Mind The Gap.

006I cut down an alley on my way to nowhere in particular–one of my favorite places to go, but that’s another story. I almost missed this bit of graffiti on the roof of a building. It’s not much to look at. It’s probably just a gang sign and may even have been there for a while since gentrification is driving gangs out of the area–there goes the neighborhood. And, walking back the other way, it wasn’t as well-hidden as I thought at first. What got my attention is the placement. It’s not impossible, or even that difficult to get to. The alley behind the building is elevated so the roof is actually below eye-level, depending on how tall you are. I’m five foot six and just barely look down on the roof from the alley, if that gives you some idea.

What’s impressive is that someone had to leap over a gap of about five feet to land on the roof. The gap plummets down about fourteen feet into a very tight enclosure with bricks, grass, and some broken bottles and other trash. And there’s no easy way to make that jump. In retrospect I wish I’d taken a picture of the gap itself to give you some idea, but here’s the top of the cast iron stairway that leads down into the enclosure:

015That should give some idea of how hard it must have been for the artist–and, yeah, I’m using that term very loosely–to make that leap. And whoever it was probably did it at night. There are a few businesses around and the alley is pretty open–several parking lots back up to it–but I’m pretty sure it’s not a well-lit area. And the individual had to cross all that roof space. I’d give it a medium level of difficulty.

Here’s that building from the front. It forms a strip that includes a bar, a local LGBT resource center, and a restaurant that specializes in brunch. Hopefully that’s as far as gentrification will reach.


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  1. Ray V.

    That was a nice, short story.
    Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you–and I am feeling better. The positive responses help a lot.

  2. Shawna

    Personally, I think this piece is beautiful. It really makes a statement about how white is the absence of color and the fact that is was created in a space near a rainbow flag really enhances the silent commentary on same sex marriage. It’s brilliant, really. (I wish I could have a job as an art critic because I can bullshit my way through pretty much anything)

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The difference between a thoughtful, sympathetic critique and bullshit is very fine–it’s all a matter of perspective. As Jonathan Swift said, “such gaudy tulips raised from dung”. It helps to be able to pull in obscure quotes too. Maybe I’m wrong about it just being a gang sign–and I hope I am.
      The rainbow flags–and flags for bisexual and transgender pride that also fly over the building–are partly from the LGBT center that’s still there, but there also used to be an independent bookstore called OutLoud that specialized in LGBT books. It’s now the restaurant that mainly serves brunch. It’s a shame to lose a bookstore, but I read somewhere some of the bookstore’s managers are the ones who now run the restaurant, so some of the spirit has been preserved.

  3. Ann Koplow

    Hi, Chris! I’m realizing I didn’t make a comment on this post when I first read it because it brought up a particularly painful memory: When I was teaching a couple of classes at Boston University in the 1980’s, one of my coolest, most talented writing students tried to make a leap like that at a party on the roof of a building. He misjudged the distance — easy to do, especially when you’ve been drinking. He died at age 19. One of the saddest things ever.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is extremely sad to think of so much potential lost in a single thoughtless moment.


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