Monday, August 01, 2005

Corn Holes

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Sunday. Land art project Not A Cornfield saw this 32 acre strip of land just north of Chinatown converted into, yes, a cornfield. Whether or not anyone wants to realize it, or whether or not this awe inspiring project is conscious of it, this is L.A.'s response to Christo's inanties in NYC's Central Park Wrapping. Here, see, the publicity is minimal (though the website is slick and reeks of art damage... but the Annenberg Foundation funded this, so there needs to be some sort of pretentious rationale). My guess is that the hipster cachet of the place will rise as the stalks of corn rise. Just little bright sprouts now. But growing. Making a bewildering and welcomed (necessary) statement. For one agricultural cycle this strip of barren land in the city's historic center will become a strange project, a kind of radical reconvening with certain natural processes that get veiled when one lives detached from THE SOURCE.
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Or, rather, you can come on Sundays, as we did, and plant corn on the south west end of the plot. Corn in concentric swirls, abutting the machine tilled rows of the master crop. Jaime, the ethereal, Latin(ish) leader man guided a dozen or so volunteers... some teenagers, some adults curious and with cameras, some wisened older men on the periphery, smoking and watering the seeds. He instructed me to plant three seeds in each hole, spaced apart, just so. He taught me how to fill freshly dug holes with a soil concoction from this blue wheelbarrow, just so. When I empty the wheelbarrow, go to the mound of soil and refill it, then go back to filling in the holes. Someone, he said, will mix the soil with the hard earth. There was a drum circle in the tented outpost, but it didn't reek of Venice hippy feigning, though there was that sense. After digging holes and transferring mulch and planting corn seeds, sweating and loving the feeling of soil on my hands, the drumming just made sense, hippie aesthetic usurped by something more essential to this land, something truly Native American, something lost and found and lost and found. And the usual worries of Sunday (impending work week, fleeting time, love, sex, death) became synced with this collective process of planting as the sun set, drums and the diminishing, goldening light not telling me that I should go home and rest for the work week, but that everything's fine, you're doing something, participating in something, somewhat, now. I'm coming back. This will be going on every Sunday until the harvest.


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