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51st and Telegraph: The very short story

on July 1, 2009

I’ve always loved the concept of creative constraints. Take origami, for example: Here is a very tiny canvas and a bunch of seriously limiting rules. Create a charming object.

It’s about imposing boundaries for creativity to push up against, and seeing what blossoms under the pressure.

Also see: bonsai, Wired‘s Very Short Stories contest (six words, science-fiction theme), nano reefs, and the 99 Ways to Tell a Radio Story experiment (“must include the following sounds: a pre-recorded voice, a rhythmic noise, and an exclamation (in that order)”).

At Right Now at 51st, we’re collecting messages sent in from people at the intersection of 51st and Telegraph streets in Temescal. Someone, I think a young person or a kid, sent in a text recently that struck me as a lovely model of creative constraint:

i’m with my cousins and my auntie, my aunt went to go cash her check so me and my cousins could go hang out at bay st. and maybe watch a movie.

For those unfamiliar with this spot in Temescal, there’s a check-cashing store on one corner of the intersection, and Bay Street is a high-end shopping corridor in Emeryville.

We got that text on a Saturday night, and it took me right back to being a kid and having sleepover weekends at my cousins’ house, when my uncle took the whole lot of us kids to the movies. All that, from a message small enough to fit in a text-message window.


  1. Roger Jennings on July 2, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Another explanation for the success of Twitter.


  2. […] Oakland North » 51st and Telegraph: The very short story. […]

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