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Monday July 10, 2000, 00:16

[ additionally: Tim ]

Once again my upstairs neighbors are bowling or doing gymnastics at way to late of an hour for me to even trudge upstairs to figure out what they're doing. I think, quite honestly, that if I were to go upstairs and knock on their door that they would kill me dead, right then and there. This is probably an irrational fear, but it is a fear that i have never the less.

I note now that I have been doing work this evening, after an enjoyable day outside. I recall once, a number of months ago when I thought that I would like to, once again, be in a situation where I had to stay up late hacking away at a computer. That this would be exciting, to an extent, or at least rewarding. It might make me feel alive. This is not the case, and instead I am munching on slices of free bread slathered with peanut butter wanting nothing more than to crawl onto my couch and go to sleep.


Right, so I crawled onto my couch and went to sleep.

I climbed a tree yesterday. Standing outside of a gallery, waiting for folks to show up to spin some music in a park, I met up with a new friends, whom I had met twice before, but you know how these things go. And we stood around and talked, and he hummed and sang some Magnectic Fields and Leonard Cohen songs. Oh how I dislike them. Regardless, he jumped up into a tree. I followed, naturally. Soon, there were three of us in the tree, pruning dead branches and talking about the Internet.

Interesting ideas, ones of the Internet and physical proximity, the convergence of virtual and real communities. Things I've been thinking of for a while, and things that I'm sure are out there already. Not particularly new ideas, but to finally meet someone who has the urge and the fire to make a go at it, and who is taking the summer to actually do so. Whether organizational boundaries can be crossed to make this an actual community remains to be seen. I've found that the more decentralized a system wants to be, the more organization it requires at one point in order to make all of the pieces work correctly, if that makes sense. At some phase of the evolution of a community, people will come in an see it as their own and will start to take ownership of it themselves. However, as everyone has a different agenda in life, without one central body, the community has the potential to fall apart under the weight of the thing it was trying to build in the first place.

Vague, right? The details really aren't that interesting. A community of people, bound by phyiscal space, teaching in the physical space, to advance a community, a body of information, on the Internet. A gallery owner needs a web page. There are people in her community who would like to help, if only they could find each other. Technology-based solutions are fine and good, but if you're not familiar with the web to begin with, pointing someone at an informational web site doesn't really make much sense. Instead, set up a meeting time on Sunday where people know they can come and present their problems, what they need. An open community for the community. A body of knowledge bounded by the people in your neighborhood.

That sounds great, and there are tons of people, I'm sure, who would want to help. But there needs to be someone in the middle keeping it all in check. If that doesn't happen, projects could get started and never get finished, people could come in and start charging for their services (or so something else counter to the fundamental mission of the project).

At this point the argument turns into a ramble because I don't have concrete answers. What I do know is that in my experience with communities, there needs to be someone, or a particular group of someones in the middle keeping the world of the project in check.

So I climbed a tree.

And then it started to rain, so we left the tree and headed over to where they were setting up the turntables to kick the phat beats (as it were) and it had stopped raining. But there was no electricity. So some of us went off to a different gathering. A community in the making. Along with an existing one. Food Not Bombs is a group dedicated to feeding people. Along with other non-violent political efforts. I know nothing more about them.

We sat. A man had a recorder. A homeless woman ended up with a kazoo. Later, people showed up with drums. I was living some sort of charity by proximity life. Standing so close to these people, out there, helping others. I ended up helping carry some food over to the table. I ate some. But did I feel it? Did I feel like what I was doing was making a difference?

I think the problem is that I view too many of these organizations as too far to the left to be tolerated. Not this one, in particular, but sitting in the park with the people who were hungry, who were homeless, I was reminded of my apartment, and my job (for all my complaining about it), and my rollerblades. I don't have blisters on my feet from not having shoes, and I don't say things like "I don't want to sleep in the park tonight because it's going to rain."

Then again, I am confused. I found myself thinking, not knowing anything of situations or circumstances, that this girl, with her piercings and her talk of movies and clubs, really had no right to be homeless. I also found myself thinking that I really have no idea what it means to be homeless, to be kicked out of your house. I also found myself realizing that the choices that I've made in my life are definite choices. I chose to live in an apartment with my spiffy DSL line and power that doesn't always but most of the time stays on and provides me with light and electricity for my toster. Wait a minute. Would I want to live another life? To the extreme of not having the luxuries of food clothing and shelter? Not at all. But who is to say that this isn't a life that some people should be living?

Oh right, the part of me that says that to be self-sufficient is the most important thing in life. That self-sufficiency IS the path to happiness. That I can't be happy if I am living off of someone else's charity.

This, coming from the kid who grew up not wanting for anything.

Kind of talking out my ass here, wanting to show that I did indeed spend my Sunday in a park with hippies and wasn't scared of them. Look at me, I'm so liberal!

But it's true. It's a different life. One with which I am not familiar. I was trying to educate myself, and in the process was hit with a major dose of cynicism. Such is life I suppose.

Finally, it is intesting to note that the beautiful girl I saw in the gallery who turned out to be a friend of the friend whom I had only recently re-met again (with whom I spent time in the tree speaking of things like community and the Internet) will be moving to New York in the fall to start school there.

New York exudes some sort of style and looks vibe. Ugly people need not apply or some such thing.

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