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i'm currently on daily blogging sabbatical, but i'll be back very soon.

15th Street on YouTube || North Meets South || A Game of Locational Awareness [part 2]
|| 12/3/2009 || 2:50 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

north meets south 15th Street on YouTube || North Meets South || A Game of Locational Awareness [part 2]

click image above to view

On August 5th, 2008 I made the first version of this mashup, East Meets West and with the newly created contraflow bicycle lane on 15th Street NWDC, I decided to make the second version, North Meets South.

The two videos were taken from one continuous video recording that I conducted while riding on my bicycle from U Street & 15th Street to Massachusetts Ave & 15th Street and back. At home I split the videos into North & South and used the crosswalks as the starting & ending points. The object of this video mashup is to find the exact time when the two recordings pass each other on opposite sides of the street.


A few notes:

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whereyouare / whereiam@ – A Satircal Election Map of Maine’s Vote on Same-Sex Marriage
|| 11/8/2009 || 1:46 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

where you are where i am maine map 11 05 09 whereyouare / whereiam@   A Satircal Election Map of Maines Vote on Same Sex Marriage

Original Map by Julie Harris & Eric Zelz of the Bangor Daily News [PDF]

The evening after Maine’s election results came in I was asked to help coordinate the sound system for an impromptu rally at Dupont Circle. During one of the speeches, I remember hearing someone mention that the ballot should never be used to let the majority of population impose it’s will on a minority population. Being that there are far fewer gay couples in Maine (or most states for that matter) than heterosexual couples; the point stood out in my mind.

Its an example of the “tyranny of the majority,” at the ballot box. The fundamental inalienable principles of equality, all men being created equal, and the pursuit of happiness are the foundation of American democracy and when those words were written the largest city in America was Philadelphia, with 28,000 citizens and the rest of the American population was mostly rural. Yet in the 200+ years since, the rural / urban divide has only grown more stark as some states contain few large centers of population. Paradoxically, its in these cities where the most social interaction & social education takes place. It’s in cities where people are more likely to see same-sex couples in their daily lives and possibly have same sex-couples as their friends, and thereby be more apt to see same-sex couples from a different perspective that is not based on prejudice towards The Other.

The modified map [pdf] above was originally found on the Bangor Daily News website. It shows how the state of Maine voted on the question of same-sex marriage. Voters were given the opportunity to Vote Yes and repeal the recently-passed same-sex marriage law or Vote No to keep it in place.

To remix this map, I first inverted the color scheme, which surprisingly yielded a pink color for the counties which voted 65% or greater to repeal the law. Ironically, its a color I personally associate with those who voted No. I then added my own typographical critique to the map. I created a pink square and placed in an unpopulated rural location and added the words “whereyouare,” in large font and in the southern portion of the map, in smaller font size, I added the words “whereiam@” above Maine’s largest city, Portland.

The justification for this subtle addition was to highlight the nature of the urban / rural divide. Portland, for example, voted 73.5% to not repeal the same-sex marriage law, so I placed “whereiam@” nearby to show where my vote would have been. Most rural areas overwhelmingly supported the removal of equal rights for their fellow citizens, so I placed the pink square in an area that doesn’t even an election precinct.



[FOUND MAP] New York City: The 51st State
|| 12/24/2008 || 6:34 pm || Comments Off || ||

nyc 51st state [FOUND MAP] New York City: The 51st State

I have rallied for years about having DC become the 51st state in America. Even last week I redesigned the American flag to address my feelings toward this subject. However today I came across this map above that mentions the 51st state and predates the organization of the DC Statehood Movement.

In 1969 author Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York City and one aspect of his campaign was New York City secession through urban statehood. This lovely map shows all the neighborhoods in each of the boroughs and subtly pokes fun at the current “state” of New York City.

I can’t help but wonder, what if this political option was pursued again? Would New York City residents be interested in having federal funds being directed to the city instead of the rest of the state? Political climate aside, would Americans be more receptive if DC statehood was concurrently offered so that the number states is not an odd number? Or is America just stuck at 50 because its a nice number?

When president-elect Barack Obama assumes office, he’ll be the first black president to live in the same federal district that has a majority black population who can never duplicate the steps in his American Dream. His path to presidency included a path no resident of the nation’s capital can follow- he was a United States senator. Without two senators like every other state, the residents of the nation’s capital, unlike the residents of New York City, are still second-class citizens denied the same equality every other American enjoys. Will Obama be a real leader and address this fundamental flaw in our government?

