• Eric O'Dell

Detroit Geometry: Chromed Glory

Updated: Jul 7


Eumenides, 36x50inches, 2015, acrylic on canvas (not the car in the blog, painting of a '73 Fury I did as a commission. It has the same presence).


This really happened.

My old studio was located at 2nd and Mulberry Streets in downtown Macon, GA. It was located in the heart of the heart of Georgia. I have heard stories that Duane Allman and Cher once walked these sidewalks. The heat would fold tapered candles over that I had jammed into old bottles. Mulberry Street is a divided avenue, four lanes, trees in the median, and to show that the gods have a sense of humor, the center island was wrapped with parallel parking.

This area should have a live feed. My fellow denizens swirl around Mulberry’s trees and azaleas in Imperial Class Suburbans and Yukons, looking for parking. I recall folks circling over and over, avoiding the parallel openings for a choice angled spot on the outer perimeter. Their collective and obsessive orbiting would create low pressure systems that would spin off as storms to harass Augusta and Atlanta.

Some braved the maneuver. Some succeeded, most did not. There would be cars left at apocalyptic angles several feet from the curb. The nose first move does not work y’all, it is attempted in full disregard of physics, drivers-ed, advice columns, and any sense of human decency and courtesy. A nosed in attempt is doomed. As this one ring circus played out, I’d put my brushes in the water, get my cup of coffee, and bear witness to the un-signaled and misguided de-threading of the fabric of humanity. If anyone would have looked up to my second floor windows, they would have seen an animated hermit-like creature, hair all asunder, yelling at the window as if it was a sporting event-

USE YOUR SIGNAL!

CUT YOUR WHEELS NOW!!

PULL UP MORE!!!

As a kid I would watch leisure boats spitty-spat through the pass in Panama City, FL., going from Bay to Gulf and back again.

The 'Pass' at Panama City Beach


Sometimes an honest to god Freighter would come by. It would chug and rumble pushing its way through the channel. It was awe inspiring. Years later, in my studio, a magnificent vessel also appeared rounding the Mulberry Street Island, a metal flake spearmint green beast dipping its passenger front wheel under the weight of its unspeakable gravity as it finished navigating the turn. I saw a Honda cower under a crepe myrtle. The birds went silent as three Excursions skidaddled like frightened pelicans.

This immaculate zip code on wheels never rolled, it oozed. I lowered my coffee in respect as it neared a miniscule opening to its left along the parallel parking dock. I gazed as the signal engaged. It slowed to let the heavens know of its chromed intentions. It eased forward in perfect form- I was leaning forward in awkward anticipation. Without hesitation, and in no hurry, the reverse lights engaged and the beast eased backwards.

NO WAY was it gonna fit. How could this be happening?

But it moved as if piloted by a spice captain from Dune

The wheels cut perfectly, all of Mulberry was reflected in the Detroit chrome. There was not enough room! I leaned more, it kept coming- face pressed against the window, heart in my throat- without pause the four-wheeled freighter made contact with the car behind it, and eased it and itself backwards unimpeded until it was satisfied. The smaller vehicle made no alarm, it only scratched out a feeble ‘excuse me’ as its locked tires drew four straight lines to the rear.

The reverse lights disengage and the magnificent beast eased forward. Soon a car in front was being efficiently re-positioned, another set of straight lines marking its position.

The behemoth then eased back and parked in the precise geometric midpoint as if it was a Greek temple laid out by Euclid himself. My god it was beautiful.

What have I witnessed? How could this be?...

The driver’s door opened- a small, thin, African American man all drawn together at the waist by a belt emerged. He looked to be about 70. He put on a ball cap and shut the door. He walked behind his car and stepped out into the street. He did not look to the left. He did not look to the right. He looked straight ahead eyes slightly down, a dude on his way to take care of some ordinary business. As he disappeared from my view I stepped back from the window and applauded. I applauded as if he had hit the winning shot while landing on the moon sipping a cold one and hitting a nasty bass line while playing at a show. That guy was a hero, an artist, and a master of the universe.

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© 2023 by Eric O'Dell