One of my resolutions this year is to Get Weird. It is a modification to a resolution from a few years ago, to Do Awesome Things. I was checking my calendar on Monday (the 7th), when a Nerd York City entry jumped out at me: How to Trespass. This sounded really interesting, and Weird. So I decided to check it out. As you can see from the photo above, it was definitely weird. That’s a carousel horse on the stage. As might also be able to tell, the place was PACKED. Apparently, white New Yorkers are really into being where they aren’t supposed to be. (I specifically mention that most of the people there were white, because it will come up later.)
The person speaking is part of (I think) a duo called Wanderlust, who hold events in places they literally have no right to be – hence trespass. I expected the event to be an explanation of how to scout places to go, figure out how to avoid guards / cops / etc, and how to talk your way out of stuff when you got caught. Instead, it was a crappy slideshow, a bad lecture, and a pretensions discussion of “ethics.”
Essentially, everything I thought the event would be got boiled down to the speaker repeatedly saying “use common sense” in various forms. This was disappointing; however it was also eye opening. I have always been fascinated by photos of ruins and broken down buildings. Because of the evidence of decay, but just as much because they always seem like the photographer is somewhere he or she shouldn’t be. Flouting rules holds my attention. It turns out that getting away with being where you ought not be isn’t all that difficult, if you have a decent head on your shoulders. Much like being a cop isn’t like what’s depicted in cop movies, getting into forbidden places isn’t much like how it’s depicted in spy movies.
I sort of panned the event, but I did hear some good tips. For example, if you’ve got a radio, and someone asks you what the hell you’re doing somewhere, tell them you’re a film student. That will both give a plausible explanation of why you are where you are, and also make it apparent that you aren’t a threat. Another tip that surprised me was to always have your ID on you. I would have thought the exact opposite, but if you get stopped by the cops and you have your ID, they are much more free to use their own discretion regarding what to do than if you don’t have it. You are more likely to be perceived as a threat if you knowingly went somewhere you weren’t supposed to be AND took steps to prevent people from finding out who you are or why you’re there.
The event wasn’t half as interesting as I expected it to be, but it only cost me 10 bucks and about 3 hours worth of my time (including getting there and home). All in all, I’m glad I went. If I hadn’t gone, I would have assumed I missed out on something amazing. Now I know I caught something mediocre. But it got me off my ass, instead of spending another night watching Netflix. And that was the whole purpose of the resolution, anyway. Not only that, but it means I have two weeks respite before I have to start looking for something weird to do again. Not that I will pass up an opportunity, should one present itself.