Five years ago, Douglas Paulson and I agreed to meet halfway, literally. I was living in Serbia; he was living in Denmark, and our halfway point turned out to be in the middle of a lake in the southern Czech Republic. We didn’t really know each other very well – had some great conversations through email, and met briefly at a show - and we agreed to have no other form of communication whatsoever until we met at noon on the agreed date at the exact halfway point between his starting point and mine.
The project was a recipe for an adventure: a literal and purposeful misread of an accepted colloquialism.
Five years later, we decided to meet halfway again, but this time we invited others. This changed things, a lot. It was still a recipe for adventure, but now it also involved individual responsibility to the group. Each new person changed the location of the meeting place, by halfway, each time. So, agreeing to meet halfway NO MATTER WHAT (we put it in all caps) affected us all.
Our center point was in New Jersey, in between Cheesequake State Park, and some weird concentric circles a quarter mile in diameter. The exact spot was wedged between a few rivers in what turned out to be a large, stinky, soggy marsh. I had printed out dozens of satellite photos of the area, and saw that there were two main approaches. The South approach looked beautiful but difficult – a lovely walk down a closed road, two river crossings, and a quarter mile slog through the swamp. The North approach looked ugly but easy, more walking, no water crossing, past that weird concentric ring thing.
For me, it was a frustrating experience.
The rules started to come undone almost immediately. In fact, of our group of nine, only three people strictly adhered to our agreement, to meet halfway NO MATTER WHAT (with no contact before that halfway point) – and one of those had the wrong halfway point. Three people drove up together, and we spoke on the phone as they arrived, breaking our agreement 20 minutes into the adventure. At that point, I had my gear tied to an inflatable duck, and was about to dive in the water to swim it across the river, when I started to rationalize:
“They’re only ten minutes behind me. They probably have a boat. I’ll go get my boots and bug repellant and paddle across with them.” But instead of a boat to cross the river, they showed up with a dog and a battery-operated Casio keyboard. It was a great surprise, and led to some sublime moments, but sure wasn’t the boat I had hoped for!
Meet Halfway Again - New Jersey Superfund edition - a Wes Anderson moment from Christopher Robbins on Vimeo.
I won’t got into all the details, but long story short, we talked ourselves out of crossing the river, and attempted the northern “Easy/Ugly” route, which turned out to be a seemingly impossible slog through the polluted swamp around a Federal Superfund remediation site.
None of us made it. But that is not what frustrated me. What bothered me was that few of us really tried to do what we had agreed - to meet halfway NO MATTER WHAT - with no contact before that point. The strength of this project, I realized, is faith in, and a responsibility to, the other, in the absolute absence of any other information. If you are alone, you assume the others are there, and you keep trying. And when you are scared, and alone, and lost, finding that halfway point is the only way to get to the others.
But I don’t want to reduce this “game” into some macho conquest, and I know that judging it by whether you reach the middle point misses much that is more important.
The magic of this “game” is a paradox: you take responsibility for yourself, alone, and that is your responsibility to the group. When I think about it I realize it has some unpleasant metaphorical ramifications. Together we are weaker than alone – the libertarians are right.
I will finish by saying that I realize I am talking mostly about what did not happen - I am sure others will talk about what actually did take place, because that was something worthwhile in its own right.
I just wish I had jumped in that river. I think Dillon would have crossed if someone had been on the other side.
walk alone to halfway lunch…
Moira Williams <email@example.com>
Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 5:53 PM
To: Douglas Paulson <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Christopher Robbins <email@example.com>
can we travel with another halfwayer or are we to do it alone Dillon and i are thinking of biking or walking together.
Douglas Paulson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM
To: Moira Williams <email@example.com>
Cc: Christopher Robbins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
moira, i’ll answer with a very pedestrian poem:
the only wrong way
to meet half way
is not to
trust your gut.
