Spray paint Disney
Me and the adjacent bum were looking across the empty street,
empty Grand Avenue, Christmas morning,
when I looked up and saw that word on a sign.
The rest of the sign said: Limitless.The L.A. Philharmonic.
I was smiling; here I am a bum, and I know the word adjacent.
Well, that could be true, couldn’t it?
Anyway, that morning...
The other bum was fumbling under his gray blanket puffing
white clouds of breath out across the empty street - so COLD here!
- though the sun was up and setting silver gleaming fire to
the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
As it used to be called.
I yelled down to him Good Morning!
It was just us two this holiday morning,
tinsel waving like silver seaweed from the street lights
the sky and snowy mountains blue and white and windy cold, up the hill.
Two bums on the empty Grand, everyone else home in pajamas
and all the family there too, maybe.
I called down to the other bum.
“Hey, you want to walk with me to Home Depot tomorrow? They’ll
be open in the morning.”
“What, you got a job?”
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Tiger,” he said.
“Tiger, you said?”
“Well, Tony really. Tiger for short.”
“Yeah, I do. Have a job. But not at Home Depot.” I pointed
across the street at the concert hall. “A job of work for
Mr. Frank Gehry.”
“Who?” asked the adjacent bum.
“He’s an architect, a great architect; dreamed up and built that building.”
Tiger looked at the building.
“I thought Walt Disney did. I mean, look what it says over there.”
“No, Frank did, and I don’t want him overshadowed.”
We looked across the empty street at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. There
had been a special Christmas Eve show the night before; we'd watched them come
and then we watched them go on home.
“That feels bad doesn’t it? Tiger said. “That overshadowed feeling.”
“I need spray paint from Home Depot, and an assistant.
You ever paint, Tiger?”
“Oh I can spray, no problem. When do you wanna meet, and where?”
I looked at my watch, then at Tiger.
“About this time. And here. Ok?”
“Sure. Oh, Merry Christmas.”
We looked around; there weren’t ANY cars out, none coming.
“Merry Christmas, Tiger,” I said.
Then we went back to what we were doing.
I’d been seeing those words in my head.
Like a sign.In blue spray paint.
It was midnight, the day after Christmas, with the cans of spray paint
and the so-called Walt Disney Concert Hall laid out before us.
Someone had fingered a drawing of Santa Claus
in one of the frosty windows of the hall and he was waving at us.
“Now, why are we doing this again?” asked Tiger. “Is it because we’re lonely?
Or broke? Is there something wrong with us wanting to spray paint
the Disney Hall? Is it something inside us needs working out?”
He’d told me earlier that he was two weeks into his downtown
discounted therapy sessions with psychological students in training.
“No, we’re just giving credit where it’s due - to Frank! Why should Walt
Disney get his name on this building he couldn’t have made
in a million years of his imagination?”
“Ok, well - let’s go!” said Tiger.
“Ok! Tiger, listen: you paint the starboard side of the entrance, I’ll spray port side.”
“Which is which?”
“Oh, yeah - I have a new system for remembering - not that "nautical events"
come up too much lately -
but when I go to Starbucks for morning coffee,
I’m right-handed, so I pick up the cup with my right.
Get it? Starbucks, starboard.”
“When was the last time you went to Starbucks?” asked Tiger, laughing,
rubbing his hands, getting ready to paint.
“Well, you got me there, Tiger! But I know the last time I had port, ha ha!”
“So that’s the other hand, then?” We laughed, then walked across Grand Street.
Tiger was very ready for this; he was marching across the street, but
then he stopped, looked at the former Disney Concert Hall, down the street,
then up the other way toward First Street, finally at me.
“What if the police come?” he whispered, in the middle of the street.
“Oh, they’ll see what we’re doing and then they’ll be on our side!”
We started shaking the spray paint cans and the little balls inside
sounded for all the world like sleigh bells!