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2004-01-10

IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:

Wow, I sure have been traveling for a long time. As I post today's installment I looked at my calendar and saw that I've been out here for 137 days! This is the longest I've ever traveled, and by far the most challenging trip I've ever taken. Sometimes I think about calling it quits and heading home—some days I'm just tired of never sleeping in the same bed, some days I'm tired of wondering what happens when the money runs out. I miss my friends and family.

Yet, there is something that compels me to continue. I know I have something great to find out here. And, I know I have something great to give out here. And, I'll know when it's time to go home. But, until then, you'll find me somewhere out there. I'm the one in the red car with the driver's side window that doesn't work anymore, the one with the rust spots all over it that speeds past you. I'm the one taking the pictures of the graffiti, the statue, the strange food.

I've been playing shows every day for the last few days. I even played TWO concerts the other night. I sell my buttons, CDs, and photos at these gigs. And, I've been consistently selling things every day. It's very exciting! So, I'm sure as hell not rich, but my finances are looking brighter. I am starting to realize that I can support myself entirely with my art. Onward and upward!

I am still looking for nice, fun people who can put me up for a few nights and really host me. This would involve me staying at your house for a few days, showing me a good time, feeding me from time to time, and leading me into whatever general mischief we can get into. I'll get to learn about your life and write about our times together! I am meeting with people I've never met before and living some life with them. That could be you! If you think it might be fun to host me for a day or two or three, email me at justingrace AT mac DOT com.

Please make sure to include your address and phone number in your email to me so I can be in touch!

I am especially looking for places to stay in the southeast USA and everywhere on the East Coast. I will be traveling all over the USA, though, so email me no matter where you are because I will probably come visit! Here are the places I will be in the next few months that I am still looking for a place to stay at:

• Florida
• Alabama
• Tennessee
• North/South Carolina
• Georgia
• Virginia

Please contact me ASAP if you want to hang out!

If you believe in what I am doing and want to help support me, please do so! You can donate money to me using PayPal. Email me for more information! Or, check out my photo sales page! Buying photos from me feeds me and keeps me on the road!



US Tour Day 118: Change the World


We passed the office of Jeb Bush as we walked through downtown Orlando. The same morbidity that compels me to photograph robbed tombs and dead animals forced me to snap a shot of this.

We weren't all that hungry, but we stopped into a restaurant/bar to get out of the near–freezing windy cold. I asked Jen, Nej, and Craig a question over a chocolate torte the round–faced waitress had recommended. "If you knew you could change the world in only one way in your lifetime, what would that one way be? Now, I know there are plenty of ways, but pick one."

They looked at me kind of blankly. Craig looked a little interested in answering the question, but not interested enough to actually give me an answer. He said he'd have to think about it. "I'm going to sit on it for a while."

Nej said she'd never thought about changing the world. "I guess I just never thought I could, the world's so big."


Jennifer Baldwin in Orlando, Florida.

Jen didn't answer or even offer an excuse for not answering. I asked her again and she looked away at the television above the bar behind me. Her eyes were far away. "Sorry. I spaced out or something."

I was stunned by their answers—their lack of answers. What was this thing I was experiencing? Was it apathy? Was it disinterest? Or, maybe they were just tired right then and didn't want to talk?

What was it? Perhaps it's just a different way of living—a foreign flavor from a far away place I'd only seen on TV.

I really believe that all people long for the world to be a better place. Maybe they dream of peace in their homeland, an en end to the hunger that resonates in their empty stomach, a cure for the disease that slowly consumes the life of their best friend, or enough money for their mom to finally not worry about tomorrow.

But my new friends' lack of enthusiasm made me wonder: are there those for whom hope has already vanished like the memories of dreams after waking? Or, were the seeds of hope never planted in some hearts to begin with?

I don't understand; I don't relate. Of course, my lack of understanding is the problem. The heart of the matter is really just a question in the form of a statement: Why are they like this? I must answer this question non–rhetorically if I am to have the deep compassion that only blossoms in the presence of real understanding.

So, I ask myself these questions: Why do some doubt their ability to affect their world? And, why have some people never even dared to hope for a better world? What can I do—what can we all do—to change this?



Inside Spy Bar, Orlando, Florida.


Display screens all around Spy Bar show patrons what's happening in its many booths and within its various hidden, secret rooms and alcoves. One such room is even equipped with a night vision camera. Unsuspecting couples sneaking off to have sex in this often–overlooked dark, secret room (hidden behind a moving bookcase) get their activities displayed to the entire bar!

Tonight they played Ana Ng by They Might Be Giants at Independent Bar, so I just had to dance—there was no way around it. It wasn't because the song's beat was great or anything. It wasn't. The song is as danceable as trees growing or sleep apnea. But, I danced anyways—out of excitement, out of solidarity. That song has my favorite video of all times and it's one of the songs that inspired me to start making music so many years ago—during that young time when I still wondered if anyone would ever understand me.

The video to the song played on huge screens above the dance floor, and I watched it between the moments when I was so lost in myself—swimming in my wide smile, seeing behind my closed eyes. And as I danced around like the happiest of fools, I sent a silent thank–you to the people who've inspired me to truly be that person I call myself. They Might Be Giants, Devo, Dr. Demento, Al Yankovic, Camper Van Beethoven, The Dead Milkmen. Thanks, guys. I wouldn't be here doing what I do were it not for you. So, this dance is for you.


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