March 7, 2009

On the street last night there were some people standing around in front of a newly opened art gallery. As we walked up a bald man with his head and face painted bright white appeared on a clown bike, pulling a trailer made out of a wheelchair. He went around in circles on the sidewalk and then rode away, looking over his shoulder like everyone was supposed to follow.

Around the corner he and another man in a blank face mask turned their trailers into a mini stage. One threw puzzle pieces at people. The other periodically took pictures. A small crowd gathered, a mixture of whoever was walking down Melrose at 10:30 on a Friday night. Cars slowed down to see what was going on. “We do not apologize for the delay,” a nasally voice said through a microphone once they were ready. “If you don’t like waiting, you should just go home now.”

The puppet show that followed was beautiful and nonsensical. Marionettes on unicycles, marionettes on stilts, marionettes flying kites, all with demented horror-movie clown faces. They sang songs about the Almighty Ogg and puppet therapy. It started nowhere and we left before it was over. We imagined they just kept going until there was no audience left.

You couldn’t see the show unless you were right in front of it–it was hidden, against a brick wall on a residential street. Half a block away people hung out and ate ice cream and drank beer and had no idea it was there. Five minutes later and we would have missed it too.

In Los Angeles it often feels like this: like something’s happening right around the corner but you can’t find it.


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