Where in the hell am I?

October 7, 2013

Looking Down

Filed under: archaeology — Tags: , , , — John @ 8:46 pm

(note: I accidentally posted this on my personal blog, All the Rage, so I’m copying and pasting here for the archaeology folks for whom it was intended)

This past weekend on Twitter, I mentioned how even when I’m on a leisure walk on my own time, I find myself looking down at the ground. I joked that it was an Archy for life thing, and someone replied that they were the same, and had found $2 recently. This reminded me of a piece I wrote for a zine back in April of 1997, which I’m sharing here.

I should say that this ended up in a one-off “Emo”/personal zine I did called For Reals. At the time, I was rather proud of it. On re-reading it today, while appreciating it as a snapshot of a very complicated, fucked-up time in my life, I cringed a great deal, and this is likely the only piece that will see the light of day on this blog. My 4-issue music zine “All The Rage”, which is also the title of my other oft-neglected blog, was much better.

Anyway, here is my short piece “Looking Down”, transcribed exactly as printed with one needed correction in brackets (parentheses are in the original).

“Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Austin for almost 4 years now, I still look down when I walk.

Growing up in New York, it is a skill you learn quickly. Eye contact is, at best, rude and at worst seen as a threat. So on a train, you either bring something to read or stare at your hands or feet. If you happen to catch someone’s eyes, just turn your head quickly and pretend it didn’t happen.

Walking is a little more difficult. It involves having your head tilted down while still flicking your eyes up and down from time to time to look for addresses, people whose shows [sic: shoes] look familiar, cute girls, and the oncoming pedestrian traffic.

This practice does have benefits, which is perhaps why I still maintain it 8 years after moving out of New York City. You can find really cool stuff on the ground. Money, jewelry, a watch (which I still wear!), photos, assorted odds and ends. Yesterday, walking home from I Heart Video at 2am, I found a dime. Everything shiny catches my eye.

I’m even worse when there’s lots of rocks around. I guess I have an obsession for rocks. As a child, my grandparents farm had a gravel lane full of fossils and even an occasional indian arrowhead. I spent long hours in my youth looking through their gravel for treasures.

In Austin, there’s a few places to find cool rocks and fossils. The train tracks along Airport Boulevard yielded a nice hunk of flint the other day. The creek bed in Pease Park is full of little fossils! And I found a great hunk of quartz at the Umlauf Sculpture Gardens, so big I had to dig it out!

So if you see me looking down, I’m not just being anti-social, I’m on a treasure hunt!”

– John Lowe, April 1997, For Reals #1, Austin.

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