Tuesday, January 30, 2007

wind chill

it was only a six blocks walk last night but the windchill felt like it was biting my face off. i was so happy to walk inside my door and be home.

Monday, January 29, 2007

bus community

the bus is a community. the people you find on the bus are from all kinds of backgrounds and ages, and they share the ride together, and this sharing is a building of community. it works, this melting pot on wheels, it works almost all the time. problems are rare and stick out like a sore car.

the driver is the closest thing to an authority figure, but the driver does not have much pull when it is one against twenty or more people riding the bus. the community has a way of enforcing itself. riding a bus a little like looking back at how cities worked before cars and big police forces. a look can slow you down. a look can make a person behanve, if it is one person acting out and twenty others enforcing with their eyes.

because sometimes that car ego does come out on a bus ride. sometimes there is somebody on the bus who is better than everybody else, and they act that way, and they act the selfish fool. but there is everybody else on the bus, and even if you think you are an island you slow down a bit seeing all those other faces. drivers can barely see faces thru windshields. drivers share the world road with ghosts, while bus riders look around and can see so clearly that they are sharing the world with real people, people with coats and hats and ways of walking and language. and sometimes with cell phones.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Friday night we saw legendary experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger at the Walker Art Center. He showed several of his films and talked great vines of words from topic to topic that rarely had much to do with the question he was asked.

Two of his films from forty years ago deal with the fetishism and conformity that go with motor vehicles. Scorpio Rising looks at motorcycle fetishists while Kustom Kar Kommandoes does the same for those who polish cars.

In both films, the motor vehicle is the object of a young man's affection. The motor vehicle is his real lover, and something much more. Anger also puts this metal love into a context with images of skulls, Nazi flags and the KKK in the title of the second film. He is saying something about the facist like conformity at the heart of vehicle obsession. He is saying something about the sexual nature of motor vehicle obsession. These ideas can go a long way to explain why so many people cling to their cars in these days of news of global warming, and the great and destructive war for oil.

As we stood outside the Walker waiting for the bus, I couldn't help but notice how much all those cars do really look like skulls, with their smooth heads, their empty eyes and grins, their occiputs jutting out behind. In their appearance, cars really do look like a death wish. They are more than the wish of death for the cities that they bash their way thru, they have already killed them as meaningful people places - there is no more clear example of this than that spaghetti of streets and freeways right outside the Walker. What could be one of the loveliest parts of the city is made into a hell by the mouth of the Lowry tunnel, and the myriad lanes of the Hennepin-Lyndale mix-up.

Cars are a kind of global death wish too. With all the news about global warming and the war in Iraq, I can't figure out how so many people can keep driving so many cars, burning all that bloody oil to melt the world.

Anger made movies about how these vehicles represent an individual death wish. Scorpio Rising ends with the wipe-out of the biker and his wish is granted. But this is even a whole world we are death wishing now, and that is very sad.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

future downtown

i am a member of a committee that is reviewing the city's ten year transportation plan. it is an education to see the process and an honor to be involved and to give input, but it is also disappointing to me, as a resident of minneapolis, to see where it is going, or see where it is not going. thirty-five years ago, minneapolis was a world leader in developing new ways to think about transportation in a U.S. city, but it is not that way any more.

One of the goals of this planning process it to make transit the transportation mode of choice in the city. The plan will do many good things for transit, will allow double lane bus lanes on two downtown streets, and combine bus service on just a few streets. but nicollet mall, which was once a revolution in city transportation planning, is old transit mall technology, and getting down it on a bus takes forever, and that will not change for people like me who take local buses down it. We will also have to cope with frequent service disruptions due to events on the mall. and what the plan will not do is make walking, biking and transit more appealing than driving. cars are still king in this plan.

it is a great kansas city or fargo downtown plan, but it is not the plan of a city that aspires to be a world-class city. what world class cities are doing all over the world is limiting car transportation in their cores. they are widening sidewalks until there are no car lanes left on many of their downtown streets. this turns their downtowns into places where people want to be, where they do want to walk and stay and hang out. residents don't have to worry about car or bus fumes in these pedestrian only areas, they don't have to worry about getting hit by a car, they don't have to deal with the levels of crimes that comes in places where cars are king, and they can get to their city hearts by transit or by walking.

a downtown plan with a schedule for converting several streets into pedestrian and bike only spaces would be a truly visionary transportation plan for a world class city. this plan is blinded by dependence on cars, and is far behind the curve.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


at my neighborhood meeting the other night, the issue of parking came up, as it comes up so often. a developer was going to get so many parking spaces for a development, but thought they would need more. the people on the neighborhood board agreed that they would need more.

i have should said something but i stayed quiet, because i feel like i can sound like a broken record sometimes, but if we know anything, we do know that if you build good car infrastructure and lots of parking spaces, people will choose to get around by car. if you build good transit, and biking and walking options, people will use them. we also know that if you make it harder to get some place with one of those transportation modes, people will shift.

