RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, May 8

google maps street view picture dump: street basketball goals of sad Juarez

Trying to take a break from social media, which means I have more time to waste in more personally exciting ways - like wandering google street views through the sad northwestern ends of Juarez, searching for basketball goals on the street. Looks like google's cyberlord machines rolled through these streets in April of 2009, which was during the early height of that city's horrendous murder surge, which at its peak was seeing 3000 murders per year (in a town of about 1.5 million). This portion of the city had heavy concentration of that crime, as it is the literal definition of hardscrabble for the most part, existing on the fringes of Juarez, both geographical as well as economically (as well as metaphorically I guess... keep going west and you end up in the desert, which you don't want to end up at, and just north is the border with El Paso on the other side).
Next to memorial graffiti, a guy is actually using this hoop as the camera passes. Even when surrounded by death, fuckin' human nature stays alive, and goes on.
This goal still has a net and is mostly level so I assume it gets action still (well, the "still" being April of 2009 in our digital exploration of reality). But who? A kid? Young men perhaps with adult-sized bodies but stunted psychology? Or scarred psychology? Or is all that just my comfortable speculation applied? Do they get full games with multiple dudes on teams, or just one-on-one make it, take it? Do they play 21 in Juarez? Even though I've "wandered" these streets through the filter of google street views, what the fuck do I actually "know"?
 Another level goal, but with no net. This was on the deep southern end before the "city" gets cut off by federal highway. Noticed the dudes to the left. One is laid out. Are they homeless? Drunk? More speculation? Maybe they've been moving cinderblocks all morning, and it's break time and beside that wall is their only shade. But I know none of this.
No net, not even a rim, but the backboard is color coordinated with paint on house itself, which suggests perhaps more successful, organized times for this plot. House to the right looking good too, not only to my eyes through the google street view finder, but also that dog there too. I wondered what he was looking at, but google gave no assistance. I will have to accept the fact I cannot know what that dog was so interested in.
This house looks decently maintained, though there is shit piled up everywhere on that second level. Business truck out front is misleading as I can tell you there was a store across the street. Those buses up the street to the left also are misleading as they were painted as personnel transport, not for a school. Still though, obvious signs of economic activity, which of course, is blocking the fucking basketball goal. Hard to find balance, I guess.
But beyond finding basketball goals, I became immersed in other shit. All these piles of neglect in these far corners, and endless rubbed away layers of graffiti, like everywhere. I actually was using the level of graffiti stain to determine which direction to keep "traveling" while doing this. (I understand completely the fucked-up poverty porn aspect to this, but at the same time I think there's a certain empathy to be gained for the human condition through digital meditations like this. I am thankful for the comfort I have in life, even though the nature of our western capitalist pyramid scam is to always feel like we are about to be completely fucked by some sort of number-based oblivion.) Had to snag this pic because Wu logo.
Corner about three blocks from edge of city, but at the edge of google street view camera travel. Faded Catholic virgin murals, chipping off wall, pockmarked by name tags. I got sidetracked once or twice studying cholo hand lettering styles, which - if you've ever tried - is actually complicated as fuck to do with a pen, much less with a can of spray paint. And yet it cover a ton of these surfaces. The respectability aspect of what is accepted as "culture" or "civilized" always trips me out, because a majority of well-off creative geniuses would have no fucking clue how to figure out cholo script. But ultimately, it means nothing - at least not in terms of financial successes - because "culture" judges it as worthless. And yet it takes application of human focus and physical practice to accomplish, even on a neglected wall in the far corner of a dangerous Mexican city ravaged by aura of lawlessness due to drug cartels tendrils spreading throughout (mostly due to American drug consumption). Also take note of how pretty much every name is marked through. This is a consistent visual when "traveling" these streets - there are no fresh names in abundance without strike-throughs. Everybody is marked through, marked for dead or unwanted. While that's kind of a corny statement to make, while watching this shit from afar from my comfortable bureaucratic cubicle, it's also a sign of the hopelessness. Everybody's graffiti representation is as good as dead, already.