Moira Williams <email@example.com>
Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 12:41 AM
To: Douglas Paulson <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Christopher Robbins <email@example.com>
Severe thunderstorms, damaging wind, hail… and our halfway point is a river delta/ tidal marsh… um…
Christopher Robbins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM
7:15am: Morning. Eggs. Coffee. Print the maps
8:01am: Rush hour E. Commuters. Armed men wiht dogs and Christians in the station telling the truth about halloween
9:13am: gridlock. driving was a bad idea.
10:00am: collect nick & keyboard; christina & truman
to find myself speeding through Staten Island, late. Traffic. I shouldn’t have backtracked in morning rush hour to pick up Nick and Christina after renting a car.
I carefully planned for our last halfway meeting. I arrived at Nowhere in the Czech Republic early to find the point, scouting it the day before. I carried a raft from Copenhagen. All to meet someone I barely knew no matter what. How could I be running late now?
I think we’re going to make it.
15 minutes before noon, we’re parking the car. Walking down the trail, it’s beautiful. Nick’s preparing the keyboard. Truman’s off the leash, sniffing and peeing on everything.
There’s Chris. He’s coming the other direction, headed away from the halfway point.
We’ll never make it.
But isn’t it just over there? We convince him to turn around - if he gets back to his car and drives to the northern route, he definitely won’t be on time. We walk to the end of the path. There’s a surprisingly deep waterway blocking us. We debate:
How to cross?
Whether to cross at all?
Swim the whole way?
There are four of us and a dog. We need to decide something, and decide together.
If we were doing this alone, we’d just swim. We’d get there because we’d have to.
But isn’t this what civilization is? People getting together to help each other make smarter decisions?
(It seemed wise at the time, but now I kind of regret it.)
to find that this isn’t a picnic in a state park. It’s a wetlands, and we’re running late. I feel dumb for not thinking it through better.
(txt messages sent to Christina & Truman, waiting at car)
1:33pm: Off course need to get to other side of landfill past dead fox
2:00pm: Kunar dropped out. New halfway. headed to car.
2:07pm: Impass: superfund site.
We’re taking the other route.
We’re walking down a path.
The giant fenced-off mound is a dump.
We’re walking around it.
We hear from Dillon: He’s near.
The path takes us away from our point.
We decide to follow a stream that takes us the right direction.
The stream bed is bright red.
There’s trash everywhere.
Trash in the ground.
Trash in the trees.
Trash on my toes.
We need to decide something, and decide it together:
Backtracking: I see the sign on the fence says Global Landfill Superfund Site
My toes and ankles itch.
Am I imaging it?
Dillion is near, he’s giving up also.
We can’t make it there, and hear that Kunar isn’t coming. We walked through a Superfund Site, got Superfund water and mud on our toes because Kunar’s participation took us there, and now he’s not even coming. I curse him. We’re trying to get to the wrong point.
Back to the car
We need to get to the right point.
Dillon’s on the side of the road. He gets in, he looks like a mess. He got a lot closer to the would-be halfway point before giving up.
We drive for 45 minutes, and find Moira at the real halfway point. It’s an abandoned gas station She has a loaf of bread full of crickets (Truman eats one). We plant the flag, and are delighted to see a tiny diner across the street.
We go in.
Order piles of food, and wash ourselves in the sink.
At the table we discuss for hours:
What we would’ve done if we were all alone.
If that even matters.
What’s the most important thing here? The gathering, or the location?
Chris is right: if we were alone the location would’ve been the most important goal. But I love the gathering most of all. I celebrate our collective failure to meet in the middle. I’m glad we didn’t swim the Superfund River.
This table is our true middle meeting point.
</ END DOUG>
I took the bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It left every half hour or so and I caught one that put me a little behind where I wanted to be time-wise. That morning at home, when I started really studying the map I realized it was going to require more intense navigation and planning than I had previously supposed, so I started to look for my compass. And I couldn’t find it. This really bothered me, and it still bothers me, because that damn compass never turned up. At any rate, the place where I got off (Old Bridge Park and Ride) was the first stop. Pretty sweet so far. Chris talks about the long boring route and the short scenic route above. I knew I wanted to do the long boring route, partly because I like walking, and partly because I really did NOT want to cross a river. It looked like there were some inroads to Cheesequake park from the North side which could lead me to our spot without necessitating a river crossing. Plus I figured everyone else would go the south route and it could be cool to show up on the other side. I got out of the bus, walked down the highway a ways and into a small neighborhood development. I had seen something on the satellite map image- a possible way to get into the green area that extended off the park proper. I was excited to see that indeed, at the back the parking lot, in one of the housing blocks was an opening.
