by RIP RENSE
You find them everywhere. Blowing down
sidewalks, crumpled up in bushes, rumpled and stained in curbside gutters. Bits and pieces
of daily lives, discarded or lost, there at your feet. Each one a chapter from a story,
somewhere in the middle of a human book. Call them city footnotes. . .
CITY FOOTNOTE # 1: LIQUID LUNCH
There it was, balled up and thrown away, just
outside a chainlink fence surrounding a junior high school. I smoothed it out:
"Go to Ms. Kight (130) after lunch
because I'm gonnna drink it on the P.E. field."
This piece of three-hole
notebook paper had been used for homework ("Using Vocabulary," featuring a
whopping five new words), a brief note from one student ("Dear Ponyboy, Whats
up!"), and the above libatious instruction. Three different purposes! Good that kids
are so ecologically minded!
And of course, what the child planned to drink
on the P.E. field was obviously carrot juice.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 2: CAPITOL IDEAS
Found in a park in West Los Angeles. . .a
computer printout ad for a job with something called the Alliance for Aging Research. The
ad was posted at RCjobs.com--- "YOUR CAPITAL JOB SOURCE." Yes, that's
correct---this was a guv'ment ad straight from Washington, D.C.
I pondered. . .Was the Alliance for
Aging Research in favor of aging? Well, probably not, but you never know with these weird
Washington lobbies. They all have names like "Institute for Progressive
Progress," and "Project to Promote Prolific Prosperity," and generally are
fronts for The Very Big Corporation. So maybe this was a right-wing "think tank"
that wants all those dirty hippie "Baby Boomers" to die off ASAP. . .
Whatever the Alliance for
Aging Research was, the job description was impressive: a "politically skilled
person" (guess that leaves politicians out) with knowledge of health policy to
"develop and implement legislative and political strategies." It got even more
um, specific: "build relationships with congressional offices, the Executive Branch
officials, and key health, aging, and research associations and interest groups."
Wow. Government sure sounds conspiratorial,
doesn't it? To read this, you'd think that all the influence in Washington comes from
lobbyists, not the average taxpaying voter.
Here was my favorite part:
"Qualifications: college degree, five
years experience (doing what?); working knowledge of federal regulatory and congressional
budget and legislative processes; excellent writing, speaking, and relationship-building
Relationship-building? I didn't
realize this was a skill. I thought relationships were things that happened naturally,
easily, by force of mutual interest. Boy, do I live in a dream world. And here I could
have built lots of relationships with powerful people, if only I'd
tried. Instead, I just wound up with friends.
Well, RCjobs.com, it turns
out, is part of www.rollcall.com, which is a Capitol
Hill newspaper all about big happenings in Congress. A recent issue featured an article
entitled "The Rites of Springer on the Stump," all about Jerry Springer's run
for congress. So whoever lost or threw this ad away on a West L.A. street was sure setting
his or her sights high! Heck, they might wind up "relationship building" with
Or maybe not. I noted that the job description
was circled, and the prospective applicant (presumably) had written, "Coalition
build---ASAP" in the margin. Ha! Everybody knows that coalition building went out
with Bill Clinton. It's all "relationship building" now.
Or maybe---just maybe---the person noted that
the "capital job source" people could not even spell "capitol"
correctly, and threw the ad away in disgust.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 3: HOMEBOY MEETS
Found near a local high school: a small, dirty
file card that on one side contained the address and pertinent info for Home Furniture in
On the other side: the results of a contest to
name. . .something. Written in runic scrawls of the ilk spray-painted in parks, on
churches, schools, and blank walls throughout L.A., this might have been the labor of a
gang kid looking give a handle to his Homies. Or it could have been a contest to christen
something as innocent as oh, a human sacrific cult. Here is what I could decipher:
"The Cronic Feens"---1.
"The Chozen Few"---2.
"Token Cronic Fisels."---3.
"This Crew Forever."---4.
"This Crew F---ing Kisses."---5
"Taxing Cute Females."---6.
"Taking Control For Z Rif."---7
"The Chime Factory."---8
It was signed, "Smog The Cronic
Well, I figure that, if I had ingested the
amount of crack or PCP this kid has---or, perhaps, the amount of music videos---I would
have voted for "Taking Control For Z Rif," too. I mean, "The Cronic
Feens" is too dope for words.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 4: HUCKSTER HOKUM
Written in red pen on a folded sheet of heavy
bond paper, this was someone's get-rich scheme---legal or not, I don't know. Excerpts:
"The Pitch: The business model.
Intermeds---credit line---underwriter. Cannot compete with Fidelity's etc."
And. . .
"The IDEA: To use the "IDEA"
of using your name without even using your name as an entry to these intermediary
Right. Using your name without
even using your name. I would say this sounds rather illegal, or at least unethical, but
then, given the state of American business dealings, it probably passes for smart. Here's
"As an entry, without using your name, and
just stating that we manage a portion of capital of celebritys (sic) figure. With your
global presence, 33.5 percent cash and all you must do is call and say hello once in a
Once again, I would like to think that I found
the semi-literate discarded plans of a criminal telemarketing fraud. . .but given the
American Way of doing business in the 21st century, probably not.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 5: SWEET LOVE
A teency bit of paper stamped "Sweet
Love" at the top, with a giant amount of fledgling human romantic anguish all over
the rest of the page. Squashed up against a fence on Sawtelle Boulevard, by wind and
Uh-oh. . .anonymous. . .
"When I don't see you I cry a lot, I
try not to think about you every single night. But I keep thinking that you love her and
not me. Why am I think of you if you don't like me. If one day you call me I will not talk
to you because you are always egnoring (sic) me when I am talking to you and I will try
not to see you every day. I love you!!!"
It was signed, oddly, by
"Karina and Magali."
This guy is driving two girls crazy?
I wish I could tell these kids that Connor is
probably just a Cronic Feen, but then, they would certainly hate me for it.
Strangely enough, there was more, and it seemed
written by someone else---yet was in the same printing:
"Karina and Magali are so stupid that's what
I think because they are always talking about boys not about school. I think they are
strippers because they are always. . ."
The rest of the words were erased, yet you
could make them out: ". . .chasing every boy."
Well, I'm baffled. Are Karina
and Magali two girls? Or a girl and her imaginary alter-ego, ruthlessly criticizing
herself? Psychosis in the making? And "strippers?" Huh?
Reading this, I was suddenly glad I'm not in
grade school today. I couldn't handle the pressure of "Sweet Love."
CITY FOOTNOTE # 6: SIDEWALK SCRIBE
Although this footnote was not something that
could be picked up, it is no less a page from the book of humanity. Written with a finger
in wet cement, years ago, near the intersection of Pico and Sawtelle in Los Angeles, are
"John Lennon lives."
If only, if only. . .
For more City Footnotes, watch this space.
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