fresh popcorn productions

observations and obsessions, in print and pictures. roadside ramblings, from the pavement to the pasture.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Abandoned Chi-Chis



A Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant reduced to a pile of rubble takes on a deeper meaning here in western Pennsylvania. Strolling the circumference of this "terrain vague," one cannot help but wonder at the remnants of faux tex-mex decor and canned southwestern architecture poking out through the debris, layers of disposable building materials with fabricated cultural flourishes in varying shades of rust, salmon and turquoise. If you stand with your back to this heap, you face the exact spot where, as a child, my mom and her cousins used to watch massive trucks dump slag from the Clarion Coke Works. In her words, it was every bit as exciting as a fireworks display. My brain suddenly creates memories of food smells (manufactured in a New Jersey plant?) from an elementary school birthday dinner held at a different Chi-Chi's location nearby. Scroll down for more visuals from this suburban photographic journey...

2 Comments:

Blogger pghcitiboy said...

Hmm, is the New Jersey food smell a reference to 'Fast Food Nation'?

The last time I ate at a Chi-Chis was in Central Pennsylvania nearly 10 years ago. As I bit into the food I hit something hard; turned out to be a chunk of broken glass.

Good riddance to this chain! If it makes people go to places like Mad Mex, Mi Mexico or Taco Loco then all the better.

8:12 AM  
Blogger freshpopcorn said...

Partially, yes! Thanks for picking up on that. I am still bitter about missing Eric Schlosser speak in PGH last fall! Did you hapen to go? Also, I lived in NYC for 10 years, so driving past the "scent factories" was unavoidable at times. Your Chi-Chis story is horrendous--UGH! Maybe someone should start a "restaurant mishap" blog, so I could post my own: once when in gradeschool, my father took me to Chick-fil-A in West Virginia, and when I got to the bottom of my lemondade, there was a piece of gum! (ABC of course...). What was perhaps worse for me, was that my dad tried to convince to not complain.
I definitely formed an "anti-fast food" stance early on. I was orginally planning to photograph as many "abandoned Chi-Chis" in the area as possible, so I better act fast!

10:36 AM  

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