Taking this for about a quarter mile lead to a dead end. As soon as I reached the dead end I got a call from my wife, saying her mother had just been pretty badly hurt, and would be going to the hospital (she’s ok, recovering). This began to give a menacing and somehow “wrong” tone to my expedition. I stepped up on a noll I saw this below.
The dump in the distance, and a road– looked promising. Cutting through a small forested area got me onto a network of trails and forest roads that I assumed was on private property. I assumed this because there was a big sign that said “NO TRESPASSING PRIVATE PROPERTY”. All seemed to be going well now. Using the compass on my iphone and its satellite map (great reception in the area!) I stuck close to the route that I had hoped for. Walking around here, you are essentially following forested areas that are surrounded by impassable salt marsh. It would be virtually impossible to slog through the marsh for more than say a hundred feet as far as I’m concerned. When the forested area came up against the marsh, I turned back and hoped to find a more another, more circuitous trail. I ended up followed a gas line that made a long thin stretch of solid ground extending through the salt marsh– an island essentially. At one point I was confronted with a sizeable puddle and used 2 sticks to extend by jumping ability– a kind of pole vault maneuver that I was very proud of.About 5 minutes ‘til the appointed meeting time of high noon my path came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the salt marsh. The trail stopped dead on the other side of the river from our goal. After some pacing around, I texted Chris to see if he wanted any info on my status. Half an hour later I heard back with an infuriatingly reply. “See you halfway”. I assumed this meant they were at the goal, and renewed my search for the best way to get across the river and ventured onto an area of exposed salt flat. At that point a huge thundercloud began looming. I covered all of my food etc in plastic bags. I climbed up in a tree to see if I could see the others on the other side. Nothing. It started raining. I was beginning to feel a bit panicked, and somewhat perturbed at this situation that was beginning to seem unsafe. I looked around more, headed off at all passes by the river or salt marsh. Then I thought, “It would suck to go this far and not connect, I’m going to try wading this damn river”.I got in the water up to my waste, stuck a long pole in the middle and realized it was much deeper that I was tall. At that point I officially gave up on meeting halfway. I couldn’t do a full out swim with my backpack. The bag wasn’t super light, and it had things that could not get wet (phone etc.) I slogged out of the river and headed back for the forested island trail. I got lost and couldn’t find the entrance back for about 10 long minutes which weighed on my nerves as it continued to rain. When I got back on the trail, I had some relief in the fact of having a made-up mind. I was resolved to head back in failure. I texted Chris with the message that my particular end of the game was up if he wanted to talk. A few seconds later the phone rang, and I heard their side of the story. We connected about an hour later in the neighborhood I had entered through.
For me one of the beautiful things about art is that it can be a mechanism by which to honor the arbitrary, the chance, and the illogical. And that by allowing for such things to happen practical and/or spiritual benefits can emerge. This was one reason I participated in this project. It just so happened that this particular assignment could not have been more perfect for testing the will– the willingness– of the participant to follow the arbitrary/chance-based art-rules. When things got rough I felt a disappointment in myself and vexation at the organizers for setting up a nebulous situation with binding language: “meet there ‘no matter what”. While I was walking I had begun to feel unsure that the creation of art was as important as the maintenance of personal safety– or to put in more precisely, I was not sure that I was personally at a point in my practice where I needed to put the two in a direct (or opposing) relationship. In any case, I didn’t feel that I had explicitly made the decision to do so before I set out on the journey.
Later as I connected with the group, got in the car, headed off to meet Moira (who was a different halfway spot), then to lunch, my feelings shifted. No one had reached the goal. We had all, through various “common sense” decisions given up, and we all ended up sitting around drinking coffee at this weird little diner
A difficult task had tested our commitment to an agreement. What I was struck with in this situation was the fact that our commitment failed. To me, there was a kind of aesthetic in fact that it was a universal failure. We had decided in various ways that safety, convenience, or whatever else was more important than honoring the particular artistic mandate set forth.
