I find a whole lot of weird objects, orphaned on the streets. Well, not “weird” exactly, but in some way out of context with the asphalt. There’s just a load of beauty in the consumer products we throw out. The things I find on the street are used-up, present only in form and declared, by some individual, to no longer maintain any function. And, yet, the objects still persist; we cannot wish away our trash.
When I was a kid, I found a stack of a half-dozen board games, tied up with twine, next to some garbage cans across from my grandmother’s apartment. It was like hitting the jackpot. I don’t remember most of them, but there was a Special Edition of Clue in there, with extra rooms and characters and weapons. After realizing that these were, in fact, trash (as opposed to someone’s moving-out pile,) I quickly absconded with them. They didn’t get a lot of play -- I never liked having houseguests, still do not -- but I appreciated the hell out of them as artifacts. That moment may also have been the starting point for my recurring dreams of material gain. During Waking Life, I try to avoid owning things of any sort of value. Due to my obsessive and misplaced thrift, most of my possessions are worn to near-uselessness, easily replaceable, or worthless outside of sentimental value or peculiarity (apologies in advance to any burglars who happen to end up in my room.) In my dreams, I stumble across giant, free piles of toys and candy (as a kid) and clothing and consumer electronics (as an adult.) This violently, carelessly discarded Scrabble set makes me feel terrible. I didn’t examine it to see if something was genuinely broken – perhaps some blood on the board from a particularly violent disagreement over the abomination that is the Official Scrabble Dictionary. It is, simply, the idea that some working-class-raised kid couldn’t have picked it up out of the trash and had a perfectly serviceable board game reminds me of all those times I’ve woke up and realized the stash of Awesome Things didn’t make it with me, out of the dream.
This wasn’t on the street, but inside a subway car around 9 PM on a weekday. That empty bottle was someone’s night. Maybe teenagers left it behind, maybe a faded old drunk, but either way there were hours of de-restrained emotion drained out of it and into someone. Like a spent shell or an empty dime-bag, we’re looking at neither cause, nor effect, but the remains of the midway point between the two.
I once watched a disheveled early-middle-aged woman carrying down the block a large cardboard box full of various household objects. It was obvious she was moving out of someone’s apartment in enough haste that she did not even call a cab. I asked if she needed some help and she very briefly and sternly told me she did not, as if asserting her independence not just from me, but also from wherever and whomever she was departing. The box was cumbersome; I wouldn’t have been surprised if she were leaking personal possessions on her march to, hopefully, another home. This spoon did not fall out of it (in fact, the photo was taken in an entirely different neighborhood, months later,) but who knows what she dropped behind her, fleeing from her now-past.
There’s nothing much to say about this one. It is a Poland Spring bottle full of urine (friends have mentioned the proper nomenclature is “trucker bomb”) I found walking to work. The only surprise is that I found it at 8:30 AM on 42nd Street and Lexington, around the corner from a rather posh hotel. I’m also fond of the fact that the label is telling me that the contents are Pure Quality.
If you shake a concrete-mounted metal signpost for long enough, in just the right manner, you may be able to seriously damage it via the magic of resonant frequency. I’ve always been too chicken or sober to attempt it, so the actual effects are theoretical. Considering phone stands are bolted into the ground with a lot more care, and there were no signs of a car crash nearby, I am still fascinated and confused as to how the hell this happened. Seriously, I haven’t a single logical explanation.