Yesterday was spent, unexpectedly, in pursuit of remnants, or archaelogical evidence, of the payphones of yore. Some have been gone for 2 decades. Others disappeared more recently. They are everywhere, though, so long as you know what you are looking at. Don’t mistake an old parking meter or a blue mailbox for a payphone site or I will ridicule you mercilessly.

It ignited that tic of mine which a friend describ ed as “tourettes-like.” Once I found one I would remember that oh, right, there used to be anohter over here, and three over there, and then the transit hubs are littered with them…

In my mind the payphones rise up, fully-formed, any time I approach one of their former locations. 

I was spurred into doing this by a press inquiry. Honestly, I had considered doing this just a couple of weeks ago but thought it sounded so predictable. I do maintain that the before-and-after conceit is just that: predictable. 

But like other atomic things that start to make sense only upon molecular  accumulation I found the modern-day forensic evidence of a telecommunications past started to take on some poignancy. Why did they disappear, anyway? The cell phone is an obvious culprit but why should the wholesale removal of a reliable means of communication have taken place with solicitation of virtually no public input?

A generation ago their absence would have been unthinkable in most cities. Today that former assumption of necessity  is not just decapitated but full-body-itated. Only shreds and shards remain. Sometimes enough evidence remains to tell the story but other times you are looking at a ghost.