I found this on a recent morning commute through the southeast end of the Crestview district while pedaling under the 10 Freeway along quiet residential side streets that get me to Venice Boulevard while offering me sanctuary from the no-bike-zone hell that is southbound La Cienega Boulevard (make a note of the route if you ever find yourself there on two wheels). I zipped passed the graffiti and the pieces mentally fell into place and my first thought was “Peace puzzle, cool.” I planned on snapping it on the way home. Or maybe the next morning.
To be sure, it’s nothing of a visual showstopper. Just a crude ‘n quick stencil job with little artistry apparent. But I like that it’s in something of a cranny of Los Angeles few people venture through. And as I pondered what circumstance might have brought it into being I appreciated its sentiment, which I read to be that peace isn’t ready-made and instead there’s assembly required. There’s effort involved to put it together or break it up, be it among neighbors or nations. It’s even somewhat fitting that the pieces of this puzzle don’t fit; the “p” and the “e” and the “ce” can all join up, but there’s just no way to make the “e” mesh with the “a.” Whether that was intentional or not doesn’t matter. It is what it is: an irreparable peace.
Anyway, I remembered the times I’ve put off pixelizing something only to return to the discovery later in the day or week and find whatever it was I wanted to capture gone forever. Tagged up or painted out. So I forced myself to turn my bike around and grab this snap. Sure enough the very next day I found it scarred by swipes of black spray paint from some tagger who’d marred the entire underpass wall and a few days after that the city had come by and painted the whole thing out. There’s a little sadness that it’s gone, but moreso there’s a satisfaction at having seized and recorded the moment — a certain peace, even.