A while ago I started taking pictures of sidewalk stencils. It started with the two photos Michele gave me of two different Monkey Knife Fight stencils we saw on my birthday. After that I started noticing all the different ones around my neighborhood: “Stop Thinking About Sex,” “Save The Sewer Rat,” “Don’t Buy the HIV Lie,” etc. It’s the perfect project for someone like me, who is so paralyzed by the fear of being looked at by other people that it’s often difficult to leave my apartment; this way, I can just stare at the ground as I walk and not risk meeting anyone’s eye.
Of course, once I actually find one of these stencils, it’s for the same reason really difficult to do something so attention-grabbing as taking a photo of the ground. Often I wind up noting it for later and coming back in one of my rare brave moments, or when I have someone else with me. (It’s only alone that I get freaked out like this.) So the project is progressing very very slowly.
It reminds me a lot of one of the projects Frahm was working on when I met him. He was making a series of paintings, all in yellow paint and black marker, of transportation systems. He was really obsessed by stuff like the cables for MUNI trains (I know, no one calls them trains), and the weird hive-like walls of the Civic Center stop. The projects are about equally useless, I’d say.
I wonder if I’m going to eventually turn into some odd indie-everything person like he was, wearing the thick glasses and black hoodie or blue nylon jacket which is that person’s uniform, squirreled away in my city home glueing toothpicks into a space station for Barbie dolls, emerging only to drink in cavelike bars with others of my kind, or to procure more pot or vinyl. Occasionally I’ll hit a show and stand stoic in the back, retiring afterwards to another dive bar to discuss how Nick Drake did it better. I don’t really know how my 19 year old self wound up haunting that scene, chirping around like Pollyanna and unabashedly listening to Matchbox 20. I hope this new sidewalk project won’t make me suddenly more fit for the indie life: misanthropic, apathetic and derisive.
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