I think I logged more hours in Williamsburg this weekend than I have over the past 10 years. My pal Christina from Glowlab puts on this Conflux festival every year - a three-day event which brings the art + technology + urban spaces crowd together. Over Fri + Sat + Sun, I logged about 20 miles (pedometer time!) walking around Williamsburg, going to lectures, meeting up with people.
But wait, "wasn't this supposed to be your last weekend out in Montauk?" you ask. Well, yes. But the weather sucked. Well, I thought it was going to suck - thanks for nothing, you stoopid Apple weather widget! - which forecasted a monsoon on Friday and predicted nothing but sun like 12 hours later.
No regrets though, Conflux was rad (and I left Grellan with some quality alone-time with the ladeeeez out in Montauk).
So, what did I hit up? Friday night were a few videos on street art followed up by a talk by Regine from we-make-money-not-art.com (best. website. ever, btw) which ran through some of her favorite (read: crazy) altering-public-space projects.
Buuuttt Saturday, Jake.D and the guys from Graffiti Research Lab threw a street walk through Williamsburg pointing out some of the best street art in the borough. While I'm definitely aware of a lot of this stuff (especially in lower Manhattan - stickers, stencils, ad hoc sculptures), I don't really know the story behind most of it, which is why the tour was pretty rad.
If you've got a sec, check out some of the cooler stuff that we saw / was mentioned:
+ Street signs in love (around NYC)
+ Street sign zeotrope (around the corner from my apt)
+ Mark Jenkins' fake (often homeless) people (NYC)
+ Two interviews w/ Swoon (#1, #2) who is responsible for most of the everyday-people stencils you see around NYC
+ The Bubble Project, fill-in-the-blanks graffiti on NYC ads (brilliant, btw)
+ LED throwies (graffiti meets p.comp tech)
+ Hacked construction sign (Italy)
+ Banksy on the Israel / Palestinian wall
+ Amnestry International "push" campaign
By the way, if this is your thing, start reading this blog.
Jake.D = superstar. The tour was packed.
Most of the stuff we checked out was in the open - stencils on walls, murals on buildings, hacked street signs - though at one point we traversed down an embankment, over a fence and down this sketchy plank to check out some work behind an old waterfront warehouse.
A lot of this stuff just blends in. Here's Jake.D on the megaphone, with some REVS work in the background. I think those who think of graffiti or street art as being limited to scribbled tags are missing the point. If you can think of graffiti as ads (only advertising the artist instead of a product), it gets a little more interesting. This one guy welded together a metal version of his tag and then welded it to the top of this gated entryway. And you'd never see it unless you were looking for it. That's pretty rad.
The walking tour ended on North 7th and Bedford. As we were wrapping up, I spied a handful of dudes in business casual attire, sticking out like sore thumb in the asymeterial haircut epicenter of the world that is Williamburg. Turns out it was the kids from Bates (ha!) all crunked up and half-way through Jay Lively's Bachelor Party weekend! How random. Jay on the right, Grossman at 12:00, Tyler on the left looking like he's all decked out, en route to his nephew's First Communion.
Post walking tour, I hit up Rock Star Bar with some Conflux kids: Jeff + Emily (newlyweb ITP pals), Stan + Alexis (the stars behind Semapedia), Ray from Flavorpill and good 'ol YP. We dined on mac + cheese and pulled pork and threw down in an Air Hockey Tournement of Champions (me = 2nd place!)
... and then walked over the Williamsburg bridge to get home (Youngna says: "7,308 feet = 1.38 miles each way!!").
Thougts on my first walk over the bridge? People ride their bikes too fast. There's only one 10 foot wide pathway for both bikers and walkers, for people going into Manhttan and out to Brooklyn. And on this path you have people walking in packs (like us, walking back from Brooklyn) and people walking side-by-side and people pushing strollers, etc. And then you have people on their bikes who are just *flying* across the bridge (which is easy to do since there's a downward slope on each side. I got on Youngna's bike to try it out and before I knew it I was going like 800 mph.
So, people ride their bikes too fast.
While me + YP + Stan + Alexis we were walking back, we heard this crazy screech behind us. When we tured around we saw this girl on her bike just PLOW INTO this girl who was walking - blindside style. SMACK! Nothing happened to the girl on the bike (I don't even think she fell off) but the girl who was walking got tossed in the air and landed head first onto the pavement, knocked out cold. We ran over and tried to wake her up, but she was out. The crash even knocked one of her shoes off (!!). We called 911 (twice!) and waited like 15 minutes before two cops - even though they six saw us huddling over this girl, holding her head - just *sauntered up* like they were on some Sunday Stroll.
Thoughts on my first 911 call? First of all they put me on hold for like two minutes. And when I told them there was a crash on the bridge, they transerred me to some EMS service. I told them specifically where we were (on the bridge, closer to Williamburg, pedestrian path) and they still took 800 years to send anyone. And someone showed up only after I called *again* to remind them that we were sitting here with an unconscious girl. What if she was seriously hurt? Then what about the 15 minute delay? Or the cops just lazying strolling along? That's lame.
The most helpful people? Everyone on the bridge who was not a cop. The one pseudo-doctor guy who had medical gloves and half-knew what to do and the bicycle messenger who rode to the end to try to find an on-duty cop.
ps: Me + YP walked over the brige (again) later that night and ran into the two cops (again). They said the girl was okay.
Annnnd Saturday night, yeah, we walked over the brige again and walked over to the Conflux after-party at Barcade. Townsend kicked my ass on the Track and Field. I was once a legend on the NES version, but on the arcade version I couldn't even qualify for the long jump. I suck.
Anyway, Barcacde to some random house party (Josh.D going away party? A gig at Apple? Congrats, dude.) to...
... Motor City, Backroom and Every Other Too Crowded Bar Packed with Upper East Side DBags in the LES before winding up at Lotus Lounge.
Ann and Sarah arrived via $40 peddycab ride (from the meatpacking district?). No one leaves without an Alex + Karen tattoo (wedding recap coming soon... I know, I know).
Street art walking tour + two trips over the bridge = 13.94 miles logged on Saturday. (whew)
And that's it. Kind of. Back to Brooklyn on Sunday for the Wooster Collective lecture, a talk by the kids behind the Ms. Rockaway Armada project and Adam Greenfield's talk. Nerd city, yes, but awesome.
Looking for something to do *next* weekend? Check out the Come Out and Play festival, all Big Games all day long (organized by some of the PacManahttan alumn, btw).