Strangely the halfway point MIGHT have been an easy-to-reach intersection near a train station and none of the tribulations (or subsequent bonding) might have occurred. But then again, maybe the likelihood of an easy-to-reach spot was always low. So much of our contemporary space is in fact unreachable- either because it it privately held, or because it is environmentally damaged. In the end I think there was a kind of beauty– and an elegant form even– that was revealed by our mutual gravitation towards a space of delinquency to the art idea– the freedom to perform a-giving-up-on of the art. What remains for me is the potentially troubling question: Did we really know we would (or could at will) fail ahead of time, and were we all-the-while preparing ourselves for a failure? …
</ END DILLON>
</ END CHRISTINA>
bikebridgebike hill hill
graveyard graveyard graveyard
repeated directions re- re- re- repeated
worries: cricket suffocation
running, biking late
filled and swaying
rt 46 rt 17 + williams(?)
22 questions 21 miss directions missed understandings reinterpetations
D O W N H H H I I I l i L L L L
oil puddled shins
guard rail proposals
and iced tea jug messages.
" Powered by a strong southward dip in the jet stream, a strong cold front will slice into the Northeast Thursday, sparking severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, large hail, and perhaps an isolated tornado."
embraced by a gas station canopy,
warmed by cement,
warmed by semi-tractor trailer exhaust.
warmed by distant lighting flashing varicose vein like above
Queen Anne’s Lace unfurled bees and king fisher’s laughing call.
crickets hum crickets hush hum hush hum hush hum
ing out time.
Hasbrouck Heights missed Cheesequake
Cheesequake missed Hasbrouck Heights.
sm. greek salad coffee
sm. greek salad coffee
mozzarella sticks cinnamon tomatoes
veggie burger fries coffee
cheese 2 squares
omelet fries coffee
</ END MOIRA>
When I foud the coordinates on the map I was desperate. I had no car and a minor injury kept me from walking big distances. Not expecting any respons I asked google maps for direction s by public transport to get there. To my surprise it appeared quite simple; F train, A train, Bus and hike. If I could take my bike on the bus it would be no problem. I quickly downloaded the driections and map to my I-pad and imeediately left my appartment.
I took the A train to Port Authority Bus terminal. An amazingly big bus station right on 42nd street with numerous gates and terminals on 4 levels.
I had to take the coolest gate on the third floor: number - 3 – 2 – 1 – lift off!!!
It took 30 minutes to get to the first stop. I had to get off at the 3rd. I was affraid it would take forever.
It was at that moment I took the time to accurately read the directions.
It said: get off the bus at the 3rd stop and then it said nothing more then: “Walk to steamboat Landing”.
And the map was not very detailed. Zooming in I could not recognize any streets or roads.
I was lost on arrival.
I was wandering through fields with genormous beautiful orange pumpkins that seem to lite up against the steal grey sky.
Lost in this pumpkin field I felt like a fairy tale character. I started to eat the goodies I took with me for the potluck on arrival.
Then I arrived at a shed with a confusion sign outside. “Haunted Woods”, “Kids Wood | No Actors”. Somehow it gave me the Blair witch creeps and I hesitated to go inside to ask for directions. So I just went on.
Later on I found out that I got very close to our destination. I took this picture only 1,3 miles from the target.
Desperately searching I ended up on minor dirt roads. At the same time the weather was turning bad.
I was affraid to be cought by storm in the middle of the fields or woods.
A miracle was what I needed and these people seemed to be minding them.
I ended up at this school or kindergarten and found somebody I could ask for directions.
She did not know how to get to steamboat Landing but did show me the way to the mext busstop.
The moment I got on the bus it started to rain.
On my way home I had some great photo ops.
It was a great journey!
