Archive for the ‘Ipod’ Tag

Hello DC: CHASING DESTINY…   1 comment

Today was the furthest I believe I have ever run in my life.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog about my running habits (here), and I explained the manic nature of how I run.
It is a complex emotional affair, rooted in stuff from the past, thoughts about the future, or maybe the frightening present that fuels me.
Columbus Day is the day I decided to run. I was sitting in my room, listening to music, when I felt very bored. I didn’t feel like running yesterday, but I ran about five miles on Saturday evening.
As always, I started out on first street northwest. Running through the Shaw Howard area, I passed Hospitals, seven elevens and streets filled with light traffic. I wore a visor today, an old Von Dutch hat I bought a few years ago. When I run, night or day, after a while the stream of sweat that gets in my eyes is the most trying aspect of it all. This time I had no such problem.
I had planned a quick two mile run to Dupont Circle. As I ran on the road, running along side moving traffic, I felt a vague sense of quietness around me. There was the noise of the city, but somewhere within me was a blanketed silence. I can’t describe it exactly. I can’t say it was loneliness, or any of the isolated emotions that people are privy to feeling, but it was something.
I didn’t feel like I would be able to run very far. My left calf felt very tight, and my left instep throbbed with each step I took. A few pedestrians looked at me interestedly as I ran past. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think it was the visor I was wearing. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a runner in DC with a visor. Headband? Yes. Baseball Cap? Maybe. Visor? Never.
After reaching Dupont circle, I did a few light stretches. I didn’t look at anyone around me, but in my peripheral vision I could make out dozens of people sitting on benches, in the grass and generally enjoying the relatively warm day. I was warm and sweaty now, and my mediocre ipod headphones weren’t doing justice to my carefully selected trance playlist I made minutes before heading out. At this point, I decide to run to Embassy Row.
I’ve been to the Embassy area twice before, to get passports to go to Spain and France respectively. I head north away from the circle, and take a left by a bus stop that I believe leads to where the French Embassy is.
I’ll stop at the Embassy, I say to myself. I run down a few streets filled with healthy trees. It is a relaxing atmosphere. I’m at Twenty-seventh Street now, and I realize I’m near Georgetown. The embassy was further north; I think I was heading East.
I run across a bridge and I swear I see Mel Gibson. The man is tall, with a long scraggly head of hair. “Sorry buddy.” He says to me as I run past, even though he wasn’t really in my way. A few feet away from him are people with film equipment. If he was Mel Gibson, Mr. Gibson, is really REALLY tall. I’m tempted to turn around and ask him if he is who I think he is, but I keep running. I take a left turn on twenty-fifth street and start running up an incline.
I’m running on a road I’ve been on before. One night a few months ago, I visited a girl somewhere around here. We ordered Thai food and talked about books. I had met her at a bar, and we had made a connection. She was doing preparations for some hardcore financial exam, but she wanted to see me in the evening. I think it was Sunday. Either way, we talked and talked, and I realized I didn’t want to do anything with her. She said she wanted to “sample” me. I didn’t’ like it.
I run past her apartment, and head further up towards Georgetown.
I’m passing the Tudor house, and I’m tempted to stop there. I wanted to walk through the large gardens, touch the leaves and breathe in the air as I sit in a shadow space, but I keep going.
I’m on Connecticut now, (I think ) and I wonder if I should run to Georgetown’s campus and then circle back, and end my run. I look down the road, looking at the line of shops I’m quite familiar with. I decide to run to the waterfront.
I run past the Commander Salamander, a pizza place I used to frequent, and the Georgetown mall. I amuse myself briefly by out running another person running in front of me, a short blonde girl.
I reach the waterfront, and I am taken by the vista in front of me. The sky is a stark blue with sparse clouds, and the water is a silky golden green. I run to the waterfront and look into the distance. I see a large bridge. Is it the Arlington Memorial bridge? I ask my self. I decide to run there.
I run past a few hundred people dining on the outdoor patios of a waterfront eatery, narrowly dodge a few cyclists, while occasionally looking at people kayaking on the water. During this whole time, I’m not even sure of what is keeping me going. My thoughts of late have been awkward. Sometimes I think about a project I’m working on, sometimes I wonder about the present, and how well I can enjoy it, but mostly, I’m wondering if I’ll see someone.
I wonder if someone driving by will see me running, tall and sweaty, and beep their car horn. Will I get a facebook message saying, “Hey, I saw you running through Georgetown yesterday! Good job man!” That I think, was on my mind the most. But one hundred percent of the time, I never see someone when I’m running.