unfortunately, for us and for the polar bears, this city almost always chooses to put the resources into car transportation, into streets and parking lots, so many parking spaces, and this has made as thick as concrete the equation that transportation equals only cars.

it doesn't have to, and we don't have to clog up our neighborhood streets with more cars by making more pakring if we limit the parking and build up the alternatives. the polar bears are counting on us doing that. if we are so concrete or asphalt of heart that we won't, they are goners.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

friday afternoon stroll

yesterday afternoon i took a walk to pick up a print order for work. i walked from where i work, on main street under the central avenue bridge, to washington avenue north in the warehouse district, where the print shop is. it is a walk thru the heart of the city, much of the walk along the mississippi river, which has to be one of the loveliest parts of the center of the city, in the center of its urbanness, and along that walk i ran into one other pedestrian until i got to washington avenue, where there were a few more.

it was 1:30 in the afternoon and a crisp day with temperatures in the teens, but it was very sunny, brightly sunny reflecting off the snow, and i thought that if i were in chicago or so many other cities i would be seeing so many other pedestrians on such a walk. in minneapolis, on my walk, i saw lots of cars, and they were going fast and close to me and i kept on thinking how vulnerable i was. if only one of those cars went just a little off kilter - there i would be - smush.

they say there is safety in numbers, and there are reasons that people say this. if i was not the only pedestrian, but one of many, i would feel much safer. the cars could be going just as fast, and just as close, but i would not feel as vulnerable. all the pedestrians would also probably cause those cars to drive slower because of all that people movement, and the patterns, all that would make the cars feel faster, so they would slow down for the situation.

but that wasn't the case, and i mostly walked alone on what for me was a lovely early afternoon. and i did get to my destination in one piece. i picked up the box of newsletters i had to pick up and walked a few blocks to catch a bus. it's a little awkward walking with that big box so i took the bus back to work. there were lots of other people on that bus. there was some safety in number in there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

travelling matte

i saw a documentary on the animator malcolm mclaren. the film featured a clip of him talking about how he developed his travelling matte idea, back in the 1940's. i have adapted his idea to my computer and made some forward travelling mattes of landscapes made out of cars cut from magazine car ads. i spent last night making just a few. it is time consuming. these will be the images in the windshield of the driving dj, livius.

in real transit news, it has been cold but i have been lucky making transfers, and haven't had to wait too long out in the cold. because our drier died, on monday i rode the train out to Sears at the Mall of America and picked out a new drier and scheduled delivery. there are closer stores that have appliances to me, but most of them are hard to get to on transit, so i chose a farther destination that was easier for me to get to.

Friday, January 12, 2007


i went out last night, and talked to friends and heard music and saw movies behind that music. and when i go out i have to get back home, and because i do not drive, and because i did not take my bicycle, that meant that i either had to walk or ride the bus. i rode the bus home.

some people tell me that they would ride transit here more if we had a better transit system, and that would be nice, but i do find that i get around pretty well on the transit system we have here with a few accommodations. the first one was just to be a little aware of what the transit schedules were. it took me two buses to get me from dinkytown to home, and both of those buses were only running every half an hour, so if i didn't make a quick transfer i would be waiting a long time outside on a cold night. it also meant that i left not at the end of the show, or even at a natural break, but when i would have to leave to catch the bus.

people are always making accommodations for their car travel, so you inevitably have to make some kind or another if you choose another mode of transportation. so i rode the bus and shared the ride with a few others. everytime i hear somebody talk about their car, or see them get into a car, i see a polar bear sliding into the water and into death. for me it is worth leaving a show a little early for that.

and it didn't take me that much longer to get home than it would have if i had gone by car. my waits for buses were about five minutes each, and the bus was warm and i could read a couple pages on each short leg of my ride home. and i also had a few blocks of good healthy walking in the trip. now what could beat that that doesn't involve an inordinate amount of global warming?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


the bus i had stood outside to wait for had broken down downtown, i heard, so i had almost a half hour wait for the next one last night. but the time went rapidly for i had a nice long talk with a friend who was also waiting for that bus.

the view of the skyline across the river was stunning in the dark evening, the cold was cold but not so bad, and the talk was nice. the only bad thing about that half hour was the traffic speeding by just a few feet from where we were standing on our feet. if you step back and think about it, it was really quite a dangerous situation to be in, only the slightest error in one of those tons or more of car and we would have been smush, but it didn't happen this time.

the price of gasoline is going down, which will help out alot to make global warming worse. and i spend a few hours last night making drawings for my new animation project.

