When I forget my newspaper or magazine on the bus or Rapid, I often end up staring at the people traveling with me or those in the nearby cars. Sometimes I make up little stories about them.
The woman with crooked lipstick, heavy perfume and dyed-red hair appears to be a lonely widow. She’d prefer to stay home, but gets on the bus every day because she hasn’t saved enough for retirement.
She stares back. I wonder what she thinks of me.
So, with a nod to an art piece by Lenka Clayton and James Price, I put on a social experiment of sorts with the help of photographer Billy Delfs, who set up lights and a background on Public Square and in the Warehouse District.
For nine hours, we talked to anyone who passed by or asked to be photographed. But we also wanted to capture a representative sample of who makes up downtown on a given day — a range of young and old, male and female, affluent-looking and those who appeared to be a little more rough around the edges.
We wanted a mix of races. We wanted to make sure we talked to someone with a dog and someone with a beer. We wanted someone yakking on their cell phone. We wanted locals and tourists. We photographed and interviewed about twice as many people than appear in this story.
We told people that we’d take their picture and ask them their first impression of someone else, but others would scrutinize them and give their own first impressions. It was shocking how many eager participants there were. Only two people in that nine-hour span walked away after hearing the ground rules.
The quotes often reveal as much about the person responding as those being scrutinized. They say a lot about who we are in Northeast Ohio.
Play along. We saved some basic information about each person photographed for the end, so you can see how close your assumptions are. Just look at the corresponding letters.
Roll your cursor over each small photo to see each person's comment. The red letters indicate people who both made a comment and were later commented on.
in the cle
12:00 AM EST
August 20, 2008