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Images from Kim Reierson's book, <em>Eighteen</em>.

Images from Kim Reierson's book, Eighteen.


Trucker Lore and the Telling Eye


PICTURE BOOK RAPTURE, TRUCKER DIVISION: Kim Reierson is a onetime and still sometime Santa Barbaran whose photographs have a way of being cool and beguiling and deceptively casual. Her photographic gifts arrived weekly when she was in the hot seat as The Independent‘s photographer in the ,90s, and she mixed such treats as a photo essay on local lowrider culture in with her assigned pictures. Now an itinerant sort but based in N.Y.C., Reierson works in fashion, commercial, and other photographic avenues while pursuing artistic ventures on the side.

All of which prepares us, at least partially, for her lavish new coffee-table book, Eighteen: A Look at the Culture That Moves Us (Olivia Press), a fascinating ode to trucking and truckers that doubles as a bold and sensitive aesthetic statement. Reierson comes to the subject of the trucking life personally, as she is the daughter of a trucker. She spent five years digging into the subject, and she has not only captured the diverse world of truck drivers in their rigs/homes, but also vast, lonely, and lyrical panoramas and scenes of kitschy roadside Americana. Portraits of Peterbilts; close-ups of their intricate, proudly decked-out steering wheels and dashboards; and pictures of truck stops are also here, along with a surprisingly poetic image of a gnarly tire fragment by the roadside, shot from a gravel’s-eye view.

The book makes you want to dig into the “trucker music” subsection of your country-and-western music collection, break out the Dave Dudley and Red Simpson compilations, and listen to them while basking in the funky-beautiful pageantry of Reierson’s artful road tripping. She’s got her eyes wide open, and a sure eye for the inspired composition, whatever her lens is aimed at.

FIRST NAME BASIS: A large gathering assembled at the Emanuel Lutheran Church last week to pay final respects to Oswald Heinrich, who passed away at the too-young age of 72. Everyone knew him as Oswald, just Oswald. He was soft-spoken but full of life, and a kindly man who was the king of Volvo repair in town for three-plus decades. Born in Lithuania and landing first in Kansas, then Santa Barbara in 1966, Oswald started up his Volvo repair shop at the corner of Carrillo and San Andres before settling down in his evocative long-standing location on Yanonali. When the city threatened to turn a patch of lawn outside his place into a parking lot, he fought it, and proudly hung a photo dubbed “Santa Barbara’s Central Park” in his office.

Volvo people can be clannish and secretly snooty, but they are mostly a friendly bunch, and they abide by their belief that these Swedish vehicles are superior-yet still somehow transcending the elitism of higher-end autos. Oswald’s maintenance ethos and his calm, stubborn efficiency made him something of a guru for Volvo people in town, and used vehicles upped their value with the “Oswald-maintained” stamp of approval.

He tended our various Volvos for many years, frequently going above and beyond the call of duty to make sure he achieved his goal of making things work. While wrestling with one perplexing, poltergeist-like problem which caused my car to shut off mysteriously without warning, Oswald tried multiple R s. He even dispatched his mechanic, Loyrs Albrett, on a house call before isolating the evil, a wire harness issue.

Auto culture-and especially Volvo culture-was a passion, but not a be-all and end-all for Oswald. He loved the outdoors, family, and life in general. He commanded respect and attention with a soft voice and a strong sense of values. They don’t make ,em like that very often, and Santa Barbara was lucky to have him in its midst.

TO-DOINGS: In terms of world music deserving greater recognition, the tour known as “Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia-Nomads, Mystics and Troubadours” is a star attraction this season. When it stops at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Monday, audiences will get a rare exposure to Azerbaijani singer Alim Qazimov, the Tajikistan-based Badakhshan Ensemble, and other worldly sounds worth knowing.

(Got e? fringebeat@independent.com.)



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