The Rip Post                                Riposte Archive


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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: 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, though.
          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. . .
          (View footnote. View Kobe's shorts.)
          FOOTNOTE # 2: Life List
          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”:
          17  Taxes $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 every year,
          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.
          (View footnote here and here.)
          FOOTNOTE # 3: Lesser List
          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 list fate!
          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 the list:
         *call DSL Extreme a 1 800 774 3379 03/06 charged twice (-33.06)
          *kriza apt 9 on Saturday
          *Tattoo MD

          And, on the other side: candles, emerg. Foods, windex, paper towels, laundry det, hair stuff.
          Heartening priorities, 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.
          (View footnote.)
          FOOTNOTE # 4: Easter Scumday
          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:
          Easter Sunday.
          “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 Zones.”
          Yup, everything except “bring the kiddies.”
          Of course, considering what Christ was subjected to, the date was not entirely inappropriate.
          (View footnote.)
          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 in D.T.”
          (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 gaiety.
          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: “Newcomers.”
          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. . .
          (View footnote.)
          FOOTNOTE # 6: Bad medicine
          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.
            The guide began with a brief warning of potential side effects: “lung damage, liver damage, heartbeat problems.”
            Funny, it didn't mention death.
            It further 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.”
          (View footnote.)
          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:
          “Mr. White
          “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, “meathead.”
          Good that students are aware of subtle distinctions in important vocabulary.
          (View footnote.)
          For more City Footnotes, watch this space.

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