"I can remember a time when I could almost pinpoint a man’s place of origin by his speech. That is growing more difficult now and will in some foreseeable future become impossible… The idioms, the figures of speech that make language rich and full of the poetry of place and time must go. And in their place will be a national speech, wrapped and packaged, standard and tasteless. Localness is not gone but it is going."
The crew behind a campaign called Eat Your Sidewalk has brought an entirely new meaning to the word local. Forget the vast Agricultural Industrial Complex. Eat Your Sidewalk is about finding breakfast, lunch, dinner in your own front yard. Literally. The project, which failed to reach its $23,000 Kickstarter goal, is nonetheless in the midst of a seven-day challenge to get at least some of the people in Sherbrooke Quebec to subsist for an entire week on what they can find right under their feet.
Watch the Kickstarter video to get a full sense of the Eat Your Sidewalk philosophy, but here’s a snippet.
When you begin to eat what’s under your feet, you and your environment share the same history and the same future. When we eat this dandelion, we share what’s happened to it.
And I liked this.
So often we talk about local but we skip over our actual place to get to the parts of our environment we more easily recognize because they are more like products or have been defined for us as important. But this means we are not addressing our actual environment fully. How do we do this? Begin with where you are — your sidewalks, yards, neighborhoods, and the systems that they are part of — and pay attention to everything. When this really happens a place comes alive.
Most places claim to be authentic and original. Austin, Texas really is. From its famous bat bridge to its Segway tours to its food-courts-on-wheels to the wonderful Drafthouse cinemas, Austin lives up to its slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.” There is a store on South Congress called Uncommon Objects, which features salvaged antiques, bric-a-brac and high-caliber kitsch. In all of New York City and Brooklyn, I have never seen a store to match this one. Kudos, Austin, for keeping it real, and keeping it real interesting.
On September 30, 2011, during the Block by Block conference at Loyola University Chicago, 21 local, independent online publishers from across the United States voted to form a tradeassociation. A steering committee was appointed to further organize the association. Questions should be directed to Executive Secretary, Mike Fourcher at (773) 328-8451 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Schadenfreude, or gloating over another’s misfortune, is not a pretty thing. By definition.
And though I’m used to being scolded by readers, my upbraiding by some of the Patch rank-and-file over my last post here has left me unexpectedly chastened.
I meant my rant for AOL’s corporate overlords, for Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington in particular, but I managed to offend and hurt other local journalists who, just like me, spent the last week bailing basements and working furiously to keep up with the news.
That’s bad, and that’s not pretty, and I apologize.
We live in a time of great economic disruption and everything in the world of media — everything in the world — is up for grabs. My local newspaper got sore when a new kid came to town (that would be me) and I didn’t like it any better when Patch moved in.
The two Patch editors whose work I know best — Shelley Emling and Mary Mann — do excellent work. I’d hire either of them in a minute if I could afford them.
There is a war in the world of local, as the existence of publication StreetFight attests to, and I’m a bit player in that war. I enjoyed seeing my adversary stumble. I gloated. And the one who looked bad in the end wasn’t my enemy; it was me.
I have a lot to learn from the indie bookstores and small town retailers who have been fighting this fight for years. There are classier ways to fight wars, and I vow to learn them.
“Patch is worthless,” wrote Dana Blackenhorn in Seeking Alpha. ”Close it. Think a company like Gannett (GCI) or The New York Times (NYT) or News Corp. (NWS) might want it? If you find a sucker like that, call me. I have a bridge to sell.” Music to our ears.
Mark Kamine was the original location director of The Sopranos and, since the show ended, he’s moved on to become a production director of movies like “The Fighter” and “Limitless.” A 16-year-resident of Montclair, Kamine himself departs for a new location today, when moving vans come to move him and his family to New York City. We sat down to talk to Kamine about the iconic locations of the Sopranos and about the concept of place in general. This story originally appeared on Baristanet.
How did you come to the Sopranos job and how long did you do it?
I was a location manager and I started as a scout. I was working for about eight or 10 years at that before Sopranos started. I knew the producer from other jobs.
Who was that?
Ilene Landress. She called me when they were doing the pilot. I was on another job. And then when the show got picked up, I started. Which was maybe a year after. And I remember I met David Chase as part of the process in a hotel in New York. It was sort of unheard of at the time for a cable network to be doing a TV series. It was very early in the process — ‘97, ‘98 — and the test for the show was that it might appeal to housewives and professors, academics. Which didn’t sound too promising. But we had some scripts and we started to scout for some of the things that the pilot had shot, but to do in a more permanent way, like the pork store. They started to build the Soprano house in North Caldwell. That started to get reproduced on the stage. And it was just a general figuring out how to continue the look of the pilot.
It seems to me that show was so much about location.
David Chase grew up in New Jersey, I think he was born in Newark, and then Verona and the Caldwell area after that. He often had specific ideas about where to find things. And then I also grew up in New Jersey. Born in Jersey City, grew up in Wayne. And spent a lot of time all over the place and then lived in Montclair for a long time. The whole time I was doing that show. And then my main assistant, Regina Heyman, who took over the location managing for me after three years, she grew up in Montclair. She had a lot of New Jersey knowledge too. And then the scouts who worked with us. They’re New York scouts they tend to spend time all over the New York area. And certainly over the course of Sopranos, when we would read a script, everyone had ideas of where to find it, what town. That sounds like Little Falls. Or that sounds like North Caldwell. You started to get the rhythm of how to find certain things.
God bless Watchung Booksellers, my local indie bookstore. My third novel, “Cars from a Marriage” just came out in paperback today. But according to Amazon, there is only one copy left in stock. Watchung, which knows me as the editor of Baristanet as well as a locally-bestselling novelist, has 10 copies, prominently displayed on its summer reading table. And the bookstore owner is going to add a note telling local book groups that I’m happy to come talk to them if they read my book.
Now that’s service. And context. Another reason why relationships matter.
Let’s hoist a glass to Frank Bruni of The New York Times for his 3,200-word paean to the authentically local food scene of Seattle in Sunday’s Travel section. Best quote: “To eat in and around Seattle, which I did recently and recommend heartily, isn’t merely to eat well. It is to experience something that even many larger, more gastronomically celebrated cities and regions can’t offer, not to this degree: a profound and exhilarating sense of place.”
But I also liked, “You want a closer relationship with what you eat? At the Willows Inn You can practically bed down with it.”
One of Baristanet’s favorite readers, John Lee, felt so connected to the Authentically Local campaign that he assembled an “Authentically Local” Flickr set and an Authentically Local Flickr group. Please contribute to the group. Pictures of the places we love tell the story of why local is important.
John has promised me a short essay on why Authentically Local speaks to him, and I will publish it when he writes it. Meanwhile, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this set is worth 50,000. Good thing I’m not paying him by the word!