Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shoot at URM today

I just have a few things to say very quickly, before I forget.

Today was an interesting day. We filmed some stories at Union Rescue Mission and it was my first time on Skid Row. Like most people who venture into that area of LA I was shocked by the juxtaposition of the districts. Literally a few hundred yards (if not less) from Little Tokyo, a popular tourist site, the edge of Skid Row begins. This is not necessarily marked by geographical border or particular street- the change happens abruptly. On your way in you see people walking with their satchels or purses; by the time you pass the Little Tokyo City Lofts people on the sidewalks are no longer walking. They are sitting or laying down with packed duffel bags or suitcases. You don't see shopping carts very often- apparently it's illegal to be walking around downtown LA with a cart larger than X by X feet (which, incidentally, qualifies all shopping carts, but not totes or dorky backpacks with wheels.) This seems to immobilize the population on the these streets even more... the sudden halt of motion on the sidewalks is a little jarring. But think about, being in motion is a sign of privilege- the speed at which we get from point A to point B is an indicator of our privilege (who is usually speeding on the highway... the chick in the BMW?), the amount of motion our bodies are capable of shows off our healthy state (we can afford doctors and preemptive check-ups), and the mode by which we exercise our motion puts us in another category altogether (who walks? who takes the bus? the train? their own car?)... I'm not saying this because we ought to feel guilty about our social location (-if you're reading this, I'd bet money you fall into middle class-); but I was definitely struck by amount of privilege I had in contrast to those that were lying down.

I have much more to say... but I just really wanted to jot down some things that I noticed about where I was. In Union Rescue Mission - every single person that walked by addressed me and said "hello". Not in a passing or out of politeness- they would stop, see me, and say things like, "How are you, miss?" "Hey, babygirl, how are you today?" "Hiya, Darlin', are you sitting here by yourseld?" "Are you going to be the cute girl they put in front of the camera, doin' all the talking?" I mean, in teh 10 minutes I sat in the hallway to "guard" out stuff, I had two dozen "hellos" like this.Each one acknowledging that I was in their presence, that they were in mine, that they saw me and noticed that I was a girl, I was alone, I was a new person, and even that I was cute! Why, of all places in the world, have I never experienced a reality like that? Over and over again, my presence and the importance of it was confirmed....

And another thing. This place, URM , it was filled with laughter. Every person walking down a hall, especially the ones who weren't in button-up shirts or blouses, laughed. They smiled when they saw other people, they found a reason to laugh and to get the other person laughing.

Scattered thoughts! Lots of work to get done. That's all for now.

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