Pet Peeves

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By Mark D. Crantz

I read with interest the Indy article “Camouflage House Pops Up at City Hall.” It was the latest temporary art installation sponsored by the Laguna Arts Commission and Laguna Culture Arts Department. These organizations are dedicated to bringing an array of thought-provoking works to the community. Sounds good, so I went to see it for myself.

I couldn’t find it. I looked in front of city hall. I looked in back of city hall. The house was nowhere to be found. Then, it hit me. The house is camouflaged and is not meant to be seen. This was truly a great piece of art and living up to its name. To be sure I wasn’t seeing things, I asked a person well known for his hiding ability. “Waldo, you’re probably the greatest hider of all times, do you see a house in front of city hall?” Waldo remains still as a Pageant of the Masters participant. “Come on Waldo, give it up, I found you. Spell the paint. Where’s the Camouflage House?” Waldo kicks the dirt frustrated to being seen. “Alright, you found me. How could you? I was hiding inside the Camouflage House. I suppressed a smile. “Waldo, there’s no house here. You were in plain sight…peeing on the lawn.” Waldo blushes. “No, I was adding a natural live-in cottage-y smell to the place.” I smirk back. “Sure. Whatever. But, it doesn’t explain where the house went. And why the house didn’t take your pissant artistic embellishment with it.”

So, Waldo and I set out to investigate. We went to our most reliable sources, the stool pigeons of Main Beach. They gave it up for a piece of Shirley’s bagel. One cooed, “Who wants to know?” I introduced us. I’m an Indy reporter and write the column “Pet Peeves.” The gent next to me is Waldo. The pigeon nods his head back and forth and back and forth. “Oh yes, you I know. I’ve gone on that column a number of times. Thank you. Your face keeps me regular. Keep writing.” I cringe. The pigeon says, “But I don’t see any guy next to you.” I turn. Waldo is gone. “Forget him. Tell me about the Camouflage House. The pigeon flaps his wings. “The Camouflage House was shut down by the Design and Review Board for not having the right permits.” I ask, “Are you sure?” The pigeon gives me the stink eye. “As sure as little kids chase me just for the heck of it. Tell your readers to either put us on the endangered animal list or the kids on it. We’re not taking it anymore.” I assure him I would and leave to find corroboration.

I go to the Susi Q Center. Old people don’t miss a thing. With 20/4,000 vision and malfunctioning hearing aids, nothing gets by them. I ask an old timer patting himself down for smokes he gave up in 1948. “Sure I saw the house. It has all these multicolored windows. Couldn’t see inside. Made me think it would surely frustrate the heck out of Peeping Toms.” I give him the pigeon stink eye.

I end up back at city hall. I go inside and ask around. I learn that the art installation was closed down and confiscated by the Coastal Commission. They claim it was a stain glass church erected on state property and crossed the line on the separation of church and state.

Crantz tells the Indy that he likes the temporary art installations. Looking for Waldo, not so much.

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