Virtual Franklin Ave.

Huge things happened this week in the world: Instagram now has video, Kanye West’s new album “Yeezus” debuted… as did his child, the NBA finals, hockey playoffs, government NSA news, James Gandolfini’s sudden death, the season finale of “The Voice,” and we shan’t forget, Paula Deen’s lawsuit/image debacle. – Remember that my job involves a lot of Twitter trolling.

If you’re reeling from this weeks headlines, wondering what you will do now that a major sports series is over, wondering what to take a video of to impress all your friends (start choreographing), take a deep breath, put your worries aside, and procrastinate with this:

Come walk with me, come walk, don’t walk away. (Sung to the tune of “Come Fly with Me”)

Because so much of my day at work is spent staring at the magic Mac computer screen and clicking and emailing, posting, linking, re-sizing images, reading news, scrolling through galleries, I like the realness of a walk. I like the fact that something other than my fingers are moving. So much of our days consist of artificiality that some nature, some concrete interaction, some actual resistance from the real world is refreshing. What is social media but a clever tool to relate these real experiences with others? It is a great medium to do just that, but at some point, to be interesting, we must EXPERIENCE those real experiences. To continue, you could spend your entire live “re-blogging,” “re-posting,” and “liking,” but that is nowhere near as fulfilling as creating the organic experience. Be that first blog or post. Do something “likeable.” Better, do it and don’t care if it is likeable.

I digress.

Walking. To become familiar with a place, I love to walk. The walker can soak things in, can see things, feel things, hear things. I love to run a new place too, but that’s entirely different. The runner owns the street.  I feel like I know the place. I feel like a local when I run. Running gives a lends of superiority. Running creates a confidence, I find. Walking is peace.

Let’s walk down the artery of Crown Heights together, shall we? This is a virtual linking of arms. Franklin Avenue is the heart of Crown Heights or at least the heart of commercial Crown Heights. Here is where we find the laundromat, bars, cheese shop, coffee shops, grocers, organic grocers, snack grocers, green grocers, yoga collective, restaurants, fro-yo, vintage shops, and the tae kwon do studio. Duh.

I like the street best in the mornings or a dusk. It’s quiet and peaceful in the morning and buzzing with activity during the night. The best part of this street is that it so reflects what is going on in the neighborhood. Young people abound, young parents, little kids, all demographics, hipsters, gangsters (as cliche as the terms are), fashion forward, fashion oblivious. People yell across the street, cars honk at people they know. Bartenders wave out from behind their bar.

This nucleus (except that it’s long and thin… maybe mitochondria?) contains all types. It is alive. It is ironic. I like the names of the stores: Cheesemongers, Little Zelda, Bob&Betty’s, etc. There are no chain places. It’s all local, I think.

Franklin runs the distance between the 2/3 subway stop and the C subway stop. It is it’s own highway of sorts, but there are never many cars. More it is a flow of people, a daily place. This is the heart, and to walk it is to be the blood coursing through it. It also is a visual demarcation of the change happening in the Heights. Its Southern-most end is the most developed. In the morning when I walk North to the C, the stores grow sparse and the windows are boarded up.

My desire to walk is probably the hangover from Italy, where it’s a given. Thank you for indulging an addict. (Also, big thank you to anyone who doesn’t mug me when I’m walking around oblivious and staring up at the sky.) Walking is the unwinding or the winding up to the inactivity that sadly is a huge reality of the working world. As “plugged-in” as we are, its invaluable to cut cords. Look at me even now, “writing” – writing isn’t a physical activity anymore. I’m typing, but that sounds much less romantic. Technology flourishes to all of our benefit. It increases productivity, economy, creativity, interaction, distribution, etc. But, at the same time, it limits the realness of that act. I’m not saying drop your phone, but drop your phone.

Move the feet every now and then. I walk and try to understand the place I am. (Maybe I’m eighty years old.) Activity, physicality, takes a place and builds it into muscle memory. Is that 4D? I don’t know. Having the experience, slowly, forces the issue. In that time you make up your mind about what you think of a place, space, situation, or people. Storefronts, trees, graffiti, ads, and faces course through the city and enhance it.

And then, yeah, go for it, make a video of yourself walking, if you want. 


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