November 24, 2007

The Political Equator 2

Champaign, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, and then back again. I was really tired when I got home.
The idea of this event was truly fascinating: “an exploration of the intersection between sociopolitical and natural domains, foregrounding the notion of collective territory, but also a territory of collaboration that transgresses hemispheric boundaries. At the core of such trans-hemispheric sociopolitical and economic dynamics is the conflict between transcontinental borders and the natural and social ecologies they interrupt and seek to erase.” So many interesting folks came together for this mobile symposium, but the end result was disappointing. It took a lot of energy just to move 80-100 people around, and the logistics of being able to hear, have time to pee and eat, and still have time for dialogue were too much. So maybe Political Equator 3 will allow for more time, more silence, more women, and less strutting. The highpoints for me were the show that Nick Brown and Ava Bromberg put together at LACE, “Just Spaces,” and then the bus tour of Tijuana, which was a city I had never seen before. But I came home still wanting to know about the community of San Ysidro, just on the border, and what actually might be happening with the Tijuana River and the watershed in that area. There were no specifics; just a lot of architects and artists networking in what Sarah Kanouse rightly called “transnational intellectual stars.”
On the flight home I read T.C. Boyle’s Tortilla Curtain, a chilling and powerful depiction of undocumented workers nose-to-nose with the wealthy folks who live off their labor.

November 19, 2007

Teddy, Tacos and Talk

One man after another, talking and talking. The tacos were fantastic and Teddy Cruz must be thirty times more tired than I am. What energy and passion that man puts out, bilingually and all over the map. At the start of our journey from LA, Teddy noted our tendency to “hide beneath weird complexity.” It just stayed complex for the next four days…fascinating, frustrating, and fragmented. Probably no other way it could have gone, with 120 people trailing after Teddy’s enthusiasms. Metro, train, trolley, walking, buses, and more walking. Definitely the weirdest for me was the HaudenschildGarage in La Jolla. Suzanne Lacy said she collected “language”–phrases like “archipelago of enclaves” and “critical insertion.” I met Ava Bromberg, New York-based urban planner Al Wei, CCA architecture student John Manzo, Tijuana architect Rene Peralta (who contributed to Here is Tijuana), Emily Scott of the LA Urban Rangers, Christina McPhee, Christina Ulke of the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, many of Suzanne Lacy’s students, and enjoyed time with Sarah Kanouse, Nick Brown, Monica Mayer and Suzanne. Almost as a corrective to the train ride from Los Angeles to San Diego, and the party that night in La Jolla (which was over the top), was my bus ride across LA on Sunday, on the Number 33 city bus along Venice Blvd. It felt everyday, and slow…19.62 miles according to Mapquest.