NEW YORK (AP) -- Please call 510-872-7326, Marc Horowitz wants to meet you for dinner. Go ahead, dial it. If he doesn't answer, just leave him a message.
Horowitz, a conceptual artist in San Francisco, was working as a photo assistant on a shoot for a Crate & Barrel catalog when he came up with an idea for an art project that would question social barriers and maybe make the world a little smaller. The dry-erase board looked too blank, so he decided to write his cell phone number on it and, if anyone called, maybe take a road trip to meet them.
"It's about illuminating the importance of conversation between strangers," Horowitz said. "We just plug into our computers and think that's the way to live, but old-fashioned face to face is what it's about."
It's not his first madcap art project aimed at bringing people together. Last year, he ran errands with strangers, which consisted of picking out their cereal and folding their laundry. The 28-year-old also regularly sets up a coffeemaker in Alamo Square Park and hands out free coffee to passers-by.
The dinner tour was supposed to be a three-month journey to meet a few dozen people, but now it has ballooned to include thousands of lonely souls. Horowitz left last week and plans to crisscross the country for at least a year.
Horowitz sold his truck, bought a mini-RV, sublet his apartment and held a garage sale to help fund his journey. He has rejected offers to turn his adventure into a TV show or documentary, which he believes would poison the organic purity of the conversations he hopes to have. But, he allows, he might write a book.
"It's about really listening and knowing that everybody has something important to say and that their stories are fascinating," he says. "This is real conversation with real people -- it's something you can't buy."