April 23rd, 2013 | What We Need is the Impossible! | Annapolis, MD
Each stop on this tour is usually about a three hour drive, so I’ve been all over the Mid-Atlantic region in my bright red Ford Fiesta rental (It’s actually a surprisingly decent car). I’ve gotten lost a couple of times – in fact I got hella-lost on my way to Annapolis and just barely made it to the show on time. I got totally screwed up in a spaghetti-like freeway maze around Baltimore, and was so frustrated by the experience that it caused me to give some serious thought to how I – and we – navigate on the road these days.
I’m going to say right up front – and you might think I’m a Luddite or just an idiot – that I don’t like GPS. Yeah, I know, it works and it’s a pretty fail-safe way to get somewhere – you just turn on that thing and it tells you exactly what to do. But that’s what I don’t like about it: many people I know who use GPS turn into zombies, just blindly following the prompts. I know someone who actually uses GPS to go to places that she’s traveled hundreds of times; she says that just likes the certainty of being told where to turn and when. I’m sure I sound like a crank, but I think this kind reliance on GPS actually atrophies one’s powers of thinking and orienting and sense of direction. If you just sit back and do what your told, of course, all those muscles get flabby. So I’m not using GPS.
The other thing that I hate is Mapquest directions; they’re often so unnecessarily complicated! Something as simple as “take US-17 to I-95” gets broken down into seventeen little component steps. “Go 50 feet on this spur, and then merge on to this off ramp, etc.” If you look at the Mapquest directions this looks incredibly complicated, but the reality is that if you just follow the signs, it’s usually pretty straightforward.
All of this got me wondering, what the hell did we do before the Internet? I couldn’t really remember how car trips worked back in the 20th century. I do remember as a kid going with my parents to the AAA office to pick up a bunch of little maps before a road-trip. And I guess I remember someone sitting in the passenger seat navigating and telling the driver what to do. Did people get lost more back then, or less? It’s striking how technology changes the way we do things, and then suddenly it’s impossible to remember what life was like before.
So back to the I-495 interchange outside of Baltimore. My own lame solution so far on this tour has been to glance through the Mapquest directions and get enough of a sense of the route that I hoped I could wing it. The problem is, this doesn’t actually doesn’t work! I found myself lost and desperately looking down at the map on my stupid iPhone while driving in fast-moving heavy rush-hour traffic. I said to myself “I’m an asshole, and this is super dangerous!”
So I’ve come up with a new solution: before hitting the road, I sit down with the Mapquest directions and my phone and go through the route. I consult the iPhone map so I have some general sense of where to go and then condense the Mapquest directions to lose all the tiny irrelevant steps. I then write out on a piece of paper the different steps and roads and exits. I realize I must sound like I’m 80-years old, but it seems to work for me. As for all of you using GPS, I hate to say it, but if the satellites ever go out, you people aren’t even going to remember how to get to the end of your driveway.
So like I said, I barely made it to the screening at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on time. A very small crowd. The truth is that even if there were one person in the audience, I would enjoy talking to him or her afterwards. For me, even if I’m grumpy about the turnout, I get huge amounts of energy and inspiration from engaging with people after a screening. That kind of human interaction and connection is for me what it’s all about.
Post by OSIP Touring Filmmaker, Sam Green