I took my time leaving Indianapolis. I had a lot of dreams while on this leg of the trip and needed to sit awhile at the coffeehouse and work out my thoughts. I attempted to do a little graffiti hunting before leaving but they had a parade that had me stopped in traffic for far longer than I would have liked. Indianapolis is very serious about their parades. The day before the parade the public works department set up bleachers on the sidewalks.
One of the last things I saw in the city was a sign saying, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
The drive to Chicago was pretty short and pleasant. Extremely windy even through Indiana. I came upon a massive field of wind turbines, much larger than the one I had seen farther north days ago. So of course, I attempted to stay on the road going 75 mph while taking photos. I think I did alright but I’m very thankful for rumble strips.
Oddly enough, I also heard the last few minutes of a really interesting story on NPR’s “This American Life” called “Spray my name, spray my name,” which coincided with my thoughts on graffiti in my earlier meditation that morning. I was trying to understand what I was trying to find in all these places I’ve encountered and why what I gravitate to, namely abandoned buildings and street art, is so significant to me. My conclusion was that these particular things show me the underbelly of a city. I appreciate decrepit buildings just as much as geological phenomena as they show a real sense of time; you can feel the relics of civilization.
Without them, I don’t feel I’m getting the authenticity I need from a place. And yet in most cases, the more I see these things the more likely the place I’m in is suffering from economic destitution, which I understand looks far more real than a freshly painted house with emmaculate landscaping. Suffering always feels more real than contentment; I think that’s just a psychological part of human nature. Graffiti is self-expression and quite often expresses this economic state. But I do have standards. Some graffiti is chicken scratch and comes from a need for personal control and dominance, essentially like a dog peeing on a tree. It has nothing to do with aesthetics and personal expression.
Here is the “This American Life” story from youtube: