A blog is the perfect medium for something as ephemeral as trash.
For six years, Andrew Jeffrey Wright has snapped photographs of the ways Philadelphians jettison whatever they no longer want.
But not just any drive-by short-dumping will do.
The 40-year-old screen-maker, painter, photographer, and performance artist has an eye for the way people convert found objects in the streetscape into repositories for their rubbish.
He calls his blog "That's Not a Trash Can. Now It Is!"
The blog was his girlfriend's idea. He and several of his artist friends had envisioned something grander and more lasting, a project that could be called "Broken Philadelphia."
The lanky, soft-spoken redhead thumbed through his collection of 4-by-6 glossies the other day in his studio at 1026 Arch St., also known as Space 1026, to demonstrate the original idea.
His cannibalized bicycle shots came first - lonely triangles and parallelograms, still chained to streetlights but missing key parts such as wheels, seats, handles, pedals.
These pictures were for a chapter he was to call "Philadelphia is a Great Bike City."
"Philadelphia's Art Scene" was to introduce graffiti-marked storefront windows. "Philly Nightlife" was the heading for his series of sidewalk-vomit images. He documented steamrollered rats, squashed squirrels, and pressed pigeons he has found on the streets.
"I guess it's how you create a better pigeon," he said with Darwinian cool. "The faster ones live."
When the group project went nowhere, girlfriend Crystal Kovac persuaded Wright to post just the trash shots, which he started to do last month.
The first entry went up March 20, a red Philadelphia Daily News vending box found at Sixth and Washington and stuffed with cups, cans, but no newspapers. Wright particularly liked the way the wording on the vending machine, "Today's Daily News," lent editorial comment.
"The funny thing about the box was that, a year later, I shot it again, and it was filled with completely different trash."
People make Dumpsters out of baby carriages, sneakers, planters, and tree crotches. They shove trash into abandoned tires and stolen shopping carts. They squeeze stuff past iron grates. Fire Department connections offer handy places to store crumpled paper and plastic cups. Fire hydrants make nice cup holders.
Wright will take contributions, as long as he knows they're not staged. With such a wealth of material, why bother?
His girlfriend shot a twofer, which he posted: a violated bicycle frame with a bag of cheddar sour cream potato chips where the handlebars should have been attached.
We talked about why people dump. I offered thoughtlessness, selfishness, piggishness, the sense that there's no cause and effect in some people's world, so why not shed your undesirables.
He was partial to laziness.
He was that sort of kid, growing up in Ridley Park, lightening his load whenever he couldn't be bothered. He did love the way candy wrappers would float in the wind as he emptied a car ashtray out the window.
Then he grew up. "I got to a part in my life when I would never litter," he said. That happened about the time he went to the University of the Arts. "It's a different attitude. I've heard people say it's the city's fault - they don't supply enough trash cans.
"But I went to an art show in October in Japan. I didn't expect to have my mind blown, but . . . there were no trash cans and no trash on the streets. They've all decided not to throw things on the ground. If you have a piece of trash, you put it in your pocket, take it home. Their society runs on a different set of rules."
The other day, he was in Repo Records on South Street and watched a girl throw a wrapper on the floor. He grew bold.
"Oh, you dropped something," he said.
The girl put her foot over the wrapper and said, "No, I didn't."
So he gets even by blogging. He is not looking to change the world with his posts. "I think that's asking too much. It's a comic blog - well, tragicomic. I mean no disrespect to Philadelphia because I love Philadelphia. But you look at what people do to this city and ask, 'Why?' "