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alan interviews alan for Exposing Sandy [4/25/13 and 4/26/13]

alan: Hello alan! Thank you for agreeing to this interview about your Exposing Sandy project.

alan: Thank you for your interest, alan. I am glad to discuss the project.

alan: So… boobs… in places affected by Hurricane Sandy?

alan: Yes.

alan: Well, do you wish to elaborate on why you chose this as your project?

alan: Certainly.

alan: You can do that now…

alan: First, I spent three days in my apartment in Clinton Hill with my roommate Jonny and our good friend Devin. We watched the news on TV and kept up as best we could online. For a moment the lights flickered, but they remained on. One night the Internet died. It was back up when we awoke the next day. We watched the people taunt the storm, we watched as people lost power in lower Manhattan, and we were barely affected besides spending three days cooped up in the apartment.

After Sandy passed, I continued to read about the aftermath, mostly due to my interest on those people taunting the storm and not heeding warnings given beforehand. I went to work one day on 34th and 8th. I got a car ride from a co-worker and a group of us rode through the unpowered streets of Manhattan. I had seen pictures of the blacked out parts from the Internet and friends who biked in, but driving through was an experience itself. There were police trying to guide traffic, but there were not enough of them. Most people slowed their cars, but many intersections had cars flying through with no caution. Upon reaching my destination for work, things seemed as if nothing happened.

I returned from work that evening and Jonny showed me photographs he had taken that day from Far Rockaway. He had photographs of the boardwalk up against peoples' homes. He had photographs of a light post from the boardwalk going through his friend's wall and couch. He had photographs of sand piled a few feet deep in the streets. He spent many days in Far Rockaway surfing in the ocean, but now he went to help out fellow surfers who had to deal with the aftermath of Sandy.

alan: [Interrupts] Excuse me. What does this have to do with boobs?

alan: Are you just trying to get the short answer?

alan: Shorter would be helpful. Why did you chose to lump Hurricane Sandy in with boobs?

alan: Ft. Tilden.

alan: Ft. Tilden?

alan: Yes.

alan: What does Ft. Tilden have to do with Hurricane Sandy, your roommate surfing, and boobs?

alan: Well, before you interrupted, I was about to explain that if it had not been for my roommate being a surfer, I probably would have been like most people and withdrawn from the destruction of Sandy. However, due to his involvement, I saw that volunteers were needed early on. Later this need would have spread throughout and many people volunteered their time to help those affected by Sandy.

alan: With all this attention cast onto volunteering, would you say that your project involving those places and boobs to be just some perverse excuse to see women's breasts and pretend it is self-less altruistic art?

alan: No.

alan: Would you like to explain?

alan: I believe that is what I was doing before you interrupted me again.

alan: I am sorry to interrupt, but this just seems like some infatuation with breasts.

alan: I think you may have the infatuation with breasts. I was answering the questions and you keep wanting to talk specifically about breasts. I will try to indulge your interest in a few words.

Boobs are completely legal in public in the state of New York. Anyone can legally walk around with their nipples exposed. Anyone. The fact that even though New York state has determined there to be no difference in women's breasts, the public of New York still takes notice when a woman's breast is exposed and pay little attention if a man's breast is exposed. Now, you can say I used this sensitivity in the public to grab a little extra attention.

alan: So, even though breasts are legal, you knew sex sells and could draw people to look at the places affected by Sandy.

alan: Did I mention sex?

alan: No, you were mentioning the extra attention that could…

alan: [Interrupts] I will stately this simply and calmly: a woman's exposed breast or breasts does not equate sex or sexual activity. This goes as well for vaginas, penises, or butts. If nipples, penises, vaginas, penises, and butts equated to sexual activity, then the baby ward in every hospital should be investigated for underage sexual activity and child pornography for any person taking a photograph of a baby who just entered this world that has not been covered in clothing.

alan: So, the boobs just tend to grab attention in public and you also said Ft. Tilden was part of your decision to do this as well. Can you explain the connection between Ft. Tilden, Sandy, and boobs?

alan: Yes. The short answer is that even in this day in time, when all breasts are legal and can be exposed in public, that there are few places where women feel comfortable exposing them. One place that I know women feel semi-comfortable having their breasts exposed to the elements is at Ft. Tilden on Far Rockaway. This is a place that many people go over the summer to enjoy the ocean and sun. This is a place that was affected by Sandy. Ft. Tilden will not be open for the summer of 2013. In the middle of winter, many people did not think much about the beach communities they visit during the summer. It was cold and they had jobs to do.