I run past a place where people can rent Kayaks, and I get a flash of memory of my first time there. I turn away from that establishment and follow a short path that leads to the main road. I go briefly through a light patch of thick foliage. There is dirt on the ground, and it feels good under my feet. Then, the road opens up and an asphalt path with grass on either side stretches for a good bit. I run past a family of six, a few cyclists, and a few other runners. Like me, all the runners I see are intensely focused. They are looking directly ahead, covered in light sweat, and they all have headphones.
The path curves out towards the water, and then I’m running on smoother ground, beside a rib-high wall. The bridge I want to reach is much closer now, and I’ve almost reached my goal. Then, I see the Arlington Memorial Bridge in the distance. It is another mile or two away. Across the water, I can see Virginia. It is a postcard quality picture, with large billowy trees and grass that seems hand-painted. Sunlight dances off everything, and it is glowing. Looking at the sight makes me want to walk amongst those trees, to touch the grass, and sit there.
I decide to run to Virginia.
I reach the first bridge and run under it. The acoustics under the bridge make a strange echoing noise in my ears for a minute or so, then I’m back outside. Now, I’m running down a well-paved path. In the distance, I can see the Lincoln memorial, and the shiny glint of the massive Statues at the entrance of the bridge. They look close, but they are far, far away.
At this point I’ve probably run ten miles, and I’m wondering why I’m running. Why am I running so far? I ask myself. The way I feel isn’t euphoric, and whenever I run I don’t feel relaxed or relieved in some way. Maybe I’m just running for running’s sake, to get away from the contiguous existence of living in a row house, or trying to escape the memories of DC for an hour or so.
I’m getting near Arlington Memorial bridge now, and I see people running up the steps, lounging like lizards in the sun and looking out at the water. I go under a small under pass and I see the large statues looming in front of me. Underneath one, a small lady in gray shorts is taking a picture.
I breathe deeply and hit the bridge. As I step on it, I feel a sense of power envelop me. I have always wanted to run along this bridge during the day, and this—this felt good in some way. The bridge is very long, and my goal was in sight. Good old Virginia loomed ahead with its green pastures and beautiful trees, and I wasn’t about to stop now.
To my left and right, is the Potomac, and I watch boats go to and fro, but mostly I look directly ahead, feeling my body wet with sweat, and lick my dry lips with my tongue. I only have three dollars on me, and I hope that I’ll be able to find water nearby. I don’t’ feel the least bit fatigued, but I briefly fantasize that I’ll keel over in a few seconds, and the lady approaching me will call an ambulance and I’ll wake up in the hospital with a beautiful nurse looking at me, and I’ll smile at her, then we’ll have some fantastic love story about me pushing myself too hard, and she’ll talk about almost leaving early that day.
I don’t faint.
In another few minutes, I’ve reached Virginia and I run down a beaten path towards the water. There, I finally stop and look out at the river in front of me. As if signaling the greatness of my achievement, a huge fish leaps out of the river at the precise moment I stop at the end of the path. I do some more stretches, and then stand for a minute. I’m not even breathing heavily, but I sense I am more mentally tired than physically. I have been exercising a lot lately, almost too much. But no matter how much exercise I do, or how far I run, I never feel completely relaxed or centered when I am finished. I feel like I need to run farther, to climb higher and do more.
Maybe I’ll travel to Antarctica, and walk through the frozen tundra for a few months and see what that tells me about myself. Maybe I’ll go mountain climbing and see if I can survive a mountain that has killed thousands before me. Or maybe I’ll take up some weird martial art, paint, or a dozen other little things to see if each of them can give me little insights into things about myself.
I want to feel the world around me. I want to taste it again.
I take off my shirt and close my eyes, raising them in the air and breathing in and out. I focus on the moment; the grass around me, the beautiful day and the river water rippling quietly in front of me. I try to release the strain of negative thoughts that have been plaguing me of late, and I try to just feel good in the moment. I tell myself, Good job Marcus, you ran like a bazillion miles. Feel good about that.
In a small way, I feel okay. I never thought I would run from DC to Virginia. I’m guessing I ran about nine or ten miles give or take. I walk to the National mall after crossing the bridge again and leisurely go back home. For the entire day, I’ve walked and run twenty miles.
When I reach inside my apartment, I sit down for a moment and sip on some water. Some part of me feels accomplished, but there are still little pockets of emptiness rippling about. I feel like running some more, but I’m too tired. I Toss my clothes into the laundry hamper and hop into the shower. As the water beats on my skin, I imagine myself somewhere else, swimming in a river, far, far away.

