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Photographs from Park(ing) Day DC 2009
|| 9/21/2009 || 11:05 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Photograph from Parking Day DC 2009

Last Friday I attended the first celebration of Park(ing) Day in Washington, DC. Originally conceived & celebrated in 2005 by the artist/activism group ReBar in San Francisco, the concept behind Park(ing) Day is quite simple: reclaim urban space normally taken by cars by taking over different parking spaces for the day and turning them into temporary parks.

Organized by the contributors of the blogs ReadysetDC & F1RSTNR, the original concept for last week’s inaugural Park(ing) Day DC involved four locations around Washington, DC, but at the last minute the DC Department of Transportation threw up some large impediments that made the day’s planned celebration nearly impossible to execute. According to one of the organizers, among the various obstacles that DCDOT came up with was that they wanted the organizers to have large concrete jersey barriers to prevent cars from plowing through the temporary park (really?!).

After hearing about this issue, I mentioned the old direct action maxim: it’s easy to beg for forgiveness, then to beg for permission. As in, if the organizers would have just gone ahead and setup their temporary park(ing) spots and let the police and DCDOT deal with the matter in real-time, they could have ‘begged for forgiveness’ and made a scene in the process. The other way around, being lawful citizens that is, involves going to the DCDOT asking for permission (aka permits) and if the authority isn’t too keen on the concept (which it appears they weren’t) they can make it impossible to undertake.

Thus result was more of a Park(ing) Lot Day than a Park(ing) Day, but that didn’t stop the fun that was had by all the participants. The day’s savior was the owner of the local business Garden District, who currently owns a vacant lot at the corner of 14th & S streets, and allowed the Park(ing) Day organizers to set up there. The organizers drove out to Virginia and picked up 1,500 pounds of sod and laid it down over the asphalt and created their own temporary urban park, which ended up being much larger than a parking space would have been! They also sourced some plants, furniture, books, 3D chalk, christmas lights, and even a badminton set; all of which made the lot more of a corner park for people to hang out at.

Photograph from Parking Day DC 2009

I arrived around 3pm and hung out with everyone, took a few photos (above & below) and even made a couple new friends. Around 5:30pm I left and went to a friend’s house to get equipment for the show at the Black Cat later in the evening. And after setting up for the show, I went back to the Park(ing) [Lot] and helped them cleanup park. In all, I had a great time. Next year, however, I am aiming for having a park in the central business district. Check the other photographs I took:

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How I made it inside of the Silver ticket area at the 2009 Inauguration
|| 1/20/2009 || 11:45 am || Comments Off on How I made it inside of the Silver ticket area at the 2009 Inauguration || ||

The night before the inauguration, when I was having a good time at the DC Manifest Hope Gallery, an old college friend of mine said, “Do you have tickets for the inauguration tomorrow?” I responded, “No, I wasn’t able to get any.” She opens up her purse and pulls out a Silver ticket and hands it to me and says, “Now you do.” It definitely made my night! A couple hours later I rode my bike over to my friend’s apartment near 21st & E street and went to sleep…

I started the morning off by eating cereal for breakfast and layering myself with clothes because I didn’t want to be cold at the inauguration and I knew I wasn’t able to bring a backpack with me to store extra layers. I ended up wearing three pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, a scarf, a stocking cap, a t-shirt, sweater, fleece jacket, and another fleece-lined jacket. At around 8:00am I hopped on my bicycle and started riding down toward the National Mall.

I was expecting the entire National Mall to have a security perimeter that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol, however as I rode my bike by Constitutional Gardens, I discovered that there was no security checkpoints, so I kept riding my bike east toward the Capitol by way of the south side of the Washington Monument. My plan was to enter the Silver ticket area from the south side (red circled above) because I figured there would be less people there since the bridges had been closed.

As I made my way on to Independence Ave at 15th street, I could see that the police were having people walk on the sidewalks west, away from the Capitol from the L’Enfant Metro station toward 15th street. As I rode east I had the police tell me multiple times to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk, and I responded “Officer, I cannot walk this bike against the flow of people without causing extra traffic.” They understood, but every 150 feet or so I’d have to repeat myself to another set of police officers.

Eventually, I hit the corner of 3rd & Independence Ave. SE and seeing that there was a huge line at the intersection, I decided to dismount my bicycle and queue up in the line. I locked my bicycle on 3rd street about half a block south of the intersection and started by nearly 3 hour wait…..

This video was taken while I was waiting in line at the intersection of 3rd & Independence Ave. Every once in awhile the officers would tell people to wave the ticket in the air to ensure that they were at the right entrance. Independence Ave was being used as a secure street to shuttle VIPs to the U.S. Capitol, so it had to remain open. What resulted was that people would have to wait at the corner and every few minutes the police would let people cross the street. This caused a tremendous bottleneck that only got worse as the day went on.

After finally crossing the street thousands of us were penned into a somewhat small area where we were to wait and slowly make our way to the screening area. For thousands of people this is as far as they got. I, however, was able to make it in.

Shortly after we crossed the street and started to get pushed together in our makeshift holding area, I recognized an old friend of mine was nearby. I met him at an anti-war demonstration in January of 2007, nearly exactly two years prior. He drove this antique bus that said “ARREST BUSH” on it and he travelled around the country raising awareness for the war crimes committed by the Bush administration. I had last seen him at the demonstration outside the White House the month prior, but I didn’t introduce myself to him (he’s actually in the videos throwing shoes). He was pushing a wheelchair that contained a friend of his and in front of him was another gentleman pushing someone else in a wheelchair.

