THROTTLE
by GORDY GRUNDY
JULY 2008; ISSUE No. 11
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BLOODY BEAUTIFUL
   
   

It was a flash of light that caught my eye, a white burst edged with gold. It caught my eye and held it. The light was a dancing reflection of the sun against the water that filled a pothole in a sea of asphalt. It was ugly and it was so beautiful. A gash in the street, etched in hard shadows and bright highlights. Gutter water, wind-whipped, catching a dazzle, alternating gold and silver. Like small diamonds---
It must have been my close proximity to the front grill, but the blare of the car horn lifted me several yards off my feet. This trumpet was soon chorused by an octet of similar sounding honks, toots, blares and bleats. Like an orchestra conductor, the driver in the first car was using his hand with an extended middle finger as a baton; he was repeating a broad gesture, directing that ‘I cross the goddamn street at a faster tempo con forza!’

 

The perfume entered the house seductively and invisibly, like the outstretched arms and hula hands of a beautiful ghost, a dancing siren. Hanging so heavy outside, it crept through the loosely shuttered windows and from under the doors.
The scented call pulled me out into the night, leashed to the dog. The temperature had shot up, out of the blue and the night was warm and close. The jasmine thought it was a fast summer and began working overtime, perfuming the air and weighting it with something old and lovely. I thought of a woman with the delicate features of a Gibson Girl. I thought of my grandmother.
The whole neighborhood is fenced and roofed with jasmine; it’s blossoms, delicate explosions of white fireworks, are everywhere. The warm night was inducing a fusion. The deadly flowers of the Angels Trumpet tree were ripe and pungent; you didn’t have to lean close to get wrapped in its light song. I fell into the Grand garden roses. The bouquet was distinctly softer than the pervasive jasmine and I inhaled deeply---
The jet of cold water blasted my forehead and held its target, drenching me. The lady with a hairnet and curlers held her hip with one hand and the gun of a garden hose in the other. I believed she was saying the Spanish translation of “Get the hell away from my county fair winners.”

 

A deep-urban landscape offers a set of beauties that are not often in play. A city has a sense of time and history; everything around you is old and you can feel it immensely. Design is not of this century; details are fresh, evocative and intriguing. Sidewalks are beaten and uneven. You watch your step and rush the adrenalin; foreign dangers are everywhere and all sensory filters are heightened and caterwauled.
I may not see great art on a downtown art walk but I see lots of beautiful things. One of them was a Beaux Arts light fixture at the end of an alley. Its hulking filigree was half-shadowed by a grilled canopy that sliced hard shadows into the yellow light. I signaled to my pals that I would catch up later.
The alley floor was original, cobblestone’d and short bricked. Water glossed a mirror for flashing neon blue and green. Brick walls were still stained with long-forgotten ads. Fire escapes and an overhead walkway served as a proscenium. A flood of red light came from stage left. Warner Brothers or the photographer Brassai could not have done it better.
A cat hollered and a tin can clanked and rolled. If Dashiell Hammett had written a grand opera for his Continental Op, then this would be the stage set. The gold painted letters on a high window read---
The concussion of the first blow to the back of my head was overwhelmed by the sudden beauty of the flashing rubies. Sparkling red diamonds rained down in front of me, a cascade of popping crimson fireworks.
The second blow desaturated the color.
The third blow

 

   
   
GORDY GRUNDY is an Echo Park based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at www.GordyGrundy.com.

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