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: TORN APART
George was having problems. Elena had pretty
well made that clear. Her $2 greeting card---with two people standing on opposite sides of
a cartoon world under the words, "Out of sight, out of mind?"---lay shredded in
six pieces on the sidewalk outside an L.A. Burger King.
Evidently, George hadn't appreciated the card's
canned punch line, "Not a chance," or Elena's personal note. Written in flowery,
hiyahoney female script, it read:
"George! How are you? I hope
you're doing okay in the midst of all this confusion and that you're still not taking all
the blame. You know, ever since I first met you, I could tell that you were a very open
and sweet person---probably one of the most genuine I've ever met."
Uh-oh. . .A break-up card? A "let's be
friends/you're such a nice guy" blowoff?
"You should know," Elena
continued, "that it's not just my opinion, but it's a quality that comes across
to everyone. In other words, people know deep down that you wouldn't do anything to hurt
anyone, so don't beat yourself up. . ."
Uh-oh # 2: Was George dangerous?
Was Elena trying a preemptive strike of kindness to neutralize him? Or had he done
something for which he felt terrific guilt? Parked without putting money in the meter, for
"Your kindness always outshines
everything---it really does. We all love you."
All? Hmm. . .not a break-up note after all,
perhaps. . .Unless. . .was George polygamous?
"Whatever you decide to do about this
is cool---just make sure to decide according to your own heart---be selfish for a change!
You deserve it!"
The old I-understand-you
patronizing game. . .
"Call or e-mail me anytime, okay?"
It was signed "Elena," with a drawn
heart, and a "P.S. Hope you had a good birthday!"
Well! Here Elena had gone to the trouble to
give George a card, express affection, sympathy and admiration for the guy, and exhort him
to call her. Sure, maybe she was cashing in on a break-up, making a play for Georgie-boy,
but it was still a nice card. Yet the "very open and sweet" George had
apparently ripped the gesture to bits, and left it on a greasy Burger King sidewalk.
Moral: Never be late with
footnote, side 1. View footnote, side 2.)
CITY FOOTNOTE # 2: HEART OF THE MATTER
Outside of a liquor store, a piece of lined
paper with this indispensible information, hand-printed:
"The heart can beat without neural
input (at 70 bpm) but neural input (sympathetic and parasympathetic) is constantly
And, judging by the bloodied-face drunk slumped
against the side of the liquor store building, asking for change, it sometimes does not
beat at all.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 3: UNSCRIPTED
The cliché "everybody's writing a
script" is born out by the fact that script pages are among the most common
free-floating trash in L.A. This rather delightful page turned up in the street near
Stoner Park in West L.A.:
"7- Bird's eye looking straight down
on the wooden floor. Dottie and Hank wake to each other's arms. Eye to eye, arms and legs
entangled. Contected physically and (now) with emotion, trans-astrally projected."
Wow! Just when I was wondering what
"contected physically" meant, I find that Hank and Dottie were trans-astrally
projected! With emotion! Could Kilgore Trout be far behind?
"The words, "A Love Odyssey"
are incorporated into the above image as a marqutee. Like a sixties romance/comedy movie
A "marqutee," eh? Hmm. Perhaps a kind
of trans-astrally projected "marquee". . .
"PAGE 9: Small rectangle panels for
maximum efficiency (see watchman.)
"AGENT L'ANGELO: WHY DO
YOU THINK THEY CALL US THE AXIS POWERS? BECAUSE EARTH'S SECOND AXIS WILL SHORTLY BELONG TO
THE THIRD REICH AND EMPEROUR (sic) HIROHITO. A PLANETARY SHORTCUT. EAST MEETS WEST.
POSTIVE CONTRADICTION TO EINSTEIN AND EVEN COPERNICUS. A (sic) UNDERGROUND VECTOR,
DISPELLING ALL NOTIONS OF TIME AND SPACE."
Not to mention sanity.
"AGENT MYSTERIOSO (cont'd): DON'T
WORRY. WE'LL TRACK HIM DOWN. HE'S LEAD (sic) US THIS FAR. MAYBE WE DON'T EVEN NEED HIM
The page ended with a description of
a great pile of used batteries, with Polaroid photos of women in bikinis. "Or half
naked," it added, sagely.