</ END THURR>
the sacrifice… was far too large…
</ END KUNAL>
<START DUKE & BATTERSBY>
</DUKE & BATTERSBY>
<START NICK CREGOR>
We loaded into our rental car and headed off. I was at first somewhat unsure of my role in this adventure. I was purportedly Doug’s “thing” that he was bringing to the meeting place. I was not potato salad. I had asked Doug if I could participate just a day or two before, after most of the arrangements had already been made and solidified. I was warmly welcomed aboard, but was naive to the inner workings of the project that would be taking us to a strange place in New Jersey. I had not seen email threads leading up to this moment. As far as I knew and could imagine, we were heading to a park in New Jersey to have a picnic with other people who would be meeting us there. This place was a halfway marker between each participants’ starting origin. I realized that my participation neither constructively nor destructively affected this halfway point, as although my starting point was not considered in determining our halfway marker, I live in the same home with Doug, and we thusly departed from the same origin. Doug suggested I bring my keyboard. Along with Christina’s hip-amp-mic, I would be “the band” to welcome the arriving participants. We would be awaiting them in the park with a familiar picnic table cloth, a spread of grape leaves and pineapple, playing cheesy sounds from a plastic keyboard, singing madonna songs out of a hip amp. And so we set off. We stopped at the grocery store for grape leaves and pineapple, and at the dollar store for said picnic table cloth and batteries for the keyboard. I saw a pink hat for sale for $2 and purchased it as well. ”This will be my adventure hat”, I say. I felt a bit like the meet-me-half-way-mascot, with a pink hat and plastic keyboard. Though this role was shared with Truman, (in pink harness, and playful attitude.) Still I had a small concern that I was crashing the party, but soon, that would all fade as we would be confronted with larger concerns.
We arrive at a suburban cul-del-sac-ish point somewhere in New Jersey. We consult the google map, and see that we continue here on foot. We load our bags with picnic supplies and march into the woods past the “No Trespassing” sign. We walk along a trail. I stop for a moment to load the keyboard with batteries. We see Chris approaching us. Earlier in the car, we spoke with Chris on the phone, and he asked if we had brought a boat. We certainly did not have a boat. We met with Chris along the trail. He asked if we had brought bug spray, and seemed concerned that without this amenity, the trip might be somewhat soured, or really not very fun. This moment seems disoriented and ironic in retrospect.
We all walked on and came to a place where the woods opened up to reveal an open marsh land, with no trees, bright sun, and high grasses. This was delightfully unexpected to me. I had already, in my mind, imagined prospect park-style fields with big willow trees and lots of green grass. This was a very different landscape. We walked on, parting some of the high grasses at our sides, and my old, beat up, white sneakers began to get stuck in muddy patches. And then we arrived at the water.
As quickly as we had arrived, and as I was attempting to take in the situation, Chris was talking about his “duck” and how it should be quite simple to float our things across on his “duck” while we swam, though he was unsure the keyboard would be transportable on the “duck.” Shortly after, Chris was blowing up an inflatable yellow duck, a pool toy for a small child. As all of this was happening, it seemed the sun had disappeared in a matter of minutes, and the sky was now a vast grey. All of the colors changed. The wind picked up a bit, and the water in the creek (or tiny river) before us rippled softly.
Truman rolled around on the rocks with the remains of dead and discarded crab, then seemed to become hot and overexerted. We were pathetically and comically unprepared.
