Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mill Avenue Nights, December 15th 2007

It was cold.

I took the bus.

These two sentences do not actually have a causal relationship; they just accurately frame the beginning of this Saturday’s Mill Ave visit. I am not complaining—not loudly at least—but I think that I could see my breath. The chill in the air, I’m afraid, meant that I didn’t have much of a chance to use my pen and paper to scrawl down notes so I am working primarily from my own diligent memory.

After wandering the length and breadth of my beloved Ave, I finally settled around the drum circle where a girl (whose name escapes me) was selling tie-dye shirts. “Shirts make good Christmas presents; good presents make good friends!”

After spending some time with them, I made my way down to see Lawrence at the Graffiti Shop and to meet the author of the SociallyACCEPTABLE magazine. I had picked one up at Graffiti the weekend before and read it from front to back. The entire format is highly independent press, and they were offering advertising, so I figured, what the hell.

I ended up walking him down to where the drum circle usually takes place in order to show him where it happens.

Drum circle felt extremely sparse tonight. In fact, it was extremely sparse. I didn’t see half of the people that I normally see. I did hand out a great deal of booklets, and left three at Graffiti, I also have prints of Merry Vexing Christmas to hand out, which is only proper.

This finally brings us, of course, to the street preachers.

Today I lacked Kazz. Which means that I got to stand around and observe them in their “natural” element with little disturbance – oddly, Emanuel also didn’t show. Well, perhaps this is not that odd as he’s a college student at ASU and this is the dreaded Finals week, or, for those far more lucky: time to run away, run away home. (Like the ladybug.) Instead! Tonight the arrival of two new interesting parties caught my attention. People with bullhorn!

Yes, only one bullhorn, but two people.

Which proved to be fairly interesting because the preachers use a loudspeaker and a microphone and a bullhorn provides more than enough volume to counteract the “he who speaks the loudest is correct” atmosphere that crowd address produces. The real fun didn’t actually start until the preachers finally left for the evening (about 11p.m., which is boring because it leaves me with a few hours of no entertainment… No, I’m exaggerating. I usually just go back to the drum circle and sit next to one of my friends and listen to stories at that point.)

Tonight, however, the two young men with the bullhorn remained and decided to make up their own impromptu street preacher routine. Which included interesting statements. “The Church is not for you. Go somewhere else.” “God loves women, especially lesbians.” Among other equally amusing one liners directed at passersby and generally mocking the entire purpose of standing on a street corner with a bullhorn.

The drum circle, despite being sparse, did have some interesting characters. The number of rail jumpers has increased dramatically over the past few weeks, so I’ve been listening to people discuss what trains to catch, where, and how. Fingers pointed, limbs gesticulating. You can take a train headed east out of the train jungle over there and it’ll take you to Tucson and then eventually to San Francisco! I have received some promises from stories from street rats I have yet to know well.

Also, news of Helena, who is a sprightly lass that I met last winter—rather young, but extremely cute—who listened raptly with a charismatic smile (and I’d hoped to see her again this winter.) She was a little social butterfly and, as far as I could see, an excellent influence on everyone. I suppose that I enjoy her presence in no small part because she liked me. There is always something to be said about how much simple admiration can change an impression. (“Yeah, she really talked about you a lot.”) This all makes the news about her a little bit more dreadful.

Apparently, she’s ended up in a mental institution. Way back in either Alabama or Kentucky. That’s ominous news, she didn’t seem crazy to me…and being someone who spends a great deal of time on Mill, with a little experience of psychology, crazy is a little bit obvious. Of course, she is a street rat of indeterminate age…and I had my suspicions.

Sad. I need more perky, good listeners with interesting stories to talk to.

Next week I may not be able to make it out to Mill on Saturday. If I’m lucky, I’ll be there on Friday.

As always, keep an eye out for Vexations booklets in The Graffiti Shop!

And, well, when I’m on Mill all eyes on me. And stories, more stories.


Jess said...

I keep being down on Mill when you're there... but I have yet to find you. I have my eyes open, too. :-) Creepy as that sounds.

Kyt Dotson said...

At the moment. I can be found by looking for someone tall, with long dark hair, dressed elegantly in all black, and wearing a black Santa hat. (This one chosen primarily because it won't break up my outfit, plus, there's just something cool about alternately colored Santa hats.)

I can usually be found listening intently to someone -- or writing in a notebook -- but always on the lookout for the next interesting thing.

Jess said...

Hmmm... at least now I have a hint.