Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Pristine and the Ugly

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, OGUNQUIT, MAINE  -- Visited mostly by White middle class tourists from March to November, Ogunquit is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. But like almost every beautiful place, there are some unwelcoming aspects. For example, along the center of town are stone walls that have sharp stones sticking out of the top that make it impossible to sit and drink the organic cappuccinos purchased at the local hub of coffee-drinking. When I was taking pictures of these walls, many passersby commented on the incongruity and irony of what we decided were the equivalent of 'bum-proof' park benches in places like New York City and Boston. 

Then there was the "private land below bridge" sign. Huh? Does anyone really want to go under a bridge where there's nothing but water and a dead-end? There was also the "No Dogs" sign on the beachfront. Why no dogs? I could see something like a sign warning beachgoers to pick up after your dog and baggy stations. There was also a  "No Fireworks" sign, but that seemed most logical.  I suppose that the "Dog in Yard, Private" sign could be to ward off drunken tourists. But there was a gate so why would all of these mostly affluent tourists even have any motivation to jump the gate? I mean, most of them go to fancy restaurants and then back to their pampering  hotel resorts.

Yes Ogunquit is beautiful but it also has some unwelcoming features. So imagine how I smiled when I found a graffiti-clad storage unit right off the main drag.

Deirdre Oakley is an Associate Professor in Sociology at Georgia State University. She is also the Editor of Social Shutter. She can be contacted at Submissions to Social Shutter are welcome from anyone in the world!

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