Wednesday, June 17, 2015

area adventures

For awhile there I was writing for AREA magazine. Basically I wandered around the city interviewing people at random trying to get them to give me a basic sense of their area, how long they had been in the area, how they really felt about the area, deep down, and if they would recommend the area to friends, family, co-workers, etc. Essentially trying to get a sense if it was still a livable area. Were there good schools in the area? Employment? Social services? Hoboes? Public parks? Dance halls? Public transit? Zoos? Housing? Decent restaurants and grocery stores? Farmland? Excitement? Community? Could a person amble around in the dead of the night and feel safe? Some people were confused by what I meant by the term ‘area’. When that happened I usually just went with the Wikipedia definition: the quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape, or planar lamina, in the plane. ‘Area’ can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat. It is the two-dimensional analog of the length of a curve (a one-dimensional concept) or the volume of a solid (a three-dimensional concept). This usually cleared things up pretty quickly. At this point the interview often came to close and I would continue wandering aimlessly, until around dusk, often considered to be the darkest stage of twilight in the evening. During early to intermediate stages of twilight, there may be enough light in the sky under clear conditions to read outdoors without artificial illumination. During later stages, no dice. Civil dusk occurs when the earth rotates to a point at which the center of the sun is at 6° below the local horizon. Twilight comes just after sunset, which is the point at which the earth has rotated just enough that the sun, under clear conditions, is no longer visible on the local horizon. I would usually find a bench overlooking the river and glance over my interview notes with the aid of a flashlight. I didn’t know how long I would be in the area, but I planned on giving it my best shot while I was there. A couple months later I was canned for insubordination to a superior but I continued conducting the interviews because I wanted to learn as much as possible about the general area with the intention of maybe using it as the basis for a series of quick charcoal sketches to submit to the annual summer arts and crafts jamboree. Tony was encouraging me to do some studies of sunyata in watercolor and graphite but he was out of his mind, obviously, with no conception at all of what area shoppers wanted in terms of visual art.