Author Marques Vickers returns to his hometown of Vallejo, California with his memoir "You Can't Return Home Except Through Photographs and Memory". The personal narrative traces his formation within a community that through his eyes has slipped a notch from both the middle-class and affluence. Vickers employs a light but candid tone on a gravely perceived subject, Vallejo's regressive deterioration.
The suburban San Francisco Bay Area town of 120,000 was formerly the California State Capital twice and home to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. The base closed in 1996 creating an employment void that prompted stagnation within the downtown core. Vickers was raised locally during the 1960s-70s. He traces the specific causes for decline as the proliferation of long simmering racial tensions, homelessness, aggressive criminality and drug trafficking.
Returning in 1987 as an adult following a twelve-year absence, he was struck by the town's smallness of scale. In spite of the successful recruitment of Marine World Africa USA in 1986, the addition has not elevated Vallejo into a desirable extended stay tourist destination. He observes that seemingly for every positive step forward, the city tends to relapse two steps backwards.
Despite the deterioration, most Vallejoans he knows are proud of their grounded heritage. His text is far from bleak and bitter. He cites the town's distinctiveness, attractions and diversity that positively impacted his personal development.
His photo compilation was prompted by a return for the funeral service of a 90-year-old friend Andy who died on New Years Day 2017. Andy, a former longtime resident, avoided local visitations noting the degenerating conditions from his residence in adjacent Benicia. The author's own series of memories were exhumed at the same time as the body of his friend was being lowered into the ground for burial.
Vickers surveys the present tense community with his camera lens portraying a bittersweet reality. Although he cannot overlook the obvious, he hopes the current downtown may ultimately be viewed as an isolated puzzle piece fitting into a larger positive legacy.
Balancing his criticism with objectivity, humor and insight, Vickers attempts to accurate portray a subject he mourns and knows intimately.
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About the Author
He was born in 1957 and raised in Vallejo, California. He is a 1979 Business Administration graduate from Azusa Pacific University in the Los Angeles area. Following graduation, he became the Public Relations and ultimately Executive Director of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce between 1979-84. He subsequently became the Vice President of Sales for AsTRA Tours and Travel in Westwood between 1984-86.
Following a one-year residence in Dijon, France where he studied at the University of Bourgogne, he began Marquis Enterprises in 1987. His company operations have included sports apparel exporting, travel and tour operations, wine brokering, publishing, rare book and collectibles reselling. He has established numerous e-commerce, barter exchange and art websites including MarquesV.com, ArtsInAmerica.com, InsiderSeriesBooks.com, DiscountVintages.com and WineScalper.com.
Between 2005-2009, he relocated to the Languedoc region of southern France. He concentrated on his painting and sculptural work while restoring two 19th century stone village residences. His figurative painting, photography and sculptural works have been sold and exhibited internationally since 1986. He re-established his Pacific Coast residence in 2009 and has focused his creative productivity on writing and photography.
His published works span a diverse variety of subjects including true crime, international travel, California wines, architecture, history, Southern France, Pacific Coast attractions, fiction, auctions, fine art marketing, poetry, fiction and photojournalism.
He has two daughters, Charline and Caroline who presently reside in Europe.