I would like to finish with a ridiculing zinger
here, but the way things go in Hollywood, I'll probably wind up paying to see movie this
in a year or two.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 4: EARLY VALENTINE
A post-it, on the ground outside an elementary
school, with the inimitable off-kilter printing of childhood:
"DER MOM I LOVE YOU SO MUCH I WANT TO KISS
CITY FOOTNOTE # 5: NONE OF MY BUSINESS
A resume, folded up, fluttering outside the
apartment building of the job applicant, who shall be referred to here, in the interests
of privacy, as "J. Farnsworth Wallaby."
Wallaby is a UCLA Bachelor of Arts
Candidate, with a double major in economics and design, the resume informed, with a
whopping 1470 SAT score and 3.71 GPA. He attended Stanford Business School over the
summer, and already seemed to have a lot of impressive experience. A highlight:
"Merrill Lynch & Co.: Hedged $2
million of high-net worth investor assets by utilizing a priceless-collar option strategy."
Well, I've never seen a $2 million
hedge, except possibly at Versailles, and priceless collars are fine, but what about the
cost of the rest of the shirt? Never mind---Wallaby went on to list more experience:
"Boeing: Offered to rejoin the fim and
lead the effort to integrate the company's Internet and marketing divisions."
First time I've heard of someone listing as an
asset "offering" to join a firm. Hell, maybe I should revise my resume! I've
offered to join dozens of major newspapers as a columnist.
The resume went on: Deloitte Consulting,
president of some business frat house, manager of a "Business Case Team" at
UCLA's Anderson School of Business, and. . .
I got to feeling kind of low.
Young Wallaby was plugged right into the belly of the money beast; his future is a bright
green one of leverages and "portfolio rebalancing, "brand awareness," and
"monthly performance reviews." Work near the money, and money will stick to you.
Wallaby will soon be one of those jokers living in half-million-dollar 1950 crackerboxes
that I can only dream about, driving those angry SUVs with the giant wheels that blow by
my tin can like it's a. . .tin can.
Still, I beat him by 70 points on the
"verbal" part of his SAT. That and a dime will get me. . .
CITY FOOTNOTE # 6: FILM NOIR
A 3x5 index card, with a short list of movies,
found in the vicinity of a couple of video rental stores. The list:
"The Crucible," "The Madness of King George," "The Dead,"
"Dead Ringers," "Death of a Salesman," "Down By Law."
Evidently someone looking for a little
CITY FOOTNOTE # 7: SURPRISE ENDING
A charming, discarded bit of homework, or draft
of homework, on a street nowhere near a school:
"By doing this assignment I lerned
(sic) a lot of Jessie's favorite things," it began.
As did I. I read on:
"Her favorite day is Friday, and month
is February. Her favorite animal is dog or monkey and she likes to watch the simpsons
(sic.) I guess that's why her favorite color is yellow."
"Her hero is Gandi (sic) and
actor is bruce will (sic) and has no enemys (sic)."
More than you can say for Bruce Willis.
"She like (sic) to eat pasta, drink
diet pepsi, eat watermelon, and for desert (sic) ice cream. She likes to go to the mall,
and her best friend is (illegible), and favorite teacher is Sarah. I asked her what pets
she had and she said four. I'm guessing she likes animals. She likes noses, has no
favorite word and was born Feb., 1988."
Wait a second. That would make
Jessie sixteen years old. I shuddered as I realized the strong likelihood that the author
of this piece of writing was Jessie's. . .contemporary.
CITY FOOTNOTE # 8: UNSCRIPTED, PART TWO
Yet another page from a script---actually,
about twenty or thirty pages that had glommed on to bushes outside a house. I picked one
at random. Page 29. There were six---six---characters speaking on this page: Zachary,
Dorothy, Mac, Jesse, Margie, Preston, and Sam. Sample dialogue:
MARGIE: "Hey, were you serious about
taking me with you?
The rest of the page was equally scintillating.
I think what this writer needed was an
injection of trans-astral projection, marqutees, and Polaroids of "half-naked
For more city footnotes, watch this space.
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