My name is Anthony Carfello and I have spent the last months visiting every single state, national and multinational chain store in Long Beach, California - every 7-Eleven, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Citibank, KFC, Trader Joe's, any business open to the public with one or more local outposts and a focus outside of Los Angeles County.
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My hope has been to gain knowledge of Long Beach by navigating through its most general places, while addressing the following questions:
1) Can a person who has never lived or worked in Long Beach, but who has nonetheless spent a lifetime in American cities and towns, come to "know" the city and its specifics by navigating through its most general places? What kind of knowledge is that?
2) As both the historic cores and outer limits of American cities become simply different environments of the same businesses, how can "localness" be asserted directly alongside, and inside of, the much-maligned homogenous landscape? What does local mean in the American city of 2013?
The effort began as part of the Chockablock exhibition at the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach, January 26-April 14, 2013, and now continues with the intention to focus on seven distinct parts of the city, considering each area’s respective franchises in comparison to adjacent local businesses, initiatives, and organizations.
Since January, members of the Long Beach community and others interested in the project have joined me at certain locations to talk about their work, neighborhood, histories, and opinions about localness and large chains. These conversations have helped chronicle the project as I’ve built an index of the establishments around town, and will continue as the project now attempts to articulate answers to the above questions.