alan: Do you think it is the fault of these people to be near-sighted about the impact of Sandy?

alan: No. I do not think there should be any blame placed through this environmental devastation. Blaming makes the issue even more narrow than ignorance. In my ideal world, we all could just look at what happened and see ways we can improve in the future. If we go on a witch hunt to find the people responsible for x,y,z then we will waste valuable time which can be constructive.

alan: What ways do you think we can improve?

alan: I am no expert on these things and may come off as preachy, but I will state a few things that impacted me during and after Sandy.

1) We are not invincible. Life has rules which we must follow to continue to exist. Sometimes, those rules get lost in the speed of our lives, but they never change. I hope we can learn to respect our environment and learn more about how to exist in it.

2) We are not alone. Many people think that we should be individuals and responsible for every action and consequence that comes upon us. However, as Sandy and many other semi-random events, we cannot survive without each other. Humanity does not exist do to every individual living their own individual lives. Our lives are intertwined and we help each other daily. We should work to be more in-tune to cooperating together and stop lying to ourselves about how independent we are.

Sorry, I could go on a rant about how irrational it is that some people want to reject government and taxes, yet demand help when they are in need. Can we get back to boobs?

alan: Did you have more to say about boobs?

alan: Yes. Earlier, I mentioned Ft. Tilden being a semi-comfortable place for women to not cover their boobs. Well, I got to witness first hand the fear of women exposing their breasts in public.

alan: Even though it is completely legal?

alan: Yes, even though it is completely legal, you still have the social and cultural impacts going through the woman's mind.

alan: How so?

alan: Let me state the fear was not of the public viewing their boobs, but the fear of the public's reaction to their boobs being exposed. It is a completely logical fear. In some instances, the woman and I asked some construction workers in the area if they minded that the woman exposed her breasts. They did not, but even the event that we felt necessary to ask is telling about the uncomfortable situation women have, even with the law on their side.

alan: Did you force the women to push past their fears?

alan: Of course not. I would talk to them and discuss alternatives, but never pressured them. We would either move locations or talk to the people around or just do it quickly and deal with the reactions. Eventually, we would laugh about the situation. In 7 of the 9 areas I shot, there were construction workers present. Many of the construction workers were able to enjoy the lightness of the situation. There were smiles. It went from being uncomfortable in the thought process to enjoyable… and then to uncomfortable in the cold.

alan: Talking about locations, why did you choose to stay in NYC? Jersey was hit very hard by Sandy, but you did not venture it.

alan: I would have loved to venture outside of NYC. Sandy was not just a disaster for the USA, but for other nations as well. Jamaica had the hurricane cause destruction, but I did not have the means to travel and make this a larger project. I wanted to go to Jersey and have a man as the subject, but I could not afford it. [Jersey does not allow women to expose their breasts, so to keep with the exposing theme, I would have used a male. It did not happen anyway. Sorry Jersey! For both your laws and myself not having the means.]

alan: Well, you have answered most of my questions. Is there anything you would like to state in closing?

alan: Yes. Thank you again for this opportunity.

To all those who lost a loved one to Sandy, I wish to say I have extreme empathy for you. This existence we share has many times when we have to deal with loss, but I hope we can all look forward and see the joys that we have had to get here and the unlimited joys we can share in the future.

To the construction workers, thank you for the hard work you have done and are doing. Many people ignore the work you put in simply because you are paid, but it is a tough job and thank you for pushing through for long hours to get things back to normal.

To the volunteers and organizations, thank you for donating your time to help those people who ended up in unfortunate situations due to Sandy.

To the donors, those that had the resources to help those people.

To anyone who helped another anytime, continue working together and each day will be brighter and these incidents will become smaller and smaller even if the water comes higher and higher.

[Note from alan and alan: this interview was done in one pass on 4/25/13 and 4/26/13. Both alan and alan are very bad at putting words together and worse at editing them after. Sorry. Oh look… boobs!]

Brighton Beach
Broad Channel
Coney Island
Far Rockaway
Financial District
New Dorp
Red Hook
West Side