Smile, You’re on Candid Street View!

129/365 - Gratuitous Bikini Bottom Shot“This is unbelievable!” my dad shouts into the computer. “Look at this!” I lean over his shoulder and observe a man shaking a papaya at an outdoor farmer’s market.

“Wow,” I say.

Considered alone, a man shaking a papaya is not thrilling visual data. The papaya doesn’t bear a likeness of St. George and he is not shaking the papaya with a third arm emerging from his chest. The fact that we are looking at a man on a small street in Palermo, Sicily, on Google street view is something that mystifies us both. We are Luddites who enjoy the superficial aspects that computers offer: internet, email, Wikideaths and attractive people sleeping with other attractive people. So Google street view showing a picture of a specific street address is something we can barely fathom.

In case you have been living in a cave in the Vrontous Mountains and don’t know what this is all about, here’s a brief overview. If you type an address into Google map’s street view you are given a picture of that location as though you are standing in front of it on the street.

“Let’s try another.” He types in a random address in Taranto, Italy. There has never been a question that we are searching Italy. He hits the button and the map does its magic, zooming out of Palermo and into Taranto. It settles on a short white building, in front of which another man is standing. He is not shaking a papaya.

We are quiet for a moment. And then my dad asks, “What is he doing?”

What he is doing is unclear, but his hands are in his pants. It’s possible Google street view has caught this man fixing his boxers, scratching his man junk or embarking in the throes of self-copulation. In order to avoid the most uncomfortable conversation since our 42-second sex talk in 1989, my dad changes the subject quickly. “Want to go to your house in Prague?”

“Sure.” Then with a nanosecond of thought, “No!”

For someone who doesn’t use psychedelic drugs or work as a Republican politician, I’ve got a healthy dose of paranoia. I love conspiracy theories, I fully believe that the contents of Area 51 are now in Fort Knox and I expect the evil Cat Navy of the Vltava to attack just after I figure out how to set my watch alarm.

Google street view does not help corral this paranoia. Although I rarely self-copulate in public (4th Tuesday of every third month), I imagine a street view image of me jamming a finger into my nostril, or a pulling free a wedgie and dancing on one leg. The list of possibilities grows exponentially as my mind wanders. No matter the image, the word beautiful does not describe any of them.

My Google street view paranoia is exacerbated when an ill-advised search on the internet produces the article 30 Shocking and Unexpected Google Street View Photos. This is a collection of random Google street view photos found after diligent research by Canadian photographer Jon Rafman. There are no people self-copulating but there are people almost enjoying dual-copulation, a man walking down the street with a drawn handgun and a little boy hiding behind a trash can. There are two separate pictures of things on fire (house and van), a lone baby crawling on the street and a street gang wearing werewolf masks and pulling over cars. There are many animals represented in these photos. A horse arguing with a person, a pony eating trash, a flock of angry Hitchcock seagulls, a reindeer sprinting down a lonely highway and a tiger walking across a parking lot. A tiger. Parking lot.

My paranoid mind does not need any help. Now tigers just hang out in parking lots, everyone on the street has a handgun and I await my turn to run into the werewolf gang. And surely a new conspiracy theory will be built involving the animal kingdom’s plot to takeover Earth.

Maybe they’ll join the Cat Navy of the Vltava.

Link Below: 30 Shocking and Unexpected Google Street View Photos

What’s your favorite photo?

  1. #1 by Gabrielle Piccari Luongo on September 3, 2012 - 4:39 pm

    I enjoyed the butterfly one and the side of the house on fire with people running to it. Great article Dam.

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on September 3, 2012 - 6:13 pm

      Thanks Gab, What are you going to get caught doing on street view??

      • #3 by Gabrielle Piccari Luongo on September 6, 2012 - 12:50 am

        I’m normally on my stoop, smoking a cigarette and pondering life, maybe with a cup of coffee.

  2. #4 by Chris on September 17, 2012 - 10:58 pm

    Without a doubt the werewolf gang. Not mentioned is the also have the Scream mask on and it is legitimately scary.

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