Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Read work by Heriberto Yepez / Pedestrian angst

There's a review by Bill Marsh of Heriberto Yepez' book Babellebab (Duration, 2003) here, at Galatea Resurrects, the new magazine/blog edited by Eileen Tabios. The review, and the book are in English. I will order this when my next paycheck comes.

I still haven't ordered all of Heretical Texts, Vol 1. But I want to. Heretical Texts is going to publish another Yepez' book this fall. Who hoo!



Many fellow pedestrians greeted me today as I returned movies to Blockbuster. I can't get used to these friendly greetings from strangers. This weekend someone handed me a business card that declared he was searching for his soulmate. (This is what prompted the rant I never blogged). The kids who yell at me from cars aren't always hostile. When It rained this weekend I passed only one other pedestrian with an umbrella and we smiled at each other. I understood the camaraderie of that.

It's not like the standard "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir" of France that you must say, especially to strangers, before any other conversation ensues. It's like they're telling me that I must act happy and gleeful. Kind of like the vaguely malicious guys in DC and, I suspect, in other urban areas, who say "smile miss," or "you should smile more." Except that they don't say that, they just greet. Endlessly. One guy waved to me three times from his bicycle and almost crashed into the curb because he kept looking back at me after he'd ridden past. When I realized what was happening, I waved. I don't want to smile at everyone. I don't know them. I feel like an insincere jerk when I return their greetings or engage in small talk.

I mean, this is not the way to meet people or forage connections or develop community. The way to have community is to be interested in things. But all this greeting feels like a response to a lack of all those things (human connection) here. The boys are often just goofy teenagers looking for a party...my running shirt is green, and some kids drove by me and yelled "greeeeeen!" out the window, very exuberantly.

But also. I'm still a stranger here, and super guarded. But still. I mean, most people I don't know who try to talk to me with no community context or no context of shared interest don't mean me any good. I'm right about that.


Jessica Smith said...

i think the random-stranger-friendliness is a regional thing.

here in cville, students don't talk to each other when they pass, but if you pass a grownup you're expected to say something or make eye contact.

in vienna people didn't talk, or in stockholm. but in rural sweden people expected a greeting. you know like when you're hiking and you greet anyone you meet? as opposed to when you're walking down a crowded street in an urban setting, when if someone talks to you it's No Good.

in birmingham, where i grew up, people talk to each other. in buffalo, if you sneeze, the closest 10 strangers will say Bless You. Cities have different flavors--you know that. I don't think it's necessarily bad when strangers talk to you. But, of course, I understand your discomfort.

(Not to be a drag, but, statistically of course it's better not to know anyone! 90% of rape victims know their attacker. Acquaintance rape is the most common type.)

John Sakkis said...

college kids...i was walking home from the bank the other day. i was wearing a black t-shit. a car full of kids drove by and screamed out the window "BLAAAAAACK!!!"


tmorange said...

why do i keep reading "pederastrians" thoughout this post?


K. Lorraine Graham said...

Pedestrians + Zorastrians=Pederastrians. I kinda like it.