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August 3, 2007

Remember That Bridge To The 21st Century?

Bridge

I was wondering about the read of this shot from Minneapolis.  A contemporary path of association might start off with spectacle, progress to victimhood, then arrive at blame.

To put the frame in perspective, however, consider the image after taking in examples (1 2) of bridge-building projects by the WPA.  (These links, and all the work on the project list, by the way, come from New Orleans, 1937 – ‘41.)  With that influence in mind, it’s a shame the photo couldn’t as much be an infrastructure call to arms.

And then, there were these nuggets from Friday’s YearlyKos conclave:

From Sidney Blumenthal:

I was riding with my son yesterday in the car and he said: “We’re building bridges in Iraq so we don’t have to build them over here.”  The question is, who is responsible?  This [picture] is a challenge to the MSM as well as a chance for the blogs to show their chops.  (I mean, Anderson Cooper was out there reading from a copy of Thornton Wilder’s “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.”)

And from George Lakoff:

“Accountability, to conservatives, means:  who is accountable … below me.”



(image: David Denney/Star Tribune, via Associated Press.  August 2, 2007.  nytimes.com)

  • PTate in FR

    I can’t be objective about this picture since this is my hometown. I went straight from horror to blame, skipping over spectacle and victimhood. I am reminded that there are layers to seeing. There is a layer of real, that is, of personal physical experience, and a layer of imagination, ideology or theory, that is, the story that goes on in your head. Recognizing that these are different is important. Viewing someone else’s tragedy feels different from experiencing your own.
    I was struck that of all the images out there, the BAG chose to post this particular image; This is also the one I had chosen to save. I think it shows the extent of the tragedy in clearest detail. The intact Tenth Avenue bridge on the left serves as a sharp contrast. The two bridges, one intact, one broken, communicate two paths. This is about as visible a metaphor as I can imagine of a nation that is falling apart, that is failing. And the path to the right is the one that failed.
    I appreciate the game attempt to remind us that building bridges used to be considered a national endeavor, a way to strengthen the country, something in which it was worth investing.

  • Aunt Deb

    PTate in FR, I agree with you about this photograph. It gives you a clear view of the degree of failure. I found several pictures of the bridge being built and an undershot of the bridge after completion that were also very good, in terms of information about construction and scale.
    I haven’t watched much of the news coverage of this collapse and the aftermath, but what little I have seen seems to me to be moving toward scare-mongering. CNN had a subtitle under Wolf Blitzer yesterday that said something like “Fear About Your Bridges” — the ‘your’ was one of the things that got to me. Why that pronoun? This was an interstate which means it was ‘ours’. But this is part of the way teevee news approaches calamity — fixation on chaos and personal pain, rather than looking at correctable cause and system failure.

  • PTate in FR

    Aunt Deb: “But this is part of the way teevee news approaches calamity — fixation on chaos and personal pain, rather than looking at correctable cause and system failure”
    You’ve just elegantly stated something I have been trying to articulate about the media coverage of the bridge collapse. Watching the coverage from France, it has felt like the US culture is permeated by the media in a way I just don’t experience here. The media is everywhere, and their narrative frames the experience of viewers, and yes, the narrative is, just as you say, a story of incomprehensible chaos, personal pain, and fear. “News” occurs at the level of the blinkered individual not at the level of the system.
    Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s good Senator, said something that resonated with me, “Bridges should not fall down in America.” That statement seems to imply that she at least has an appreciation for the system.

  • jtfromBC

    I’m waiting for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the Carlysle Group to save the infrastructure of America by getting these bridges privatized. Free enterprise to the rescue !!!

  • margaret

    When officials, responsible for bridge safety in Florida were asked which state bridges were close to failure (unsafe), the reply was that the public was not allowed to know. Since 2001, all bridge statistics and reports of conditions are forbidden to the general public because of “security” concerns. So, one cannot even have an opportunity to chose one’s route through the state to avoid possible injury or death. Part of the overall mental state of America since 2000….brought about by Bush’s “let us do the thinking for you. We will decide what you need to know, while we reserve the right to know everything about YOU.”
    The arrogance and the total lack of respect for the citizens of this country is overwhelming.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    On the left, the bridge over troubled waters. On the right, the declined state of America today. Failed bridgews to go with the right’s failed ideaology.
    There it is.
    Really, isn’t it time we quit fighting to control the land of dead dinosaur fuel, and started worrying about how we’re actually going to get around in this country on decayed infrastructure?

  • damnedyankee

    “No new taxes,” they screamed, justifying their lack of interest in shoring up the infrastructure.
    “Smaller government is better government,” they wheedled, as they whittled away at government effectiveness.
    “Nobody could have for seen this,” they wailed, as it all came crashing down around them.
    Welcome to the 21st Century. Watch your step.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/vicfitz82 Victor F

    America’s guts are rotting, but we have such shiny new military vehicles. Priorities, I tells ya!

  • http://www.groupnewsblog.net Hubris Sonic

    Before — After

  • Grumpy

    I see a direct line between this disaster and the flooding of New Orleans. And that line is… the Mississippi River. Plainly, it’s cursed; it doesn’t want us here.
    You’re next, St. Louis! Beware, Memphis!

  • Steve

    Bombs or butter?
    America prefers bombs.
    Stop attending fireworks displays – and start attending town meetings.
    Or, more bridges will crumble in our future.
    jt@BC, good comment. More toll booths!!!

  • Philip Granger

    Concerning the Minnesota bridge collapse, please remember the immortal words of the great Ronald Reagan,
    “The 10 most frightening words in the English language are,’ I”m from the Govt. and I’m going to help you.”
    That quote is VERY telling as to the Republican party’s
    committment to doing the job of governing. Can’t you see the internal contradictions that a Republican, who is hired to do an oversight job, must go thru, “Hmmmmm,
    here I am with responsibility, but my god said I must be inefficient.” I really wonder why Republicans even bother to work in governments.

  • Philip Granger

    Concerning the Minnesota bridge collapse, please remember the immortal words of the great Ronald Reagan,
    “The 10 most frightening words in the English language are,’ I”m from the Govt. and I’m going to help you.”
    That quote is VERY telling as to the Republican party’s
    committment to doing the job of governing. Can’t you see the internal contradictions that a Republican, who is hired to do an oversight job, must go thru, “Hmmmmm,
    here I am with responsibility, but my god said I must be inefficient.” I really wonder why Republicans even bother to work in governments.

  • eric

    When I was in law school, i lived in the apartment at the very top, center of the photo. I looked at that bridge everyday out my window.
    Although it has been years, I feel deeply affected by this, even beyond the fact that I still live in Minneapolis and used to drive on it regularly. There is something personal about it.

  • Harley

    You are looking at the future of America. I used to think it was politics. That they let NOLA go because it was blacks and democrats. Minneapolis is white and republican. (At least a republican governor.) So what we learn from this is that they just don’t care about anyone but No.1!

  • eric

    “Minneapolis is white and republican”
    No, not even close. Minneapolis is pretty diverse, and definitely liberal and democrat. It’s whiter than a lot of cities, but certainly not republican. I would say that it is about the most liberal city this side of San Francisco, actually.
    The problem is that we are trapped with this republican governor who barely gets elected by the suburbs of the state.

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