SILENT RAVE: NEW YORK+   1 comment

me at the silent rave

me at the silent rave

A man in a large costume that resembles a jar of mustard runs past me. As his yellow figure bobs oddly through a throng of sweaty, pubescent ravers, the crowd erupts into a cacophony of cheers. Somewhere, a voice shouts out. “Mustard man! Mustard Man!”. Then, a Japanese guy in a hat expertly designed in the figure of a chicken floats past. He spreads a pair of thin arms wide.
“Who wants to suck my cock?” he shouts. Behind me, a group of guys giggle. I stand in this chaos, snapping photos and floating quietly through the crowd. That’s the most interesting thing about this experience. Around me, hundreds of people are dancing excitedly. Bodies covered in sweat glisten under dimly lit New York street lamps. Tiny emo girls toss their dyed hair back and forth, strange shirtless guys do very homo erotic dances, and guys like the chicken man—there are a few of them around—all prance around, dancing to some quiet, unheard music. This is because they are dancing to their own music.
I’m at my first silent rave.
To see hundreds of people dancing with their telltale ipod headphones in their ears, all grinding to their own beat, is like seeing a music video on TV with the mute button on. But not only am I in this music video, but I’m an active participant, snapping photos, not trying to brush against too many of the girls present (many of them are teenagers). This would probably count as the second rave I’ve been to in the states. Like all raves, there are tons of very attractive women.
To my left, a Heidi Klum look alike wearing headphones straight out of an 80’s movie grooves beside her equally hot Asian friend. In front of me, a tall red head makes me think immediately of Berlin. All around, cute teeny-boppers, people with shaved heads, tatoos and t-shirts that read “I love NY” are all dancing.

Raving, in complete silence.
The silence is broken by screams which have no purpose. In rave music, people normally scream when the bass drops. Like most music, rave incorporates a specific tempo that keeps the crowd going for hours on end, ecstasy, cocaine or no. After a minute or so of the introductory song loop, a bass kick drops. This is where people scream and dance faster. Tonight, people are raving telephathically. The bass kicks in on one person’s headphones, and they broadcast it to everyone else with a scream. This spreads through the crowd like wildfire—people jump, run around and even mosh—and then the silence falls once more.
There is a natural tendency for human beings to feel threatened in the presence of large groups. If you’ve ever attended a large arena where a fight started, you might have “felt” a ripple through the collective consciousness of those present. You sense the anguish of those around you, you are caught in the bubble. For a moment, you and the crowd are one. Tonight is one of those nights.
I slip on my headphones and start playing a few trance tracks from a top 100 album I have. Almost instantly, I am in the bubble. As the sounds of voices, screams and bodies hopping around fades, I am part of the collective. All I hear are the snares, break beats and heavy basses while I look through my own personal windshield. Somewhere, a conga-line starts, and dozens of people begin sprinting in a sweeiping arc around the other ravers. For a second my radar gets tweaked. I get sensation of danger again. The groups of bodies darting through the crowd resemble the scene of a brawl. Bodies moving rapidly, touching, colliding. But the feeling subsides. These people are all here to have fun. They are happy being separate yet close.

A part of me wishes the rave was louder. At least I would have more to say.

Kickflips Are Really Hard   2 comments

I’m a skateboard vampire.

Well, I used to be. When I was living on Sherman Avenue, in the enviable upperclassman dorm called “The Towers”, a set of two buildings (aptly designated East and West) I would skate at night. At the time I was working on a killer concept for a clothing line that would revolutionize the world… or at least so I thought. When I have ideas buzzing in my head I can’t sleep–an effect I often experience when I’m going through girl issues–and then I have energy to burn. It would be at this time period, usually 3 a.m that I would grab my trusty skateboard, slip on a grotesque pair of skateshoes that looked like mummified mutant caterpillars, and head onto the street. This was quite a rush, simply because I would skate during the winter time with only a shirt and a jersey on to protect me from the elements. With some rock music playing in my ears (usually System of a Down or Linkin Park) I would skate around the city, doing weak ollies onto curbs, hopping over manholes and thinking about life.

