Way to Go
Way to Go focuses on the everyday experience of taking the ferry to travel back and fourth between home and work. The cyclical nature of this trip is only the point of departure for a series of deviations from the constrictive norms that regulate many public spaces. The piece takes on a diaristic form to convey the experiences of a ferry user over a radio broadcast. Step-by-step, the gradually more disagreeable gestures described by the narrator reveal the absurd pursuit of a loop connecting the station to the boat while circumventing the series of protocols that control those spaces. This piece was originally conceived to be broadcasted at the FM Ferry Experiment, a neurotransmitter’s live radio project installed in the Staten Island Ferry.
Way to Go
Text for radio broadcast (reproduced below), 2007
I just made it to the ferry station.
I quickly head toward the benches
but am forced to slow down to fit through one of the many turnstile-like barriers that were installed by the entrance of the station.
I guess if you are small
and thin enough,
you could just run through it without getting stuck.
You could also jump over them if you are the athletic type.
But there’s something else ‘asking’ you to slow down:
a large dog standing right on the other side of the barriers.
The dog is leashed to a tall guy with dark glasses and khaki pants.
Don’t know which one is scarier.
I let their imposing stature reverse my natural instinct to run away from policed situations
and instead I begin to move very slowly toward it.
My movements are so slow, you could practically touch them as if running your hand over a statue in a park.
‘With my leg as support,
my right foot is raised from the ground in a rolling motion from the heel to the tip of the toes,
which are the last part to be lifted away;
my whole leg is brought forward,
and the foot touches down at the heel.
At this moment, my left foot,
which has completed its roll and now rests only on the tip of the toes,
in turn leaves the ground;
my left leg is carried forward,
moving closely alongside my right leg and goes past it,
and my left foot touches the ground at the heel
just as my right foot is finishing its roll forward.’
Eventually I cross this unbearable threshold.
No one approaches or barks.
So, I head straight to the bathroom.
Then I stop by at the newsstand,
scan through the magazines and take a seat.
Usually by this time the ferry has just arrived and people run to the gate.
I get up and walk on the opposite direction.
I cross the barriers quickly since nobody seems to mind about anything flowing in the exit direction.
By all accounts it seems that I have already been authenticated.
So, I continue to walk fast, leading to the corridor where people are led out of the boat.
As I walk through the crowd, opposite the direction they move in,
I continue to push myself forward
while at the same time my body becomes susceptible to the many bumps it receives.
I begin to swivel, and at one point, I change direction.
But in spite of the fact that my body now faces forward along with the rest of the bodies leaving the boat,
I retain my intent to go on board.
So, I walk backwards,
simply letting the others pass me by
as I steadily move my way into the space they have left behind.
I eventually make it inside the boat but i don’t remain there for long,
just long enough or as long as the new breed of people, fresh from the station, begin to flood inside the boat.
At this point I try to find my way out of the boat, toward the station, to complete the cycle of my condensed trip.
This time, the thrust of the flow of people moving into the boat is more violent,
much more than the exiting one.
There’s more density to this crowd.
There are no gaps to explore or opportune moments of ambiguity to displace.
The crowd moves solidly together, without a single moment of hesitation.
They seemed to be moved by complete certainty about their intention.
Were I to move through the spaces temporarily left open by their moving legs,
I would have been kicked and ran over like a stray dog crossing a highway.
I choose instead to take my chances on the space above the crowd.
I climb the handrail at the edge of the boat and carefully slide my way to the front of the boat.
At this point, the crowd’s speed has slightly diminished to negotiate its way over the little platform that lets into the boat.
I then pick up speed and as, I reach the end of the handrail at the front of the boat,
I propel my body into plain air, against the coming inflow of bodies.
As I relinquish control of my stability to surf the crowd,
thrusting my body backwards onto a moving mass of people,
their lifted arms keep my body in suspension
while at the same time pushing me in the inverse direction of their flow.
I eventually reach the end of the crowd and,
as their compactness becomes sparse,
I begin to descend rapidly onto the ground.
I let the weight of my head command my fall
and quickly kick my legs over my head to regain command of my movement
and fall back onto my own feet,
back, once more, inside the ferry station.
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