Here, the conversation began. Chris seemed excited and eager for the wet and muddy adventure that laid before us. Doug, Christina, myself and Truman stood quietly, hands on our hips, a collective perplexed expression, digesting our new radically different reality. We began to express our hesitance and concern. Christina said once or twice, “I say we make our halfway point here!”, half joking, perhaps testing our reaction to see if it was a plausible option. Chris remarked multiple times that if we were 12 years old, we would already have been at our destination 20 minutes ago. Chris noted that he was right ready to get into the water until he ran into us. It was at this point that I learned there was a discussed mutual agreement for “no communication”, or as little as possible, between participants. The agreement was simply to meet at the halfway point, “no matter what.” As a lone traveller, Chris had no option but to assume that the other participants would cross the river, or had already crossed the river, under the “no matter what” agreement. As a collaborative, participatory project, it was a duty and obligation to hold each other and ourselves to our word. But now that at least some of us had found ourselves together, no longer lone travelers, the negotiating began. As we stood there, the grey clouds remained. There were reports of a storm with hail and flash flooding. We began to ask if it was safe, or furthermore, to what degree of discomfort were we willing to put ourselves through, especially in such an unprepared state. Doug remarked that this is society, when people come together and talk themselves out of doing things. Maybe he said “stupid” things. I can’t recall. However, I think we all began to question the definition of “no matter what.” Certainly none of us would have considered facing our own deaths, but Christina mentioned not wanting to lose another cell phone to water. A similar concern crossed my mind, but I did consider the sacrifice. And although I was not a principal participant in the project, by this point, I began to feel I was involved in what was happening as more than just Doug’s “thing”, a keyboard mascot, or potato salad. Doug remarked many times, of the implications and weight of what it meant to participate in this project. At least for the original participants, participation literally affected the physical location to which everyone would travel, navigate, negotiate, sacrafice for, and ultimately succeed or fail in arriving at.
By this point, I felt I was inevitably part of this narrative, and could affect it’s outcome in any number of ways. I felt a sense of responsibility and consideration for the project, and others participating, whether I knew them or not. This was certainly an adventure. My pink hat took on a new meaning.
While Doug and I were previously using google maps to get an overhead of the location, Chris printed satellite images of the location and it’s surrounding areas. And while google maps showed us a large green blob, what I thought was the prospect-park-ish park that I had imagined in my mind, Chris’s satellite photos showed a vast marshland with a maze of squiggly rivers, streams, and creeks. A comically different reality.
There was a potential route to the halfway point that required no water crossings if we descended upon it from the north, instead of from the south where we currently were. With a forlorn, confused, and heavily panting Truman, Christina decided that crossing the water was not an option. For better or worse, all of us, including Chris decided we would go back to our cars and head north to see what other, and hopefully better possibilities existed, to reach the destination.
We arrived at a parking lot in a housing development. It had begun to rain. We put on the rain coats we had brought, the only forethought had in considering the elements. Christina and Truman stayed at the car. We walked, and I looked down at my bare legs and muddy white sneakers. I found a large feather, probably from a hawk and put it in my pink hat. This is my adventure hat, I said to myself, and I proceeded to exercise strange and futile efforts to maintain the feather’s pristine form.
We consulted the google map on my iphone which presented a large open space that looked strangely well manicured, like a baseball field, and presumably easy to cross. First we encountered the space from a distance, only then realizing the open space was in fact a large mound. Doug said assuredly, that it was a landfill. We found a path to take us closer and soon found ourselves outside a fence with a large mound on the other side, and a sign that read: NOTICE - GLOBAL LANDFILL SUPERFUND SITE - NO TRESPASSING. It was peculiarly beautiful. The rain had lightened up. Chris said, had he encountered it somewhere else in the world, he would have thought it to be some mystical ancient earth. A druid crop circle, or something. We walked along a path around the superfund site attempting to remain close to the fenced exterior to not diverge off course. We passed a dead fox and what a we called a shopping cart graveyard. This place was magical, and disgusting. Doug spoke later about the project and said that by charging this very pedestrian act with such specific intentions and implications, that the physical location seemed to take on a profound meaning.
We found the path that we were on was leading us away from our destination. Around this time we received a text from Dillon saying something like: “let me know if you’d like to know more about my situation.” We had also received a text from Moira saying “Here.” To which I certainly shook my head and laughed, amazed and incredulous. I pictured her sitting on the table cloth with the grape leaves and pineapple on a small patch of dry land surrounded by marsh and high grasses.
I asked rhetorically, how do we know if her “here” is the same “here” (or “there”) that we are trying to get to? And of course we didn’t. Yes, the location was decided upon, but there were a number of factors that may have led us to different locations, imperfect GPS technology for one, and for that matter, I was told Moira had decided to not use GPS.
