Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Touristward Ho!

It's definitely tourist-time for me. Concentric circles of tourism. Last Thursday, I poked around Eastwood, a walkable neighborhood in Syracuse, and found a couple good bookstores (musty smells, huuuuuuuge poetry sections, and even a not-indecent comics section! Terrible cookbook sections in both though). Saturday morning I took a few pictures (mostly of flowers in the neighborhood, nothing super interesting) then I hit the Blues Fest with a friend. Beer! Heat! Blues! Sandwiches! Good times were had.

It's interesting how tourism can carry with it airs of both selfishness and generosity. On the one hand, walking through Eastwood and my neighborhood, I was much more open to what the space had to offer. I could appreciate my neighbors' flowers, or the signs and layout of Eastwood in specificly conscious ways. It is pleasant to be in "tourist" mode -- precisely because I feel alive and aware of my surroundings in such a different way. On the other hand, I also felt like an intruder, and a bit of an imposter. Eastwood may be "walkable" but it's by no means touristy. The bookstores were across the street from a strip mall and a gas station. I felt self-conscious carrying a camera -- especially in my own neighborhood -- and it was hard to get it out and use it. Basically, my presence was forcing everything to be on display for me -- and it was clear that both of these neighborhoods were not prepared to be displayed. Mostly, I left the camera in its case.

The Blues Fest was a little different, in that the display was obviously set up in advance. I didn't bring my camera, but I did try to be aware of my surroundings. Unfortunately, we were there for a good half an hour before my friend pointed out that we were standing in the (drained) central fountain. I had not noticed at all.

Today, I'm in NYC -- I've got a flight this evening taking me to Scotland. So I've got the whole day to wander around manhattan (a place that is perpetually on display) and take pictures, visit museums, etc. Tomorrow I'll be in Edinburgh, and will again have the day to wander and "take in" the sights. After that, I'll be at a conference in Stirling, but it is, I am told, a touristy little place. Let's see what that means! Unfortunately (ach.) I'm going to miss Edinburgh's Fringe Festival by a few days. This has happened before -- when I went to Austin, we left just before SXSW started up. Oh well.

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