Another water tower, another town.  This time it’s Archer, a farming community ten miles west of Gainesville.  Archer was home to Bo Diddley; his family still resides there.

With a population under 1,500 persons, Archer is tiny yet not ambiguous.  This is cow country, although in one instance it is also buffalo country.  Florida is full of surprises like this; a week ago I was driving down the I-75 at 80 MPH when out of the corner of my eye I saw a herd of cattle intermingled with a herd of zebras.

Improbability is Florida’s best asset.  In my attempt to document Florida through my own prism, I find myself slamming on the brakes with some frequency.  There is a lot to see here that will never make the tourist brochures.  I maintain that what I document is the real Florida the way it is supposed to be seen.  While there is some comfort in knowing that a Burger King is never far away and that a Wal-Mart is a Wal-Mart no matter the location, Florida still makes it possible to travel for miles without seeing anything homogeneous.

The abandoned houses I photograph are never uniform.  They decay at different rates and in different stages and angles. The common thread is that they have not been torn down.  I elect to photograph them instead of capturing signs of progress, because the signs of progress are, to me, depressing.  If we parse progress by Starbucks, then we are in a sorry state (although such progress would make the news in these rural towns).  It’s a very big deal to get a Target; even in Gainesville the opening of a Kohl’s in the summer of 2008 was a hot topic. It is as if North Central Florida, by securing this type of retail, is finally joining the 20th century.  Twentieth, not 21st.

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