Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bicycle Commuting Past Lift Station #53

hi-brow, a water-jet cut steel cornice by colab studio on Lift Station #53 at 7th Street and the AZ Canal

What if we all thought of each other as human beings? Not as cyclists vs. motorists, or rich vs. poor, or what designer I like or what brand preferences you identify with, or what your dietary preferences are or what sports teams I cry over, which god I love or what country you hate, but each one of us humans first, who just want to be happy and live to see tomorrow, as we each venture out to work each morning and back home each night?

Perhaps with hopes and dreams which are remarkably similar? I am not my bicycle. You are not your car. Choices are choices but the things we drive are not who we are. 

This hypothetical is doubtless an impossibility for our current state of psychological development, I realize. Read the news, or go out into the city, walk these streets if you dare, and watch how we treat one another even just moving from A to B, and see. 

But it doesn't have to be that way, or any way, for that matter. It could be any way we want it, though: we build the walls we build out of our our our own free choice and twisted, angry hearts, to delineate my space from yours, privileged from non-privileged, to separate, to protect, to isolate, to deaden the sound of a multitude of rumbling vehicles, to exclude that which is different, or foreign. 

If you want to stop people from going over a wall, you can top it with barbed wire. Or razor wire, cruel-looking tangled coils of it. KEEP OUT. Broken glass embedded semi-hidden in the top works too, or electrified wire, rabid hungry sharks in a moat, invisible infrared laser beams that dismember and cauterize simultaneously, self-aware flame throwers, red hot self-heating branding irons that burn permanent TRESPASSER scars on vandals that climb over, why not? Explosives, shrapnel, springs, punji sticks. A steel Venus flytrap with teflon, kevlar, superglue-coated spiderwire. Drones. Wasps.

The wall could be connected to your smart phone and programmed to fire barbed spikes into any trespasser who dares to cross. There's an app for that. Camouflaged bears with razor claws. Attack dogs. Angry wild boars with black teeth, and tusks, and night vision goggles. A force field that shocks. Synchronized exploding dye packs. 

Or green, sustainable solutions: focused solar heat beams, wind-powered water canons, hydro-powered air canons. Blow them off the freaking wall.

Or, this.

Human barrier which pleases the eye and delights the mind. Keep out, noble spirit.

I noticed this steel security cornice along the top of a wall around an ordinary water pumping station and had to have a closer look. The shadows playing shapes across the wall. Blue sky through wavy cut-outs. Rust and stone. And apparently it lights up at night, or will. 

Can you tell me if this world will ever get better? Will humans ever learn to be human to one another, even strangers, even those who are different from themselves? Even those who just want to go to work and return home at night to their homes and families by whatever mode of transportation they choose, without fear of anger, or reprisal, or prejudice, or wrath, or threat of death, or deportation? 

I ride as if we will, as if we can, even if I don't think it's really happening, or going to happen. It's a kind of crazy, zoned-out illusion, my bicycle commuting obsession, my generous and hopeful smile and wave at everyone.  Every human out there.

I am the water-jet cut rusty steel cornice at Lift Station #53. Look world: wavy shadows, blue sky, bright LED lights that throw interesting shifting shapes in darkness, or will, eventually. You there, human: have a happy commute. It's the least we can do for one another.



  1. I like it.
    Makes me want a to have a plasma cutter.
    Okay, what's a lift station and why does the city of Phoenix need like 53 of 'em?

    1. Lift stations are pumps for any liquid, could be water, could be (see BluesCat) sewage. I don't know which one this one is. Or why we have at least 53 of them. Other than apparently canals need them.

  2. Ahahaha I thought the tree was a brain at first look.

  3. limom - Quote from "Ode to a Lift Station" by JRA:

    "My poop is moved higher, with much more verbal elegance, that yours ..."

  4. Why does Arizona get all the cool stuff?

    1. All humans deserve objects to delight the eyes and mind, Steve. I am so thankful for artists who look at a blank wall around a lift station, and imagine something like hi-brow. In awe, actually.


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