The Rip Post                                Riposte Archive


riposte2.jpg (10253 bytes)


       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. . .
          FOOTNOTE # 1: This essay is shot
          This was an assignment, or attempted assignment, trampled in front of University High School in West L.A.. (and perhaps duly so.) The name, “Domenique” was printed drunkenly in the upper right corner. It appeared that the student had taken a shot, so to speak, at an essay about guns. I’ll give Domenique the benefit of the doubt and assume that the page I found was page two. Here is the verbatim text:
          “or Bank give you gun if u open a account. Allmost everybody have a gun.”
          One can envision the teacher trying to stimulate students to think about a controversial issue, and to coax them into expressing some sort of thought about it. Perhaps the teacher summarized various recent news stories about guns and gun control, or took the bit from Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” about a bank giving out hunting rifles with every new account.
          One can also envision Domenique struggling to---no no, wait. It’s very hard to envision a high school kid this illiterate, this tragically inept, this barely functional. It’s additionally hard, and not a little frightening, because he or she is right:
          “allmost everybody have a gun.”
          I think I will steer a wider berth around Uni High.
          (View footnote.)
          FOOTNOTE # 2: Sensitive Act
          “Cinthia walks over to their bench & asks them what’s going on.”
          Thus begins this suspenseful bit of gossip, recorded on lined notebook paper, folded up and discarded or lost a couple blocks from Uni High, near McDonald’s on Wilshire.
          I must instantly point out my complete shock at the fact the sentence had a period, “what’s” had the apostrophe, and the writer used the correct “their.” (Under the circumstances, I can forgive the ampersand.) This is far more than the average adult is capable of, in this, the Bush “is our children learning” era of “pre-owned used car’s!” and “I saw there new cat.”
          This girl has a future outside of McDonald’s.
          The note continued:
          “Cynthia, Erick, Estuardo---They were making fun of us 3 making fun of other people so we went over to there bench---“
          (Argh! I take it all back!)
          “---& told them to stop it. We came back because they would just yell at us. The thee of them walk over to Leiza’s and Anthonys (Argh! again) bench and Cynthia tells them. . .
          “Cinthia---Okey you guys its not right to judge people cause you guys aint better than others. I think you guys should apologize to them.”
          “Anthony (and) Leiza---Well were sorry if we hurt you guys feelings.”
          “Estuardo (and) Erick---Apology Accepted.”
          Gasp. Sniff. It’s a touching, if largely apostrophe-deserted tale of understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness! Hail the barely literate admirable young people! Pity their sensitivity! Why, it renders the pitiful writing and punctuation on display as almost trivial. There is hope yet!
          Oh, wait---
          The note ends with:
          “(Anthony didn’t show up Cinthia did his lines.)”
          Aspiring actors. Everybody wants to grow up and be Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt. Well, there’s more money in that than spelling and punctuation.
          (View footnote.)
          FOOTNOTE # 3: Sober reading
          It was pock-marked and torn from having been run over repeatedly, in a gutter near Westwood: a card with a New Agey phantasmagorical sprite or nymph or earth goddess painted on the front, in an abstract mélange of feathers, swans, butterflies, dragonflies, fallen leaves. The title: “Enchanted Universe." This was a painting by one Josephine Wall, described on the back of the card thusly:
          “From childhood Josephine Wall has had a passion for light and color, fantasy and visual story telling. The life of a painter was clearly her destiny. . .Though she often strives to impart a message in her scenes, she also hopes to inspire in her audience a personal journey into the magical world of their own imagination.”
          Wow. Pretty ambitious stuff! I opened the card to see what sort of personal journey and magical world might be found:
          “Unfold your spirit to the sky
          Allow your sacred dreams to fly.
          The Universe answers that you truly are
          More precious than Heaven’s brightest star.

