It’s Impossible

“If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the “Fuck you” signs in the world. It’s impossible.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Shoe remains in crosswalk, Beltline Road, Richardson, Texas

Oblique Strategy: The tape is now the music

When you go around the city, on foot or especially on a pair of spoked wheels – or even when your car is stopped at a light and you look out the window – you see a lot of odd crap strewn about the road. Flotsam and jetsam – cast-off detritus, odd personal items: a shoe, a glove, an old toy, pair of headphones crushed under tires – that sort of shit.

I see this stuff, because I see stuff, and I remember it, because I remember stuff. Most of all, I wonder where the hell did it come from? Who leaves one glove in the road? Whey don’t people pick up their possessions when they drop them?

A week ago, I had a bit of an answer. I contributed to this sea of debris, this ocean of junk, this abundance of rubbish.

It all started out simply. One Saturday afternoon Candy and I wanted to go to Four Bullets, a local brewery, and grab a couple of beers. I intended to put a few miles on my bike – so she drove while I rode my bicycle.

I knew I’d want to walk around the brewery, so I didn’t want to wear my cleated cycling shoes. The pedals tear up the soles of my ordinary footwear, so I dragged an old pair of running shoes out of the depths of a closet, and rode to the brewery.

Walking around, I noticed that one shoe was sort of loose and kind of coming apart. I could see a bit of sole peeking out around the side. – I made a note to throw the pair away for good when I made it home. We were there longer than I intended and it grew dark, but I had packed a good set of lights – so no big deal.

I was riding home on the Glenville trail and crossing Beltline (a busy road that everyone in Dallas uses to get everywhere) on a green light when I felt something come loose. It was the bottom half of my shoe; it had given up the ghost and fallen off right as I crossed the road. The light wouldn’t be green for long, so I couldn’t go back and grab it – the only thing I could do was go on.

The remains of my shoe in the crosswalk at Glenville and Beltline, Richardson, Texas

The problem was that I still had about two miles to go. The rough pedal was now against my almost-bare foot and it hurt like hell. Luckily, it was mostly downhill and I could coast a lot of it.

Still, I limped around for a few days until my foot healed from its unexpected meeting with the sharp metal of the bicycle pedal.

That was pretty much a week ago. I drive past that spot, through that intersection at least twice a day, on the way to work. I ride the Glenville trail any time I’m going someplace West of my house on my bike. It’s been a week, and the piece of my shoe is still there. It’s right in the pedestrian crosswalk, at the edge of the road, where the traffic misses it.

So I have made my own contribution to the conglomeration of bizarre trash that litters our planet. I could ride out there and pick it up – but I’m curious how long it will stay there. I just stopped and took a couple of photographs.

Some women walking by the piece of running shoe – they didn’t pick it up.

This is truly the best of all possible worlds.

Armored Pole

I have always been fascinated by the armored utility pole. That’s a wooden cylinder – lights, power, telephone –  that has been used as a guerrilla bulletin board for so long, had so many handbills stapled to it, that it has become covered in steel. You see these in the cool, hip neighborhoods – places with a lot of bars and live music. Places where folks run along with staple guns and stacks of freshly printed band flyers and click… click, there’s another one.

It’s generally illegal and the streets department takes them down… but look at the poles.

What is the ultimate end of this? Can a pole have so many staples in it that there can be no more shot in? The accretion of metal – the slow sculpting – the combination of nature and man-made steel violence… it’s life in a nutshell, posted up there for everyone to see.

Here’s one I saw the other day. A pole densely festooned with staples – then a big chunk is taken out by a careening car – a collision hard enough to split of a healthy sliver but not enough to take down the pole. The fresh wood is exposed and, soon enough, the staples start reproducing. In a year or so the wound will be completely healed.

Old Band Flyers

Flickr: The Band Flyers Pool

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