April 16, 2008

Walking Off the Big Apple: A Reader's Guide

With the passing of the 400th post on Walking Off the Big Apple, I thought it an appropriate time to pass along the history of the site and some recent updates.

History: In late May of 2007, after a day at Yankee Stadium eating hotdogs and drinking beer, I woke up, weighed myself, and screamed. I decided to walk out the door and keep walking, and then walk some more until I looked and felt better. I brought along a journal to record my daily walks and to sketch places and things (example here). I started eating real food. By mid-July I had lost 17.5 pounds. My notebook, filled with sketches and commentary, looked good enough to put on the World Wide Web.

In July of 2007 I launched Walking Off the Big Apple as a website to share my walks and experiences in New York. While early posts and many later ones concern walking, diet, and exercise, the later posts evolved into commentaries on just about everything I felt competent to handle. My academic background in American Studies and experience as an art critic led me into the broader territory of the cultural life of New York. I try to balance forays into the city's past with observations on contemporary life. Mostly, I curate thematic walks around the city in much the same way as an art curator would organize an exhibit.

WOTBA: When I started Walking Off the Big Apple, I was too shy to use my first and last names, and so WOTBA became something of a character. WOTBA (short, of course, for Walking Off the Big Apple) is an urban cowgirl with red boots and a slightly wicked sense of humor. WOTBA is a caricature of my real personality. If I am a plain apple, then WOTBA is a candy apple decorated with coconuts and colorful candy. Sometimes, I write like my real self, but at other times I write like a fictional character. Sometimes, WOTBA will take over in mid-sentence.

NEW SIDEBAR ITEMS: Let me point out some new features of Walking Off the Big Apple. The many sidebar items on the right side of the page (list of walks, popular posts, etc., etc.) now include two new links and more items in the Labels list:

Maps. A link to all the WOTBA Google Maps for the thematic walks.
Photographs on Flickr. I take too many for the website, so I've started sending the extra ones to a WOTBA photostream on Flickr.
Slideshows. I've put together several slideshows on various themes. Trippy eye candy for virtual tours of New York, the slideshows are best accompanied by your favorite music. See Slideshow in the Label section of the sidebar.

By the way, anyone who wants to publish a WOTBA Lexicon, please be my guest.

Image: Candied Apples. Walking Off the Big Apple, as a website, is 9 months old.

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