On the surface, everything is smooth. On the edges, the shiny plastic cracks, dirt comes out of nowhere, and doorknobs pinch the skin. Tear at the wall a little, underneath is not solid, it is a metal matrix, mostly air. We live in a kind of illusion, frayed at the edges.

In the middle, things must constantly be replaced with new things to keep the façade. The illusion that everything is smooth and glowing, round soft edges, harmonious, modern and stylish.

At the edges, things begin to rot, to give way, and folks can’t afford to replace them. They must make do with what is rotted, what has given way. They have to live in a broken picture.

I am a photographer, and I have earned some degree of note for taking models, beautiful girls and boys, to the very edge, to where it is all rust and metal and lighting them in glorious plastic symmetry, snapping pictures, putting the illusion directly next to the crumbling façade.

Rachel and I used to go through the tunnels together, we used to hold hands and run through the sewage in our filter suits, we used to find locations together and she would pose and I would take her picture.

The pictures spread, and soon I was taking products to the edge, perfect plastic to a rotted world. I lost Rachel. It was too much work. I still took models, but they weren’t Rachel. To be honest, they were prettier, but also empty. They were afraid of sewage. All the crews were. We were all inoculated, but they were afraid of smells, and what moves out there.

I punched a reporter. It wasn’t the drugs although the e-zines will all say it was. It wasn’t the meth. He said that I showed the juxtaposition between the core and the edges. I knew he was wrong. What I made out there, in those pictures, was a construct. The contrast was in those homes, with the people living week to week, the peeling basements, the rotted and biting plastic.

Of course, there is no style in those places. That would be considered tacky. It would become tacky, no matter how well lit. But there, in the dying middle class, where you will never see it, there is art.