Redrawing Maps

November 5th, 2008 § 2 comments

us map

I am proud of all my states today, all four.

West Philly for Obama

October 12th, 2008 § 0 comments

Yesterday’s Obama rally in west Philadelphia had me thinking again about the anti-war protest I joined in Washington D.C last March, and the similarities between the experiences suggested that political rallies are akin to political protests. They both extend deep into our public conscious as our democratic right to support or critique the policies our government endorses. Certain rallies, as well as certain protests, stand out in my mind as some of the most over-played media clips, and they define the “public” mood of certain historical events. They are both also surrounded by the myth of an individual’s power when combined into a solitary voice of the masses, a myth carefully maintained through romanticizing the act itself.

philly 1

Taking part, however, washes away notions of romantic unison and brings forth the gritty character mobs or masses–in this case an estimated 20,000 supporters–inevitably take on. I recall a story about a town that used its citizens every year to create an aerial image of the American flag. One year the people decided it was not right that only the photographer could see the “real” image, and they demanded to be allowed to leave in groups to view the flag from above. The whole event rapidly fell apart, the people below could not wait their turn and gradually, though they were all running up stairs to view, without them there was no flag to be seen. The soft-spoken, college freshmen who volunteered for yesterday’s event, with their pleading voices telling us not to push and shove, that we would all get to see Barack, reminded me of that kind of futility. They were contrasted sharply by secret service men in suits with earpieces, looking ruthlessly self-important. All in all I was glad the crowd, despite the unprecedented turnout and frustrations, remained peacefully single-minded in their attempt to hear Obama’s speech and catch a glimpse of the man himself, and no fights (that I am aware of) ensued.

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Trial by Fire

September 23rd, 2008 § 1 comment

or; Learning the Hard Way

During the calamity of a new york day, I am finding myself smothered by the kind of multitasking I was forewarned of before I moved here. An elderly man I bumped into while wandering central park last August put on quite a show of new york expertise for my benefit, explaining new yorker mannerisms and where they originate.“You will find you walk and talk a little bit faster” he prattled off, much to my amusement. Talking to Californians now, however, is as much a struggle to keep my temper in check as walking through a packed underground tunnel between 8th Ave and 7th during the rush hour after work. It is true that multitasking here means something a little different than I would have thought. Certainly, though I work five days a week, I have escaped from monotony. In fact, America herself, at the present moment, is anything but boring.

wall-street-old-photo

More than that, I find myself plopped in the realm of “inexperience” on many fronts. I seem to be getting myself into things by a faulty combination of luck and skill, and am figuring out later what they entail. How do you pitch an idea to an editor? No one teaches this in advance; it is part of that unspoken world of “professional” practices institutions only hint at. They seem to prepare you for it as poorly as high school does for collage. Though tact seemed to dictate producing idea after idea for proper approval, the moment I was told “no”, the learning began. The way you learn to pitch an idea is obvious when you come to the frame of mind that goes something like this: I want to write about it, it is important because of these reasons, and here is why I am the best person to do it. Again, it is quite difficult to find out just how you get images from a gallery or museum, much less which images you can use and why. Freelance sounds like normal employment with a temporary spin, but isn’t. Reading over my new contract, it feels strange to essentially be an employee while singing over a document that states, in as many ways as possible, that I am not. As my paychecks increase, I am slightly confused about what exactly I am being compensated for–the lack of security? If so it matters only slightly, nothing in new york at the present moment is secure, and I like gotham the better for it.

Hysterical Encounters II

August 17th, 2008 § 0 comments

(at the farmers market)

Inwood has its own neighborhood farmers market, not very large compared with others in the city, but large enough and close enough to render us regular Saturday goers. Considering that we live in a predominantly Dominican neighborhood where English is the second language, the farmers market is strangely white. The sellers are what the Fossil calls yuppies who moved outside the city to become farmers (occasionally organic) that are now “one” with nature. The markets customers are of a slightly different sort, most are considerably older than we are, families with children, who shop with a pushy determination to get “the best” first. I miss the Arab market in Monty, somehow it was busier, dirtier, much cheaper, and far less claustrophobic—here elderly ladies follow you from booth to booth stepping on heals. Americans don’t really seem to be comfortable in an environment that is not regulated and familiarly corporate, the smallness of the booths and the “unorthodox” setting makes us contagiously self-conscience.

Despite this, however, it unanimously beats the markets (especially those in Inwood). The produce is good, it tastes shockingly like food ought to taste. We have been enjoying corn, zucchini, and numerous leafy plants the Fossil loves to munch. The fruit reminds me of the trees we grew in California, apples that taste like sun, peaches that are always bruised but drippy with flavor anyhow. There is the milk lady who sells whole milk, and yogurt at the organic bakery. The bread, though good for American bread, cannot compare to the worst French bakers. I still miss the simple pleasure of spending less than a euro, and walking home with a warm loaf of bread.

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Hysterical Encounters I

August 17th, 2008 § 0 comments

(on the subway)

Riding down to the east village, meeting friends for drinks before the onslaught of rain, required connecting with one of the numerous trains cutting across town. Three years on subways in Chicago teaches you that some seats are more preferable to others, for various reasons: leg room, distance from others, direction of the seats to the trains direction. Of the usual three seated bench facing into the train car I always pick the seat by the door, preferring one person to my right than being sandwiched between two.

The elderly lady who entered the train a few stops after us, did not seem to prefer this seat, however, instead taking the far end of the bench, closest to us, and giving me the advantage of staring at her profile without detection. She was perhaps in her mid-sixties; she was dressed in the usual fashion of those living on the Upper East Side, conservative in essence but outlandish enough to show the “designer” quality of her clothes. In a pantsuit of assorted floral patterns, she was brightly colored in greens and yellows, having even yellow flowered earrings to match. She sat in a prim manner radiating dislike of subways, and these people they cart about the city. We smirked slightly upon her arrival, and she looked as uncomfortable on the subway as we generally do walking in the Upper East Side.

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