Friday, February 27, 2009

walk the walk

Google maps is fun, right? Well, one day, not too long ago, I was trying to find my way to an artist's studio and I noticed that google maps offers driving directions, public transportation directions and walking direrctions. Now, I'd never noticed the walking directions and I had no intention of walking the however-many-miles it would have been to walk, but I clicked anyway. And instantly I had walking directions.

Well, far be it for me to stop there, so I said to myself, I wonder how far this thing will tell me to walk if I ask it. So I typed in "destination a" as Los Angeles and "destination b" as New York City and, click, instantly I was fed 795 distinct directions for walking from LA to NY. Suffice it to say, I was a little surprised by the quickness and the scale of the answer. There were directions for walking 16 feet before the next direction. It took you through Bagdad, Arizona. Yes, my spelling is correct and yes, there is a Bagdad, Arizona. It even takes you on Yellow Brick Road. It's in Pennsylvania. The amount of data made me more and more curious about the whole thing, walking from one side of our country to another, and so I started thinking of projects to do inspired by it.

But damn it if someone hasn't already done it. As in, walked it!

From his website: "In January of 2002 Aaron Huey and his dog Cosmo walked from Encinitas, CA to Coney Island, NY. The journey, which totaled 3,349 miles, took 154 days. There was no press, no cell phone, and no support team. Just the great unknown."

Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't ever planning on walking it. I was thinking of more, like, works on paper about it. But Huey is not like the rest of us. Not only has he walked across America, but he has also documented poppy eradication in Nangarhar Province, East of Jalalabad and also outside Tarin Kowt, in Oruzgan Province. He has shot in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He has photographed high in the mountains of the Georgian Republic, between the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Oh yeah, and he hitchhiked across Siberia.

I am extremely grateful that people like Huey exist. He lets us in on things that most of us can only abstractly think about. He goes out and does them. Both insane and great.

from his walk across America, self-portrait

from his walk across America, self-portrait with Cosmo

from the front lines of the Afghanistan drug war

from Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto

from the Los Angeles fires in late 2008

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