According to the map on the tickets there were at least 4 different entrances for disabled ticket holders (see map above), yet there were no signs indicating where they were to go and with thousands of people massed together I saw there was going to be some issues. The first problem arose when there was a small surge where everyone had the opportunity to take about two steps forward. This resulted in a woman next to the wheelchair having her foot rolled over. Instead of being polite about the pain she had accidentally received, she made a scene. The poor gal was clearly mentally distraught by being confined together with so many people. The people around were attempted to deescalate the issue by trying to tell the gal that it was a mistake and there was no ill will toward her. Yet she continued to complain and complain.

I decided to step in and offer my services to my friend and the gentleman in front of him. I said, “Hey let me try to clear a way so that you guys can get to entrance for the disabled.” Easier said then done. When I first tried to ask people to move they responded by “Sorry we are packed in here too tight.” And for the next two hours we waited for the line to move forward and it only moved about 5 feet.

In that time I got to know some of the people around me a little better. I learned that the African American gentleman in the wheelchair ahead of my friend was a former Tuskegee Airman and his son was helping him that day. Every once in awhile, they’d let me stand on side of the wheelchair and look above the crowd to see if there was any progress happening ahead of us. Each time I had to report back that there was no movement.

After the swearing in ceremonies started people began to realize that they were probably not going to be able to make inside of the secure area and started to get rather feisty. It was also around this time that both of the disabled men needed to use the bathroom. Unlike the rest of the able-bodied men & women standing in the crowd who could walk over to the fence and urinate, they needed special help to relieve themselves.

It was at this time I spotted a lone police officer struggling to make his way through the crowd. When he was about 15 feet from us, I yelled “Officer, I need your assistance. I have two disabled men here that need help.” The officer struggles through the crowd and makes his way over to us. He asked what help he could offer and I reiterated my previous plan of making a path to help the wheelchairs make their way through the crowd.

He consented and started to blow his whistle and I made my way to the front of the two wheelchairs and started politely tapping people on the shoulders asking them to step to the side to help the wheelchairs pass through. With the police officer holding up the tail end, and I working the front, we started to make progress. Then something special happened.

We started to encounter other disabled men & women also waiting in line and we politely asked them to join the caravan. Some people were rather pissed that the disabled people were receiving special treatment, including the gal who had her foot rolled over, and grumbled at my polite requests to step aside. However, we continued moving this way through the crowd until we reached the gates where the police officer allowed us to pass through.

As a member of the caravan, I was able to make it through the gate and when I turned around to wait for my friends who helped me at the beginning, I counted the number of people who I had assisted. In total, there were over 20 disabled people and over 50 of their friends & relatives. It made me quite proud to see that my good faith effort rewarded so many others.

A moment later, when I was about 25 feet from the gate, I turned around saw that a bunch of people were also breaching the gate!

When we made it to the security checkpoint I was asked to lift up my jacket to show I was not wearing any bombs or had any hidden weapons. I was not asked to show my coveted Silver ticket.

From there I walked with my new friends toward the reflecting pool and watched the swearing in from a large Jumbotron…..



24 Hours in Rocky Mountain National Park
|| 7/21/2008 || 4:49 pm || Comments Off on 24 Hours in Rocky Mountain National Park || ||

Click here to view the video on the Vimeo website

From 7/10/08 to 7/17/08 I was in Colorado visiting family & friends. On 7/13/08 I went to Boulder to visit my old summer camp buddy, Jourdan. I had originally planned to spend Monday (7/14) in Boulder, but that morning Jourdan suggested a different plan- a plan that involved driving up to Rocky Mountain National Park and checking the backcountry office to see if there were any available campsites. To our chagrin, there was a spot available at Fern Lake, which is located about 4.7 miles from the Bear Lake trailhead.

This video documents our journey into the park, hiking through the park, and driving out of the park. Along the way I showcase the Bear Lake trailhead, the demise of my hiking boots, hiking through snowfields near treeline, waterfalls at the base of the continental divide, fish swimming in a beaver dam at the foot of Fern Lake, and the grand vistas that can be seen in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This video is minimally edited using Quicktime Pro and is composed of a series of video clips taken with my Canon SD750 digital camera at 640×480 at 30 frames per second with mono audio recording.

Had I surrendered my digital camera late Thursday night when I was assaulted, this video would not have been possible.



Welcome Robots and Strangers
|| 3/14/2008 || 1:48 pm || Comments Off on Welcome Robots and Strangers || ||

Below is the text of an e-mail I sent out today:

One year ago today my ugly mug was on the front page of the Washington Post’s style section in David Montgomery’s article “Here Be Dragons.” To celebrate the one year anniversary of this 15 minutes of fame I did something I’ve been waiting a VERY long time to do– I removed the Robots Exclusion Protocols from my website. This means that in a few weeks you will be able to find the contents of my website with a simple search string from your favorite search engine.

Before 12:01am today, you could only search the contents of my website on my website. By preventing my website from being crawled by spiders (or robots as they are technically called) I also prevented anyone [strangers] from freely accessing the hundreds of maps that I’ve made over the last 4 years. Thus the paradox of making maps without being able to be found is now over, and in that respect I am liberating myself from the self-censorship experiment that I’ve been conducting these last few years.

Frankly, dear reader, its a very nice feeling. I am unaware of any website that has opened itself up to the robots with over a 1,000 different pages to index at once. I sincerely wonder what search words will bring people to my website from this day forward. Currently postmodern art is my number one search string (I am currently listed at #5)– and that was only possible because of the article that was published one year ago today. So with that said, today marks the beginning of a new phase in my life, and maybe yours– if you search for the right words.





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  • thank you,
    come again!