Friday, September 3, 2010

Miss Ellen Takes The High Road

Owing to the unfortunate (?) constructive re-structuring of the Augean Stables within a certain area of my condo unit, Miss Ellen has been neglected. Not completely, you understand--but our forays have been limited in both number and scope.

Yesterday, she took off West, keeping on mostly level terrain. However, the way back was either by boat or up a campus on a hill--or a road that turned into a major throughway leading to a freeway that was entirely too dangerous.

So, uphill it was.

After climbing the Summit of Learning, we passed into the Land of Rareified Air (who knew students could afford Kate Spade and Versace?). Then into Faux Nobility, where the professors live in blissful Anglophilia (and German automotive engineering). I was completely lost there, ended up in Suburban Store Road (biggest Safeway outside of Texas, honestly, and the Road to Many Malls) and creaked seriously uphill, looking for a familiar cross street, getting further away from homem with every pedal stroke. By then it was Completely Dark. Just in time to get to the Naval Observatory--and Miss Ellen and I are not up on military clearances. I was relieved the whole place was gated up and no mistakes could be made.

Skirting that, with headlight and taillights flashing, we had fun--blowing down a long gradual hill as fast as the cars were going!!  And ended in familiar territory. Back where the homeless people still ply their trade, the family restaurants sit, and the pizza is cheap. My area is also gentrified, but not to the ult--and sullied with much Mid-Century Modern.

Ellen and I sailed home in complete charity with each other. And I learned a lot more about the city. It took hours, and it was worth every minute.

Some Very Sweet Potato

Sweet potato vines, early in the morning, late in August:




Have a Great Weekend, Everybody!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The City Writes

and in so many cases, it's vandalism. The institution versus the vernacular. But I must say, it interests me.
Two wars: Chikin versus the 8, and the taggers versus. the businesses that try to keep graffiti-free.

Close to this, Lil Ray 77, Ed, and Ally left their mark. The other two were more interesting, but Ed is the one that reads, so Ed you get. I have a bunch of these, from different places. Some proclaim love. Some look almost like the credits on the side of an old bank building. Yet we walk on them. I think besides the fun on breaching the pristine, there is a desire for being known, remembered. I also think the ancient impetus to art--as in horor vacui, the fear of the open as an impulse to decoration--is a part of this universal expression/annoyance.

Here is a sign where the vernacular and the official meet beautifully.

A Vietnamese family runs this Mini-Mart. The son is clearly headed to greater things, but has helped out all summer. This is a gorgeous sign, and I imagine he made it. However, it's silly, because if people can't park, then they can't come in and buy Gummi grapes, Scotch shortbread, or Vietnamese iced coffee, am I right?


Not a gorgeous shot. However, the top sign tells us that volunteerism still exists: it's a backpack drive for returning schoolchildren.  The second sign: stolen bike. I once saw a bicycle courier rip off a bicycle tire in 30 seconds with one tool. Unbelievable. I flagged down a police officer and gave a description, but no, the guy was long gone. It was a fun conversation though.
The third one: Math tutoring for money. Somebody please hire me. They've even taken the risk of putting their phone number out there.

Right next to that, someone possibly desperate has written on the side of a traffic-sign utility box. This box frequently serves as a communications center, as you can see. But this is in pencil--a schoolchild, maybe?--and starts out, "To All my Friends" and then becomes illegible. Sad. It's so small in the picture (along the top rim) you'd need Federal help in parsing it out.


Then there's BYPO. He writes perfectly legibly. I think with a Sharpie. I've seen a few others of these.
This is already covered up--didn't even take a week. For him, I think it is performance. Does he keep a notebook with his poems in them? Or are they just ephemera, like all the rest of this?

It's the life we know: some people are better at communicating than others. They have different things to communicate. Their messages are deemed worthwhile or not. Either way, it's hard to keep them in the forefront. Other stuff happens--new distractions, a coat of fresh whitewash. Yet we continually assert our identity, whether it is permitted or not. And I think, when it comes down to it, that's true in lawful communications as well as unlawful ones.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Muster

Every month the Ann T. Hathaway blog commemorates those law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty. Please take a minute to reflect on these losses to their families, friends, and colleagues; their agencies, their jurisdictions, and to us all.

--Glen Agee--Bill Bauer--Christopher Dewey--
--Jeremy Hubbard--Leonard Reed--Brian Harris--
--Paul Fricke--Matthew Tokuoka--Anthony Wallace--

You can learn more about these officers at the Officer Down Memorial Page.