          Whoah! That’s a potent sentiment! Fault it for banality of image, and cliche, but not for attempted inspiration. I read the inscription underneath to see what sort of “sacred dreams” might be at issue, and what kind of flying the intended recipient was being encouraged to take up.
          “Happy 7th yr. of sobriety,” it read. “Keep up the good work. You are a very special person to me. Love Tim.”
          Yessir, this is what congratulatory cards have become in our proud 21st century. Hailing friends for staying off booze and drugs.
          Maybe some of those Uni High kids can aspire to soar to the same heights one day.
          (View footnote here and here.)
          FOOTNOTE # 4: Confined Chambers
          Stomped and dirtied on a west side sidewalk, this was a page from a court case involving a fellow named Chambers who was visited by the police because he was playing loud music.
          Now, I’m familiar with this situation, having phoned the police many times to complain about music and shrieking on par with, say, the human sacrifice scene in “King Kong,” emanating from nearby apartments. Here is what the cops routinely do in such cases:
          They show up and ask people to reduce the noise, and then leave. Several LAPD officers have informed me that they cannot enter these dens of 3 a.m. deafness because that would be trespassing (huh?), and that several written complaints from different neighbors must be on file before they can issue a citation with a hefty fine, blah blah.
          So ol’ Chambers probably figured he could crank up the stereo as much as he wanted.
          The thing is, the dope didn’t figure the cops would ask for his ID and run a “routine check,” discovering an outstanding arrest warrant. For what, the sheet of paper does not reveal, but it is safe to assume that it did not involve a jaywalking ticket, given that Chambers. . .fled.
          Yes, perhaps he had delusions of grandeur, flying down the 405 to the 10 to the 60 to the 57 to the whatever as TV helicopters caught the last moments of freedom of The Great Chambers. Or maybe he had two strikes. In any case, “as the police officer attempted to handcuff the suspect, the suspect broke free and ran away.”
          And that’s not all. Chambers apparently broke away a second time, while handcuffed in a hospital, from “a moderate police grip.” Pretty impressive!
          In the end, the court found that the cops used reasonable force to restrain The Great Chambers, which, of course, means that there were some slimy lawyers or poor public defenders in the position of alleging excessive force against the LAPD, in trying to save this jackass.
          Who is probably out of the slammer by now, if he was ever in, and cranking up his stereo again.
          (View footnote.)
          FOOTNOTE # 5: haha hang out
          A little red card, covered with white polka-dots, labeled “Sweet Thing.”
          Had to brave TB and flesh-eating bacteria to pick this one up and look inside. The ink was a little blurred by rain, but here is what it said:
          “Graham, hey you! haha, I thought we were gonna start ACTING like neighbors and hanging out! haha guess school gets in the way. Happy Valentine’s Day! We gotta hang out soon!”
          Several questions were raised by this merry note. First, I wondered what had prompted the sender to laugh in print. Something had certainly been funny, judging by the inability to keep from writing “haha.” Or  perhaps he was a member of a “laughter therapy” club, like the ones in India. Second, do you suppose that any English-speaking humans will ever again learn to punctuate properly?
          Apparently, Sender and Graham were neighbors, and Sender really wanted them to behave “like neighbors,” a condition he believes would be fulfilled on the basis of “hanging out.”
          Given that Sender’s name was “Brett,” one can only wonder if the “hanging out” together was meant oh, literally.
          View footnote here and here.
          FOOTNOTE # 6: Get Real
          One of those ubiquitous “cattle call” ads for movies plastered on telephone poles and park benches in this, the City of Dreams---found in some bushes beside a sidewalk.
          “MOVIE EXTRAS. . .REAL PEOPLE. . .Needed immediately for various non-speaking parts in a major motion picture with lots of stars. $54 to $250 per day. . .”
          What a howl. . . “Real people” needed to walk around and act like “real people” on reel. Real people? Now there is a job where expertise is required. No, I mean that. How often do you meet someone in L.A. who isn’t a total phoney?
          Just once I’d like to see an ad that reads:
          (View footnote)
          FOOTNOTE # 7: Photo finish
          Not terribly exciting, I’ll grant you, but nonetheless, you have to wonder what in hell a Polaroid snapshot of a stove is doing on a sidewalk. And one of those aggravatingly slow electric ranges, no less.
          Was the photo an outtake for an ad? Was someone selling the thing? Perhaps, but gee, it didn't’t look very valuable. . .Maybe there was more at work here.
          Hmm. . .There was a brand-new stew pot on the right rear burner---an indicator of new occupancy? Could be. A divorcee “getting back on her feet?” A college graduate in a first job and new apartment? Or college kid?
          And then, the range itself (why are they called “ranges,” anyhow?) looked new. . .Was the owner proudly snapping a shot of some of his or her latest apartment accoutrements, intending to mail to a mother/father/ shrink as indicator of solid home and hearth? Or indication of seven years or sobriety?
          Nah. Probably the camera went off accidentally and somebody just threw the snapshot into the street. In which, case, I am pleased to have rescued it from going down the sewer where it might have eventually clogged the blowhole of a whale.
          (View footnote.)
          For more city footnotes, watch this space. . .

                                             BACK TO PAGE ONE

© 2006 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.