Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Javier's Mass Observation

Sep11th Walk
It's September 11th 2009. It appears to have rained earlier this morning before my 8:00 AM commute. Grackles, mostly brown females, peck about in our front yard; they are still young with their short tails and pristine bodies. As they peck in their immediate space they seem aware of each other trying to keep a set distance, thus creating a strange moving geometry. Their moves are calculated. A blond woman with her hair pulled in a pony tail, from the 3rd house across from ours, gets in her white Honda. The vehicle moves slowly and clumsily like all cars at the beginning of their day. The woman inside seems haggard; she rubs her eye, turns the steering wheel and goes west. A man wearing glasses and a white t-shirt, 2 houses to the right of ours, stands on his porch; his hands are clutched and resting on his hips. He stands there looking down at a black woman, who is standing few meters away in his front yard. They appear to be talking about printers and printer repair. Meanwhile her grayish dog runs about the yard, it seems to have the need to relive itself, but seems unable to take any action. The man invites the woman inside his house. The lady on the Honda reappears going east looking more awake, but still with her mouth wide open as if still in a sleep like state. On the parking lot to the right of Mangia's a shortish man with a strawberry blond beard and spectacles unloads some boxes and looks at a man strutting across the parking lot with a pink yoga matt. He continues performing his task as the man vanishes from his sight. On the corner of 30th and Guadalupe a student arrives at the bus stop, he wants to sit, but this presents a challenge, for the bench requires some mechanical manipulation. Here you must flip an uncomfortable, spring operated, six -inch wide aluminum seat. He spends a few seconds figuring out the workings of the contraption. He manages to sit, but seems rather uncomfortable, as his buttocks is not in proportion to the seat. The scene is made more awkward as he has been doing this on his phone. He finally sits cross legged. The bus arrives seconds later and has to stand up. Across the street by the Wheatsville bus stop, a homeless man picks up a ragged bag from the bus bench; he fiddles violently with it and drops it. Upon closer observation the man is missing a hand. He makes a dangerous attempt at crossing the street. He seems to be having a conversation with the incoming traffic waving his arms and feet in a Soviet like march. About a hundred yards from where I’m standing a man stops by a trash bin putting a white cup of coffee on the rim of the receptacle; he lights a cigarette. He picks up his coffee and resumes walking with cigarette in mouth. As we pass each other I can see he is wearing a Boston cap. He nods, but I hesitate to retort as I am a Yankee fan. From my right on 29th emerges a guy wearing a brown and white horizontal striped polo shirt. He walks with his head down miraculously keeping his black rimmed glasses in place despite his strange head bob. He continues his walk and goes into a doughnut shop. The man and the store keeper laugh. I can tell this by their facial expressions, as the sound is impeded by store’s window front. The store keeper shows the man a doughnut; they laugh once again. A few yards ahead and across the street, a pair of girls walks north; these so far have been the only commuting pair. One of them, and Asian girl wearing a grey t-shirt and short shorts, is doing most of the talking. Her friend, a red head wearing tight black pants and a silky tube top, smiles, as her friend enthusiastically talks with both mouth and hands. Forty feet behind them on the Torchi’s parking lot, a middle aged man of the same fashion sense as the frat boys from frat house down the street, goes into his red, midsized, Chevy pick-up. He looks annoyed with a hint of desperation indicated by his blank stare, opens mouth and slightly raised right eye brow. From behind re-appears the doughnut man, passing by me walking in the same manner as before; that is looking down bobbing his head, but this time with mouth full of doughnut. He takes a bite. His bob contains enough force to enable him to wrip off a piece. He carries with him a white paper bag containing a fresh supply of more food. It must be that through recording my observations, my pace has slowed down, for I am now being passed by two other fellows. One of them wears a brown plaid shirt. His bald head shimmers with sweat. His upper back is bowed downwards. He seems oblivious to his surroundings. On 24th street, to the side of Welch, a group of four construction workers get off an electric cart. They all have neon yellow vests and white construction hats .They look about and around as if thinking of their immediate space, their movements seem to have a purpose. Two of them look at the other two, there is a strange geometry here. They stay there still for less than a second all looking at each other. They then turn towards Welch carrying some equipment. The remaining two look at the two drivers, who by some imaginary gesture, are signaled to look back to safely turn around. I sit on a bench and see the construction across the street. A similar behavior occurs here. Workers look at each other and their immediate space. A worker gets on top of the bed of a 5 ton truck, looks around and sees another worker at the end of the truck who happens to be looking at his peer on top of the truck. A third is watching them two and his immediate space. I remember I need to go to class and thus suspend further observation, thus becoming part of the observed.

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