I wholeheartedly promise that nobody is checking for your six-year-old Swiffer Wet Jet that you just plopped on the side of the road next to the off-putting beige chair with three missing legs. Look me in the eyes: We are not interested.
The season has commenced: summertime is over and there are 33 couches lined up on Iowa Avenue with your name on them. Alas, Trashapalooza, U-Haulocalypse Now, Couchella is here and it’s junkier than ever. ‘Tis the season of sofa mounds! A safari of discarded socks! Mountains of twin XL beds stacked to the heavens! Discarded memories that span from river to river — these streets belong to the microwaves, the bedframes and the cat climbing posts.
Where are the cats? What happened to all of the cats?
On the week of July 18, only days before the city spiraled into this couchastrophe, I posted on my Instagram story an assortment of items left behind in someone’s front yard: a pair of dirty Adidas, a party-sized deluxe casket of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, two boxes of ramen, three rugs and a pencil holder — all laid out compellingly on the bright green grass amid a near-perfect end-of-summer Iowa golden hour.
Sid Peterson, Little Village‘s one and only, commented on the story and proposed a photo series: “there’s crazy stuff all over town, on curbs… but cinnamon toast crunch and ramen noodles?” I was inspired, captivated and energized! Because Sid Peterson was right, for better or (mostly) worse, there is a glimmer of character attached to the leftover memories sprawled across this town. It’s a period we all know is coming, and when it returns, it’s so conspicuously alarming, frustrating, yet inevitably comforting to know that leaves will soon begin to change and that you can finally find that coffee table you’ve been needing for five months, right here in Trashapalooza.
This depiction of Trashapalooza does not suggest indifference or romanticism about littering. However, this photo essay serves as an acknowledgment and documentation of how absolutely bonkers this spectacle is, and further, how accustomed we’ve grown to the pageantry of junk: the half-full liter of cheeseballs, one lonely sandal, the office chair that you walk by every morning on your commute that you consider wheeling half a mile home, only to conclude that you already have a chair from Trashapalooza 2018, and proceed to carry on with your day.
Let me be clear, though, there are gems — the gold-standard wooden chairs and cabinets offered on the curb — but we should be wary enough to understand the difference between swiping the aforementioned furniture and an empty box of Q-tips, a shattered mirror, or a rusty razor left on the sidewalk. Like, let’s have some decorum.