Around this point, the texts became slightly less cryptic and more detailed. Dillon told us he had reached an impasse. He had tried to avoid having to cross water, but found it impossible, and was now facing submerging deeply into unknown water without a “duck” to float his personal and electronic items. This was a point of compromise, or some perhaps might say defeat. We said we had a plan to follow another small stream that we thought would lead us around the superfund site successfully and would prevent us from crossing larger bodies of water. We would keep him abreast of our success or status. We entered, what we have since affectionately named, “garbage forest.” We walked along a stream the color of malai kofta curry. Garbage bags and other partially disintegrated plastic remnants draped from tree limbs, and plastic bottles littered the earth and twigs. I looked at my soaked sneakers, and Doug considered his sandals and exposed feet. Chris was prepared with Wellies. We didn’t make it very far, and we turned back.
We called Moira and learned she was outside of a gas station about 45 minutes away in New Jersey. It was discussed that since other participants had dropped out early that morning, that Moira was in fact at the accurate halfway point. She apparently had missed an email with the updated halfway point. Though later, while looking at coordinates and points of origins, we realized that the truly accurate halfway point with the participants involved should have put us somewhere in Sunnyside, Queens. For the sake of all meeting together, and finding a resolving point to the adventure, we picked up our phones and made phone calls. We tried to rendezvous with Dillon, which was harder than expected, even with phone communication. We got into our cars, eventually found Dillon on the side of the road, a destroyed image of a man, wet with tattered clothing, a sun hat being his only protection from the elements. He looked also comically unprepared. Though he made it closer to the “halfway” point than any of us, also attempting to navigate squiggly water ways and other mysterious terrain.
We piled into our cars and drove. The sun was out now. We made cheese cracker sandwiches to snack on in the car with our picnic supplies. I sat in the front seat preparing these cracker sandwiches for Doug as he drove. I was surrounded by plastic bags of different snack foods, and we were on a little road-trip which felt like familiar, and suddenly very civilized territory.
We arrived at a gas station in a profoundly anti-climactic environment. We met with Moira. We searched for our more or less “exact” “halfway” point and stood there. Chris planted the flag he had brought and which we had carried this whole way. We took a photograph of ourselves. Moira brought a loaf of bread she had baked. She said we should all grab the bread and collectively break it. There were crickets inside that were set free. This was both bizarre and marvelous.
Then we crossed the rural suburban highway to a diner which sat in the median between busy streets carrying trucks and heavy traffic. It was somewhat dilapidated, and painted with cinematic character. Really the only kind of restaurant worth eating at in my mind. We sat and drank coffee and ate diner foods ranging from mozzarella sticks to blueberry pancakes. We shared details and stories. And looked at maps and satellite photos to compare our locations and strategies. We talked about the implications of what it meant to participate in this project. How those that decided to bail out last minute put us, unnecessarily, practically on top of a superfund site. We talked about our breaking points. How far each of us did or didn’t feel comfortable going for the sake of the project. For the sake of art, or community. Doug asked that if in a year from now we do this project again, and we use the decided upon the “halfway” point from this year’s project to help determine next years halfway point, would it be the marshland that none of us arrived at, or the table at the diner where we were all sitting. I remarked that I thought it should be the latter. This was the point at which we were able to meet. We all set out with every intention to arrive at one certain location, but due to a vast and perhaps uncountable number of variables and reasons, due to our limitations, and perhaps failures, as some might say, we met here, meeting halfway to our “halfway” destination. I look forward to doing this again.
</END NICK CREGOR>
September 12th, 9:17am
Flux’s mascot on his way to meet Doug Paulson & Chris Robbins halfway http://bit.ly/1bRERiQ http://twitpic.com/dd5qjd
September 12th, 9:38am
Thinking about the personal economy required to meet strangers in the middle of the work day #meet1/2wayhttp://bit.ly/1bRERiQ
September 12th, 11:52am
Hit an obstacle, smell like dead fish, attempting the dry route. Regretting my citified underpreparedness #meet1/2way
September 12th, 12:35pm
Off course. Need to get to other side of landfill past dead fox #meet1/2way
September 12th, 1:50pm
Impasse: super fund site #meet1/2way