What was May Place

Inspired by Luke Waltzer’s screencast using Google’s Street View to experiment with digital storytelling, I decided to take a look at the neighborhood where I grew up in Baldwin, NY. This process was really trippy for me, and the possibilities for nostalgia in Google’s Street View is virtually limitless. And while Luke’s narrative is tight, reflective, and thoughtful, mine is overly long, distracted and self-indulgent. I have no problems with nostalgia, on the contrary I think it’s the basis for some of the most creative and generative work ever produced—William Faulkner being my cultural yardstick here. In fact, nostalgia has its roots in a Greek word which literally means homesickness. How appropriate, nostalgia as the almost perpetual sense of homesickness imposed by the passing of time that we all carry around with us to some degree. My work in this blog for almost three years has consistently been about searching for some kind of return to a symbolic home.

So here’s a series of reflections, stories, and musings on the neighborhood I grew up in, and as an added bonus you can hear about all the times I got beat up as well as gawk the boyhood home of BlackBoard’s co-founder Matthew Pittinsky—whom I mistakenly call Scott in the video—who actually grew up around the corner from me 🙂

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9 Responses to What was May Place

  1. Luke says:

    Thanks Jim. That was fantastic, from the joy and longing in your voice, to the familiarity and specificity of the stories you told– makes me wish I had taken a bit longer to reflect upon my neighborhood before I published my bit. I love the sense of youthful play, exploration, and discovery you give here– it’s no wonder that someone who grew up with 437 other kids within 125 square feet of his house has proven so adept at coalescing such a widely-dispersed group of folks into such a functional community around a shared set of ideas. I don’t know what the hell Fox and Hound is (though I do know from Asses Up), but I bet you were all-in when you played it.

    I also am simply astounded that the code for Blackboard sprung from the same water supply that gave us you. That dialectic is just too profound for me to process right now.

    Also– we missed you today at #cunyit. I think you’d feel that the event has progressed, that the ethos that we all share and argue around and that we felt was too little in evidence at previous events has grown stronger. There’ll be some talk about that next week, I’m sure.

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