THIS VEHICLE HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR REMOVAL. Looking over this book for the first time in a few years just now, I’m realizing that the cover has a replica of a sticker from the NYC Department of Sanitation Derelict Vehicle Removal Program adhered to an offset-printed detail of what looks to be a fried, black, car body-panel. The sticker’s filled out in ballpoint pen to mark my book’s place in the edition. John Furgason and John Ayala signed #18/100 at 9:57 on 11/21/03 and stamped the sticker, “000018”.
As a child growing up in New York, the ubiquity of carfires around the city was magical. My great grandmother lived and died on Houston & Sullivan. I don’t think she ever really spoke English–nor did she really need to–living in a neighborhood that was still then largely Italian. We’d often drive down to her apartment to grab and shuttle her over to the rest of my Mom’s family on Staten Island. That meant barreling down the FDR Drive to East Houston from the Upper East Side. East Houston was bewitching. Hookers, addicts, explosive graffiti, squeegee-amputees with piss in windex bottles and blood & shit-stained t-shirt rags soiling car windshields worse than they’d been pre-squooodge. That stretch was Lower-Manhattan’s funhouse. More than any of those other attractions, though…the carfires always got my little boner going. TV says, “Car catches fire. Car blows up.” It kind of works that way, but not really. It’s more like, “Car catches fire. Car burns and burns. Gas tank catches. Car catches more awesome fire.” There’s this incredible sigh of auxiliary flame, but there’s no real concussive force.
Carfires…East Houston, Harlem, the South Bronx I loved being stuck in traffic in any of those neighborhoods. There was always something burning. I’d just sit there in the backseat of the car, anxiously gnawing on the plastic and foam upholstery of our car’s door–hypnotized by whatever vehicle, barrel or building happened to be blazing at the moment. All of that makes Furgason and Ayala’s book particularly attractive.
If memory serves, I was given this book in 2004. It’s a pretty exceptional conceptual info-piece. Almost entirely composed of video stills from Furgason & Ayala’s film of the same title, CARFIRE‘s an impressionistic study of dynamic, incidental sculpture in the industrial landscape. Details, portraits and under-the-hood porn of freshly-torched autos litter the first-half of the book–each image or image sequence assigned a catalog number. The second-half of the book resolves the histories of the images. A primary appendix describes each of the previously-numbered vehicles by location, make/model, color and year. A second appendix marks the locations from Appendix A’s table on aerial maps. A final appendix is reserved for incidents sniped from a police scanner and witnessed mid-flame.