Friday, October 24, 2008

Apologies and Secrets, Oh My!

Too many years ago, whilst going to school somewhere in the Ottawa Valley, I enjoyed a few years of the most amazing radio reception I've ever had in my life. I'd stay up late at night -- college insomniac, often cramming for midterms or forcing essays out through writer's block -- listening to American talk radio on AM stations that would sort of disappear at sun-up. (Yes, even then, Rush Limbaugh was still a sorry jackass.)

I remember being fascinated with a program that I think ran on late night American radio
(although part of me is tempted to say that it ran on CBC). It had a twisted sort of appeal that tapped into my inner-voyeur. The program involved the broadcast of message after message left on Allan Bridge's Apology Project phone line. The art project was a confessional sort of thing, meant to provide catharsis to callers (and inevitably, a bit of titillation for those who listened to the messages or read about them). Bridge, or Mr. Apology (as he called himsef), left posters around NYC inviting people to call a phone number to apologise anonymously for something they'd done -- to relieve themselves of the guilt of long-held secrets. Of course, many probably took off running with it, although from listening to some of the messages, I'm sure that many took it quite seriously. I was surprised, upon Googling the whole thing, to find out about the book and movie the project led to, as well as about the magazine Bridge apparently published called Apology, which contained transcripts of the messages. Bridge, as it turns out, was killed 1n 1995 by a hit-and-run jet skier.

I was reminded of all of this earlier this morning as I sipped my green tea and tried to liven myself up to shower before heading off to work. I came across a blog called
PostSecret, which is another sort of art project. In this case, people mail in their secrets on one side of a postcard, and the product mailed in gets posted to the blog. Some of them are funny, but so many of them are so incredibly sad. I guess that this project is churning out books, as well.

(Photo: From the PostSecret blog.)

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