“Do you know where we could get some good shots?” My wife did say those words. At the time of this particular blurring we were staying at my parents’ house in Maryland for some of the holiday. As it was an area I myself had lived in for about five years, both with them and on my own, I had a pretty good idea where we should go.
“Oh yeah. Let’s take the Blair Witch Trail.”
So I knew a route that would look good in the fog. I’m calling it the Blair Witch Trail. Nobody else does. We drove through the crumbling town of Knoxville to Brunswick, where we stopped by my old apartment, on the top floor of a building that had seen better days beside a train station and, apparently, above an abandoned Mexican food joint. When I first moved there it had been an abandoned bar. When I left, it was a Chinese restaurant run by a young Asian couple and their six-year-old boy who was always the one to take my orders. I only bring it up because it was in that ramshackle apartment with its cigarette-burnt carpets and rickety balcony that OTIS was first dreamed up (although it didn’t evolve into a website until I moved to Fairfax, Virginia, a year or two later).
|Why did I have to break in? I only came here to talk.|
I’d always assumed the place was boarded up, but on closer inspection the large plywood plank that had once shuttered the front door was lying on the concrete-block porch, the entryway gaping and dark. Inside were massive spider webs and pervasive decay and crooked pews all facing an organ that had been picked to pieces like some carcass in the desert. Holes in the floorboards warned us to step lightly, and the inevitable graffiti that adorned the walls was relatively restrained. In one corner, a rent in the roof had allowed the weather to rot the wall clear down to the floor.
When The Blair Witch Project phenomenon’d, the fans and the bored and the opportunistic descended upon Burkittsville, stealing its welcome signs, filling its cemetery, and discovering to their chagrin that the place was more quaint than scary. Since the nearby abandoned church was the closest thing in town to a horror set, they vandalized it, I guess, hastening its deterioration considerably. Websites often state that the church shows up in the movie, but it doesn’t. Maybe people would’ve had more respect for the place had it, as opposed to it being a mere holy and historic place.
Knowing there was no way we were going to top an abandoned church on a foggy day, we headed back home. The whole trek spanned little more than a lunch break. But sometimes that’s all you need to make a memory...and get some great photos.