Yesterday I went to pickup two copies of my current project, “Three Weeks” from a Kinko’s near chinatown. I had my skateboard, “Just in case.” I said, and ended up going to the skatepark, doing large ollies over a police cone and losing my shirt in the process. The last time I’ve skated like this was honestly two years ago. I don’t skate much because my knees feel like shredded paper most of the times. I have a knee injury–some might call this a cool thing–that is about five years old. I tore an ACL ( Anterior Crutiae Ligament) when playing BADMINTON of all games in a P.E class. Embarassing I know. Guys usually tear their ligaments when playing rough, manly sports like Rugby, Football, Basketball or Golf. Whenever a person sees me limping, I tell them I hurt my knee saving three cherubic Asian-American kids from the advances of a rabid pitbull.

This knee injury isnt’ pleasant… going up stairs hurts most days, my right knee is also affected by the lack of equilibrium in the leg support system, so both my knees hurt pretty much all the time. However, there are moments when I enter a “twilight zone” and I feel quite like i’m on drugs; there is no pain in my knees, I have boundless energy and for a moment I almost feel as if i”m healed. Wait a minute, this sounds very similar to another excercise… something more coital.

I’m at the skatepark as aforementioned, and i rest my man-bag on the ground beside a crushed beer can. As I start skating on the smooth asphalt, I feel my body relaxing. I do a few ramps, smiling with how comfortable I feel now (previously I fell off a ramp, scratching my ribs and exposing bone) based on my past performance. I find skating interesting, but it often gives people free license to ask really dumb questions.

If I was paid ten dollars for each time someone starting singing “Kick push, Kick push,” as I rolled by on my skateboard, I’d be a thousandaire. If I was paid ten dollars for each time someone said “Do a 360!” (a VERY hard and dangerous move) I would be a thousandaire. But, if I was paid ten bucks for each time someone asked me to do a Kickflip, I’d be really freaking rich.
The physics of a kickflip are simple: You do an ollie, while the board is in the air, you flick your foot leftwards (or rightward depending on what foot you skate with) then the board flips in the air in a 360 degree roation. You time the complete revolution, then land with both feet on the board and try not to break something as the board goes back to the ground.

Okay, the physics aren’t that simple, nor is the trick, which is why its always funny to hear people ask me to Kickflip, as if I am a chimp in a cage with a red button that flashes when people walk past.

I’m not a good skateboarder, I peaked after my knees hurt too much to pratice, but I can coast, ollie and do some basic tricks. This park is nice, but i’m really afraid of going hardcore where the ramps are. The park is split into a basketball court, which has really smooth asphalt, and the skate park with the ramps, which has rough, nasty asphalt. If I fall on the court, I’m liable to get a bruise. If I fall in the park, that’s it for the night. After I exposed that rib doing a simple ramp trick the last time, I put up my skateboard for a few weeks. I wonder if I should call myself a “skate-writer”. It sounds interesting, but its probably a waste of time. “A relatively tall Jamaican guy skateboarding shirtless around DC with his man-bag on” sounds much cooler.

Usually when I’m in the zone my shirt comes off. Partly because I don’t want to completely soak my outfit. Tonight, I wish I had brought my camera to record myself do some tricks. Alas, all I have for company is my Ipod. I’m listening to a DJ Kenny mix tape, and a hot track “Stamina Man” is playing. The opening words go:
“Who is the man, girls want in bed for hours… STAMINA MAN!” (this is quite funny as professional backup female voices chime this with a very unsexual enthusiasm).

So I skate for about thirty minutes, feeling like a stamina man, powerful because i’m shirtless, then exposed because I am alone in a skatepark, singing to myself and constantly looking over my back. My knees still don’t hurt, and I wonder why some nights I can ollie and rail like the best of them, and other nights I hobble like an old man running to the pharmacy to get Viagra.

Its a weird night, particularly because its Sunday, and I spent the better part of the day doing a 12-hour photo shoot, of which I actually did 11. I feel a bit waned. I don’t like spending 12 hours in my house for ANY reason, even if there is a blizzard outside, I will go and watch flakes fly by at thirty miles an hour, for an hour. Maybe being insulated for a day healed my knees to the point where they were happy to exert that extra energy. As I board home, cruising past a bus filled with people heading to some late -night function, I know my knees will kill me tommorrow. I don’t mind. For one night at least, I’m healed.

Posted October 2, 2007 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

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