11. February 2012 here now 5
I have become convinced that higher powers are communicating with me via the graffiti that covers the walls along my train route. FREAK PHOBE Riot About half of the landscape I cross is heavy industrial. Last Thursday, I saw a group of men running across a lot. Their paths converged on the point of a lone figure who seemed to be cowering or bending, near a chain link fence. They ran like they wanted to catch him. Was he a thief? Was he a hero? Were they just… playing tag? The train was going full speed. Just that suggestion of violence, and then they all disappeared before I could see what happened—the whole scene replaced in my field of vision by another beige, windowless, industrial building. I thought about calling 911. “Operator, I saw men running. Somewhere along the tracks just before Norwalk/ Santa Fe Springs…” In Union Station, a man leaned into what I had always thought was a plaque but which is evidently an intercom, at the top of the escalator that leads up from the subway. He said, in a loud voice: “Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley. Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe.” I stopped to stare. He smiled at me. A sheriff followed my gaze. His K9 unit black lab swiveled its head, too. I froze. I didn’t mean to bring suspicion down on the namer-of-dead-celebrities. Where are U Ars Forever MUSE I often have trouble with the last letter of the word, as the train speeds past: MentR Dear? or MentL Dead? Love BitEZ This one is important: Is it Love BitEZ as in Love Bit EZ, as in, the Love Bit is Easy? or is it Love BitEZ, as in Love Bites? Darcs Blevin Mosk Every few months, some poor soul comes through and whitewashes everything. At the beginning of last year, the Army Corps of Engineers whitewashed the entire cement bed of the Los Angeles River. It was important not to offend the space pilots who could see the mile-long graffiti from orbit. The messages aren’t erased so much as obscured. Their ghostly outlines make them seem more pressing. When the train stops at the Santa Fe-style station at Fullerton, I see a man in slacks bent in half, doing exercise. He twists rapidly from left to right but keeps his face and upper body parallel to the ground. His arms swing from left to right and back. He holds them straight, hands in karate-chop position, but lets them swing with great force, like a windmill. It’s like Jane Fonda tai chi on crack. No one else at the station looks at the exerciser. A man in a suit talks on the phone. A woman wheeling a suitcase squints purposefully into the distance. I stare at him from my seat, to the extent that I once knocked my head into the train window trying to get a better look. Someday, I’ll get off and ask him if it helps. He’s always there, except for last Thursday, when no one was there except for the men giving the palm trees a haircut. Steak or Steal? Kitten Wags or Kitten Wages? Deity or DeitZ? LOONY Definitely loony. H. would have a field day. She would tell me a story that focused on Kitten Wags, Steak, and DeitZ, which she would rhyme with BEETS and then say “I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.” She would add giants, babies, puppies, a mushroom, a glass slipper and a dignity of dragons. I should tell her that it’s a dangerous game, looking for hidden messages—Love BitEZ, there is no MUSE, Darcs Blevins Mosk never shows. But I know I won’t. I often miss her on the train.