Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Internal Compass Is The Kind That Draws Circles

Dear Boston,

I have no sense of direction. What do you suggest I do in order to get a feel for this new, large city.


Dear Michael,

Suck it up, grow a pair, and learn to read. Seriously? Its impossible to NOT end up where you live! Its a straight shot from most lines to your front door! The fact that you got lost five blocks in the other direction (ie, nearly walking INTO the Harbor when you should have been heading the other way) or walking in circles at midnight shows that you will clearly die on the streets of Boston. This is how the homelessness problem got as noticeable as it currently is-- they're not homeless, they're just as lost as you seem to get.

No Love,
(P.S., Fenway is in the OTHER direction. If you could read a map, you'd know that, and NOT end up in Chinatown, wondering why continental drift accelerated so quickly).

So far, the score is Boston, 1, Michael, 0. I have yet to find my way to any place independently without getting lost at least once, for at least 5 minutes, which is terrible. I planned on walking the Freedom Trail totally solo the other day, but after I hit the state house I lost the line, panicked, and ended up in the West End for what seemed like an eternity. I would like to point out that the Freedom Trail is often used by foreign tourists and school children. It is easy to follow, since there is a GIANT RED LINE painted down the middle of the sidewalk that says "No really, just keep walking the way I'm going". I could not figure out how this worked, so instead I just kept walking in directions until I realized "Oh, this is where the blue line is" or "at least there is a starbucks here".

Yesterday night, I took the T back from Jamaica Plain, where I went bowling with Sarah Cohen and Scott Berghegger (Clarkies). Of course, I could barely find my way out of the station when I arrived at my stop. When I did eventually reach the surface, a tiny fact about Downtown Crossing manifested, although not to my knowledge-- there are multiple exits. Clearly, I walked out the first one (obviously, I thought, this must be where I came in. Its simple logic). 20 minutes later, I was at the harbor, beginning to panic, walking up and down Congress Ave thinking "I know this will take me right back to where I need to be. I know this."

I did not know this, and after finally finding the stop I came out of originally, there was an opportunity to orient myself and get back to Tremont Street. The horrible part about all of this is two part: 1) Downtown Crossing is SO CLOSE to where I live. Literally three blocks. Its not hard to navigate. 2) I considered just transferring to the red line to get to Park Street, which is right on Tremont. However, I said "no, that would be ridiculous, I'll just walk". Hmm.

The good news about all this is that I mastered Government Center and discovered Finagle A Bagel, the only independent food source I have been able to successfully use. Also, in a few weeks I will be able to say "oh, I know that area so well-- I got lost there SO many times."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Men I'd Like to Be: Phil Borges

Phil Borges is a photographer who deals with the rapidly diminishing number of native tongues and populations in a world that is rapidly globalizing. The work pictured here shows two sides of his work and two sides of the world. He is just as concerned with the aging remnants of a culture as he is with the children growing up, not knowing the language or culture. His work is tied to the Bridges Project, which aims to preserve the rapidly dissolving cultures in our world. Specifically, he is photographing peoples with animist religions tied to the natural world.

The images themselves are desaturated digital photographs showing indigenous peoples in their God given land and in their current complex social surroundings. Figures are meant to "pop" out from the background, and with a striking result. The descriptions of his work are often compassionate narratives on the plight of the individuals in each image. They are not about the image as image. They are the image as reactant. As mover and shaker.

What I like most about his work is that 1) his interest is more sincere than Edward Curtis and 2) that his artwork is tied to a social theme and organization. In the *past few weeks, I've been thinking hard about the roll of the artist in the world after the death of the image. Creating images that tie into and further social action and social betterment could be one of the roles of the artist in this age.

More specifically to the point of this series, Phil Borges has turned his artwork, something he obviously loves and about which he is passionate, and turned it into a personally fulfilling and outwardly helpful experience. He is culturally enriching while providing a global service. That, my friends, is the goal

*bloggers note: Most of this was originally written for my senior capstone blog in studio art. I wouldn't be posting it here if I didn't believe all the same things I wrote about it 10 months ago -M

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Which Would Be Fine, But...

I was going to bed around 11 tonight. From the time stamp on this post, you can tell that this is getting published much later. Its 2:54 am according to my laptop clock, and my body is showing no signs of shutting down and getting ready for sleep mode. Nothing. Close the eyes, and the mind keeps going. Not even a yawn or a head nod.

Which would not be a problem-- except I am supposed to be waking up for an 8 hour shift in an hour.

The 4:30 shift at Starbucks is certainly not the worst--the first two hours are relatively uneventful: as a barista, I stock the pastry case, brew some coffee, clean the oven, and peel some bananas. Then comes the rush around 8, and then you're out by noon or one pm. Really, if I could get an egg sandwich on the way to work, it would be the perfect shift. All in all, its not a bad trade off, if you can swing it correctly. I am not one of the people who can swing it correctly, and end up with the rest of the day to do what I please.

Instead, I will fall asleep around 2:30 tomorrow afternoon, and wake up from my "nap" around 6 or 7pm, only after sleeping through at least two phone calls. Then, I'm up and shining until.... we repeat this process over again. Which would be fine, but I like the day light hours. This will also be compounded by the fact that I tend to run pretty full steam in the mornings, so I will also likely come home with a headache that will last from the end of my shift to two hours after waking up from the nap.

Being young and fresh faced, I know that I can pull this off-- I've done it before, once going 40 hours without sleep, working through a morning shift and the Head RA program. However, I was never as much of a bitch as I was that day before bed time. During that awake time, I was also involved with some watermelon carving to make snacks. To rehash, I am angry and wielding a knife on Olympic amounts of awake time. It sounds like the body of a news article. You know... the suspect had been awake for days, and brandished the knife in a fit of rage before plunging it into the watermelon. More at 11.

This is my last week of work at Starbucks-- and I'm generally pleased about that. I love my working environment, I like most of the customers, and my coworkers are amongst the more incredible people I've met in Worcester. However, the high pressure of the rush times, the under-scheduling, and the pressure that I put on myself to perform well as a barista are more than enough to make me sigh with relief when I take off the apron for the last time on Wednesday. Its just coffee-- it shouldn't have these longer reaching effects on my private life.