Police Beat

Invisible Crime in Alien Park

Rock Bottom/Eastlake/Sat Dec 31/11:49 pm: Officer Bunge reports: “Colonade Park is a newly opened city park located under I-5, just east of Lakeview Boulevard. Portions of the park are still under construction, and there are consequently several piles of boulders, stones, and gravel piled along the edge of the park for use in park construction. At approximately 11:49 p.m., complainant/witness called 911, saying that she had just seen two males loading rocks into an older gray sedan parked along the east side of Lakeview Boulevard. Complainant/witness believed that the two males were stealing landscaping supplies from the park. Officer Montaron, Officer Kelly, and I responded to this location to discover the suspects, their vehicle, and complainant/witness all gone. I noted the piles of very heavy rocks in the park. I also noted that a standard passenger vehicle would not be able to carry very many of these rocks. We conducted an area check but did not locate the suspects, their vehicle, or any missing stones.”

Where does one begin with this marvelous police report? It sets my brain on fire! Do not read the report once; read it twice, even thrice, because it is cop poetry at its very best. The heavy rocks, the gravel, the midnight thieves, the rocky landscaping supplies, the worried witness, and the wide underbelly of the freeway—it sounds more like the post-industrial wasteland of an alien civilization rather than a city park in the heart of Seattle. I-5 Colonnade, the park’s official name, is not the sort of place where lovers can meet and kiss, where citizens can rest their work-weary bones and enjoy sunlight, the susurrus of leaves, and fresh air; it is instead a place for creatures of the aftermath—strange, metallic life forms that whir with evil electricity.

At this moment, two rovers called Spirit and Opportunity are on the planet Mars searching for signs of ancient water. They landed on opposite sides of the Red Planet exactly two years ago, and have been slowly climbing rust-colored hills, digging in and testing the dead soil, and taking photos of the godless landscape, the dust devils, the heathen rocks. One would not be surprised to find these six-wheeled robots challenging the hills, working around the boulders, rolling over the desiccated gravel of I-5 Colonnade.

The only thing missing from Officer Bunge’s report is a mention of the forest of pillars that sustain the winding path of the freeway. These pillars have about them a mysterious air that seems as ancient as the water on Mars. Upon seeing them, one immediately thinks of how Hegel, in the second volume of his aesthetics (the rambling section on symbolic architecture), describes the “avenues of columns” in Egyptian temples—“enormous,” “limitless,” “enigmatic.” In the way that one would not be surprised to find rusty robots exploring the park, one would also not be surprised to find a dark opening to a passage that leads down to a large chamber that houses a dead city prince and all of his worldly things (a Hummer, a satellite cell phone, a plasma TV). Is there a stranger park than I-5 Colonnade?


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