owned:

02:03:16
9:22am
Starbucks: Katella & Los Alamitos Blvd.: Los Alamitos

Today the weather was not disappointing: Crisp air and not a cloud in the sky – the makings of another sunny California winter day. Eric arrived at Starbucks first and grabbed a cup of coffee while waiting for me. The moment I got there, we were ready to go. We grabbed the top paper in the rack and turned a few pages. Page 7, 2nd word: owned.

We knew what “owned” meant – it’s pretty simple, really. To possess something. But we looked it up really quick on our iPhones to see if there were any other meanings that we could extract from the word. Owned also means: to acknowledge full responsibility for something: to utterly defeat or humiliate.

We knew instantly we might be able to take this different ways. But just like our first thought, we figured it would be easy to show ownership of something. After all, everything around us is owned by someone. But how do we show something or someone actively owning something else, and in an interesting way? That’s what we were on the lookout for.

We found a lady and her dog and we knew that was an easy way to show owned. We captured it, but knew we wanted more. We came across some graffiti which could be someone’s way to show they own that area. We felt that was just ok. There were also weathered, stamped metal plates in the street proclaiming they belonged to the city’s utility department. We found many things which showed “owned”. But nothing really stood out the way we were looking for.

Switching up and down the streets in the area revealed places of residence as well as small businesses and even a small church. There was a lone statue in front of the church greeting us, but something about it was totally unexpected – someone had stepped over the short iron fence surrounding the statue and placed a shovel against the statue’s outstretched arm. A small act of defaming the statue not quite at the level of graffiti, but whoever did that definitely took over the original intent of the statue and owned it in their own way. I’m sure if it could express itself, it would feel totally humiliated.

We knew we would have something to show for this 72 minutes, but kept going with the 25 minutes we had left. Nothing quite said owned as well as that statue until we rounded a corner on a more industrial block and looked up. There above us were a pair of shoes tied at the laces and hurled onto the power lines leaving them hanging out of reach. I remember hearing different explanations for the hanging shoes, one being that they represent a gang-owned territory, which definitely could support the “owned” idea.

I looked it up on my phone to make sure that’s what it meant while Eric shot the dangling shoes. I found many explanations for what the shoes could mean. But probably the most fitting was that shoes tied together could be a symbol of bullying, where a bully would steal someone’s shoes and toss them somewhere they are unlikely to be retrieved. That, to us, showed “owned” the best so far.

We captured other images of people working, clearly being owned by someone else at that moment. There were other signs of graffiti that we captured along with lots of things that were owned by someone. But at the end of the 72 minutes, we felt that the shoes represented the word “owned” the best.

minute:72 : owned

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