Not a lot to say about this picture, other than it's some dudes staring bewildered at the camera (you see so much of that in google street view - fuck google street view... if you see them, cover your face and flick them off), working on a car, corner business wall has Tecate logo and more names tagged up on the wall, and a dusty old faded Mexican flag is still flying. Fuck yeah, three dudes working on car. Fuck yeah.
So we - meaning us in this digital realm who have crossed the digital divide (which I'm not entirely comfortable with that divide, hence my current period of abstinence from social media) - use the internet to view the world. Many Americans have internet and TV intertwined to where they are the same thing. Our home TVs are basically gigantic flat screen computer monitors. So I found it striking the google street view camera - symbol of our modern technological progress (and over-reaching eye) - rolled past these three dudes pushing a giant old-style tube TV up a hill on a dolly. No time to stop and hide their face, as they were maintaining momentum up the grade. Also I couldn't ever tell if that was a huge ass crow up on that wire to the upper right, or just a clump of clothes or some shit. I am going to go with crow, and hope it pecks the eyes out of the master google camera one day.
So I was going all the way down Sinaloa street in Juarez (lol, this is now a portion of a perceived "reality" even though I didn't go anywhere), and there was a mass of people up ahead, so I actually got excited. It was a street market, where everybody was set up selling shit (mostly clothes). Seemed to be more vendors than buyers, but whatever man. In a world ruled by economics, people will fucking scratch at ways to make it work, even if born into a losing proposition. "The struggle is real" comes to mind, because it fucking is, for a majority of the world. Even us here on the "good" side of the digital divide struggle daily to maintain our abstract status of comfort. It can disappear quickly - one paycheck, one sudden death in the immediate family, one weekend of weakness by an addictive personality. I don't know who the fuck is actually reading this, if anybody even does (as I feel lost in this digital realm to be honest, and feel as though the connections are as blurred as the faces google street view passes), but I want you to know I appreciate it and love you. That also sounds corny but I've been meditating on our shared human essence, how we all are born with that same primordial energy and spirit, and it's important we realize we all have that same shit inside of us. This side of the digital divide practices a psychology of mocking and judging others, to create a sense of superiority, often due to inherent doubts of self, which of course is born from both the precarious nature of all our existences within financial abstractions, but also because of the constant bombardment of "ideals" of physical form or success that we get hit with through digital activity.
Faces scrubbed for digital reality, brands too whenever necessary - but real folks on Sinaloa street in the Juarez of April 2009 were all sitting there - at least six in this one screencap. Where are these people now? What was their life then, and what is it now? Have some fled Juarez, making that insane trip into the desert? Are they still sitting there? Those two tires aren't even the same size (at least they don't look to be). The immensity of human civilization is fucking crazy to think about, and it's also shocking to realize how quickly it can come undone in all these little corners and pockets of "civilization". Again, "the struggle is real" - not just the struggle to survive (economically, physically, metaphorically) but the struggle to remain existing, and to have all the little things we make with our lives exist, and tend to our work and our creations and our offspring. Every little world is as immense as the whole, and every human consciousness is swimming in endless flow of shit to worry about.
Finally came towards the end of both Sinaloa street market as well as the google panopticon's travels, and this scene of street market bustling in front of graffiti pocked walls with barbed wire stretched above to protect the phone tower or whatever the fuck that contraption is in the back, solar blur shining down like always, like it does everywhere on the surface of this planet, and I figured that was probably the fitting metaphorical visual ending for this "trip" through Juarez. We all are fighting in our own ways, to stay human, to keep being. Keep fighting. One day we'll have more faces again than blurred out data, and we'll hopefully start living life again instead of just consuming it.


viviana said...

hey good stuff on google views 'street basketball goals of sad juarez'. i somehow stumbled on your page through a picture i instantly recognized as home - El Paso / Juarez. i liked your narrative, artistic and political views. i especially liked this line "This is a consistent visual when "traveling" these streets - there are no fresh names in abundance without strike-throughs. Everybody is marked through, marked for dead or unwanted." when you were talking about the graffiti. you also made sure to mention the importance of the 2009 time stamps. keep on going. thanks for this today. viviana

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