photography project in the metro-Phoenix area. The work uses photography to explore the ways in which a city is a place of re-use, multiplicity, and repurposing—how a landscape can reveal the lives that have been (and are being) lived within it. The photographs were made using Kodak Ektar 100 35mm film.
Click on any photo to begin the slide show.
Jason Bruner lives in Tempe, Arizona, where he teaches on the Religious Studies faculty at Arizona State University. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, River Teeth, and the Oxford American. “Goddamn Phoenix” was supported with a grant from the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University.
SLAG GLASS CITY · Volume 7 · April 2021