While the map above proposes the concept of urban statehood, there is also the notion of urban / island balancing worth mentioning. The boroughs themselves are drawn as distinct counties and in some respects their natural geographies create urban islands, like Manhattan & Staten, within the unified state of New York City. President-elect Barack Obama comes from a former island territory, now state, Hawaii, which was brought into the union at nearly the same time as Alaska for balancing purposes. Could urban statehood, like that of Washington, DC or New York City, be balanced with statehood for other American islands, like Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands? Or with the islands having a majority population of non-white people, like their urban counterparts, be a lurking reminder that racism still present in America? Should congressional representation be denied to American citizens simply based upon how their geography happens to be located or politically aligned? Sadly, I think thats what we have today and, to me, its veiled racism defended as normal partisan politics.



Click here to read more about the map and view numerous close-up details.



Assaulted on my doorstep [2 hours after returning to DC]
|| 7/18/2008 || 9:30 am || 11 Comments Rendered || ||

memories are worth fighting for Assaulted on my doorstep [2 hours after returning to DC]

Instead of rewriting the entire account, I am posting the e-mail I wrote to the listserv of my neighborhood association:

Neighbors,

I’m sorry to be writing my ‘return to DC’ e-mail in this context but I feel compelled to share this since it just happened.

For the last 7 days I’ve been in Colorado; first for my mother’s wedding, then for a night in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, and finally to spend some time with friends in Boulder & Denver. I arrived back on Westminster Street at 12:30am after being delayed for 2 hours in Denver. Since I was not tired yet, I decided to go to my favorite nearby watering hole on 14th & T. After one hour and one drink, I decided to ride my bike back to my house.

Upon arriving on Westminster Street, at approximately 1:36am I dismounted my bicycle behind Mr. Lewis’ white pickup truck parked in front of Mr. Brown’s house. As I passed behind my the truck and was turning toward my front door, I noticed 3 African Americans in their mid-20′s had stopped their car in the middle of the street and started to approach me. The tallest of the three wearing a white tank top and khaki jeans pretended to have a pistol in his back pocket and demanded what I had in my pockets. I backed up to my doorstep refusing their request, using my bicycle as a wall (which did not help much). They came up the steps continuing to demand what I had in my pockets. After refusing again, telling them to go away and that I was at my home, I was punched in the face & body multiple times by the three and was able to fend them off by fighting back and because I was not being knocked out cold by the punches to the face. They did not steal anything from me because I refused and fought back.

Before they drove off, I was able to run into the street and catch much of their license plate: A102108 / A101208 / A108021 (one of the variations [all turned out to be incorrect]), which was a Maryland plate with the orange, yellow, and black hues known as the “agricultural plate.” If my memory serves me, it was a mid/late-90′s gold Ford Thunderbird that they were driving (the car has a uniquely shaped trunk). I called the police who arrived within 5 minutes. Since I was bleeding from the lip the officer had the fire & ambulance come, but I signed the document refusing service ($$!!). There was one woman down the block who witnessed it all and ran inside for her safety. I have her contact information but I don’t think it will matter much because she was so far away and was scared enough to run inside– “I knew something was up when I saw them approach you, so I ran inside” (which I would have done too in her position– by herself at night).

In conclusion, this was the type of freak assault that is really really really hard to prevent. If you have people willing to commit that type of crime, there is very little we can do as a community to prevent it. I ride my bicycle at night for this very reason. Its one thing to be jumped because you are walking down the street alone at night, its a completely different issue when you are literally assaulted on your front doorstep. I moved to the neighborhood in May of 2004 and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. Its just very frustrating because I had just arrived back in the city and was refreshed after being in a place I cherish. Tomorrow I expect to receive a call from the MPD’s detective and I hope to hear some good news, but I’m not keeping my hopes up. If there is any type of follow-up, I will share it.

Your neighbor with cut lips & very sore jaw,
Nikolas Schiller

ps
Keep an eye out for this car:
http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/bm/94-97tbird.htm
I don’t think that’s the exact car, but its as close as my memory recalls.


I ultimately received dozens of kind e-mails from my neighbors, multiple e-mails from my city councilmember, e-mails from the DC Police, and even a hand written note from a police sergeant explaining why they parked a cop car in front of my house.

This type of response was downright flattering and it made me realize that while I might live a somewhat dangerous city, I live in a community that cares about the wellbeing of its residents.


Why the caption: “sometimes memories are worth fighting for” ?

Well in my pockets were not only my wallet and cellphone, but my brand new digital camera that I had purchased to document my mother’s wedding & excursions in Colorado. Had the thugs pulled out a gun or a knife I would have surrendered everything, but they didn’t, and I knew that if I would have voluntarily handed them the contents I would have lost all the photographs & video clips forever. I’ve heard of stories where thugs have allowed their victims the opportunity to remove the camera’s memory card before stealing the camera, but I was not about to take that chance. I held my ground, got a least one solid punch off (my ring left a scare on my hand indicating that I punched the guy hard enough for the ring dig into my skin), and was able to fight to retain my memories. Memories which I hope to share on this blog in the next few days.


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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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