From “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears”

From “The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears” June 1, 2015

When the train rushes above ground, we’ve already crossed into the outskirts of the city. The buildings, old brick factories and warehouses, are all marked with the familiar bright red and yellow bubble letters of Disco Dan. The name is everywhere, tagged onto the side of the tracks, buildings, and rusted water towers. A running billboard competing with the ads for Schlitz malt liquor and used-car lots. Disco Dan–offering nothing but himself and his vanity–has them all beat. For as long as I’ve lived in the city, he has been with me. It’s more than just gratitude that rises up involuntarily when I see his name spread across an abandoned brown factory lot, under the broken windows, layered in multiple colors of red, yellow, blue, and white, each character so monstrously large and bright that all you see for a second is the name. I remember another aphorism of my father’s, one that he used to say whenever we passed someone pissing openly in the street: add color to life when you can.


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