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Hi, I'm miked

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

by Diana Nelson Jones/April 1

I am one of 11 people participating in Lenka Clayton's "Spoken Word" art project on this, the official Census Day.

If you don't remember or somehow managed to miss my March 6 blog that explains the project, you can bone up at http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/citywalkabout/archive/2010/03/06/you-don-t-have-to-sound-smart-or-anything.aspx.

While Census subjects are telling important data to Census workers today, the rest of us are clearing our throats, saying, "good pee-pee!" to our dogs, saying "uh-huh, uh-huh, umm, yeah" to someone on the phone, maybe our mothers, and whistling off tune on the way to work.

That's a lot of what Lenka will hear on my little tape recorder when I return it after 12 hours of my utterances. I clipped the mike onto my blouse at fifteen to 9 this morning, pressed "record" and said, "It's eight-forty-five." I have it on until about that time tonight.

It's kind of weird, because except for saying "No Lo" to my cat when he tried to climb on my Sudoku and "you're a good girl," to my dog, all I said for the first hour was "Good morning!" to neighbors I passed on my walk to work. I hoped no one would want to talk, otherwise I would have to have put my finger to my lips and widened my eyes. I warned a few people earlier that I was miked and that law required that they know their comments might also be recorded, but I couldn't warn everyone.

The good news is that no one else's comments will be kept. Only the people who signed a contract with Lenka to do this and are wearing her mikes today will have their utterances preserved. We will be contributing our sounds to a symphony of sound, a soundtrack of our tapes laid together along a 12 hour timeline.

As a reporter, I have had to plan for this and still it's been tricky. It's almost noon and I have purposefully not answered the phone. I would have to tell anyone who calls me that I am miked and their incidental utterances might also be recorded. The mechanics of this project are supposed to stay hidden. So I decided to let callers go to voice mail and then try to reach them by email. I warned my colleagues yesterday.

I got as much reporting done yesterday for stories I planned to write this morning so I could write in silence, except for the occasional inane comments I make to one of my pod mates. I think Lenka's cool with inanity and profanity. Soon, I plan to go to a neighborhood, meet a person who yesterday I warned about my mike and do an afternoon tour of storefronts that he knows the histories of. (Dear Grammar Lady, I know... preposition hanging out... bad. Please don't call.)

If it's interesting enough, the storefront thing, I'll try to figure out a way to make it a newspaper article or a blog post. Got storefronts in your ‘hood that aren't stores anymore? I'd like to track their pasts with help from you and your ‘hood's history maven. Send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or comment below.

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