Wednesday, July 08, 2009

STUCK...big time...

I married someone who is, geographically speaking, a great deal like me.

We are both from places, but not of them.

How best to explain this?

Though I was born in Tennessee and grew up in Texas, I have no strong attachments to either place anymore and can't even navigate my cities of birth and of childhood well without a map. There are only two places in which I have truly felt at home - New Orleans and New York City. NYC is more the domain of my paternal grandparents, but it is also the first place where I truly felt as though I were charting my own course apart from my family.

Dan, though born and raised in California, tends to feel closer to the midwest, specifically Chicago, as well as New Orleans. Both are places he landed in post-college. Chicago was also where there were strong ties to a set of his grandparents.

Geography is much larger than just where you are this second. It is a good part of how you identify yourself...but it helps to be realistic about this.

For instance: I am fond of kidding my in-laws in No-Cal about the San Andreas being all their fault, since they live quite close to it...

...but they don't deserve to be in a state that is now so financially strapped it can't even conduct Michael Jackson's funeral without asking for help to pay for security. Where one charter school in particular is successful enough to have a new building, but has to go begging for the necessary stuff to put inside its walls.

"Hey, for once, your state is making ours look less bad," Dan said to his mom with slight glee when she bemoaned her state's financial crisis.

At the same time, however, when an exhibit at the Queens Museum of Art superimposes the locations of foreclosures atop its semi-historic Panorama of the City of New York...

Each plastic triangle represents a block where there have been three or more home foreclosures. Visitors on the balcony walkway that surrounds the Panorama, at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, can see in a single glance precisely where subprime lenders wreaked the most havoc.

Hundreds of these pink stigmata cover Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East New York and Canarsie in Brooklyn like an invading army. In Queens most markers are camped out in Ozone Park and Cambria Heights, as well as in parts of Jamaica and Corona. As for Manhattan, there are precisely two.

This mapping of the 45-year-old Panorama is part of a larger exhibition about housing, in which politics intersects with art.

“I hope that my work operates on a principle of opening up a set of issues for exploration,” Mr. Rich said.

Titled “Red Lines Crisis Housing Learning Center,” the show includes photographs, models, drawings and sculptural installations — like a large, three-dimensional wooden graph of interest rates over the past 70 years — that offer an explanation of how the private housing market works, beginning with the federal government’s involvement during the Depression. seems that neither end of the country is faring too well these days.

If it isn't the loss of our homes or our money that will hurt us, it will most decidedly be our health that does us in. Thank goodness we've still got that. As my grandpa says, if you don't have your health, then what have you...

...Oh. Right.

Time to give Mary Landrieu another call, y'all. And don't mind any rude staffers you might come across.

Dear God, we are so stuck.

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