The Crap to Beauty Ratio – Why Los Angeles is the Best for Making Sidewalk Faces


Since writing a recent blog post about making Faces in Other Places, I have been reflecting on how perfect my neighborhood is for this particular activity. Before this analysis I had sort of been patting myself on the back thinking I can do this anywhere. But I must now acknowledge I am blessed to live in a locale that consistently provides the perfect ratio of man made detritus to organic detritus.

It’s very hard to create these faces without trash. How can I make an orange smoke a cigarette if I can’t find a cigarette butt? It’s also hard to make trash attractive. But combine a little crap with a little flora and bingo bango you just might have a new friend. The weather here doesn’t dip below 60 degrees, it never snows and rarely rains. The neighborhood is teeming with a diversity of plant life most of it flowering all year long. Come on! Why isn’t everyone turning roses into faces? To put another cherry on top of this environmental sundae of possibility, I live in a neighborhood full of Spanish style fourplexes from the 1930s. Why is that helpful? Because everyone is renting and no one likely to be around owns or cares about the stuff in their yard. How nice to have orange trees dropping their rotting fruit in apartment complex driveways so I can jam cigarette butts in them without feeling like I am stealing produce. And that red stuff on the end of the cigarette that hopefully makes it look lit up is the droppings of a bottle brush tree. There is so much stuff to choose from. It’s like shopping at a Walmart Supercenter that has a special junkyard section as well as a Botanical Garden in the back. I am free to pluck leaves and seeds and petals without feeling like the petty fauna thief that that I am. Would I have done this to a rose in some well tended rose garden? No! Not only embarrassing but also wrong. This rose was the single flower growing amongst weeds in front of our local post office.


The final thing that works really well here is the anonimity. Of course there are people around, I’m hardly the only dog walker in the hood. But people in Los Angeles DO NOT CARE. If I was wearing a purple flashing spiderman costume (what? why?!) nobody would pay attention. They would assume, if they even bothered assuming, that I was on my way to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to pose with tourists. I like this because when I am arranging trash in the dirt I don’t want to converse with anyone. I don’t want to explain myself and most importantly I don’t want to stop. I want to get the photo.


So all in all I am pretty darn lucky to live here. Praise Be.

Wormhole to previous blog post:  Faces in Other Places



One Squat Shot – Construction Site

In a recent post I introduced the idea of a one squat shot. All items that make up the face are gathered within arms reach of a squatting position. Not that common for me. It feels like a real win when it happens.

IMG_8697Here is what I came upon. An oval stain that is definitely shouting Face Shape! A plastic container of mostly eaten hot sauce already in the eye position. And if that weren’t lure enough, look at the pink string dying to toupee it’s way over and serve the role of hair. If I were a trout, this would be a parachute adams*. Reel me in.

IMG_8687Two minutes later. Thank you torn up packaging label. You are doing a bang up job suggesting bow tie. The final touch needed to convey elegance.


Parachute Adams Fly Lure

* Parachute Adams

What Can Be Made of This?

IMG_8723_croppedI saw this loafer while walking to the passenger side of my parked car to let the dogs out for our weekly hike. Oh brother! I can’t make the dogs wait when we’ve only just gotten here. And I don’t feel like it either. Touching abandoned seafood? Seems potentially germy. I wouldn’t be able to wash my hands for over an hour. So I left it alone and figured I’d deal with it when I got back. If I remembered or cared. If.

Well I did remember and care. I mean an abandoned dress shoe and discarded crab leg shells. Come on! This is my only chance, I have never seen this combination before.

I put the dogs in the car, unroll the windows and pull up a few feet so no one can park this opportunity in. Then I squat down and stare. Nothing is immediately coming to mind. Could the shoe be a nose? Nah. Nothing around big enough for eyes. Is the crab leg a mouth. Not feeling it. Okay. Fine. But make it work, the dogs aren’t going to wait forever and I haven’t had breakfast. The upper part of the loafer will just have to host the face. What is the crab leg going to do? I break it into pieces. A nose appears. Good! I tear a flexible leaf in half.  Eyes without pupils. I scout around for little black things. Pupils. Looking good but what about the mouth. Everything is rolling off because of the slope. I know what I need…saliva, the official glue of the ephemeral artist. I use it tons. I would hate for someone to see that. A grown women crouching down spitting into her palm. Why? Well now you know nosey neighbor. Back off and let me get this thing photographed. I mean just as soon as I wipe the excess spittle on my….what?…my pants? No they aren’t that dirty yet, on my flannel shirt? Yes, it should be washed anyway, definitely.


IMG_8746I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when I get what I call a one squat shot, all the items for the face within hands reach of a squatting position made quickly and then I move on. This was a particullary satisfying one squat shot. Although, now that I stare at it I wish I had tried to incorporate that red solo cup. If I had torn it in half it could have been a fez, right? Ah regret. The constant companion.

IMG_8745Of course even more untaken opportunities were only a step away. Look at those sneakers. Pretty fresh, what’s the story there? Was someone like hang on let me change from my party shoes into these kicks more suitable for our hike and before the sartorial transaction could occur the police pulled up and arrested our protagonist for a minor role in a money laundering scheme. Is he right now in an interrogation room with only one shoe and a very cold foot. Why didn’t his friend collect his shoes? I don’t know. French toast awaited and I needed to wash my hands.