by RIP RENSE
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. . .
FOOTNOTE # 1:
Didn't Mean Jack
When I was walking home
from high school one day, sometime around the dawn of Man, I stumbled upon
$40 lying in the dirt, next to a railroad track. Four tens, wadded up. A
thrill and a half!
I felt just the ghost of
this thrill the other day, on Ohio Avenue in West L.A., when I stumbled upon
a complete book of fifteen tickets priced from $270 to $330 each! Gadzooks!
Section 111, Row 11, Seat 1, Staples Center! Company tickets, apparently, of
the Toyota Corporation. Jack territory! The ghost fled promptly,
Lakers. Day after Phoenix
knocked them off. Obviously tossed in disgust from a passing car.
Hmm. . .Maybe I can get
something for them on eBay. I think I can just make out the face of Jesus in
Kobe’s shorts. . .
FOOTNOTE # 2: Life
A list. An amazing list.
Perhaps the most amazing list I have ever seen. To call it a list doesn’t do
it justice, really. This was a novel, a snapshot—hell, almost a movie---of
someone’s life. Folded up, trodden upon and layered in diesel soot from
buses in Westwood, left behind either by one of the most ambitious or
deluded persons wandering L.A.. Of course, there is a very fine line between
ambition and delusion these days. Witness Frank Gehry.
The writer of this list
either apparently believes himself/herself to be a screenwriter, actor, and
singer. In other words, he or she probably works in a restaurant. There were
55 entries on each side of a sheet of three-hole notebook paper, and they
revealed nothing if not one very busy (apparently African-American) human
with a strong sense of fiscal responsibility, bad sense of parking,
fledgling interest in religion, and possibly some fitness issues and health
problems. It was a nothing less than a chronicle of an heroic attempt to get
a life organized. Here is a “best of”:
$275 Phone $150 Parking Tickets $400.
20 Clean up my
credit. Call Cherokee to find out how
21 Get the book how
to write a script in 21 days
24 I owe dad $200
pay him May 1st
25 Set up an IRA
retirement account with Wells Fargo $50 a month they will take directly out
of my checking or savings June 1st
50 (names and phone
numbers) needs 5 min audition tape she puts on the comedy fest in SanFran
38 AME church is on
2241 Hobart 10 east to Western
5 Dr. Carlson Appt.
thur June 22nd
6 Dr. Huang Appt
Weds June 14
8 Rotate and
balance the tires at Sears May 1st free
4. Buy a crockpot
cookbook May 1st
22. Pay Ballys $40
37 Rent the movie
Sweet Hide Away with AJ Jamal and Rent the Gods must be crazy
30 Call Selena’s
girl about my script
29 Buy in the morning
every Thursday Backstage West at 7eleven or Newstands
41 Write my uncle Richard
Green and get him a card at Savons
Here are my favorites:
30 Do something
nice for Sabrina and Adapearl and Dad
54 Email All the talk
shows and give them my story
I like this person, and I
like the name, “Adapearl.” I’m going to guess that the author is a she,
given that most of the contacts on the list are women, and it seems more
likely that a woman would want to “do something nice for Sabrina and
Adapearl and Dad.” There was more---about getting a U.S. Savings Bond,
inquiring about the University of California retirement plan(!) having songs
copyrighted, etc. I hope she made out okay without the list. I also hope it
was not discarded in a fit of despair. . .
Oh, and there was one
more item on it, the very last one, perhaps the most important of all:
55 Tell Elvis I will
be in late on Thurs May 4th DMV Driving Test
I knew it. Elvis is
teaching driver’s ed.
FOOTNOTE # 3:
Another, though lesser,
list---also reflective of the vagaries of 21st Century citizenship in L.A..
First of all, it was written on the back of a California Bank receipt on
West Olympic, showing a current balance of $3835.96. Not bad! The author of
the other list would have gladly swapped list places! Ah, the caprices of
I will go out on a limb
and assume that this receipt was deliberately discarded, as if often the
case with aspiring identity-theft victims these days. Judging by the fat,
rounded printing, I will further speculate that this was a female, and I’ll
bet dollars to Krispy Kremes that she threw it away because she was talking
on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette, and carrying a latte. Anyhow, here’s
*call DSL Extreme a 1 800
774 3379 03/06 charged twice (-33.06)
*kriza apt 9 on Saturday
And, on the other side:
candles, emerg. Foods, windex, paper towels, laundry det, hair stuff.
between removing the tattoos that were probably at the base of her spine
(for starters), and stocking up on candles and “emergency food.”
Definitely not an L.A.
native, though. Nobody who is born here ever prepares for earthquakes.
