Yesterday was a great day. I ran into my very first recipient for the first time since we met on December 15, 2009. I embarked on this journey 259 days ago when I placed $10 in the hands of a man named Knox who was shinning shoes on a bitter cold afternoon on the corner of 21st and P Streets. I walked by him yesterday and I wasn’t sure if it was him, so I asked. “Yeah that’s me,” he said. He remembered meeting me too. We talked and I got his phone number so that I can invite him to the year-end party. “I’m gonna be there,” he assured me. He also offered me a free shoe shine which I politely declined. It made my day to see Knox again! Here is an updated picture of him.
I am about two weeks behind writing up the blogs…so today’s recipient is from Day 246. I was in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC when I realized I was close to the restaurant Social. You might remember I visited this place on Day 84. It’s a cool place that is hard to categorize. I called it a restaurant, but it is rather chameleon like. It is a restaurant, bar, lounge, living room…it is what you are looking for. I ended up talking to some people sitting outside on their patio. I offered a woman there the $10 but she refused. Then a guy at the table suggested that I give the $10 to the next person that walked by. Well, I was thinking that it might be difficult to get someone to stop and talk to me since it was almost midnight.
About 100 yards away we spotted a guy walking and when he got close I asked him to accept my $10, but he declined. I sat back down and enjoyed one of the tasty beers they have at Social. About five minutes later we spotted someone else approaching the patio. One of the guys at my table said, “Oh my gosh, you may want to skip this guy,” because the man who was walking toward us had fluorescent blue hair, eyebrows and goatee. When I saw him, I wasn’t discouraged, in fact, I knew that he was the one.
Somehow I wasn’t surprised when the 45-year-old Altoona, PA native told me, “They call me Freakshow. I’m a DJ.” He’s been mixing high energy music for several years here in DC creating a music genre that he calls “funky junk.”
I had to ask him about his color choice for his hair. “It’s always changing; from leopard prints to zebra stripes, to an American flag mohawk.” (I’m back to using the word mohawk on my blog!) He channels his creativity in many other ways too.
Freakshow is a flower designer and a re-creation artist; someone who takes “something that is considered to have outlived its useful purpose and give it one last chance at being worthwhile.”
He told me about one of his artworks that got a considerable amount of attention from his neighbors. He decided to reuse his downspouts in a new and creative way. Check out these photos from the Prince of Petworth’s website.
Like or dislike his creation, it does get a reaction. It generated 90+ comments on the August 9th Prince of Petworth blog post. Freakshow himself even chimed in to explain himself. I personally don’t care much for the result of his new arrangement of the downspouts, but I get what he was doing and what I like even more about it was what he said about how his experiment triggered social interaction within his community. “I in the past two weeks have had the opportunity to meet more of my neighbors than in the two years I have lived at this residence. I have made friend and foe but I have lived an experience that allowed me to see and grow, to realize how people can be so utterly judgmental of another person’s vision. I never claimed beauty or functionality I only took a moment to look at life from a different perspective and my god it was a journey.”
By the way, Freakshow told me the whole creation was held in place by three screws and some duct tape. I may be wrong, but I believe that he has since removed the downspout. He wrote in the blog post comment that he envisioned replacing it with a brick patio, flower-cart and bench that hopefully won’t offend his neighbors.