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Urban Epiphany in Santa Monica

September 23, 2010

I know that it’s a cliché that every parent sometimes relies on the soothing balm of a car ride to put their children to sleep. So I’m copping to the magic crutch that most parents have leaned on. Little did I expect that our occasional tours of sleep inducing driving around Los Angeles, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica would yield an Urban Epiphany of aesthetic delight and merriment. Tooling east down San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica my eye caught a pedestrian crossing sign that had a black dot attached, making the figure look immediately like a basket ball player. The image to the left was the first that I saw. At 35 miles per hour, it was but a flash of mild recognition. Nothing that I remembered. And certainly nothing that I thought was intentional. But I saw it again, made note what cross street it was and would always welcome my visit with the Graphic Dribbler.

And then it happened. There were others, several in fact and the ball was always in a different position. On a stretch between 4th Street and 24th Street on the east bound side of San Vicente Boulevard there were more than a dozen, on both the left and right hand sides. So I took an afternoon to walk the stretch and investigate. The intentionality is unquestionable. With a few keystrokes, they could easily be animated. The Black circle is the identical diameter of the head of the figure on the sign. It might be the most subtle street art action that I’ve ever witnessed but there it is, these signs have been effaced with wit and charm and balls and intent.

The closest inspection yielded a small graphic dead bird (pigeon?) in white at the bottom of the sticker. I say dead for the iconographic x for the eye  (Click on the image for a closer look.) A curious google search led nowhere. The most interesting fact culled from the internet browsing was the fact that famed and acerbic film director Sam Fuller made a movie in 1972 for German television titled Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street. And that Dead Pigeon has an Urban vernacular meaning which can be printed on mugs and t-shirts. Lastly, and maybe most relevant, there’s a slumbering blog whose last entry was more than a year ago called Dead Bird Academy which addresses street art in San Fransisco.  Other than that it is somewhat disturbing the amount of images there are on Flicker and Google of dead birds of all kinds.

So to my Urban Interventionist friend or Group out there, I say thank you. The alteration is funny and subtle. The anonymity is staggering and welcome, especially in today’s self promotional landscape. It leaves me with a wistful unsatisfied curiosity that makes the appreciation that much greater.

And here’s a map should you decide to check it out for yourselves.


From → TruffleHunting

  1. Bob White permalink

    That’s me dead cousin. A fine bird. R.I.P.

  2. mary permalink

    love the zeitgeist of those altered signs…
    my fave urban jolt still exists in sleepy Highwood: a very short street melodiously named Evolution Avenue with a “One Way: Do Not Enter” sign guarding it….

  3. kalendarze permalink

    nice and really interesting. Thank you for this post.

    • Delighted! Come back again. Sign up for a subscription. I’d be curious how you found the blog too! Cheers,

  4. Even better would of course be a No Uturn Sign. Hah Hah!

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