FOOTNOTE # 4:
Pock-marked from being
crushed under tires, lying on the street outside University High School, a
five-by-seven flyer for “BONDAGE BALL,” at the Avalon Hollywood at 1735 Vine
St.. Such wholesome family events are hardly unusual in the naked city, but
this one was, owing entirely to the prominently trumpeted date:
“Join our hosts for an
epic night of kinky entertainment and fascinating fetishes. We put all our
eggs in one basket. . .just for you!”
Get it? Eggs in one
basket. Har, har. And, next to a snarling woman encased almost entirely in
rubber: “5 Fetish Zones. . .6 Different Bondage Stations. . .Free Play
Yup, everything except
“bring the kiddies.”
Of course, considering
what Christ was subjected to, the date was not entirely inappropriate.
FOOTNOTE # 5:
Taking on all comers?
About a fifth of a torn
page from a yellow legal pad, with part of a short list visible:
“Downtimes: things to do
(I’m going to assume that
“D.T.” abbreviated “downtimes,” and did not refer to “delirium tremens,"
which are so much harder to plan for.)
Yes, this human is so
apparently enslaved to scheduling, so frightened at the prospect of
unstructured time, that he or she had to block out things to do in free
time---which here bears the computer term, “down time.” Spontaneity? No
Next to “Mid-day,” this
was written: “Workst (work-study? work sheet?)/ schedule times to be with
friends, etc.” Well, perhaps putting aside specific time for friends isn’t
so strange. But the entry for “Sat. Afternoon” was downright peculiar:
This was apparently a
person who was budgeting weekdays for being with friends, and weekends for
being with “newcomers.” Newcomers? Must be a
hell of an active social life to require budgeting time for friends and
persons just met. Of course, there was another less innocent interpretation
possible. . .
FOOTNOTE # 6: Bad
Found outside the
Veterans Administration Hospital in West L.A., this was a discarded two-page
“Medication Guide” for a drug called “Amiodarone” (which the guide helpfully
spelled phonetically as “am-ee-OH-da_rone.”)
It was a bit worrisome to
find such an item thrown away or lost, there on a sidewalk next to a
Wilshire Boulevard bus stop. People should follow prescription drug
instructions with exceeding care. If they did so with antibiotics, for
instance, we might not have the ongoing problems with drug-resistant
super-bacteria. And, possibly, Oprah.
began with a brief warning of potential side effects: “lung damage, liver
damage, heartbeat problems.”
didn't mention death.
advised phoning a doctor if the user experienced: “shortness of breath,
wheezing, coughing, chest pain, spitting up of blood, vomiting, brown or
dark-colored urine, your skin or the whites of your eyes get yellow. .
.heart pounding. . .feeling light-headed or faint.” Hell, don't call
doctor---call America's Funniest Home Videos.
Anyhow, it seemed
unlikely that someone experiencing “lung damage, liver damage, heartbeat
problems” was going to be up for phoning a doctor anything. . .
I read on.
If you take Amiodarone,
the “guide” said, you need to have regular check-ups, blood tests, chest
x-rays, and eye exams. Hell, might as well just check yourself in.
Amiodarone, it went on, might not be appropriate if you take just about any
other medication or supplement known to Man.
Page two warned against
drinking grapefruit juice with Amiodarone, and avoiding sunshine, pregnancy,
and breastfeeding. The drug could cause more “serious side effects”
including “vision problems that may lead to permanent blindness”; nerve
problems including numbness, muscle weakness, uncontrolled movements,
trouble walking; thyroid problems that can cause weight gain, goiters; your
skin turning a “bluish-gray.” Oh yeah, and worst of all, constipation.
I searched like hell
through this “guide” for what good might come of taking Amiodarone, and at
last found well into a paragraph on page one, the fact that it is used in
calming “life-threatening hearbeat problems.”
Which are just about
guaranteed after reading the “medication guide.”
FOOTNOTE # 7: Out
to lunch lunch
A note to “Mr. White,”
the 5th period geography teacher, from Maria Fernandez, found outside a
local high school:
“I lost my folder and im
such a meathead for loosing it at lunch lunch time for horsing around with
my friends (which I wasn’t) So I will write my 5th period H.W. iin this
sheet of paper.”
While one admires Maria’s
forthright confession and humility, if not charming self-deprecation, one
must take issue with her capricious punctuation, her peculiar capitalization
and abbreviation (“H.W.” for homework), her run-on sentence, her strange
repetition of the word, “lunch” (perhaps she didn’t get enough), her
“loosing” her folder, her doubling of the “n” in “in.” Still, as a look at
the note will show, she got one thing right. She had originally called
herself a “dork” for having “loosed” her folder, but thought better of this,
and crossed the word out, replacing it with the much more accurate,
Good that students are
aware of subtle distinctions in important vocabulary.
For more City
Footnotes, watch this space.
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