Wednesday, December 12, 2007


When I was growing up, that uncommon name my parents assigned me invited endless, unwanted, hackneyed, tiresome taunts from children and adults alike. "Where's your brothers Simon and Theodore? he heh heh...." Yeah, charming, real clever. 9 out of 10 of people that I'd meet for the first time would immediately rattle that off, or even worse, sing the ditty. Annoying as that was it proved a reliable, instant douchebag detector. In any case what a crappy cartoon that was. Fucking falsetto warbling vermin, those chipmunks were the bane of my childhood. I hadn't thought of those guys much recently until the billboards started popping up everywhere, freakish! There's even one aroun d the corner, just a-block-and-a-half away from BP headquarters on the corner of Market and West Macarthur, above our beloved 'Easy Liquor' convenience store. Yesterday, on the way to the post office I decided to climb the beast. Yup there I am--if you look real close in the picture above, on the billboard, you can see the egomaniac jumping around (also note the woman with the pink coat entering the store, click on the photo for a larger view).

While up there I'm dancing around like a jackass posing for the camera and enjoying the view, man what a view! Down below a lady drives up, gets out of her car, and I see her exchange some words with Jordan and Beth (my conspirators.) She then calls up:

Woman in pink coat: "Hey Alvin"

Me: "Yeah?"

Woman in pink coat: "You just playin' right? ...I mean, if you gonna jump, wait 'til I'm gone."

She continued into the store.

When finished with her business, as she's exiting brown bag in hand, I'm awkwardly making my descent.

I hear her laughing and taunting.

Woman in pink coat: "Howda hell you get up there with all that junk in your trunk?! ...with that bubble butt? Ha!"

At least she didn't sing that damn song. Oh I love Oakland.


Ted May said...

Ha ha! Oh man.

Josh Simmons said...

Alvin-- I'll have you know that when we met this summer, the Chipmunks reference never occured to me, however, sitting eye level with the holes in your shirt over your belly, I fought with every inch of my will power to keep from poking my finger through to run it over the soft, smooth flesh beneath.
There, I thought you should know.

Anonymous said...

At least your parents didn't name you "Garfield."

Seriously though, what fun a little adventure! Very cool.

Austin Kleon said...

haha that's great. i never thought about it, but you're right: when people associate your name with some bullshit pop-culture reference, it's an instant douche-bag detector.

for me it was either:

AUSTIN powers
stone cold steve AUSTIN



"thanks folks...never heard that one before!!"

on the other hand, a distinctive name helps on the ol' google ranking...

J Bradley Johnson said...

The pictures of you on the billboard are awesome, thanks for showing them.

When I was a little kid, Alvin the chipmunk would sometimes accompany me as an imaginary friend. The old cartoons were fun if you don't mind the low-budget animation! The guy who came up with them was a cousin of William Saroyan's - - they seem to share a kind of manic optimism that I love.

Anonymous said...

I had an Alvin and the Chipmunks comic book when I was a kid that was among the scariest things I ever saw. It was about them entering a haunted house and it was drawn in a way that was truly "haunting" to me as a little one. I'm sure that it must've been fairly innocuous, but I have a strong memory of the fear.

Rina Yay! said...

OMG! I think I know that lady! I've seen her around Piedmont - trademark jacket. There's a sign on Broadway and Pleasant Valley, please go there and maybe she'll come around again.

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It can't work in actual fact, that's what I think.

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