September 12th, 2013
Bass is rattling the framed painting on the wall next to me. I can also feel it on the second story banister I’m leaning on. The low-end of the music in the next room is all that is to be heard of it, mids and his are replaced by the din of the crowd passing through this place. I’ve got a great viewpoint here and I don’t want to move. I’m overlooking the main staircase of the building where most of the foot traffic heads up and down to explore one of the many rooms here.
Each person looks different from the other; a hillbilly, a hipster, gangster, gamer, artist, athlete, cute, quirky, hot, homely, rich and rugged. The diversity of style, age and ethnicity is almost too perfectly balanced. Everything about this city seems a bit too perfect. Even the amount of imperfections is too perfect.
Everything that any kind of person would need or want. Business opportunities, tourism, appreciation for the arts, drugs to waste away with, schools to grow. No reason for rebellion, nothing to complain about, no excuses to not bring out the best in oneself. With little to no external problems to blame for one’s shortcomings, one is left with individual drive and to accept one’s own ability.
Although I’m amazed at the amount of individuality floating around this hallway, I feel like stepping outside for some air. I move slowly through the labyrinth of unique gallery spaces showcasing the talent of the town. As I do often when I’m alone in new environments, I make eye contact with the people I pass by. People are quiet good at pretending they don’t see or simply looking away to avoid any invitation for conversation.
I make my way to the outside world and step into the cool late summer air. A couple hundred people crowd the sidewalk near the entrance huddled around in small separated groups. I don’t spot anyone with inviting looks so I gravitate to the outer edge of the social bubbles to sit down by a wall.
Now I’m in a different world again, poverty like I’ve never seen in America. Drugged out filthy homeless people stumble up and down the sidewalks muttering to themselves or talking shit to passersby. Some of the more entrepreneurial of them go group to group selling reprints of native art. A woman 10 feet to my right inhales smoke from a sketchy looking glass pipe. I slowly start to notice scattered used needles tossed away on the floor. Scantily clad, thin women walk up and down the street on their own business venture to most likely acquire some meth.
I am sitting where two storms collide. Homeless street folk wander around popping their heads into tight-knit social bubbles asking for cigarettes and money. Prostitutes linger in vain, hoping to see a piece of these youngster’s parent’s hard-earned cash. I catch individuals look outside of their little worlds for a second to steal glances at their deepest fears manifested into lifestyles.
They have every opportunity and resource available to them, the only challenge is their own mind, perhaps the most intimidating obstacle to face. They make sure to maintain distance from the failures passing by in fear of catching whatever they might have.
My train of thoughts, suppositions and assumptions is interrupted when a homeless man takes a seat next to me against the wall. He has a beer in his hand and seems joyous. We talk for a while about life, I tell him about my motorcycle trip and he goes on about the various motorcycles he used to have when he was young. I’m happy to have some sort of social contact for the first time since I’ve been at this party. Usually there’s at least something to connect with everyone about.
He spots some of his friends passing by and bids me farewell. I’ve been sitting here for a bit so I mosey on over toward the party again to check out some art. This whole three-story building is dedicated to showcasing local artists. One room of life-like painting, the next of geometrical patterns with neon blaring colors, abstract, concrete, paint, pen, digital renderings, video, sculpture, photos.
The mediums are just as different as the personality types which produced them and the pieces are just as different as all the sub-personalities that each personality type has. I stop briefly to look at most as I slowly wander about this diverse world of little worlds. Patterns and colors of all kinds mold from the abstract world to the real world to the fake world. Everything is loud and quiet at the same time. Bass is pumping through the ceiling from the dance floor upstairs, conversations among friends bounce off every wall and mix to a constant hum. I can’t hear any one word and nothing is directed toward me, it’s a loud silence.
I’m surrounded by beautiful things and beautiful people but I feel alone here. I’m attracted by the art but feel distanced by the high prices set by the self-entitled artists. The costumes that everybody disguises themselves in are artistic barriers too. Striving hard to be admired but careful to not let anybody too close.
A vulnerable and real world hiding within the spotless nature, futuristic skyline and groomed gardens. A quiet on the loud dance floor, the numbing swirls of smoke in crack pipes on the streets. Discontent behind smiles, meaninglessness within the mediums. A shot at perfection.