Monday, January 8, 2007

bus and books

i rode the bus on a couple of long trips Saturday. the bus was my library, my reading room with amazing walls of transformation.

transit and reading have been linked for me from an early age. when and where i first started taking the bus, in Billings Montana, when i was in seventh grade, i took the bus downtown to go to the library. this was my saturday routine: i would stand at the bus stop and read, i would read on the bus on the ride into downtown, i would go to the library and read there, and also eye the shelves with all the thousands and millions of volumes that i had yet to read, and i would read on the bus ride home.

on saturday, this saturday, in my home now, i tore thru a long book on my bus rides. i was disappointed that i finished it too early, i finished it with one long leg of bus ride left.

transit is a great place for reading, it is a place where you can fall into yourself as the world surrounds you in all its territory and people. the wonders of the book i am reading and of the outside and the bus inside all play roles in the drama of the book of bus, and the bus of book.

i can really only fatasize about what the trip is like for a car driver. but i do remember my small car driving experience, the few drives i took during driver's education class in high school. what i remember well is the role that faith, not reason, played in the whole experience. you drive by looking forward and having faith that your car will go where your eyes are looking. you grip the wheel and you have faith that you do not jump the curb, or run into that car in the lane beside you. you have faith that you will go where you are looking and it all seems crazy to me today, just like it seemed to me back then when i was actually doing it.

the fantasy faith that i would rather have is one of falling into that interesting book while riding or waiting for a bus, and not that of hoping and dreaming that i do not crash my ton of car.

Friday, January 5, 2007

20 years

i do not so much remember stories, as in he did that or she did that. i remember a few images, as stark and formal as a photograph. but mostly i remember feelings, the particular emotion i felt at a particular day or place or with a certain person. these are the strongest transmissions that break their way thru the brick of time.

it was twenty years ago, not today, but yesterday, or a couple days before yesterday. it was january 2nd or the 3rd, i don't exactly know, but i do know that it was 1987. i rode the greyhound bus to town, to minneapolis, my new home, my new old home, the place of my return. i arrived at the old greyhound station, which is no longer there, and the place where i spent my first thirty minneapolis minutes, a bus stop bench, was on a block that has since died and been reborn.

i must have had things, i must have had a suitcase or two of clothes and notebooks to last me out my first few months in minneapolis, but i don't remember them. i remember myself, and the feeling i had.

i left the bus station and had just a couple blocks to walk to the corner where i was to catch the city bus that would take me to my friend Greg's house. i was almost at the bus stop when i saw the bus go by. i saw the back of it all lit up, and i knew i would have to wait a while for the next one. it was six o'clock in the morning, it was january, but not so cold, and it was black with growing lights, but still quite quiet. it might have been sunday morning.

i waited that half hour sitting on a bus stop bench at 6th and Hennepin. Shinder's News store was then on that corner. I saw all the magazines inside and the neon light. i sat on that bus stop bench for a half an hour, or maybe it was an hour, waiting for the next number 14.

what i remember the strongest is what i felt at that moment. i was a little frightened, for this was the biggest place i had ever tried to live in, this was a big city to me, i had no idea then really how big it was. but i also had a stronger feeling: the feeling that i was ready for anything, i was ready for my fate, and it was going to happen to me, and i was going to let it happen.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

mid night wake up

it is so warm these days. the furnace was on very little last night. i heard it start up and stop, and i heard a car go by. i was laying wide awake and thinking about global warming. once that starts, it is hard to fall back asleep.

these have been very warm days for january in minnesota. it is comfortable, but it is frightening.

i lay awake last night thinking about what we were doing to this planet, and it just kept on hitting me hard and hard and keeping me awake. who can fall asleep with that horrible thing.

i thought about global warming all nine times last year i rode in a car. it made me a little nervous about it, every time. it also made me think about all the people who drive every day, or take multiple car trips daily. do they think about global warming, about all the greenhouse gas they are spewing out when they take those trips. do they even connect their own transportation habits with the climate of the whole world.

i finally did fall asleep, only to wake up to the clock radio telling me about a car bomb that went off in Bagdad. several people died. that's another car connection that i am happy to distance myself from. i'll stay out of a car today. getting in one would be my own part of that car bombing. driving a car would be too much of my own global warming.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


there is no such thing as new year but i'll still borrow it for a reason. it's only tuesday morning, but it is time to start a new thing.

here is my story, so old and so bugs. here is my story of life and animation. will i walk or will i take the bus, and what advertising will i cut to pieces on this day - that is a story in words and in reality, of making some grunts from the markings and the spaces.

last year it was nine car rides the whole year. i tried to minimize it and this might have been the all time low number for my life. mostly i get by with walking and biking and mass transit, and that is the locomotion in my life. i don't know if i'll be able to go so low with car rides this year, but i'll try to avoid them as strong as i can. global warming and so many other reasons are the reason, you know.

and i start up a new animation project. still working on the script. still working on starting up the thing. have characters drawn, have thought about the paper sets. of making layers of near and far go by, hopefully i will say more in the future.