Parking lot anthropology

Ransom Riggs

How much can you know about a country from looking at its parking lots? Plenty, says filmmaker and self-proclaimed anthropologist of the American parking lot Jeff Krulik, who has spent twenty years treating them like cultural barometers. He started digging in 1986 with the now-classic Heavy Metal Parking Lot, in which he perfectly captures the hair-metal zeitgeist by asking an arena parking lot full of Judas Priest taligaters three simple questions: "What's your name?" "Where are you from?" "Does Priest rule?" Here's a short, but sublime, clip:

Realizing he was onto something, Krulik and co-filmmaker John Heyn eventually returned to the same suburban Maryland arena to shoot their insightful follow-up, Neil Diamond Parking Lot. A whole series of Parking Lots followed after the Trio network gave them a show -- highlights include 50 Cent Parking Lot and Phish Parking Lot.